Current events in the Catholic Church and in U.S. politics being as they are, it seems worthwhile to put together a roundup of blog posts and other readings on sex, romantic love, and sexual morality as they are understood from a traditional natural law perspective.
A brief summary of its contents might be useful. The essay has five sections. After the first, which is the introduction, the second section provides an overview of traditional natural law theory and its metaphysical foundations. The third section spells out the general approach that traditional natural law theory takes toward sex and romantic love, and shows how the key claims of traditional sexual morality vis-à-vis adultery, fornication, homosexuality, etc. follow from that approach. As I also explain there, however, understanding certain specific aspects of traditional sexual morality (such as the absolute prohibition of contraception) requires an additional thesis, which is where the perverted faculty argument -- which is (contrary to the usual caricatures) not the whole of the traditional natural law approach to sex, but rather merely one element of it -- comes into play. Section four provides a detailed exposition and defense of that argument, answering all of the usual objections. Along the way, there is substantive discussion of questions about what is permitted within marital sexual relations, and it is shown that the perverted faculty argument is not as restrictive here as liberals and more rigorist moralists alike often suppose. Finally, in the fifth section, I argue that purported alternative Catholic defenses of traditional sexual morality -- personalist arguments, and “new natural law” arguments -- are not genuine alternatives at all. Invariably they implicitly presuppose exactly the traditional natural law “perverted faculty” reasoning that they claim to eschew. Moreover, the “new natural law” arguments have grave deficiencies of their own.
Mired in the roiling tar pits of lust [On the mechanism by which sexual immorality corrupts the intellect]
Bad lovin' [How the nature of love, romantic and otherwise, is widely misunderstood in modern times]
How to be a pervert [On the connection between perversity and irrationality]
Posts on issues related to the "transgender" movement include:
Byrne on why sex is binary
Byrne on why sex is not a social construct
The sexual revolution devours its children
Byrne on gender identity
I’ve also written several posts over the years about controversies over sexual morality as they have arisen in the U.S. political context, and in the Catholic context:
Marriage inflation [How expanding the application of the term “marriage” strips it of its value as an honorific, thereby undermining one of the purported goals of the “marriage equality” movement]