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Natural Law Opposition to Same-Sex Practice


There have been various debates concerning the same-sex practice. Many authors have written about this some supporting the practice and others condemning it. Theories have also been developed to either justify the practice or oppose it. Here is a detailed elaboration of two authors’ views about the natural law opposition to same-sex practice. Aquinas and Leiser have presented contradicting views, and each of them has outlined several arguments to justify his position. Other examples addressing the same issue include Manya’s report on homosexuality, and Sigmund Freud’s theory explaining the cause of homosexual behavior of human beings. However, our key focus here will be on Aquinas and Leiser’s views about the natural law opposition to the same sex practice, as discussed in this philosophy research paper.

Aquinas Arguments against Same-Sex Practice

Aquinas argument concerning the natural law opposition to same-sex practice is based on Christianity attitudes. St. Thomas Aquinas was supporting the opposition of natural law to same-sex practice. Aquinas’ reasoning is rooted on the proposition that if sexual practice is performed for any other purpose apart from the God’s intended purpose, then, it becomes a sin against nature. According to him, human alone recognize teleology as exact in the world and that God is the author of this design. Aquinas also argues that human beings are rational if they act according to nature’s end purpose. Since the talons of genitalia are procreation, therefore, any use of the genitalia contrary to their procreative purpose is unnatural and thereby wrong.

Being natural may mean one having normal or usual character. Since the genitalia are meant for procreative purpose, same-sex-practice does not constitute to this purpose and therefore, those involved in it do not present the normal character to the society. Then, it follows that they are unnatural or they go against the natural law. Following the above justifications presented by Aquinas, his argument can be valid for the opposition of homosexuality. To a very big extend, I do conquer with Aquinas since same-sex behavior deviates from the natural cause of events, which is procreation.

A report by Manya (Jan 01, 2013) shows Chicago Cardinal Francis George urging parishioners to contact state legislators and oppose a bill that was meant to legitimize same-sex marriage. In his letter, George shows opposition towards the bill that advocated for same sex marriage arguing that it violated natural law. Manya (Jan 01, 2013) report also shows that the proponents of natural law outlines the purpose of a heterosexual relationship as being procreative purpose and also expression of love. By going against the natural purpose intended for, homosexuality therefore violates the law of nature.

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All these arguments justify the natural law opposition to same-sex practice. Natural is rooted in human nature and therefore, anybody who reasons naturally can be able to judge what is morally good or wrong. For this reasons, any situation that changes the purpose of the sexual practice is morally wrong and against the law of nature.

However, despite all these justifications presented by Aquinas for natural law opposition to the same-sex practice, Leiser on his side tends to disagree with Aquinas views. He bases his arguments on the definitions of the word “natural.” He starts by questioning whether homosexuality qualifies to be termed as unnatural based on his definitions of the concept. In his work, Liberty, Justice and Moral, Leiser states:

“the word nature has a built-in ambiguity that can lead to serious misunderstanding.” He goes on and says, “when something is said to be “natural,” or in conformity with “natural law,” or “law of nature,” this may mean either that it is in conformity with the descriptive laws of nature, or that is not artificial, that man has not imposed his will or his devices upon an event or conditions as that exist or would have existed without such interference.”

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Leiser’s Arguments For Same-Sex Practice

According to the above definition of “unnatural,” Leisure therefore, argues that homosexuality is not unnatural. Everything that occurs in nature is natural, and since homosexuality occurs in a variety of species, it is thus not considered as unnatural in this since of the world.

Unnatural also means “man-made.” For example, human beings can live unnatural caves or in man-made houses. People also may prefer to live in man-made houses despite the fact that they are unnatural. Leiser tries to imply that going by the above definition of unnatural, homosexuality should not be condemned on the basis of it being unnatural.

Another meaning of unnatural is rare or uncommon. Homosexuality is 7%-11% of total population and can be considered as a rare behavior. However, rarity does not imply something is being wrong. For example, people who use left-hand in writing are rare and considered as unnatural to right-handed people, but are not wrong. Leiser also argues that we often praise rare characteristics for their rarity, but that does not make it wrong. According to him, homosexuality is rare phenomena, but it should not imply that it is morally wrong.

Even though Aquinas views homosexuality as a moral wrong basing his justifications on the intended purpose of something, Leisure on his side argues that anything can have more than one purpose. Sexual practice purpose can also serve the purpose of our own surviving pleasure other than the nature’s purpose of procreation. Aquinas’ idea is that “unnatural” means contrary to the intended purpose but Leisure on the other hand shows that homosexuality is not unnatural since it can also serve the purpose of satisfying pleasure. Similarly to any other man-made tools such as a hammer which can serve the purpose of driving nails and at the same time, as a weapon, genitalia can also serve more than one purpose.

Leiser’s implication is that we should not term homosexuality as being wrong when it goes contrary to the procreative purpose, yet we have ignored other purposes served by sexual practices. To him, even though same-sex practice does not serve the primary practice of procreation, it serves other alternative purposes. In his work, Liberty, Justice and Moral, he says that,

“ a man’s sexual organs do have their unique capacity of causing the generation of another human being, but if man chooses to use them for pleasure, or for the expression of love, or for some other purpose-so long as he does not interfere with the rights of some other people: the fact that his sex organ do have their unique capacities does not constitute a convincing justification for condemning their other uses as being perverse, sinful, unnatural or criminal,…”

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It shows Leiser’s disagreement with the natural law opposition on same-sex practice.

Various scholars have come up with theories concerning homosexuality. In some states, for example in the U.S., there has always been a debate as to whether same-sex marriage should be legalized in the state’s legislation and this has faced opposition from many Christian churches. Another question that arises is that, is it ethically right to discriminate against gays and lesbians in employment opportunities? Taylor and Francis (1994) argued that, “two theories, Kantian and natural law theories, which do support such discriminations on the claim that homoerotic behavior is universally or objectively immoral only do so because of a failure to make the precise concept of ‘natural’ which underlies these theories.”

By saying this, Taylor and Francis meant that people view homosexuality differently depending on their understanding of the concept “natural” and this leads to some of them discriminating gays and lesbians and others opposing the discrimination. it is clearly seen in Aquinas’ and Leiser’s contradicting views concerning the meaning of ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’. Even though, I agree with Aquinas that same-sex practice should not be condemned, there should be a polite way of addressing the individuals involved in such practices but not discriminating them from employment opportunities. They are still human beings only that they have deviated from the acceptable norms of the society.

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Psychologists have also tried to explain, among other inverted behaviors, homosexuality. Sigmund Freud in his psychosexual theory of development argues that homosexuality results from early childhood experiences. He outlines various psychosexual stages of libido, and in each stage: libido or sexual energy is concentrated in a particular body organ starting from oral, anal, and genital stages. He argues that homosexuality occurs because of fixation in phallic stage of development. Fixation is whereby libido is not fully utilized at a certain stage of development and this shapes the character of an individual later on in life. In using this theory, Freud tries to justify, that homosexuality is natural in human beings.


All the arguments mentioned above are all aimed at justifying the authors’ positions on either accepting the natural law opposition to the same-sex practice or condemning it. Aquinas critique hold much compared to Leiser’s and therefore his argument can be valid based on his various justifications of the teleology. I also agree with him that any act that goes contrary to nature’s intended purpose is unnatural and wrong. Homosexuality therefore violates the law of nature.

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