Perverted Catholic Logic

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.



6 thoughts on “Perverted Catholic Logic

  1. Agellius says:

    First, I would like to point out that it’s natural for men to want to have sex all the time, and with multiple partners. What I would like to know is, if the leaders of the Church based their natural law interpretations on preconceived prejudices, where did they obtain such prejudices in the first place? “Prejudice” of course means “pre-judging”, or in other words “forming an opinion before becoming aware of the relevant facts of a case”, as my dictionary puts it. This means that before even looking at what nature or revelation may have to tell us, their minds were already made up. But why would they make up their minds, before considering the facts, to impose teachings on men which thwart their natural sexual inclinations? If they’re just making up teachings to suit their personal preferences, why don’t they make up doctrines which allow men to screw whomever or whatever they want, whenever they want?

    Instead they invented, and continue to insist on teachings which make *any* sex except with the woman you’re married to, and that which is naturally oriented towards procreation, a *mortal sin*. And as if that wasn’t hard enough, they proceed to deny any sex to themselves whatsoever, by forbidding themselves to be married! Clearly, whatever motivates these men, it isn’t indulgence of their own selfish desires.

    It’s true, in a sense, that natural law is “a supplement to the BIBLE as a guide to the will of GOD” (I’m using all caps as a counter to your using no caps : ) (by the way, surely you’re not arguing that “Bible” is not a proper noun, being the title of a particular compilation of writings?). But the BIBLE, being explicit divine revelation, has precedence. Natural law is used as a guide in those areas in which explicit revelation is lacking.

    Thus, homosexual activity is proscribed by the CHURCH based on divine revelation primarily, and natural law secondarily. So, even if the CHURCH had no use for natural law, homosexual activity would still be immoral.

    You write, ‘a married woman who simply would like to have sex with her husband without having any more children is “evil.”’ And ‘So it would seem that sexual behavior might have a purpose beyond procreation.’

    You seem unclear on the CHURCH’s teaching regarding the immorality of birth control. Note that what is taught to be immoral is *artificial* birth control. The CHURCH doesn’t teach that every sexual act must result in pregnancy. It doesn’t even teach that pregnancy must be possible in every sexual act. For example there is no prohibition against sexual intercourse with a post-menopausal wife, or a husband known to be sterile. The only thing forbidden is *artificial* methods of birth control.

    The CHURCH doesn’t deny that sexual intercourse has other purposes besides procreation. It affirms that there is a unitive aspect, the expression of mutual love, as well as the procreative aspect to sexual intercourse (see e.g. Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) 2369).

    I would agree that voluntary lifetime celibacy doesn’t come naturally to people. But it doesn’t follow that celibacy is *against* nature. Human beings are naturally made with the ability to decide when they will have sex and when they won’t. This is the basis of our laws against rape: It violates the free will of the victim, the right to decide when she will and will not have sex, and with whom. On what basis, then, do you call it unnatural for someone to pursue a vocation in which he voluntarily renounces sex for life? Does he not have the right to make such a decision?

    By the way, you say that ‘around 1% of people have no distinctive sexual attraction, to either the opposite or same sex’. So, celibacy appears natural for about 1% of human beings — is that your point? For what it’s worth, Catholic priests who have vowed celibacy are far less than 1% of all Catholics.

    For you to call celibacy “intrinsically evil” shows that you’re unclear on the meaning of “intrinsic”. An intrinsically evil act means an act which is evil in itself, without regard to its consequences. Thus, murder is intrinsically evil, evil in and of itself, and not because of any bad effects that may result from it. You’re not arguing that celibacy is intrinsically evil, but rather, that it has evil effects, namely that it results in sexual abuse.

    As to the argument that celibacy causes sexual abuse: If this were so, then we should expect to see higher-than-average rates of sexual abuse among Catholic priests, compared with other groups. But evidently “Priests Commit No More Abuse than Other Males”. Do you have any evidence to counter the evidence in this article, that priests don’t abuse at a higher rate than other males in our society?


    • “Bible” simply means “book” in Latin. You know that. It is generic. 🙂

      One explanation for priestly celibacy is so that the priest’s children cannot inherit church property. Celbacy does not go back to the earliest church. But you know that too.

      And saying that Catholic Priests are “no worse” than others is cold comfort, is it not? Most of the article is saying that we don’t really know. And also it seems to based on a study by the church itself, self identifying the rate of abuse by religious. Considering the amount of secrecy and coverup carried out by the church, it is hard to take their numbers seriously. This article,, agrees that celibacy is not the root cause of the sexual abuse scandal. I agree with most of his analysis, although I do feel that a married priesthood would attract a different kind of candidate which I think would be beneficial. I very much agree with this statement he makes: “So I think the question is not:
      “‘Does celibacy cause pedophilia?’

      Rather, a more appropriate question is: ‘Why has the Catholic Church, as an institution, failed so miserably in taking appropriate steps to protect children around the world from sexual abuse by Catholic priests?'”


  2. Agellius says:

    You’re the one who argued that the vow of celibacy leads to sexual abuse. I agree with you that there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that it does.

    By the way, the article you linked to also relies on data from the study commissioned by the Catholic bishops from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice (a non-Catholic institution affiliated with the City College of New York).


  3. I do feel that celibacy is part of the problem, although I would agree that at the moment the empirical evidence is weak. Part of the question turns on whether the abuse we have seen in the Catholic Church is “different.” The evidence is mixed at best, with part of the problem being that the church itself is ultimately in control of the data. Everyone who wants to talk about the abuse scandal has to come back to the John Jay report as it is the closest thing we have to empirical data in the United States. There are many who feel (and honestly I can’t evaluate their positions empirically) that the report at least undercounts and for some people, grossly undercounts the extent of the problem.

    So, again I say, I do believe the celibacy is part of the problem (although I can’t “prove” it) and I also stand by my reasoning that the church is wrong to hold asexuality (not just in the clergy, but also among those sainted) as an admirable trait, while condemning most of the sexual behavior that most of the human race undertakes.


    • Agellius says:

      It’s likely that sources of data for all kinds of institutions undercounts the problem (including public schools as well as other churches, youth organizations, and so forth) since no one is proud of such accusations; and further, not all cases are reported.

      I don’t see any good reason to believe that undercounting is worse in the case of the Catholic Church than for other kinds of organizations. In fact probably the opposite, since the Church has been under far more scrutiny than others, and subject to more lawsuits (in which discovery of information is compelled by law) and journalistic investigations, and therefore it’s likely that more of its cases have been ferreted out over the past 20-odd years.


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