It's only natural - blog by lifelinking


Living our lives without dogma and superstition. A blog created for the purposes of discussion and debate, and for the promotion of knowledge and understanding of humanism.

Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.
It's only natural
Submit "It's only natural" to Digg Submit "It's only natural" to Submit "It's only natural" to StumbleUpon Submit "It's only natural" to Google
Posted 18-Sep-2011 at 07:42 PM (19:42) by lifelinking
Updated 18-Sep-2011 at 08:21 PM (20:21) by lifelinking

In my recent blog Will Scotland take the next step? I highlighted the way that senior Roman Catholics have used the words ‘natural’ and ‘nature’ in their pronouncements about the Scottish same sex marriage consultation. In this blog I will have a closer look at this. To remind ourselves of the way the words have been used, here are some of the recent statements.

Archbishop Mario Conti

... allowing gay couples to marry in a traditional sense would be pointless as it would not result in the creation of a “natural family”.
We would use a word which carries huge significance, and render it meaningless in respect of one of its essential attributes, its capacity to create a natural family – I mean of course marriage.

Cardinal Keith O'Brien

The view of the Church is clear, no government can rewrite human nature; the family and marriage existed before the State and are built on the union between a man and woman.
The Cardinal and the Archbishop clearly think that what they describe as natural equates with being good or more simply, natural = good. But once we start to unpack this idea, we quickly realise that we may not find everything that occurs in nature (like cancer) or in human nature (like the propensity to aggression) to be good. If you replace the word nature with anything else you find similar difficulties. For example one may say pleasure is good, or meekness is good, or courage is good, and then have to face up to any number of exceptions to such a statement.

The attempt to reduce the 'good' to some other thing or property is sometimes referred to as the naturalistic fallacy, so called because goodness is not an inherent (or natural) property of any other thing. Hence good as a concept is notoriously difficult to define in any universal way, and in different real life situations we must think through and come to terms with many complexities in order to make the best ethical decisions we can.

The clergy that have spoken out in this way have been making an ‘Appeal to Nature’ based on a very particular, narrow, partial and slanted view of the nature of things. A view interestingly enough, based not on the reported words of Jesus but on Thomism (Aquinas’s fusion between Christian thought and earlier Greek philosophy). From this medieval view point, all things have an essential quality, nature or purpose. As that purpose was set by a divine creator, then it must be good. The essential purpose of a musical instrument would be to be played, or the essential purpose of an apple tree would be to bear fruit and the essential (natural) purpose of marriage would be to procreate.

Those making the recent statements have held that their traditional view of the natural purpose of marriage is ‘self evident’. I contend that while sincerely held, this well worn assumption is well past its time. It cannot be inferred from the fact that people procreate, that procreation must be seen as the sole purpose of marriage. It must surely be acknowledged that another view (held with equal sincerity) that expressing dedicated loving commitment over time is just as valid a purpose. We may also observe, that people being able to see and practice marriage in one way, does not preclude the right of others to practice it in some other way.
Posted in Uncategorized
Views 2598 Comments 5
« The Love Equally Campaign        ——   Main   ——       Unfortunate ruling from Irish Coroner »
Total Comments 5


                   Post a Comment   Post a Comment
  1. Old Comment
    iamwombat's Avatar
    A couple things jump into my mind as I read your blog Ll, some are from previous discussions on the same subject that I participated in debate over while in school and while working for Child Protective Services (a branch of U.S. Social Services. Considering the legal and literal meaning of the following statement."allowing gay couples to marry in a traditional sense would be pointless as it would not result in the creation of a “natural family”. So does adoptive parenting automatically fall under the heading of non-natural family and stand to be abandoned or outlawed? What about foster families? Finally, here in the U.S. we have in some states legalized adoption by Gay couples as well as foster families being licensed (by the state) that are other than hetero marriages (in some cases a single gay man retained license to foster children and adopt same after his significant other left the household (this was in Idaho where civil unions or other named non-marriages were recognized. I know many would argue that these are silly points, I do not think so. Another example of after the fact family creation would be to say that an elderly couple that were married and never procreated, would have their marriage dissolved at some point as it could not constitute a so called natural family.
    "the family and marriage existed before the State" and long before the Church as well. Many examples of cultures around the world that have allowed for and even encouraged same gender relationships, often to promote social ties and even to reduce violence. All of the cultures I am aware of that made such practice, practical, did so before Christianity discovered them. I'm not current with laws in the U.K. pertaining to minority status and considering therefore likelihood of perceived vulnerability among minorities, but that is where the strongest arguments are made in the U.S. for recognizing GBLT as needing special protection under the law to ensure they are not discriminated against.
    I Thank you for keeping this information coming, I was surprised at first to see that the argument against were going on in Scotland at all, beleiving that all modern industrial nations were ahead of us in tolerance and non-discrimination.
    Posted 18-Sep-2011 at 10:04 PM (22:04) by iamwombat iamwombat is offline
  2. Old Comment
    Makbawehuh's Avatar
    We should, of course, in no way allow gay marriage...

    A 1999 review by researcher Bruce Bagemihl shows that homosexual behavior has been observed in close to 1,500 species, ranging from primates to gut worms, and is well documented for 500 of them.
    ...Because homosexual behavior never happens in nature. It's just not natural.


    Posted 19-Sep-2011 at 07:09 AM (07:09) by Makbawehuh Makbawehuh is offline
  3. Old Comment
    lifelinking's Avatar
    Iamwombat, thank you for the comments. As to this:

    I was surprised at first to see that the argument against were going on in Scotland at all, beleiving that all modern industrial nations were ahead of us in tolerance and non-discrimination.
    I was not really surprised by the reactions, althought I think (hope) that most people in Scotland will hear the things that are being said by senior RC clerics and others and recognise how wrong and unsupportable they are.

    Makbawehuh, thank you for your comments. I deliberately did not go down this line for a number of reasons, but I am really quite glad you did so because it raises some really interesting questions. For the record I am in agreement with you and as sure as I can be that same sex attraction is part and parcel of our natural world. I am also convinced that when people who are 'LGB or T' have said to me 'this is not a lifestyle choice for me, this is who I am', that they were speaking honestly from the heart, and were right. It is important for me at this point to be quite clear about my view that there is nothing at all unnatural about same sex relationships, and I reject the view that there is. But I think we must be cautious about making this a focus for the debate.

    Arguing with people like the RC clerics I highlighted above on this basis carries an underlying assumption that their 'appeal to nature' arguments have a validity and credibility that they do not really have, and a legitimacy they do not deserve. What if a person that was not 'biologically predisposed' to same sex attraction made a choice (lifestyle or otherwise) to have a same sex relationship with another consenting adult? Would that be inherently bad? If not inherently bad, would it be morally 'less good' than a relationship based on 'genuine' biological attraction? (Maybe we could develop a DNA test to make sure that people did not enter the wrong kind of relationship ...) Apologies for this rhetoric, but I suppose my point is, where would this kind of thinking end? This is one of the reasons I think that we have to go beyond 'appeals to nature' and recognise the essentially social and political nature of this debate. Making this about 'nature' is at best a diversion and at worst potentially dangerous. This is not a debate about our 'genetic programming'. It is about things like liberty, social justice, human rights and (let's not forget) love.
    Posted 19-Sep-2011 at 11:45 AM (11:45) by lifelinking lifelinking is offline
    Updated 03-Oct-2011 at 02:14 PM (14:14) by lifelinking (added very last reference to love)
  4. Old Comment
    Gurdur's Avatar
    Tweeted today:

    Lifelinking blogs on, "It's only natural " about gays & civil partnerships #gays #LGBT #Scotland #UKpolitics #religion
    Posted 19-Sep-2011 at 04:50 PM (16:50) by Gurdur Gurdur is offline
  5. Old Comment
    lifelinking's Avatar
    Thank you Gurdur
    Posted 19-Sep-2011 at 06:58 PM (18:58) by lifelinking lifelinking is offline
Post a Comment Post a Comment
Total Trackbacks 0


All times are GMT +2. The time now is 09:20 AM (09:20).


Credits and thanks:
Basic Style design: Design By: Miner
(much altered by Gurdur)

For smilies:

Koloboks, including Aiwan, ViShenk, Just Cuz, Laie, Connie, snoozer, Viannen,
and especially Mother Goose too.
KitKatty. and PederDingo, and phantompanther.

For help, coding, and/or modifications:

Different people at, and a whole lot of people -- too many to be individually named, sorry -- at

For artwork, avatars, backgrounds and so on:

KitKatty, and verte, and britpoplass

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.2
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright is asserted for the Heathen Hub itself and for its owner by its owner, from 2008 onwards. Copyright of individual posts remains the property of the original poster, however by posting on the Hub the poster grants the Hub the rights to host and present the posted messages for perpetuity. The Hub is in no way responsible for opinions or messages posted in any way on the Hub by its members. Please also see this here. Copyright of individual icons and other graphics, as for individual vBulletin styles, remains the property of the original owner/creator. Copyright for the vBulletin software itself, and the vBulletin Blogs software, remains with Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd, as in the copyright notice above.
Welcome to a place to talk about atheism, religion, science, humanism, evolution, politics, Creationism, literature, reason, rational inquiry, logic, cooking, reading, and travel - the Hub: a community for everyone.