'Natural Law is the most reliable approach to sex and relationships' - Discuss. Essay Plan

  • Created by: ACJ
  • Created on: 07-05-13 21:15

Natural Law is the most reliable approach to sex and relationships – Discuss


·         Natural Law was put forward by Thomas Aquinas (1224 – 1274) in his work Summa Theolgica

·         It is a deontological theory, meaning it does not regard consequence or circumstance, but focuses solely on the action in itself.

·         Aquinas was inspired by Aristotle’s teleology which gave the universe a natural order and structure, Telos of all humans = to glorify God by living according to His law, aim is ‘fellowship with God’

·         However, although Natural Law is a clear cut approach to sex and relationships, it is not the most reliable because it is outdated and seems to imply unethical actions towards sex and relationships so long as they follow the five primary precepts.

Views on Sex and Marriage:

·         Natural law is only properly followed by rational beings

·         It is empirically based e.g. For Aquinas, the presence of reproductive organs leads us to conclude that their purpose is for procreation.  If this were not the case, we would not have any. This is emphasised by the use of Reproudction in the 5 primary precepts (Worship God, Live in a structured and ordered society, Reproduce, Learn and Preserve Life)

·         ‘every omission of semen, in such a way that generation cannot follow, is contrary to the good of man.  And if this be done deliberately, it must be a sin’ (Summa Contra Gentiles)

·         Sex for pleasure, therefore , is bad because this is an unworthy pursuit controlled by desire, not reason. 

·         Aquinas argued that sexual acts can be morally wrong in 2 ways:

·         1) when ‘the act of its nature is incompatible with the purpose of the sex act [procreation].  In so far as generation is blocked, we have unnatural vice’(ST)

·         Aquinas gives 4 examples: masturbation, **********, homosexuality and unusual sexual acts not conductive to procreation, they are intrinsically wrong as they prevent human life being concived so such acts becme unnatural.

·          This became increasingly accepted after the thirteenth century because, in part, it brought social cohesiveness in a divided world and  because it had a firm basis on Christianity.

·         2) Sexual acts (even if natural) that ‘conflict with right reason may arise from the nature of the act with respect to the other party’, for example incest, **** or adultery. – This also goes against the precept of ordered society because of **** was seen as ethically positive and was universalised, society would detiroriate.

·         They are unnatural, not because the prevent the potentiality of childbirth, but rather they conflict with the good of society and respect for the other person involved

·         The deontological approach does seem reliable in this sense because it forbids some acts outright regardless of consequences such as ****. This is reliable as it seems to protect victims (unlike a teleological approach, such as…


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