The Catholic Church™ uses “natural law” as a supplement to the bible as a guide to the will of god. In practice, the church, looks at the world, reads its preconceived prejudices into it and spits it back out as “natural law.” A very nicely circular process. A couple of recent news items highlighted for me how truly perverted this logic can be.
On the one hand, we have the case of a court upholding the right of a Catholic™ hospital to refuse to do a tubal ligation on a woman following her c-section delivery. The artical quotes the Conference of Bishops as saying that such sterilization is “intrinsically evil.” So, a married woman who simply would like to have sex with her husband without having any more children is “evil.” This is not only perverse, but sick.
The church teaches that any sexual activity that does not possibly lead to procreation is by definition wrong. But it doesn’t take much investigation to see that by “natural law” the main purpose of sex in humans is not actually procreation.
Humans are one of the few species which mate throughout the estrus cycle. We are not rabbits, in rabbits, intercourse leads to the release of eggs. Not so in humans and other primates. Humans have on average, 1000 sex acts for each conception. And research shows that about 50% of conceptions never implant (meaning that humans are ensouled at conception, heaven is full of “people” who never got beyond a couple thousand undifferentiated cells, should make their bodily ressurection pretty interesting, but that is another post.) So it would seem that sexual behavior might have a purpose beyond procreation.
And indeed it certainly seems to. All kinds of animals are observed to engage in non-procreative sexual behavior. Researchers who work with our closest evolutionary cousin, the bonobo find they use sexual behavior as a form of social bonding. The article also points out that bonobos use many techniques to stimulate their genitals, beyond genital to genital contact, so it is no surprise that humans have developed even more techniques for that.
Natural observation seems to tell us that genital to genital sexual behavior for the purpose of procreation is not the only way to go and that the wide range of such behaviors brings about the desirable goal of social bonding. Which is not to say that there should be no controls on sexual behavior, but that certainly if a woman wants to have sex with her husband with no fear of procreation, there is nothing “intrinsically evil” about that.
The same could be said about homosexual behavior. It is observed often in nature, especially in our closest evolutionary cousins.
On the other hand, celibacy, while not unknown in the natural world, is vanishingly rare. The sex drive is widely considered a fundamental drive in virtually all creatures. In humans, researchers have found that around 1% of people have no distinctive sexual attraction, to either the opposite or same sex. And yet the church insists on celibacy for religious and clergy.
And we know the effects of this policy. Clergy sexual abuse. Lots of it. Not a few isolated incidents. The problem goes right to the top of the Catholic™ hierarchy. So far, the church has paid out $2.5 billion to settle sexual abuse cases.
Turns out celibacy is “intrinsically evil,” and predictably so. So, of course, the church wants to keep celibacy, which we know has horrible effects and stamp out consensual, non-procreative sexual behaviors, which have demonstrable beneficial effects.
That is perverted.