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 Post subject: Re: Teleology, Sex, and Infertility
PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2018 6:11 pm 
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Handmaids of the Lord
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Marital sex is procreative and unitive. If for whatever reason fertility cannot take place the marital embrace can still bring them unity and the grace of God.


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 Post subject: Re: Teleology, Sex, and Infertility
PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2018 6:12 pm 
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The quick answer is - just because they are infertile, doesn’t mean they will always be infertile.

I’ve known loads of couples who thought they could never have children. So they took things naturally and guess what, one day they have a child (or two). Happens all the time.

Because a couple is old and infertile doesn’t mean they will be (i.e., Sara, Elizabeth). They are almost certainly so, but the marital act always presumes a couple isn’t (infertile).

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 Post subject: Re: Teleology, Sex, and Infertility
PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2018 7:41 pm 
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Denise Dee wrote:
What about an infertile married couple having non-penetrative sexual activity (e.g. because penetration is painful or for a medical reason)? Non-penetrative sexual activities are definitely not directed towards procreation. Jack, you said 'Gay sex is not sex at all for exactly that reason. It is not the kind of act that is directed towards having children.' But the same can definitely be said about an infertile married couple enjoying non-penetrative sexual activity.

You are correct that what they are doing is not sex.

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So if it's not immoral for an infertile married couple to have non-penetrative sexual activity

It's very immoral for them to do so. For that matter it's immoral for fertile couples too.

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 Post subject: Re: Teleology, Sex, and Infertility
PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2018 12:50 pm 
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DominiCanis wrote:
theJack wrote:
The act of the infertile couple is still directed towards procreation. That there is something breaking that process doesn't change that's what the act is for.

Let me preface this by saying I agree with your explanation; but how do I defend this premise from something like the following (a friend of mine argued this, and it's a paraphrase): "how is sex with an infertile woman directed toward procreation? It's like putting a dollar in a broken soda machine, knowing full well that it's broken and you aint gonna get any soda out of it, and then telling me that that act is directed towards getting a soda."

Now I tried to argue from complimentary ("that that's where it's supposed to go", that the difference between that and gay sex is like the difference between putting a dollar in a broken soda machine and throwing a dollar into a garbage bin). But he's still not convinced. He's challenging me on the basis that he doesn't see the difference in both scenarios since the end is knowingly not achieved.

Btw, I have a vague idea how to answer him. But it's one of those things that's on the tip of my mind, but I can't seem to articulate it.


Your explanation to him depends on whether he has faith or not. The basic explanation is that sex done correctly has produced pregnancy in very unexpected ways. IOW - "infertility" is always a fallible determination. If he has faith, then in addition to known medical cases of couples who conceived despite a diagnosis of infertility, you could add the biblical ones like Sarah, etc. If he doesn't have faith, then you can just stick to the fact that pregnancies have happened even when couples have lost hope.

The converse to this is that sex not done properly can cause dangerous paraphilia disorders, and over time, introduces an aspect of selfishness that can be very harmful to a marriage. This is just a fact. It really isn't arguable.

When you put these two things together, you have a very strong medical and psychological argument for making sure that sex is ordered toward procreation... even for those who have been told that pregnancy would require the intervention of a miracle.

FJ

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 Post subject: Re: Teleology, Sex, and Infertility
PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2018 12:56 pm 
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Denise Dee wrote:

If penetration is painful for the woman, what is she supposed to do?


Seek medical treatment.

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 Post subject: Re: Teleology, Sex, and Infertility
PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2018 7:40 pm 
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Denise Dee wrote:
What about an infertile married couple having non-penetrative sexual activity (e.g. because penetration is painful or for a medical reason)? Non-penetrative sexual activities are definitely not directed towards procreation. Jack, you said 'Gay sex is not sex at all for exactly that reason. It is not the kind of act that is directed towards having children.' But the same can definitely be said about an infertile married couple enjoying non-penetrative sexual activity. (Leaving aside a fertile couple enjoying non-penetrative sexual activity.) So if it's not immoral for an infertile married couple to have non-penetrative sexual activity, you can't convincingly and cogently argue that non-penetrative gay sexual activity is immoral because 'it is not the kind of act that is directed towards having children.'

I've been out of town for a week, so this conversation may well be dead (and that for the better). Still, I wanted to offer a little more perspective.

First, I'd insist on pointing out that, contrary to the premise behind FF's question ("why would secular people be persuaded by any argument put forth from a religious perspective?"), this is most certainly not being put forward "from a religious perspective." Perhaps there are matters of faith here, but the arguments we're talking about are strictly a matter of nature and reason, not religion. As you yourself note, DD, "Thou shalt not kill" is something non-religious people accept. They would point out, rightly, they accept it for non-religious reasons, and they would be right to do so. It might or might not surprise you to find out that the Church doesn't teach that religion is the only way (or even the primary way) that we know that murder is evil.

So much for that. The question is only what views are consistent with reason. To that end, you offered a counter-example, sometimes called a defeater, which is a perfectly valid thing to do in these discussions. But as others have pointed out, what you take to be a defeater is not, from the perspective of the argument, a defeater at all. It's just a consequence that you've never heard of being accepted (I take this from your claim that you've "never ever heard anyone saying it's immoral for an infertile MARRIED couple to enjoy non-penetrative sexual activity." But, in fact, that has been the consistent view of the Church for two thousand years. On this, then, you are simply uninformed. You ask why it would be immoral, and the answer there is for exactly the same reason already given: that such acts are not directed towards procreation. That is also, by the way, why "self-pleasure" (trying to be gentle here) is wrong.

None of this, by the way, is to say that non-penetrative acts are immediately and intrinsically wrong in and of themselves. They are perfectly legitimate when used as foreplay, for instance, to aide the completion of the marital act, properly speaking. But what makes them licit is precisely that they are used in that context for the purpose of aiding the completed marital act, which is directed towards procreation. To that end, you could claim that such non-penetrative acts are directed towards procreation only in that context insofar as they are being used to aide the actual act that is directed towards procreation.

Again, I hope the logic is clear. You don't have to agree, but you do have to understand the logic.

As far as WHY we should accept this is true, that is quite naturally a much deeper argument. But it comes down to a question of what makes anything wrong at all? You accept that non-penetrative acts between consensual married adults is not wrong, that it is perfectly okay. But why do you accept that? If you hold the sexual ethic of most people I meet (secular or religious), I suspect your claim is that the acts are consensual. I, though, would argue that being consensual is not anywhere near sufficient grounds for claiming something is morally licit. Do you think adultery is morally permissible? In almost every case, the adulterers consent to the affair. You probably say no, because the cheated on spouse doesn't consent, but notice what you are doing--you are appealing to the claim the spouse has over the other regardless of consent. Whether or not your position can be ultimately sustained (and I think for much more technical reasons it cannot), the simple observation is merely that consent, by itself, does not guarantee that something is morally licit. You need a lot more than that.

I hope that helps you at least grasp the concept a bit more. I don't expect you to agree yet, because there is a lot of things that sexual ethics presume that would need to be seriously examined. But, as I said, I do hope it helps you at least grasp the argument being made. There's nothing wrong with disagreeing with a position, but if you are going to do so, then at least be able to clearly articulate and work out some of the implications of that position. That's just part of intellectual honesty.

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 Post subject: Re: Teleology, Sex, and Infertility
PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2018 7:51 pm 
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DominiCanis wrote:
theJack wrote:
The act of the infertile couple is still directed towards procreation. That there is something breaking that process doesn't change that's what the act is for.

Let me preface this by saying I agree with your explanation; but how do I defend this premise from something like the following (a friend of mine argued this, and it's a paraphrase): "how is sex with an infertile woman directed toward procreation? It's like putting a dollar in a broken soda machine, knowing full well that it's broken and you aint gonna get any soda out of it, and then telling me that that act is directed towards getting a soda."

Now I tried to argue from complimentary ("that that's where it's supposed to go", that the difference between that and gay sex is like the difference between putting a dollar in a broken soda machine and throwing a dollar into a garbage bin). But he's still not convinced. He's challenging me on the basis that he doesn't see the difference in both scenarios since the end is knowingly not achieved.

Btw, I have a vague idea how to answer him. But it's one of those things that's on the tip of my mind, but I can't seem to articulate it.

I would suggest changing your goal from convincing him to helping him clarify in his own mind the position. The chances are very, very high that he simply does not understand the view. He's come by that honestly. Because of the values of our culture, very few people have learned to think about these things the right way. We're all focused on consent and not doing harm, as if that were enough to justify any given act.

As far as his counter argument goes, there's nothing to argue about. Shrug and accept it. The act of putting the proper money into a soda machine is directed towards getting soda even if you know it's broken. That's pretty close to the argument for NFP. It is perfectly licit to only engage in the marital act at times you are fairly certain will not result in pregnancy. That doesn't mean the act isn't directed towards procreation. "Directed towards" doesn't equate to "provides grounds for reasonable expectation of achieving said outcome." My five year old daughter just started playing soccer two weeks ago. She's never kicked a ball in her life. During practice, she lines up and dribbles down to the goal and tries to kick it in. She almost always misses, assuming she gets to the goal at all. And when she does get it in, it is almost always because she stops right before the goal, sets up, and kicks it--all very separate acts. The idea that she is or will any time in the near future be good enough to kick the ball in stride and make a goal is laughable. But does the fact that there is no reasonable expectation that she's actually going to make the goal mean that her running and kicking aren't directed that way, or that her practice isn't directed towards improving her skills and so chances? Of course not. That would be an absurd position.

So the likelihood that any given act will actually resulted in that to which it is directed depends on the particulars around the act, and there are infinitely many particulars as there are infinitely many acts and contexts. Again, what is important is the telos of the act, and it doesn't take a genius to see the telos of sex is procreation. People who deny that are just being silly, and ultimately, that denial leads to the denial of a bunch of other silly things, like there being two sexes, or like saying that the Woman of the Year is really a man dressed as a woman. Absurdity after absurdity . . .

Anyway, bottom line, shoot for clarity, not consensus.

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