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Gays and merry oldsters

I’ve argued that sex is right only when it helps constitute an enduring union between two persons that points beyond personal interest because of what the union is, and that can be so only in the case of sex within marriage that is open to new life. Someone who commented on my Sexual Morality FAQ asked why then “gay marriage” is so different from marriage between two 60-year olds, since both unions will be infertile. I replied that a union between two men is sterile by what it is—by the identity of the parties—while one between a 60-year-old man and woman is sterile by particular circumstances, their age and physical condition.

Any thoughts on the argument would be welcome. It seems to me it depends on three points: (1) persons and acts have an essential nature that’s not the same as their factual effects, (2) one’s sexual nature (as a man or woman) is essential to what one is, so that violating it violates oneself, and (3) the nature of sex includes a natural procreative aspect that is somewhat fuzzy, so it’s lost when we intentionally do something that defeats it but not when it simply fails to go to completion because of failure to act (i.e., abstention) or because of circumstances (e.g., time of month or physical defect).

All comments are welcome. It’s hard to think about these things abstractly, but it seems necessary now, when the modernist attempt to reduce reason to formal logic and means-end rationality has caused such practical problems in this and other connections.

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