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Natural Law and Sexual Ethics

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Presentation on theme: "Natural Law and Sexual Ethics"— Presentation transcript:

1 Natural Law and Sexual Ethics

2 Natural LAW Aquinas The purpose of humanity is to achieve moral perfection (created ‘in the image of God’ so must become like him) We can do this by following the moral laws created in nature (built into humanity)

3 Natural LAW Natural Law is a Deontological theory and so is an ethical system which considers that the moral act itself has moral value (eg telling the truth is always right, even when it may cause harm or pain) The purpose of morality is to enable us to arrive at the fulfilment of our natures and the completion of our desires. His work Summa Theologiae attempts to discover what the perfection we need to achieve actually is by examining the reflections of natural moral law revealed by the levels of law

4 Natural LAW Eternal Law – the principles by which God made and controls the universe and which only God knows completely Divine Law – this is the Bible, which ‘reflects’ the eternal law. However, this reflection can only be seen by those who believe in God and only if God chooses to reveal it Natural Law – This refers to the moral law of God which has been built into human nature; it is also a reflection of the eternal law of God. However it can be seen by everyone as it does not depend on belief but rather we simply need to use our reason to understand human nature. Human Law – The law of the land and the most likely to error and stray away from Eternal Law

5 Natural LAW Reason tells us these precepts are what humans are here to do and so these acts are identified as ‘good’. They are also supported by biblical evidence. 5 primary precepts: The preservation of life (to live) Reproduction (only purpose of sex) The nurture and education of the young (to learn) Living peacefully in society (order society) To worship God From these secondary precepts can be derived through use of reason

6 Natural LAW We must be aware of the difference between
APPARENT + REAL GOODS Apparent Goods – Something which seems to be the right thing to do but does not fit the ideal of perfection. For example, if someone has an affair they do not do so with the express purpose of hurting their partner but because they think they are in love and this is a good thing to do Real Goods – The right thing to do that does fit the human ideal

7 premarital sex sex before marriage
Aquinas believed that sex should take place only within marriage. Although it could be considered a natural act it is morally wrong: ‘conflict with right reason may arrive from the nature of the act with respect to the other party.’ (Summa Theologiae) Sexual relationships before marriage (generally between adolescents) are rarely open to the possibility of procreation. Apparent good: sexual relationship (e.g. it was right because we were in love) .vs. real good: abstinence until marriage Aquinas' view on marriage and sexuality is that it has two main purposes: (1) Reproduction, and (2) the production of a family unit that together form a strong bond (through principle 1) and a unit in society

8 Adultery Adultery: sex outside marriage
Aquinas believed that sex should take place only within marriage. Could arguably be a violation of primary precept: live peacefully in society (i.e. adultery is a common cause of divorce which is very damaging to communities and has been shown to have a detrimental effect on society as a whole). Could also violate primary precept ‘nurture and educate the young’ It is condemned in the Bible (Exodus: 10 commandments) which is a revelation of God’s law to humanity. Apparent good: sexual relationship (e.g. it was right because we were in love) .vs. real good: fidelity within marriage

9 Contraception Contraception: the use of artificial means to prevent the conception of children through intercourse. Condemned because it prevents procreation which Aquinas believed to be the only purpose of sex (violation of the primary precept: reproduce) A sexual relationship that is not open to the possibility of conception is immoral (goes against the natural design). ABORTION (most objectionable) also violates precept of the preservation of life (terminates human life at the foetal stage).

10 Contraception Doctrine of double effect;
There are times when we have moral dilemmas in which we cannot do good without a bad consequence. To solve this dilemma the doctrine of double effect was devised, roughly saying that it is always wrong to do a bad act intentionally in order to bring about good consequences, but that it is sometimes all right to do a good act despite knowing that it will bring about bad consequences. However these bad consequences must only be unintended side effects – the bad consequences may be foreseen but not intended.

11 Homosexuality Aquinas condemned homosexuality because:
Intercourse is the physical union of a man and a woman in accordance with God’s design - in fulfilment of the human ideal (Creation) It cannot lead to the procreation of children: ‘In so far as generation is blocked, we have an unnatural vice. For example, acts with a person of the same sex.’ (Summa Theologiae) It is condemned in the Bible (Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:27) which is a revelation of God’s law to humanity Apparent good: sexual relationship (e.g. it was right because we were in love) .vs. real good: abstinence to prevent violation of God’s natural design

12 Weaknesses Is procreation the only purpose of sex? (isn’t it also an expression of love and trust in someone close to you – becoming ‘one flesh’?) (If a married couple are infertile should their sexual relationship be condemned?) Old fashioned – does not recognise changes in social attitudes (e.g. towards homosexuality) Premarital Sex – nowadays many unmarried couples have children and nurture. Why is this immoral? (same as marriage isn’t it?) Homosexuality – recognised as a natural state (not an illness). Could it not be part of God’s design? Genesis 1:27 – ‘So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them’ Matthew 7:3 - "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the log in your own eye?”

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