The Heythrop Journal, EarlyView. -/- For the longest time, it has been generally held and widely acknowledged that Thomas Aquinas thought homosexual activity to be morally wrong. In recent years, this common interpretation has come under challenge by none other than the President of the Leonine Commission, the Dominican Adriano Oliva. In a recent book, Loves: The Church, the Remarried Divorced, and Homosexual Couples (in French Amours: L’Église, les divorcés remariés, les couples homosexuels), Oliva argues that Thomas Aquinas would have (...) supported homosexual practices for homosexual persons, or at least that an accurate application of Thomistic principles entails that homosexual acts are morally good. Is this just wishful thinking on Oliva’s part or does his argument have some merit? In order to answer that question, I will proceed in three parts: first, I will reveal numerous texts Oliva failed to take into account; second, I will explicate Oliva’s hermeneutic and the principal textual support he gives for his position; third, I will examine whether Aquinas would have changed his views on the morality of homosexual activity in light of modern advances in our understanding of the etiology and unchangeability of homosexuality. It is concluded that Oliva's view is a gross misinterpretation of the texts. (shrink)
Just fifteen years ago, the common non-religious consensus was that homosexual acts were immoral. Within one decade, however, this consensus waned. The secular majority no longer held, as they previously did, that such actions are morally bad. What explains this sudden change? One explanation is that many conservatives lacked adequate philosophical tools to explain the foundations of the earlier historical consensus. Another is that modern research has shown that there never existed any solid philosophical grounds for calling such actions immoral (...) in the first place. This book questions the latter narrative; for prior to this book no exhaustive historical treatment of philosophical thought on the moral question of homosexual acts existed. Both liberals and conservatives failed to research adequately the long history of thought on this issue. The current author not only argues that the earlier non-religious philosophical consensus has largely been ignored, but that the proliferation of arguments in favor of acting on homosexual inclinations reveal a strong desire to justify what isn't possible to justify morally. The non-religious arguments of the great philosopher Thomas Aquinas are then examined; they reveal that his reasoning can soundly show that acting on homosexual inclinations is morally wrong, and also that the same argument rightly entails that every untruthful assertive speech act is morally problematic. If conservatives wish to be consistent, they ought to reject lying too. And if liberals expect conservatives to believe that what they preach is true, then they ought to stand with Aquinas and reject all lying as intrinsically evil. (shrink)
Critics of homosexual activity often appeal to some form of natural law theory as a basis for their arguments. According to one version of natural law theory, actions that “pervert” or misuse a bodily faculty are immoral. In this paper, I argue that this “perverted faculty argument” provides a successful account of good and evil action. Several objections are assessed and found inadequate.
The author discusses natural law reasoning, from the 1960s in the context of Pope Paul VI’s Humanae vitae, to recent cultural and intellectual currents and their influence on the tradition. The challenges that have skewed acceptance of a common human nature and the existence of natural law are addressed. The author shows how the debate on contraception initiated this challenge against natural law reasoning and led to a more evolutive concept of human nature. Attention is drawn to a need for (...) natural law theorists trained in both modern science and Thomistic philosophy to engage the different scientific fields to clarify, adapt, rethink, and even modify the natural law language in accord with the latest discoveries compatitible with evolutionary findings. (shrink)
Responding to an article in a previous issue from Matthew B. O’Brien on the impermissibility of same-sex marriage, this reply corrects a misinterpretation of Rawls’s understanding of political liberalism and a misdirected complaint against the jurisprudence of the U.S. federal courts on civil marriage and other matters. In correcting these interpretations, I seek to demonstrate that a publicly reasonable case for same-sex civil marriage is conceivable in line with political liberalism. I conclude the article by arguing that, although the same-sex (...) civil marriage issue is likely to be a matter of controversy for some time in western societies, a proper understanding of the theoretical issues at stake may contribute to a partial de-escalation of the ‘culture wars’ currently surrounding the issue. (shrink)
n his Problemata, Aristotle provided medieval thinkers with the occasion to inquire into the natural causes of the sexual desires of men to act upon or be acted upon by other men, thus bringing human sexuality into the purview of natural philosophers, whose aim it was to explain the causes of objects and events in nature. With this philosophical justification, some late medieval intellectuals asked whether such dispositions might arise from anatomy or from the psychological processes of habit formation. As (...) the fourteenth-century philosopher Walter Burley observed, "Nothing natural is shameful." The authors, scribes, and readers willing to "contemplate base things" never argued that they were not vile, but most did share the conviction that they could be explained. From the evidence that has survived in manuscripts of and related to the Problemata, two narratives emerge: a chronicle of the earnest attempts of medieval medical theorists and natural philosophers to understand the cause of homosexual desires and pleasures in terms of natural processes, and an ongoing debate as to whether the sciences were equipped or permitted to deal with such subjects at all. Mining hundreds of texts and deciphering commentaries, indices, abbreviations, and marginalia, Joan Cadden shows how European scholars deployed a standard set of philosophical tools and a variety of rhetorical strategies to produce scientific approaches to sodomy. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that anyone who accepts a Rawlsian account of justice should favor granting family-based immigration benefit to same-sex couples. I first provide a brief over-view of the most relevant aspects of Rawls's position, Justice as Fairness. I then explain why family-based immigration benefits are an important topic and one that everyone interested in immigration and justice must consider. I then show how same-sex couples are currently systematically excluded from the benefits that flow from family-based immigration rights. (...) Next I argue that people in the constitutional and legislative stages of Rawls's original position would act to protect family-based immigration rights for themselves and show how these rights are rights of the current citizens of a state to bring in certain outsiders and not rights of outsiders seeking to enter. Importantly, this argument takes place entirely within the bounds of Rawls's domestic theory of justice and does not make reference to his more controversial views found in his account of international justice. I then show that there is no acceptable reason to restrict these rights to opposite-sex couples and good reason to extend them to same-sex couples. Finally I consider two objections to my account and show why they do not threaten my conclusion. (shrink)
This article evaluates the phenomenon of sexual reorientation therapy from the standpoint of Orthodox Christian theology. It is argued that homosexual desire is the product of the fall of mankind and cannot be considered “normal.” At the same time, however, reorientation therapies, whether secular or Christian, are inherently reductionistic and fail to address the underlying spiritual pathologies involved in homosexual desire. The purpose of therapeia in the Orthodox Church is the psycho-somatic transfiguration of the whole person into the image of (...) Christ, not merely the cessation of homosexual activity or the “reidentification” of one’s “lifestyle.”. (shrink)