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What follows below in blue are my responses to the questions in black that you sent me from the USD students I addressed a few weeks ago. I hope that they find the responses helpful. Thank you again for allowing me to participate in this important discussion. I wish you and your students the very best especially during this Easter season.
USD Class of 1977
1. Aren’t the studies that show a relationship between same-sex marriages and lower measures of success, or same-sex sex and higher rates of STI transmissions, showing correlation instead of causation? Could other reasons explain this, such as homophobic harassment by peers, families, and doctors?
studies that show that same-sex marriages have a lower measure of success,
or same sex behavior has higher rates of STD's can not be explaned
simply because of factors such as homohobic harrassment by peers and
families, etc. This is evidenced by the fact that even in societies
where homosexuality has been widely accepted for years, such as The
Netherlands and Sweden, there are similar high rates of negative effects
reulting from such relationships and behavior. See, e.g., http://www.cfcidaho.org/comparing-lifestyles-homosexual-couples-married-couples and http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/number-50-fall-2016.
Moreover, despite increasing acceptance in the United States, including the medical community, HIV rates among homosexuals has remained at dangerously high rates: https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/group/msm/index.html.
2. Can you clarify what you meant by equating transgender people to pedophiles?
I did not intend to directly equate transgender people to pedophiles. Rather, I used as an example of the problems raised by allowing people to use opposite sex bathrooms and locker rooms the case of the transgender man at Evergreen State University in Washington. In that case, a 45-year old man has been exposing himself to girls as young as six years old who are there to use the public pool: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2227562/Colleen-Francis-Outrage-transgendered-woman-permitted-use-college-womens-locker-room-exposing-himself.html; see also this link: http://www.lc.org/PDFs/LC-Predators-in-Bathrooms-Feb-2017-edited-2-17-17.pdf
3. In terms of the data you cited on children of same-sex couples not doing as well as children of heterosexual couplings, isn’t it quite possible that there seems to be a correlation that doesn’t necessarily denote causation? Same-sex couples are marginalized, excluded from the labor force and social sphere more than their heterosexual counterparts. Wouldn’t this have a major impact on these children, meaning their different experience is really based on our discriminating society rather than the sexual orientation of their parents?
The Study that I was citing took these societal effects into consideration, and they can not alone explain the significant adverse impacts on children of same-sex parenting compared to children being raised by their own biological parents whenever possible: http://www.focusonthefamily.com/about/focus-findings/family-formation-trends/regnerus-family-structures-study.
4. As the founder of Alumni for a Catholic USD, what advantages do you believe a Catholic USD has over other religions or a non-religious USD?
As a devout Catholic, I believe, as did the founders of USD, that students would benefit immeasurably from learning the Catholic faith. Of course, if one does not believe in God or objective truth, then they may see no benefit in a distinctly Catholic education. Even setting religion aside, however, it is noteworthy that a majority of the members of the U.S. Supreme Court received Catholic educations, including Justices Roberts, Alito, and Gorsuch. A Catholic education has historically been viewed as more academically rigorous, which should be no surprise as the Catholic Church invented the university system. Here is some significant facts which support the reasons why Catholic schools tend to be superior: https://ace.nd.edu/resources/catholic-school-facts.
5. Why do you think your data/arguments focused on homosexual men over women?
I focused more on men because there seems to be more data available on men and it is generally thought that sexual orientation in women tends to be more fluid than in men:
https://makeitbetter.net/better-you/sexual-fluidity-another-dimension-to-womens-sexuality/. However, even gay researchers are finding that sexual orientation in men is more fluid than once thought: http://alumniforacatholicusd.org/7-Lisa_Diamond.pdf.
6. Where do you stand on adoption? Are children better off in foster care than being adopted by a loving same-sex couple?
The official position of the Catholic Church is that there should not be legal recognition of same-sex couples and same-sex couples should not be permitted to adopt children:
http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20030731_homosexual-unions_en.html. Children are generally much better off if they have as role models both halves of humanity in the form of a mother and a father. Men and women parent differently and children benefit from those differences: http://www.focusonthefamily.com/socialissues/marriage/marriage/mom-and-dad-children-need-both.
7. If God created male and female individuals as the biologically perfect specimens, how would you explain intersex individuals? How would God explain this phenomenon?
Christians believe that God created men and women perfect but they brought sin into the world by disobeying God. As a result, there is suffering, including deseases and birth defects. Intersex individuals represent less than one percent of the population. This type of unfortunate abnormality should certainly not be the basis of a whole discipline of gender ideology. Rather, it is a condition like any other abnormality that needs to be treated with sensitivity and compassion. The goal should be to get the best possible result for the persons afflicted so that they can lead as normal a life as possible. The "Church Teaching" section of the website www.AlumniForACatholicUSD.org has a lot of good information about what Catholics and other Christians believe about what God intended for the expression of our human sexuality.
8. What is your stance on pansexuality and asexuality?
These terms are merely recent inventions to advance a political agenda. They bear no relation to what God intended when He created us in His image and likeness. Once again, without God, there is no objective measure of truth, goodness, or beauty, and no real hope of human fulfillment or happiness. Instead, there is disorder and anarchy, even in the expression of our sexuality, which is well reflected by such nonsensical terms as "pansexuality" and "asexuality". Human sexuality is a gift from God but like any gift it can be used as intended or abused. The choice is ours. The Church teaching on gender ideology can be found at these links: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/marriage/promotion-and-defense-of-marriage/upload/Gender-Ideology-Select-Teaching-Resources.pdf and http://www.alumniforacatholicusd.org/contents/en-us/d1.html.
9. How did I know I was attracted to men as early as 5 or 6 years old with a strong malefigure, no sexual abuse, and no bullying?
Children as young as 5 or 6 years old can begin to appreciate their maleness and femaleness but it is usually not until adolescence that people start to think in terms of being sexually attracted to one or the other gender. The usual factors that homosexual men experience in their youth are a lack of a good relationship with their father, the influfence of a dominant mother, sexual or physical abuse, peer rejection or bullying, and a negative self image or envy of other males. Certainly not all homosexual men experience all of these factors, but it would be an exception for a homosexual male to experience none of them. Of course exceptions do occur and you may be one of them. Then again, some of these influences occur at ages even before age 5, when you may have been too young to appreciate or remember them. For more helpful information, I would recommend the websites of Catholic Courage: https://couragerc.org/ and the Alliance for Therapeutic Choice and Scientific Integrity: https://therapeuticchoice.com/.
Q and A FROM
Staff Apologist and Speaker
1. If we should not frustrate/thwart that which is "good" for us, and the "end" of our sexual faculties is procreation, does that mean married heterosexual couples should procreate endlessly? What about abstinence?
To the question of whether heterosexual couples should procreate endlessly, the answer is no. But this in itself doesn’t justify engaging in sexual behavior while actively frustrating the procreative end of sex. There is a difference between thwarting/frustrating the natural end of the sexual faculty while using it and not using it at all, or using it during infertile periods.
Nature does not demand that a married couple use their sexual faculties all the time. This would be impossible. Therefore, abstinence from sexual intercourse during fertile times is not unnatural—that is to say, it’s not contrary to nature. Clearly not using the sexual faculty is different than using it while actively frustrating the end for which it exists.
With regard to using the sexual faculty during infertile periods, this is not unnatural because it does not involve the active frustration of nature’s purpose for sex. In fact, the couple is using their sexual faculties in harmony with nature’s design since it belongs to nature that the woman be infertile for a period of time. It seems that nature itself has preempted the above question since it has given humans a method by which they can plan families in a way that doesn’t frustrate her design for sex.
2. How is reason natural? I cannot think of a more significant artificial creation.
If reason is artificial, then there is no need to answer the question since the question itself proceeds from an artificial creation. My answer to the question would be no more nonsensical than thinking I’m obliged to answer a question that Siri asks me on my iphone.
Note that the question in essence asks for a reason why we should trust reason. But to ask that question presupposes the use of reason. It is impossible to doubt reason itself because the doubting itself presupposes the use reason.
3. Can sex not have more than one natural end? For example, sex can be important for social bonding and co-operation, such as in bonobo or dolphin populations. Such acts trigger the release of oxytocin in the brain and as a result increase trust and co-operation among such populations. This also fulfills both criteria for a thing being good. Just as a mouth can both eat and speak, both good ends, sex can lead toward multiple good results, both in procreation and co-operation.
As I pointed out in my presentation with Mr. Lemandri, I agree whole-heartedly that sex can have more than one natural end. If I failed to make this clear, then I apologize. Please see my article "Bringing Sanity to Sex: Part II" for my explanation of the second end of our sexual faculties, namely, union of the spouses.
Procreation is not the end of the story. As I explained in my presentation, the unitive end of sex perfects the procreative end in as much as it makes it properly human, integrating it into the rational part of our nature as human beings.
I would argue that it is precisely this union of knowledge and love that gives one reason not to engage in sexual behavior with the beloved in a way that actively frustrates the procreative end. If love is to will the good of another, and using the sexual faculty while actively frustrating its natural end is not good, then sexual behaviors with the beloved that involves the active frustration of sex’s natural end is not true love. So not only is sexual behavior that actively frustrates the natural end of sex bad for us as human beings, i.e., contrary to reason, it is not an expression of authentic human love.
Now, if the above question suggests that sexual behavior among multiple partners possibly could be good in that it would develop cooperation among humans, such as in bonobo and dolphin populations, I would deny such a suggestion on the grounds that exclusivity and permanency are intrinsic to the procreative and unitive ends of human sexual powers. See my article "The Consequences of Polygamy" for an explanation of this line of reasoning.
4. Going back to your analogy between eating with manners and sexual practice—you said eating practice is integrated with rationality (of knowledge and love). But is it integrated rationally or by social norms? Different cultures have different customs of eating. Doesn’t it follow that different groups of people can have different practices of sexual behavior?
Great question. The analogy was used simply to illustrate that our animal sentient inclinations need to be elevated into rationality to be properly human. It was not meant to be a direct parallel of how each of these animal inclinations are integrated with rationality.
With regard to proper etiquette for eating, some details are a matter of custom and some are not. For example, there is nothing inherent in eating that directs one to avoid putting one’s elbows on the table or avoid chewing with one’s mouth open. It’s possible that in any given culture putting elbows on the table and chewing with one’s mouth open could be seen as proper etiquette. And if we lived in that culture, then it would belong to reason that we eat in such a manner.
But if a particular culture had vomitoriums at its restaurants because it believed it was a sophisticated practice to intentionally vomit your food out in order to eat more, then it would be unreasonable (wrong) to engage in such practice. Unlike the details dependent on custom (e.g., elbows on table and chewing with mouth closed), it is inherent in the power of eating that it be used to nourish the body—that is the purpose of eating. Therefore, the wrongness of engaging in the act of eating and actively frustrating the natural end for which the power exists cannot be depend on cultural norms.
Reason must look at the particular details to determine if they are intrinsic to the act of eating or dependent on custom.
Engaging in sexual behavior while actively frustrating any one of its natural ends is more analogous to the above purging example rather than the culturally dependent details of proper etiquette for eating. Just as it is inherent in the act of eating that it nourish the body, it is inherent in our sexual faculties that they be used with a person of the opposite sex while at least retaining its ordination toward procreation—that is to say, its natural end is not willfully frustrated. Therefore, the wrongness of engaging in sexual behavior that actively frustrates one or both of sex’s natural ends cannot be a matter of custom. It is rooted in human nature, and thus is universal and unchanging.
5. If sex is for procreation only, not pleasure, then should infertile heterosexual couples engage in sex?
In my presentation I mentioned that pleasure couldn’t be sex’s ultimate end. However, I did mention that nature attaches pleasure to sex to serve the ends for which sex exists. Pleasure in sex exists for the sake of getting men and women to engage in it in order to reproduce and propagate the human species. But, as the inquirer in question 3 above articulated, pleasure also serves the other end of sex, namely, the emotional communion of the spouses.
So with regard to the infertile couple that engages in sex, in no way are they actively frustrating the natural end of sex by engaging in sexual activity. Nature doesn't object to this. Moreover, nature is happy because the couple is still able to achieve her secondary end of sex, namely, emotional communion and mutual help.
There is no aspect of infertile heterosexual sex that is unnatural in the sense of violating nature’s purposes.
6. You say that procreation is necessary to continuing the human race. With rising population rates, couldn’t one argue that not procreating for some is what is good for humans?
First, the rising population rates and the threats that it apparently poses for the human race could be debated. But suppose for argument sake, let’s say it’s true. If the question is, "Would this justify engaging in sexual behavior while frustrating the procreative end of sex?" the answer would be no. If the question is, "Would this justify that some not procreate?" the answer is yes.
With regard to the first question, the reason the answer is no is because to use a faculty that nature gives us in a way that actively frustrates the end for which nature gave it to us is not good for us as human beings. And given the fact that we are rational beings ordered toward pursuing the good, we ought never to choose that which is bad for us, no matter what good result may come from it.
This is the fundamental moral principle that we ought never to do evil in order to bring about good. If one doubts this principle, then one undermines morality completely since any action could be justified no matter how heinous (e.g., kill innocent human beings to stifle the increased rates of population in order to avoid over consumption of the earth’s resources).
With regard to the second question, it could be the case that some would have a responsibility to not procreate, just as a mother and father may have a responsibility to not have a baby at a given time due to certain circumstances (e.g., extreme physical risks for the mother, the emotional, psychological, and physical well-being of the children, financial needs of the family, etc.).
But, per the argument above, this would not give couples justification to engage in sexual behavior while actively frustrating the procreative end of sex. The reasonable and right thing to do would be to simply avoid sexual intercourse or engage in sexual intercourse during infertile periods.
7. If one of your children came out as gay or told you they’d like to get surgery to change their gender, how would you handle that? Would you pay for the surgery? Would you attend their wedding?
No, I would not pay for his (pronoun used for simplicity sake) surgery nor would I attend his wedding. Here is the reason why. In both cases reason tells me that such behavior would not be good for him.
For my child to mutilate a perfectly healthy organ for the sake of some inner desire that he may have is not good. This would be no different than my child asking me to support or pay for a surgery that would mutilate his healthy eye because he identifies as being blind.
My refusal to support my child in this endeavor is in no way mean spirited or judgmental. It is simply motivated by love. The love that I have for my child compels me to desire my child’s happiness, which means I desire only what is good for him. Since a so-called sex change surgery is not good, then I can’t support him in it.
With regard to not attending a ceremony in which my child attempts to marry a member of the same-sex, the above same line of reasoning applies. Why would I support my child in something that reason tells me is not good for him? To support him would actually be a failure in love. How can it be love if I confirm him in something that is not good for him?
Now, I recognize that the above reasoning presupposes that reason deems these behaviors as bad, and thus not worthy of celebration and approval. But if the behaviors listed in the above question are bad, then it is contrary to love to support my child in these behaviors. I would be no more lacking in love in these cases than I would be for buying heroin for my four-year old, six-year old, ten-year old, and twelve-year old children in order that they can shoot up.
If the above behaviors are not bad, then at least I can be considered as having integrity for not wanting to go contrary to what I think is wrong. There’s nothing bigoted and uncharitable about that.