Against Nature

Posted by Christine Nusse on Feb 3, 2004 | Categories: Seasons of the Spirit
God therefore has abandoned them to shameful passions. Even their women exchanged natural intercourse for practices contrary to nature.

Paul, Rom.1:27-27

This is really the crux of the matter. The important word here is “nature”. Intercourse is natural while “those practices” are contrary to nature.

Progeny flows from intercourse. This is the way for all mammals to perpetuate the species. Neither Paul bashing nor artificial insemination will solve the dilemma either to condemn or to condone. We need to look squarely at the nature of nature.

I love nature, so I take it very badly to hear that my very nature is contrary to nature, or unnatural. I watch nature shows as often as I can, and love nothing less than being outside in nature: woods, sea, desert, I am not choosy. Even parks in the City can give me a glimpse of nature. I am a nature junky!

What do I see in nature: abundance, gratuity, and diversity? There seem to be the laws of nature. I would even dare to call them the natural law.

Abundance, of course. Gratuity? Is so much beauty absolutely necessary?

Diversity, yes, and not only diversity of species but within same species, diversity of comportment.

The more high on the intelligence scale, the more diverse the behavior and the more remote it is from the laws of reproduction. Look indeed at the Bonobos, our closest Primates cousins. For them, sex is a way to reduce tension between individuals in the group: sex between everyone and everybody: male to male, female to female, male to female and young to adult. Sex for the Bonobos is used as a way of communicating within the group, apart, and beyond procreation. (Enter Bonobos in Google and learn about those depraved Bonobos. By the way, those poor Bonobos, non-violent, making love and not war, are on the way to extinction.).

Some other primates use sex, (heterosexual this time), as a way to exercise power and domination. But, of course, they are less intelligent than the Bonobos. Nevertheless they do use sex to express a feeling, not just a way to procreate.

If primates are free enough from nature’s constraints to use sex not just to procreate but also to communicate a feeling, , to what level then would we be regressing by using sex only for procreation?

Furthermore, we are indeed created in God’s image, and as such our nature is first and for all, to love. This is the goal, the end of our human natural law. Our biological nature is a mean to that end. Even Bonobos caught a glimpse of this.

Of course Paul did not know the Bonobos. They have been conspicuously ignored until recently. But my point is that our knowledge and understanding of nature has grown quite a lot since St. Paul and since St Thomas Aquinas, too. Our understanding of God’s meaning in Creation, what is called the Natural Law, should let go of its reductive dimensions and embrace fully this brave new world, safeguarding in the process the Gospel call to love.

As St. Augustine said: “Love and do what you will.”

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