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Are Christians Consistent on Their Beliefs on Sexuality?

Karlo joins Cy to discuss whether the Church is consistent on the teaching of sexual morality.


Cy Kellett:

Hello and welcome to Focus, the Catholic Answers Podcast for living, understanding and defending your Catholic faith. I am Cy Kellett, your host, and happy to be with you. This time, a conversation about sexuality and in all honesty, if we really, I think were to maybe make an evaluation of why the world rejects the Catholic Church today, a great deal of it has to do with the sexual revolution. It’s certainly not all of the story, but a great deal of it has to do with the sexual revolution. And so whether people reject the church in whole or in part, it’s often related to sexual morality. So this time we talk about sexual morality with Karlo Broussard, author of a whole bunch of books, including, what’s the new one on relativism, Karlo? Go ahead, say it.

Karlo Broussard:

The New Relativism: Unmasking the Philosophy of Today’s Woke Moralists.

Cy Kellett:

I would’ve got that right too. Welcome, Karlo. Thanks for being here.

Karlo Broussard:

Cy, Thanks for having me, buddy. It’s always great to be with you.

Cy Kellett:

Sometimes it looks like there’s a million different positions on sexuality in the modern world, but if you are seeking consistency, there is a certain consistency in secular logic that basically has a recreational view of sex and a very individualistic view of sex. And it’s expressed consistently in much of what the secular world teaches.

And the Catholic Church has a consistent view of sexuality, which is rooted in the divine creation, the divine plan, in our nature as we can discover it, even in the observation of our bodies, but also in philosophizing and theology and all that. But sometimes I think people don’t think it all the way through, so they end up with parts of one consistent system and parts of another consistent system.

Karlo Broussard:

Yes. And that would be within the boundaries of non-Catholic Christianity. So you mentioned the consistency within the Catholic faith, and if we were to put out on the table the various deviant sexual behaviors or let’s say sexual behaviors that from a Catholic and reasonable perspective we conclude are deviant, you’re going to have consistency because the principles that undergird, for example, the immorality of contraceptive sex and the contraceptive act are the same principles that undergird so-called same sex sexual activity and so-called sex reassignment surgery. And you could throw on the table there, masturbation and other forms of deviant sexual behaviors. It’s going to be the same fundamental principles undergirding each of those forms of sexual behavior, in virtue of which we conclude they are immoral. So we have consistency within the Catholic understanding, and I would argue just a basic reasonable, according to reason, reasoned understanding of these behaviors.

But where the consistency falls apart is within various groups of Christianity outside the boundaries of Catholicism, at least the official teaching of the Catholicism. Because of course, you’re going to find some individual Catholics who aren’t being consistent either in their thinking about sexuality and conformity to the Catholic Church.

Cy Kellett:

Some. You’re being generous when you use the word some. Okay, yes.

Karlo Broussard:

Well, some can be a lot or less. We can have varying degrees of some. But within certain groups of Christianity, there is a lack of consistency. And that consistency falls apart, namely in rejecting contemporary forms of sexual behavior viewed to be deviant by Christians, namely same-sex sexual activity. And so-called sex reassignment surgery that’s at the heart of contemporary gender ideology, but yet affirm contraception and think that contraception and contraceptive acts within the arena of sexuality are okay and morally listed, but at the same time saying, so-called sexual reassignment surgery and same sex sexual activity are deviant forms of sexual behavior and or immoral forms of sexual behavior.

And from a Catholic’s perspective, and I would argue from a philosophical perspective, there is a lack of consistency there. Because the claim is, as I point out Cy in my article at catholic.com, Consistency on Contraception. The claim is that if Christians have a problem with so-called sex reassignment surgeries and same-sex sexual activity, then they ought to have a problem with contraception. Or to state it differently, if a Christian thinks contraception is morally okay, well then they ought in order to be logically consistent, to think that same-sex sexual activity and so-called sexual assignment surgeries are okay.

And the reason is, as I argue in my article and we’ll talk about in our conversation here today, is that the principles that undergird the issues, the principles that undergird the issues of same-sex sexual activity, and so-called sexual assignment surgery, and the principles in virtue of which we conclude those sexual behaviors to be immoral are the same principles that undergird contraception and are the principles in virtue of which we ought to be concluding that contraception is immoral.

And so once you see that the principles undergird those forms of sexual behavior, well then it becomes clear that if you’re going to deny and reject same-sex sexual activity, and so-called sexual reassignment surgeries, then in order to be logically consistent, you should be rejecting contraception itself. And so the bottom line here Cy is that we as Catholics with other Christians, we can lock arms. We do lock arms in facing and meeting the challenges of our contemporary culture and same-sex sexual activity and so-called sexual assignment surgeries, but we’re not locking arms on contraception. And so what I argue in my article Consistency on Contraception is that we ought to be locking arms on contraception, but rather than the Catholics approving of contraception to map on and go with other Christians, other Christians need to be locking arms with us as Catholics and rejecting contraception.

Cy Kellett:

Well, let me just clarify one thing, because I think a lot of, especially young people, these are, I mean, often expressed as almost as matters of taste. And so I want to be clear that when you use the word deviant, you’re not talking about something as distasteful or unusual even. It may be very common and be deviant. If I may, by deviant you mean it deviates from God’s plan for our sexuality.

Karlo Broussard:

Yes. That’s a very good catch, Cy. I did not think of that, of how that word would be interpreted by our listeners, but what I mean by deviant is a form of sexual behavior that deviates from God’s design for human sexuality. And what is good for us insofar as we are human beings within the sexual arena. That’s what I mean by deviant sexual behavior. So we could just put in there, in the place of deviant, immoral sexual behavior, sexual behavior that’s contrary to our good as human beings.

Cy Kellett:

So Karlo, if what you’re saying is that a consistent kind of sexual ethic in the light of reason and revelation would equally deny the legitimacy, the morality of contraception, same sex activity and sex reassignment surgeries. Can we go into each one of them and explain why each one would get a negative response?

Karlo Broussard:

Yeah, we got to show why they are logically connected in order to justify this claim of a consistent sexual ethic. So let’s start with contraception and what contraception involves. So contraception involves the voluntary use of our sexual faculties or powers, which includes the use of our sexual organs, which are the physical manifestations of those powers that we have. So let’s just call that sexual faculties. So contraception involves the voluntary use of our sexual faculties while actively frustrating or directing away from the achievement of the end to which nature orders those faculties IE reproduction. And we could talk about procreation if we assume god’s in the mix here.

So in other words, a contraceptive reproductive act ceases on purpose to be reproductive. It’s a reproductive anti-reproductive act, that’s what contraception entails. Now, that action side, the use of contraception, so voluntarily using new sexual faculties while actively directing them away or frustrating the achievement of its natural end of reproduction, that bespeaks a message and that message is that our reproductive powers and thus organs are not about reproduction.

So notice, it guts our reproductive organs of their reproductive meaning. And philosopher Abigail Favale, in her book The Genesis of Gender: A Christian Theory, she hits the nail on the head. She says, “In our contraceptive society, reproduction has receded into the background. The visible sexual markers of our bodies, our reproductive organs no longer gesture toward new life.” And so I think she’s hitting the nail on the head that not only within the contraceptive mentality, but in the very contraceptive act, the couple guts our reproductive organs of their reproductive meaning, robs our reproductive organs of gesturing toward new life, at least from the perspective of the couple engaging in the contraceptive activity.

Now Cy, somebody might say, they might say, “Well, listen, we haven’t gutted our reproductive organs entirely of their reproductive meaning because we have three kids. So how can you claim that a couple using contraception is gutting the reproductive organs of their reproductive meaning?” My response is, “Yeah, maybe you haven’t done so totally. There hasn’t been a total repudiation of the reproductive meaning of our reproductive organs, but the meaning is gutted specifically in the act itself. In every single contraceptive act there is a gutting, a robbing of the reproductive powers of their reproductive meaning in the act itself.”

And here’s the thing, Cy, if we can morally gut, intentionally rob the reproductive organs of their reproductive meaning in a specific act in some cases, well then what in principle is to prohibit the repudiation of the reproductive meaning of our sex bodies in all cases? Once you give an inch, you open that door an inch to robbing our reproductive organs of their reproductive meaning and what they are for, well, then the whole door is torn down because there would be nothing in principle to impede, nothing in principle to say that robbing our reproductive organs of their reproductive meaning in other cases is immoral. There would be no principle in virtue of which you could make that judgment.

And so any couple that engages in contraceptive sex is engaging in activity that is robbing our reproductive organs of their reproductive meaning, and thus are on the road and thereby have justified any other activity that would voluntarily use our reproductive powers and organs while at the same time robbing them of their reproductive meaning. So contraceptive acts give justification to any other kind of activity that would do the same thing, voluntarily use the reproductive organ while at the same time robbing it of its reproductive meaning, by directing the use of the powers and the organs away from its natural end of reproduction, and towards some end that’s contra-reproduction such that it becomes a reproductive anti-reproductive act. So that’s the logic of contraception.

Cy Kellett:

Yeah. Okay. So the logic of contraception then, it does seem to me sometimes that we resist the logic of contraception in a certain kind of motivated way. You have to have a certain detachment, I suppose, to think that way about sex because you have to step back from all whatever cultural learning we’ve been given over the last decades and decades, and also just the kind of desires that we have, I suppose would be one way to say it. But this is a consistent illogical, a fully willing in the sense of being willing to submit to God’s creation, to God’s plan way of thinking about contraception. But now-

Karlo Broussard:

That’s all presupposed, that’s all assumed and presupposed. What we’re trying to show here is the logic of contraception and how that same logic is going to be embedded in these other forms.

Cy Kellett:

That’s what-

Karlo Broussard:

Of sexual behavior.

Cy Kellett:

That’s what I’m getting at.

Karlo Broussard:

We’re assuming that we ought to follow nature’s design. That’s another issue that we would have to defend in another episode at some other time.

Cy Kellett:

But when we don’t have a motivation, for example, I’m not just to say the person is thinking, “I’m not afflicted with the desire for a sex change operation.” It’s much easier to think in a detached way about somebody else’s problem than my problem. I think that’s where I was getting.

Karlo Broussard:

But some couples have a desire to engage in the sexual activity while contracepting, so it becomes more of an issue for them.

Cy Kellett:

Yeah, yeah.,

Karlo Broussard:

I see what you’re saying.

Cy Kellett:

So this logic that you just gave us though about the use of the sexual power, the use of the sexual function, the purpose of the sexual organs, apply it then to the other two examples.

Karlo Broussard:

Yes. Okay. So now that we have the logic of contraception in place, the question becomes how is that logic revealed or embedded in, let’s take for example, same-sex sexual activity? Well, if we look at that sort of activity Cy, of itself, it cannot in principle be reproductive in any capacity. So no one wonders why two men who are engaging in sexual activity doesn’t produce a child. No one wonders why that is the case. Why? Because it’s not sexual intercourse, properly speaking. And we don’t have to get into all the graphics here, but we can intuitively recognize that’s not “sex” or sexual intercourse properly speaking. That’s why we don’t wonder, “Well, why in the world hasn’t a child come forth from that sort of sexual activity?”

But yet Cy, that sort of activity uses the reproductive organs. And so what you have here is the voluntary use of the reproductive organs while voluntarily setting aside entirely the reproductive meaning of the reproductive organs, entirely setting aside the meaning of our sexed bodies as male and or female.

And so here we have in same-sex sexual activity, the gutting of our sexed bodies, of their reproductive meaning, and the genitals are treated as no more sexual than eyes and ears. If on an objective level, the sexual powers or the reproductive organs do retain their order to reproduction because that’s what they’re naturally for. So on the objective level, they retain that order, but from the perspective of the person using the sexual powers in a way contrary to their natural end of reproduction, the faculty or the power and the organs are being treated as if they were not sexual, because they’re being directed to some end other than, in contrary to, reproduction.

And so that’s why I say from the perspective of the individuals using the sexual or reproductive power and organs in ways contrary to their natural end, they’re being treated as no more sexual than other organs such as eyes and ears. Now, how is this parallel with contraception? Well, it becomes very clear. In both sorts of activity, each treats our sexual organs as non-sexual. Each sort of activity, it treats our reproductive powers and organs as if they’re not reproductive. And so there you see the same logic embedded in both sorts of activities. So if a Christian is against robbing our reproductive organs of their reproductive meaning in same sex sexual activity, well then a Christian ought to be against robbing our reproductive powers and organs of their reproductive meaning in contraceptive sex.

Cy Kellett:

Yes. Okay. Right, right. Now it’s not an exact parallel, is it? I mean-

Karlo Broussard:

There is a difference, right. The difference is that in contraception, the order of male female complementarity at least is retained, right? So there is a difference between contraception between male and female and sexual intercourse and same-sex sexual activity because the natural order of male and female is still preserved. And even with contraceptive sex, you have other… Trying to keep this G rated here buddy, other kinds of behaviors that are natural to that sort of sexual activity of intercourse of male and female becoming united physically speaking. So you don’t have that in same sex sexual activity, and that’s clear.

But the similarity is in the thwarting of the reproduction end within contraception, thus robbing the reproductive organs of their reproductive meaning because you take away the end, you take away the meaning of the power and the organs. And the same is present in same-sex sexual activity because you’re voluntarily using those reproductive powers and organs as if they were not reproductive. And therein lies the similarity between contraception and same-sex sexual activity. And thus, if you’re against same-sex sexual activity, you ought to be against contraception.

Cy Kellett:

And that is a very powerful argument for many of our separated Christian brothers and sisters who do in fact want to say same-sex sexual activity is wrong, but contraception is not. If the underlying logic is the same in both, just to repeat what you’ve said, then you have to reconsider that. Either they’re both okay or they’re both not okay. What does this have to… I mean, there’s not a sex act involved in the whole transgender, transitioning thing, so it has to be different, that one.

Karlo Broussard:

Yeah, there is a difference. And I actually thought about that earlier when I was talking about these different forms of sexual behavior. And then the question was in my mind, “Well, is so-called sex reassignment surgery a sexual behavior?” Well, not in the same way as contraception and same-sex sexual activity, but it is involving our reproductive organs, right? And so there’s going to be some connection here.

So let’s begin, once again, let’s recall the logic of contraception. The reproductive meaning of our sexed bodies doesn’t matter, and it’s cast aside at will because you’re voluntarily engaging the use of the reproductive power and organs and voluntarily, willfully directing it away from its natural end of reproduction. Now, as I argue in my article Cy, whenever you do that, you are in principle speaking the language or the message that our sexed bodies and their order to reproduction do not matter.

So consider this argument. Premise one, if we affirm that our sexed bodies matter, our bodies as male and female, if we affirm that our sex bodies matter, well then we have to affirm that the order our sex bodies have to reproduction matters. Because that’s the whole point of having sexed bodies as male and female, is the order that these bodies and their organs have to reproduction. So if we affirm that our sexed bodies matter, then we have to affirm the order to reproduction matters.

Premise two. But in the logic of contraception side, we cannot affirm that the order of our sex bodies have to reproduction matters since the reproductive powers and the organs behind them are being used for an end contra-reproduction. And so therefore, we can conclude, at least within the logic of contraception, we cannot affirm that our sexed bodies matter. Again, why? Well, because we’re rejecting the order that our sex bodies have to procreation. And if you reject that order to procreation and take away the end for which the powers and organs exist, well then guess what? The powers and the organs do not matter.

So we have to conclude within the logic of contraception that our sexed bodies do not matter. And therein lies, my dear friend, that goes to the heart of the creed of modern gender theory. It’s irrelevant that our bodies are sexed, whether male or female, both for reproduction and for determining a person’s individual identity as male and female. And so the sexual markers that we traditionally viewed as expressive of our male and female reproductive powers are considered merely cosmetic. And if merely cosmetic, and they have no moral implications for us as human beings, well then, so-called sex reassignment surgery is fair game.

And so therein it becomes clear that the logic embedded in contraception is the same logic embedded in so-called sex reassignment surgery, namely our sexed bodies do not matter. And so if a Christian is going to reject that idea and say, “Well, no, our sexed bodies do matter, and that’s why we reject so-called sex reassignment surgery”, well then they ought to be rejecting contraception. Because in contraception, the same thing applies. Our sexed bodies don’t matter. So if you think your sexed bodies do matter, well then you ought to be rejecting contraception.

Cy Kellett:

So are you saying that… You have an if at the beginning of that statement, so you’re saying if you accept that our sexed bodies matter, then these things all consistently follow, but is that if kind of a different argument? To satisfy that you’re going to have to have a different… Because what if the person that goes, “Yeah, I don’t think our sexed bodies do matter”?

Karlo Broussard:

Well yeah, and that’s why this sort of conversation is primarily directed at our fellow Christian brothers and sisters. And so notice we are not making an argument that we need to respect our sexed bodies and their natural order. That’s presupposed in this conversation. We’re assuming that someone’s going to accept the fact that our sexed bodies do matter. We need to pay attention to the natural order or design of our reproductive powers and organs and be respectful of that and live consistent with that order. That’s all presupposed and assumed for this conversation.

So what we’re saying here, Cy, and I’m glad you brought this up. If it is true, if someone accepts the idea that our sexed bodies matter, and what I mean by that is that we affirm the natural order that our reproductive powers and organs have to reproduction. If we affirm that, well, then we not only should reject same-sex sexual activity, and so-called sex reassignment surgery, but we should also reject contraception. And most, I mean, I don’t know if I can think of any Christian, most Christians are going to acknowledge that, “Yeah, our sexed bodies do matter, like God created us male and female”, and with that comes the natural order of that which makes us male and female, namely our reproductive powers and secondarily organs being ordered to reproduction. If that matters, then we got to reject all of these forms of sexual behavior and behaviors that involve our sexual powers.

Cy Kellett:

I know it’s not part of the argument, but it is striking to me that since the general acceptance of contraception.

Karlo Broussard:

Absolutely.

Cy Kellett:

It just seems like one domino keeps falling after another, because it’s almost like the person taking their finger out of the dam and then the water starts to trickle out and the hole gets bigger and bigger. Even if a person is on the fence about the argument you just made, it does seem to me we have actual empirical evidence that if you start treating sex as if it’s not related to-

Karlo Broussard:

Reproduction.

Cy Kellett:

To reproduction, it’s going to be nothing but trouble following that.

Karlo Broussard:

Yeah, absolutely. And that’s not just a slippery slope argument. That’s actually an argument that’s based upon principles. So as we’ve been talking about in this conversation, we’ve tried to identify, and as I do in my article at catholic.com, identifying a certain principle embedded in contraceptive activity and showing that that same principle is embedded in same-sex sexual activity and the act of so-called sexual assignment surgery. And so what you’re saying is that contraception leads to these other behaviors. I say “Yes, but it’s actually based on principle.”

Cy Kellett:

Because your reasoning has, yeah, you’ve affected your own reasoning now.

Karlo Broussard:

That’s right. So in response to what you said earlier, people have recognized that ever since the contraception, if contraception’s in place within you have these other behaviors. Well, basically it’s human beings exercising their intellect and saying, “Well, wait a minute. Yeah, if I can dismiss my reproductive power and organs in their natural order and contraception and that’s what’s going on in these other behaviors, well then by golly, let’s just do it”. And so they’re actually following the logic.

Cy Kellett:

That’s the thing. Following the logic, and so we have to go back to first principles, so to speak, and reestablish the logical basis for all of this. And that it’s not just based in prejudice, it’s not just based in distaste, it’s based in this is the logic of what God has given us. You can’t alter that logic in one place and want it to just hold up everywhere else.

Karlo Broussard:

Yeah, absolutely. So the logic is valid, right? The conclusion that sexual assignment surgery and same-sex sexual activity is okay because contraception is okay. That’s a valid argument. That’s a successful argument because the conclusion does follow from the premise. What we’re going to challenge is, “Well, wait a minute. We don’t think contraception is morally permissible. Contraception is morally problematic and immoral. Therefore, according to the logic, these other forms of sexual behaviors are going to be immoral as well.”

Cy Kellett:

I would just say to folks, if you’re listening and you want to know more about these topics, you can go to catholic.com and ask your question there. Karlo, thanks very much. I appreciate you taking the time to do it with us.

Karlo Broussard:

Hey Cy, thanks for having me, man. God bless.

Cy Kellett:

And thank you to everybody who listens. If you want to contact us, give us an email at focus@catholic.com. If you’d like to support us financially, you can do that at givecatholic.com. And if you’d like to help us grow, we would appreciate it if you would help us grow. You could do that by giving us the five stars wherever you listen and maybe write a nice review. That will help other people know that this might be a podcast they’ll take a chance on listening to. I’m Cy Kellett, your host. That’ll do it for us. We’ll see you next time. God willing, right here on Catholic Answers Focus.

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