On Natural Law
Sun 03 July 2016
(written as a comment on the blogpost by Melinda Selmys, “10 Reasons Why Homosexuality is Not a Natural Law Issue”)
First of all, yes, the title of the blogpost is wrong. However, who of you (especially a parent of couple of months old baby) never wrote a title, and then while writing the essay found that “writing is thinking” and ended up with something completely different than originally intended, and then forgot to fix the title, so, who of you never committed this mistake throw the first stone!
However, to the substance of the matter. My understanding of the Melinda’s post is that basically she complains against using the word “natural” as in the natural law, because nobody outside of the “Catholic ghetto” knows what Catholics mean when they use it. My objection against the term natural law (as a non-Catholic, former lawyer, who has rather troubled opinion about homosexuality) is on the word “law”. I don’t think most people know what Catholics mean when they say it. You see, many languages (I am sure it is true about English as well as my native Czech) use word “law” in two meanings. First, law as a set of rules of human behavior, and second law as in “laws of nature”, when it describes characteristics of nature. Following the second meaning I can say that our cat Líza follows natural law when eating meat. If she decided that killing innocent animals just in order to satisfy her appetite is cruel and selfish, and she should be vegan since that moment on, she would violate natural law which says that all cats are carnivores and die shortly thereafter because her tummy is not capable of digesting vegetables. Yes, it is possible by some logical gymnastics to get from one meaning to another (e.g., “For best results follow the Maker’s Manual”, i.e., if you want to live good life then we should follow what God intended for us), but when using the term “law” we interchange two meanings in the middle of sentence, or when using one meaning while the other party of discussion means another, we won’t get too far in communicating our ideas. Also, the question of morality of the Líza turning vegan quite eludes me.
The other problem with the natural law is that when used as I see it being used in the discussions about homosexuality it grossly oversimplifies the world as it actually exists. I can agree with the idea that every creation has some God’s intended purpose only when we keep very fuzzy about what that purpose actually is. I won’t dare to comprehend the mind of God to understand all possible purposes He may have for his Creation, and I know that when we start to describe purposes of individual creations we get to the grotesque and childish contemplations as what is the purpose of mosquito or a malaria bacteria. These discussions are obviously pointless, but I don’t think the effort to abridge the God’s intent for sex into one thing for whole humankind is any less stupid than that. Yes, procreation is probably the most obvious and most important purpose of sex, but certainly the strengthening of the relationship between spouses is other one, and possibly six (or sixty?) other purposes I am missing at this moment.
Also, this oversimplified understanding of purpose greatly violates unique character of each individuals. I think studying genetic disorders could be very useful discipline for many Catholics bashing homosexuals. When looking at the variety of disorders which may happen to humans, perhaps we could be a way more cautious about using world “natural” to any human beings. And if the homosexuality is really somehow born deviation at least for some homosexuals, what could be the proper behavior of such person? I am really not sure, but I am certain I should be very cautious about making brisk judgements about their lives.