Human rational nature
“Catholic views on personhood and human nature include emphasis on the dignity of each person, from womb to tomb. The claims made for this inviolable dignity invariably stem from the recognition that all human beings, regardless of their state of dependency, are made in the image of God and are thus the bearers of certain moral rights. But in our fallen state that image is wounded and needs to be repaired. Hence, Christians need to learn to recapitulate the life of Christ in their own lives by growing through the stages of human life according to the model that He presents to us…but out of respect for human nature there are moral norms that need to be respected and that may never be violated…Catholic views on personhood and human nature take shape from revelation and reason…The human being is not only (Ed. just some) a creature of God, but that particularly important kind of creature that was made in God’s image and likeness, a dignity that sets humanity apart from the rest of creatures. Among (Ed. other creatures), what separates man from the rest is the possession of the powers of intellect and will, that is, the power of understanding…, and the power to make free choices and to love…
…The point is not that we are always perfectly free (Ed. the vagaries and vicissitudes of life, abuse/misuse, drugs, alcohol, suffering we have endured, health, condition/circumstances into which we are born, accidents, misfortune, maturity, or lack of it, etc.), but that free choice is something quite real in us, something we can gain or lose, and something what can be measured by degree – we can be more or less free in various respects. In the language of the Church, there comes a time when we reach the age of reason, and what that claim means is that we can arrive at the point when we can be quite conscious and aware of what we are doing. We are then considered responsible for what we choose to do or not do…Freedom in the sense required here has to mean self-determination – that is, the power of the self to control one’s actions and even to control the direction of one’s thinking. Metaphysically, this entails the position that there is some real but immaterial power of the soul – the will and its ability to make free choices. In a sense, this pair of powers (intellect and will) is at the deep core of the person, but it is crucial always to bear in mind that the authentic Catholic sense of these powers insists that the person as a whole, a unity of body and soul, and that our bodily actions are the expression of that person……it is by virtue of having an intellect and a will that we bear a special resemblance to God,…intellect and will must always be thought about in relation to our embodiment.”
-Koterski, J, SJ, (2012). Human Nature from a Catholic Perspective. The American Journal of Economics and Sociology Vol. 71, No. 4, Two Views of Social Justice: A Catholic/Georgist Dialogue (OCTOBER, 2012), pp. 809-839 (31 pages)
-by Karlo Broussard
“So why is same-sex sexual activity not an act befitting a human being? Here’s one answer: it goes against our rational nature.
The end or goal of man’s intellect is to know the truth. So, anything that’s true, like the proposition “Socrates is mortal,” our intellect affirms. Anything that’s false, like “It’s possible for a square-circle to exist,” our intellect abhors—or should abhor.
Now, the order of our intellect toward the truth not only pertains to our ability to understand and judge propositions, like in the examples above: it also allows us to judge the intelligibility of human actions. In other words, we use our intellect to direct our will in a rational way—to do and say what makes sense—and to avoid doing and saying things that don’t make sense.
For example, if I were to go around saying, “I’m actually dead,” I’d be guilty of self-contradiction, since my saying the statement makes it not true. What the statement gives with one hand, the act of a living person saying it takes back with the other.
So, if I were to go around saying “I’m actually dead,” you’d think me a fool. And you’d be right! The intellect recognizes this type of behavior as going against human reason, so it directs the will away from affirming it. This is a natural, logical response to foolishness.
The same natural principle applies to same-sex sexual activity, because it entails the use of the sexual faculty in a way that thwarts its natural procreative end. Human sexual organs naturally aim at procreation. So one gives with one hand, as it were, the procreative end of sex just by using the sexual faculty. But at the same time one takes the procreative end back with the other hand by perverting the sexual faculty and intentionally directing it away from its procreative end, thus rendering the act self-contradictory.
Although it is terribly out of step with popular culture to say that it is irrational to use sex for intentionally non-procreative purposes, the underlying logic is actually easy to grasp.
As the MeToo movement has shown, most in our culture rightly condemn sexual coercion: they recognize such coercion as irrational and evil both because it treats a human being as a tool to be used and because sex is supposed to be an act of love, which is free.
Forcing someone into sexual activity is at odds with the other natural end of our sexuality—unitive love. It amounts to an anti-love act of love. Similar irrationality is found in same-sex sexual activity, which thwarts what the sexual faculty naturally aims at—namely, procreation. As such, it’s an anti-procreative procreative act.
Just as a healthy intellect recognizes the inherent contradiction in sexual coercion and thus directs the will away from it, so too a healthy intellect ought to recognize the inherent contradiction in same-sex sexual activity. Neither are befitting of our rational human nature.
This is the same rationale behind the Church’s condemnation of contraception, as articulated in Pope St. John Paul II’s “theology of the body,” and in his earlier writings.
In his essay “The Teaching of the Encyclical ‘Humane Vitae’ on Love: An Analysis of the Text,” then Archbishop Karol Wojtyla writes that when couples have sex, they “can and should intend by it precisely what it means essentially.” In other words, the sexual act has a natural and internal logic to it, and a couple should intend to speak that “language of the body” when they have sex.
He identifies this natural and objective meaning of sex in the two ends or goals that we’ve articulated before: unitive love, which he calls the “special union of persons,” and procreation, which he refers to as the “possibility (not the necessity!) of fecundity.” Consequently, for the couple’s sexual act to be “intrinsically true and free of falsification,” it must signify the objective meaning of sex.
Here is where the self-contradiction of such actions comes most clearly to light. If a couple has sex while intentionally thwarting its procreative end, it follows that they contradict its objective meaning—they “falsify” the meaning of the sexual act. What they give with one hand, engaging in an act that has the objective meaning of procreation, they take away with the other, intentionally rendering a procreative act non-procreative.
To engage in sex in a way that goes against its internal logic is thus irrational behavior, since the behavior contradicts what reason knows about the truth of sex. When there is harmony between the two, sex is reasonable. When there is disharmony between the two, sex violates reason. And this can’t possibly be good for us.
Sex is a good and natural thing, and it is healthy to desire sexual union. But, like all actions, that which makes us properly human must govern this instinct: namely, our gift of reason. Otherwise, our sexual acts would involve a betrayal of our intellects, and that’s not something we should let happen, especially if we want to be a person of reason and good will.”
Love & truth,