A Year of Chastity

This is a special appeal to anyone who basically agrees with the stance on sexual morality expressed in my blog post and happens to visit my blog site. (I hope this is not a subclass of the null class.)

Please make some kind of effort to persuade the Catholic Church, or at least the Catholic Diocese in which you live, to declare 2020 or 2021 a year of Chastity as Pope Francis declared 2016 to be a year of Mercy -“talk up” the idea. During this year there would be all sorts of programs and practices to lead people to an understanding of the traditional sexual morality taught by the Church and to guide them towards developing the strength of character to practice it.

My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. In my book, I make a philosophical defense of traditional Catholic sexual morality. Free copies can be obtained here by credit card by paying $3.75 for shipping and handling.





To receive a free book, send check of $3.75 for shipping and handling per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.

A “Kantian” Condemnation of Artificial Marital Birth Control

This post interrupts my critique of theory of the moral neutrality of sexual activity. But it is related to the critique of this theory by arguing that some sexual activity, viz., artificial marital birth control is immoral.

In a National Catholic Register article in the May 1, 2010 issue Fr. Matthew P. Schneider, LC, published an article “We Must Explain Why Contraception is Wrong.” Fr. Schneider made an important point for preserving our traditional Catholic moral teachings when they are being challenged from inside and outside the Church. A good way to start confronting these challenges is to offer a variety of arguments for critical evaluation and improvement during the next several months. I propose that we declare 2019 the year of Chastity during which amongst other things to strengthen our chastity we redevelop rational defenses of Catholic teaching on sexual morality. Fr. Schneider offered three arguments in his article. In this post, I sketch out another which can be called:

A “Kantian” condemnation of artificial marital birth control. It is one of many which should be considered along with being reformulated in the next few months.

This is not Kantian scholarship. I rely only on the overview type of knowledge of Kant one might acquire in a survey course in ethics.

Artificial marital birth control is use of physical or chemical techniques to prevent conception during or after coitus by a married couple.

The explicit, or implicit, maxim of a married couple who use artificial birth control can be expressed as follows:

We will perform the reproductive act which we are entitled by our community to perform but for a period of our choosing we shall prevent it from being a reproductive act.

Now consider the Kantian “Categorical Imperative” that we ought to act only on maxims which we can consistently will to be universal laws of nature.

Generalizing such a maxim as a universal law for humans could be expessed as follows:

People shall perform the reproductive act which they are entitled to perform by their community but for a period of their choosing shall prevent it from being a reproductive act.

Such a generalization is inconsistent because given basic demographic principles it leaves open the possibility of the reproductive acts becoming insufficient for reproduction in the sense of reproducing a population. Current demographic facts show that this possibility is being realized.

In appraising this argument, the first question should be an examination of the Kantian Categorical Imperative and then of technical points such as my use of the logical principle that a claim C is inconsistent if C implies possibly not-C.

My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. In my book, I examine the case against artificial marital birth control in Ch. VIII Free copies can be obtained here by credit card by paying $3.75 for shipping and handling.





To receive a free book, send check of $3.75 for shipping and handling per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.

Irrationality of Moral Rationalization

In my post immediately before this post,Pope Francis and Satan I proposed interpreting temptations from the devil as the temptation to practice moral rationalization.

I noted that in general, “rationalization” is an honorific term indicating an effort to make a practice or idea agreeable to reason by removing objections of reason to the practice or idea. For instance, my effort in the previous post to represent Satan in abstract terms is rationalization by avoiding the objections that there is no evidence of any beings corresponding to pictorial images of Satan and devils.

However, “moral rationalization” is a pejorative term. It stands for proposing reasons for not following a moral principle which provides for no exceptions. To be more specific: You engage in moral rationalization in a situation under the following conditions.

1. You accept, or ought to accept, a moral principle that says an act is wrong regardless of the circumstances in which it is to be performed, regardless of the intentions of the agent who performs the act and regardless of the consequences of the act. Such principles are classified as categorical or absolute and such acts as intrinsically wrong.

2. You search for and find in the situation circumstances of performing the action, intentions of the agent, or in the likely consequences of the action reasons for setting aside the absolute moral principle.

As I use the term “moral rationalization,” engaging in moral rationalization is logically inconsistent. The moral rationalizers both hold and reject an absolute moral principle. They cannot really avoid the logical inconsistency by saying that they may not give full consent to the moral principle because they are only committed to it by a social role such as being a church official. In these cases, they ought to accept it to avoid the inconsistency of accepting the principle by accepting the social role and then privately rejecting the principle.

People who do not hold absolute moral principles cannot engage in moral rationalization. In fact, they might hold that always considering the circumstances of the act, intentions of the agents and likely consequences of the act is rational deliberation.

People who do not hold absolute moral principles might do something similar to moral rationalization when they deceive themselves about the circumstances etc. in deliberation. For instance, a man might tell himself that she freely consented although he applied quite a bit of social pressure.

I am logically required, by acceptance of absolute moral principles and my model of Satan, to say that people who accept no absolute moral principles are under the influence of the Satanic temptation never to obey without question a moral principle. Of course,people who hold absolute moral principles but engage in moral rationalization are succumbing to the temptation of Satan as well as being logically inconsistent.

This talk of Satan is not as bizarre as it sounds at first. My model for angels is a model for new thoughts entering human thought. Human thought is that repository of thoughts available to all humans. Angels are beings capable of putting thoughts into human thought prior to any human individual thinking the thought. On my model Satan is the angel who put into human thought the thought of rejecting absolute moral rules.

My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. I do not introduce anything like the notion of Satan in my book. I argue that the rejection of absolute moral principles for sexual activity ultimately leads to rejection of absolute moral principles for all activities. I go on to make a case that dismissal of all absolute moral principles leads to a stance that since everything in principle is permissible, nothing matters. Free copies can be obtained here by credit card by paying $3.75 for shipping and handling.





To receive a free book, send check of $3.75 for shipping and handling per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.

Pope Francis on the Role of Satan in Sexual Abuse

Let us endorse Pope Francis recognition of the devil’s role in the sexual misconduct of some priests.

In this post I diagnose the action of the devil as insinuating the theory of the moral neutrality of sexual activity into human thought and profess that ultimately prayer in addition to reason is very helpful, if not needed, to combat the morally corrupting theory of the moral neutrality of sexuality.

As a reminder of Pope Francis’s thoughts on the role of the devil in sexual abuse, consider an excerpt from an April 1, 2019 National Catholic Register translation of of Pope Francis’ March 31, 2019 in flight press conference on his return flight from Rabat Morocco

In a question a Ms. Cristiana Caricato, TV2000. noted: “you often denounce the action of the devil, you did so also at the recent Vatican summit on abuse”.
Pope Francis emphasized his realistic stance about a devil by responding :

“I try to give you all the explanations and also the limits of the explanations. But there is a point that cannot be understood without the mystery of evil. Think of this: virtual child pornography.” . . .”this is not understood without the spirit of evil. It is a concrete problem. We must solve it concretely, but say that it is the spirit of evil.”. . . “to overcome the spirit of evil is not ‘washing one’s hands,’ saying ‘the devil does it,’ no. We too must struggle with the devil, as we must struggle with human things”.

I agree with Pope Francis that we must struggle with the devil. But how?

To resolve the sexual abuse crises we need to be clear about the misdeeds, we need to understand their causes and how to prevent the operation of those causes.. There are two kinds of misdeeds in the abuse crises. On one hand, there are the sexual acts of priests; usually with boys. On the other hand, there are the so called cover-up by clerical officials of the actual sexual misconduct. As a Catholic it is proper to regard the misdeeds as sins and their causes as temptations. Catholic tradition tells us that the world, the flesh and the devil are the sources of temptation to sin.

The sexual misdeeds always involve mortal sins: Always by the seducer and sometimes by the seduced. In this post, the focus is on the sources of the temptation to these mortal sins. In my opinion, many of the cover-ups are at most venial sins. Outright perjury is, of course, a mortal sin. I suspect, however, that many of the cover-ups were simply imprudent acts of mercy and forgiveness. We do not need to invoke the devil to explain imprudent acts of mercy and forgiveness. Any parent with a wayward child understands that temptation all too well as coming from a natural love for their children. Imprudent love for one’s children can be classed as a temptation coming from the flesh – human nature. I concede that it is almost certain that many of the cover-ups were motivated by a concern to protect the reputation of the clerical order. Such a temptation could be interpreted as coming from the world – concern about status in society. And the temptation could be called clericalism. It seems unlikely that concern about clerical rights and privileges are operative in a man lusting for a boy, or girl for that matter. Indeed, if a priest uses his clerical status to seduce a boy, lust explains his succumbing to temptation and “clericalism” only labels a means he has chosen to act out his temptation.

So-called clericalism is relevant for explaining the cover-ups; not the sexual sins. So let us turn to the role of the flesh and the devil in temptations to the actual sexual sins. Strong sexual desire, which I here equate with lust, may be a necessary condition for a sexual misdeed; but it is not sufficient for explaining sexual sins.

I propose that the devil by making available to us moral rationalization* techniques together with lust is almost sufficient for sexual sins. There still needs to be the free choice even after moral rationalization has concocted all sorts of excuses for setting aside moral rules.

In previous posts, I have sketched out how a devil corrupts human thought by providing moral rationalization techniques. One of the main posts is What is Satan?

Here is a brief synopsis of my model for the devil. God created an intelligence almost as great as his own. The function of this intelligence is to convey God’s thoughts to humans by placing God’s thoughts in human thought. (Angels are beings for conveying God’s thoughts.) Human thought comprises those thoughts which are somehow common to all human beings. Whoever thinks can think what is in human thought. God gave this supreme messenger free will. It could convey to human thought what God willed or it could choose to will something else. This supreme messenger rebelled by chosing to reserve to itself whether or not it would convey what God willed. Before conveying what God willed, it would consider whether or not it had reasons for passing on what God willed. This supreme messenger was the first moral rationalizer and it passed on to human thought this thought of rationalization-seeking reasons for setting aside the moral law.

Hesitating to obey an command known to come from God is illogical and immoral. By logic about the concept of God what comes from God is right and ought to be. So this moral rationalization of this supreme messenger is irrational and immoral.

In brief, the work of the devil is making available to human thought rationalizing thoughts for following the temptations of the world and flesh. In regard to sexual temptations the basic rationalizing technique is the thought of the moral neutrality of all sexual activity. According to this moral rationalizing thought there are always considerations which can justify any sexual activity. When under the pressure of lust simply thinking that there might be justifying considerations can lead one into succumbing to sexual desire.

So to struggle against the devil when sexual temptations arise is to block oneself from any rationalizing thoughts, which all depend upon the thought of the moral neutrality of sexual activity. Prayer and religious activity may not be necessary conditions for blocking rationalizing thoughts from becoming active in your thought. But I, and presumably those who have recommended prayer, have found that prayer and religious activity are sufficient for filling the mind with thoughts and sentiments which keep out rationalizing thoughts.

* I modify “rationalization” with “moral” because in general “rationalization” is an honorific term suggesting the removal of objections raised by reason. However, I intend “moral rationalization” to be a pejorative term. In moral rationalization, objections – reasons against- are raised which logically and morally ought not be raised. Indeed, my model of Satan is type of rationalization.

My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. In my book, I argue that the assumption of the moral neutrality of sexual activity ultimately undercuts all objective morality. Free copies can be obtained here by credit card by paying $3.75 for shipping and handling.





To receive a free book, send check of $3.75 for shipping and handling per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.

Political Correctness Undercuts Apologies for Clerical Sexual Abuse

I am writing this post, shortly after the Vatican conference of bishops on sexual abuse. There, and elsewhere, lay Catholics as well as clergy are asked to learn to appreciate the deep suffering of and immense damage to all the boys and young men with whom priests performed homosexual acts.* Kathleen Beckman in her book Praying for Priests expressed well this call for sympathy and condemnation by writing “The weight of sorrow for the abuse victims is unspeakable, as is the pain of betrayal by clergy.” Leading clerics, including the Pope, offer public apologies with such words.

I am not responding well to the call for universal sympathy with the victims and righteous anger towards the perpetrators. I cannot sincerely endorse the apologies. The apologies sound like official vague pronouncements to make the officials look good and appease the public. But they do not make the officials look good. Nor do they appease the public. The condemnations and expressions of sympathy are overstated for the intended audience which, nonetheless demands overstatement which it will not accept as sincere.

In this post I attempt to diagnose why the official language seems so empty. The gist of my diagnosis is that the apologists are speaking primarily to an audience who believe that sexual activity is morally neutral but they use language which is appropriate only if they believe that there are special moral rules for sexual activity. Or put it this way. The audience wants the apologists to use the language appropriate to condemning the acts as intrinsically immoral and express regret that the boys on whom the acts were performed suffered moral corruption. But the audience does not believe that any sexual acts are intrinsically immoral but do believe that any harm done to the boys was psychological.

Let’s review the distinction between moral outlooks which hold that there are sex specific rules and those which hold that sexual activity is morally neutral by considering fellatio. Catholics should accept that there is a sex specific moral rule against fellatio. By this rule fellatio is intrinsically immoral. Under no circumstances, regardless of the mental states of the actors or consequences of the acting, it is immoral. Those who hold that sexual activity is morally neutral, hold that the morality of an act of fellatio depends upon the circumstance, mental states of the actors and the consequences of the action.

Now, only if you hold that fellatio is intrinsically immoral can you render unqualified moral condemnation on the seducer and hold without qualification that the seduced suffered the moral harm of moral corruption by being led into participation in an immoral act.

If I hold that the morality of fellatio of one male upon another is morally neutral, then the morality of the act depends upon the circumstances, the intentions of the participants and the consequences of the activity. Under the assumption of the moral neutrality of sexual activity, that these cases of homosexual acts between priests and boys need to be investigated more closely on what moral judgments to make and how to allot our sympathy.

I think the failure of the apologies and expressions of sympathy fail because of so-called “political correctness.” Politically correct language is language the public demands but which they will believe is insincere.

*I discuss homosexual acts because I am a male. Homosexual acts are the only kind I can imagine for these cases. I have never experienced any attempt of a priest or religious professional to seduce me.
*My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. In my book, I argue that the assumption of the moral neutrality of sexual activity ultimately undercuts all objective morality. Free copies can be obtained here by credit card by paying $3.75 for shipping and handling.





To receive a free book, send check of $3.75 for shipping and handling per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.

Professor Alan Goodman on Moral Neutrality of Sexuality

In a February 12, 2019 article in the on-line magazine iai (Institue of Art and Ideas) a distinguished philosopher,Alan H. Goldman | Kenan Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at College of William and Mary, presented the stance toward sexual morality which I labeled “sexual nihilism” in my book*. Professor Goldman’s stance on sexual morality is dominant amongst philosophers in secular universities of the United States and Western Europe. They have helped to make it almost common sense amongst the millions, if not billions, participating in the sexual revolution. As I noted in a previous post this stance on sexual morality is corrupting Catholic moral theology.

Professor Goldman presents an overview of his stance in his beginning sentences.

“There is no such thing as sexual morality per se. Put less dramatically, there is no morality special to sex: no act is wrong simply because of its sexual nature. Sexual morality consists in moral considerations that are relevant elsewhere as well being applied to sexual activity or relations. This is because the proper concept of sexual activity is morally neutral. Sexual activity is that which fulfills sexual desire. Sexual desire in its primary sense can be defined as desire for physical contact with another person’s body and for the pleasure that such contact brings.” . . . “Sex itself is not a moral category, although it places us in relations in which moral considerations apply. It gives us opportunity to do what is otherwise regarded as wrong: to harm, deceive, or manipulate others against their will. ”
. . . “Sexual desire aims directly at the pleasure derived from physical contact.”. . .”It is not a desire to reproduce or to express love or other emotions,”. . . “Overly restrictive sexual ethics derive from definitions that wrongly build these extraneous motives into the concept of proper sex.”

Note that Professor Goldman is presenting a moral claim. He is summarizing how we morally ought to make moral judgments about sexuality. Of course, I have no objections to making moral judgments about how we ought to think about sexual morality. The point of the reminder is that Professor Goldman’s stance expresses a moral judgment which needs to be defended against reasonable challenges. Despite its widespread acceptance, it is not a settled issue.

His definition of “sexual activity” does not effectively separate sexual activity from reproductive activity. His definition becomes “Sexual activity is that which fulfills desire for. . . physical contact with another person’s body and for the pleasure that such contact brings.” The definition is obviously too broad. There is a need to specify the kinds of bodily contact and special pleasure of those kinds of bodily contact. Such specification will require mention of reproductive organs.

In any event, an open challenge to this now standard stance on sexual morality requires making a case that sexual morality is not and ought not be a collection of moral rules specifically for moral control of human reproductive activity. Use of reproductive organs is central in human sexual activity. If there is such a collection, some of the rules would specify morally appropriate use of our reproductive organs; more likely morally inappropriate use. Traditional sexual morality is such a collection.

At this time, there is a need to re-open consideration of whether or not human reproductive behavior ought to have specific moral rules.

Here I want to propose two factual reasons for re-opening the question. I am not suggesting that facts show what ought to be. Certainly, I am not suggesting that traditional sexual morality -what ought to be sexually- can be established by what is the case. I am simply sketching out some facts to motivate re-considering whether it is reasonable to think that there are sex specific moral rules.

The first factual consideration is the special ,if not unique sense of harm, that people frequently allege when they allege that they were sexually wronged. This is exhibited in the #MeToo movement and by some young men when they had sexual relations with a priest when they were in their early teens. It seems that they are complaining of having suffered a sexual wrong.

The second factual consideration is that if moral inhibitions evolved to help humans reproduce themselves, it would not be surprising that moral inhibitions for certain uses of reproductive organs would have evolved. It would not have hurt the growth of homo sapiens to have principles inhibiting masturbation and homosexual activity.

I grant that the fact that a moral principle comes from nature does not show that it is a correct moral principle. However, if it comes from nature the principle is in our culture as a moral principle. To set it aside as erroneous requires moral arguments. It is on the table to be discussed.

*My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. In my book I explain how traditional sexual morality comes from nature and develop a case that this natural morality is the correct morality. Free copies can be obtained here by credit card by paying $3.75 for shipping and handling.





To receive a free book, send check of $3.75 for shipping and handling per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.

Synopsis of Subverting Catholic Sexual Morality

As a member of the Columbus Ohio Downtown Serra Club, one of my assignments as secretary is to write reports of luncheon talks for our newsletter. What follows is a report, using third person, on my own talk I wrote for our newsletter. The text of the full talk is in my previous blog post

A member of our club gave the talk at our first 2019 St. Charles luncheon meeting on January 11. Program chair Dan Tarpy introduced Charles F. Kielkopf with the following remarks relevant to the topic of his talk: “An Assumption in Moral Philosophy which is Subverting Catholic Sexual Morality.”

He was educated in St. Paul, Minnesota by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Corondelet and the Christian Brothers. After military service in the 11th Airborne, he returned to St. Paul and earned a Ph.D. in Philosophy and Mathematics from the University of Minnesota. From 1963 to 2000 he served in the Philosophy department of The Ohio State University. Professor Kielkopf’ s most recent books are: A Declaration of Dependence: A Kantian Condemnation of Atheistic Despair, 1997 and Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism. 2014*.

The assumption subverting Catholic sexual morality is that no sexual act by itself is morally forbidden. Whether or not a sexual activity is morally permissible depends on factors apart from what is done such as the circumstances in which it is done, the intentions of the actors and the consequences of the act. In short, the assumption holds that sexual acts are morally neutral. This assumption contradicts traditional Catholic sexual morality. Catholic sexual morality condemns homosexual acts and masturbation as intrinsically disordered. To say that homosexual acts and masturbation are intrinsically disordered is to say that there are no circumstances regardless of the intentions of the actors and consequences of the act in which homosexual acts and masturbation are morally permissible.

Professor Kielkopf pointed out that the assumption of the moral neutrality of sexual acts has had almost axiomatic status for the past fifty years in the moral theories taught in the major secular universities and some Catholic universities. Such moral theories rationalize the so-called sexual revolution beginning in the sixties. As a result, the moral neutrality of sexual acts is part of the conceptual framework of our culture. If it were not for the moral laws of nature written in the human heart referred to by St. Paul in Rom: 2:15, the assumption would be part of common sense.

The assumption subverts Catholic sexual morality because Catholics are participants in contemporary culture. It takes effort to hold to unfashionable stances and avoid being totally shaped by our surrounding culture.

Professor Kielkopf gave evidence that the language of some high clergy indicate that they may make the assumption.

Kielkopf cited use of “clericalism.” “Clericalism” is used to designate use of clerical status to coerce consent. So, instead of condemning McCarrick’s homosexual acts, he is accused of a misuse of power. Misuse of power is only a circumstance in which his homosexual acts were committed.

At the beginning of 2019 Catholics are rightly anxious about the prospect that moral thought assuming the moral neutrality of sexual acts will become dominant in our Church. If so, our Church will become only a frill in our culture which might occasionally be called upon to support some welfare policy. Our Church will have no basis to demand the dominant culture to pay attention to the meaning of life for individuals.

Secular moral philosophy’s assumption of the moral neutrality of sexual acts is really just part of an assumption of the moral neutrality of every act. Under this broader assumption, the role of moral thinking is to decide how to get the fairest division of pains and pleasures from acts. So, in principle, any kind of act may turn out to be right. If pains significantly outweigh pleasures a life is not worth living. It is right to terminate such lives.

Traditional Catholic sexual morality is part of a larger moral vision which holds that human beings have natural capacities such as sexuality, concern for beauty, concern for community, concern for truth and life itself. There is a good to be realized by each of these capacities. Morally right acts promote these goods. Acts which directly frustrate attainment of these goods are intrinsically wrong. The moral meaning of life for individuals is to form themselves to be the kind of people who promote these goods and avoid the intrinsically wrong acts. The full meaning of life for individuals is to live a morally meaningful life because that is what God created us for.

Professor Kielkopf noted that there is hope for Catholic friendly moral philosophies which can compete with the dominant Catholic unfriendly secular moral philosophies. An example he cited was the new natural law theory started by Germain Grisez.

As a final suggestion, Professor Kielkopf suggested that Serrans think about developing ways to find out the type of moral philosophy taught to seminarians and then try to ensure that they are taught moral philosophy which supports the Catholic vision.

An Assumption in Moral Philosophy which is Subverting Catholic Sexual Morality

A luncheon talk delivered to the Downtown Serra Club of Columbus, Ohio on Jan. 11,2019 at St. Charles Preparatory by club member Charles F. Kielkopf, Professor of Philosophy (Emeritus) The Ohio State University

Why have I asked for the opportunity to talk with you about the philosophical foundations of sexual morality? As Serrans we are concerned with the formation of those in ordained ministries. We pray that they “may be found worthy of the ministry they have received.” Unfortunately, there are indications that ordained ministers, the seminarians they form and the laity to whom they minister have and use a moral theory containing as assumption about sexual morality subverting Catholic sexual morality. As a result, they are not faithful to the ministries they have received.

I have a negative and a positive goal for this short presentation. The negative goal is to specify this subversive assumption, note how it subverts traditional sexual morality, consider how it damages society and offer evidence that it is made by a significant plurality, if not a majority, of Catholics including influential priests and bishops. The positive goal is to remind ourselves that we have the resources to combat this destructive influence on Church teaching and practice. I will highlight the roles of moral philosophy amongst these resources.

What is this subversive assumption? The subversive assumption is that no sexual act by itself is morally forbidden. However, sexual acts can be morally forbidden when non-sexual factors are considered. Whether or not a sexual activity is morally permissible depends on factors apart from what is done such as the circumstances in which it is done, the intentions of the actors and the consequences of the act.

For instance, the moral permissibility of sexual intercourse between two OSU students who have just met at a party depends on factors such as whether they are tolerably sober enough to consent, have harmless intentions such as “just to have fun” and are well protected against the undesirable consequence of pregnancy in this circumstance of being unmarried. Given the subversive assumption this hookup is morally permissible. However, change the circumstances to her being too drunk to consent, it would be morally wrong. Note, though, that the activity is not condemned for any misuse of sexuality. The wrong is using an asset of the girl without her consent.

In my book,* I call this subversive assumption “moral nihilism.” There is nothing in our sexuality which shows us how to use it.

In moral theory, the assumption operates by placing only indirect or conditional moral restrictions on sexual activity. Theoretically the assumption leads to judgments that a sexual act is permissible if the parties involved are capable of giving consent, are informed about the circumstances and possible consequences, actually give consent and the desirable consequences outweigh the undesirable consequences. In daily practice, the assumption rationalizes a consensual sex act which after a quick and careless consideration seems harmless.

Use of this assumption obviously entails that masturbation is morally permissible as well as homosexual relations between consenting adults. It does not require much more thinking to figure out that moral theories using this assumption justify artificial birth control. These entailments clearly subvert Catholic sexual morality. Such theories are frequently thought of as progressive.

I want to emphasize that people using progressive moral theories sincerely believe that their moral judgments are correct. They frequently render severe moral condemnations of public policy and practice with respect to social justice and environment protection. These theories yield judgments consistent with most of Catholic social teaching. They will condemn some sex acts as abusive such as fellatio of a forty year old man on a twelve year old boy even if both enjoyed great pleasure.

Nonetheless, despite good intentions use of this assumption for progressive sexual morality has some undesirable consequences. It is the assumption justifying the sexual revolution and dissent from humane vitae. Dissent from humane vitae has seriously damaged our Church. The December 2018 issue of the Atlantic had an article noting a surprising undesirable consequence of the sexual revolution. Not only is there a decline in marriages but there is a decline in young people having sexual intercourse. They stay home and masturbate fired up by internet porn and play with sex toys. Masturbation is sure and safe sex because there are no worries about getting consent or STDs.

What are some indications that this subversive assumption is operative in the moral thinking of our Church? There has been little attention to sexual morality since dissent from humanae vitae. Presumably, it is not thought that the sexual practice of a large number of Catholics, which match those of the followers of the sexual revolution are not seriously wrong, if wrong at all. I saw a poster of the Ten Commandments outside a PSR classroom. The sixth commandment was written as: Never hurt anyone! St. John Paul II’s 1993 encyclical veritatis splendor was clearly directed against Catholic moral theologians whose underlying moral philosophies make this assumption. The language of high clerics addressing current scandals suggest that they make this assumption. They avoid directly condemning sexual sins as violating sex specific rules or proper use of sexuality. They speak only of general rules of justice as being violated.

Consider the term “clericalism.” “Clericalism” is used to designate use of clerical status to coerce consent. So, instead of condemning McCarrick’s homosexual acts, they accuse him of a misuse of power, Indeed, use of terms such as “abuse” and “cover-up” function to avoid naming and blaming specific sexual act as sexually immoral. If they believed that there were genuine sexual wrongs, preventing cover-ups would be secondary to uncovering the sins covered-up and rooting them out.

As long as this assumption is dominant in our Church we are threatened with corruption. Now for the positive part.

What is a contrary assumption about sexual morality? A contrary assumption is that from contemplation and analysis of the human good to be produced by human sexuality we can uncover what we ought to do to produce that good and of, greatest importance, uncover what we ought not do to frustrate attainment of the good of human sexuality. Articulation of such analyses express the natural law, which St. Paul tells us in Rom. 2, 11-15, is written in everyone’s heart. These articulations are expressed as categorical, unconditional or absolute, prohibitions of certain sexual acts.

For instance, A man must not intentionally seek an orgasm except in sexual intercourse, open to conception, with woman to whom he is committed for life to care for her and any children resulting from their intercourse. (I needed the better part of a book to justify this principle.) All other intentionally sought orgasms are intrinsically wrong. There are no circumstances, regardless of the intentions of the actors or the consequences of doing them which justify them.

Obviously, from this type of moral theory masturbation and homosexuality are intrinsically wrong. I regret to say it: But artificial birth control for a married couple falls on the wrong side of being right.

Why should ordained clergy and influential Catholic laity hold a moral theory which leads to a moral theology supporting traditional Catholic sexual morality? There are two reasons: One theoretical, the other practical. For many judgments, such as condemnation of homosexual acts, we want to hold the strong “You can’t do that because it is wrong.” As opposed to the weak sectarian judgment “You can’t do that because you are a Catholic.” The factual reason is that the Thomistic moral philosophy which supported Catholic moral theology for centuries lost status in the intellectual world. It got too wrapped up in how to make decisions in difficult cases without up-dating the underlying theory. And the theory was poorly defended. It was ridiculed even by many Catholics after humane vitae. Proponents could not quickly answer questions such as: If it is wrong to stop a spermatozoa from reaching an ovum, why isn’t wrong to stop a bead of sweat rolling down your forehead into your eye? After all both are just following nature.

Is there any hope for a moral philosophy which will support traditional Catholic sexual morality? And, of more importance, is there hope for resistance within the Church against the influence of the operative moral philosophy which, if left unchecked, will destroy our Church. The second question comes up because far more than philosophy is needed to defeat the sexual revolution which has snuck into the Church with this subversive assumption.

There is hope for a rigorous moral philosophy which deserves serious consideration in the philosophical world. This is the so-called New Natural Law Theory started by Germain Grisez of Mt. St. Mary Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md. Some proponents are Robert P. George of Princeton and John Finnis of Oxford. It is still not seriously considered in the major secular universities.

Philosophy departments in the major secular universities determine what is to be taken seriously by other secular philosophy departments and Catholic philosophy departments which try to be like them. There is my effort to found a Kantian sexual moral philosophy in line with Catholic thought. I fear that it is a long shot for recognition; let alone acceptance. As a philosophical resource there is St. John Paul II’s theology of the body which can found a sexual moral philosophy with a sensitive analysis of the good of human sexuality

Non-philosophical weapons are available.
1. Millions of Catholics simply will not accept progressive sexual morality. They may not hold any moral philosophy or moral theology but the traditional sexual morality is written in their hearts.
2. The Church has not changed her teachings on sexual morality. And the weight of traditional will most likely prevent any changes.
3. Traditional Catholics have not remained silent when confronted with progressive sexual morality in society and the Church. For instance, we have EWTN, the National Catholic Register, Programs such as TMIY.
4 We have the promise that God will not abandon us. However, we must pray and work not to become in effect abandon by succumbing to a sense of abandonment.

A final suggestion is that perhaps as Serrans we should consider finding a way to exercise concern about the moral philosophy taught in seminaries.

*My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. These blog posts are in effect work towards a 2nd edition. I have not changing the basic line of argument in my book. But in these blog posts I am developing better ways of expressing my argument by staying with the language of common sense and removing topics and language which could at best be of interest to professional academic philosophers. Free copies can be obtained here by credit card by paying $3.75 for shipping and handling.





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The Fundamental Moral Law of Human Sexuality

This post improves upon the Proof of the Traditional Moral Law for Male Sexuality by basing it on recognizing the basic human good of human sexuality. Thus we get a fundamental law for human sexuality from which we can derive the fundamental moral law for male sexuality.

There is much we desire and enjoy in our sexuality. There is much we dread and suffer from our sexuality. Yet we cannot live without it. We desire the basic fact of our being as good without qualification. To be sure we wish pain and suffering not to be. But this is wishing to be without pain and suffering. So, because sexuality is essential to being human, there is some core of human sexuality which we find to be good without qualification: a basic human good. This core will be some action of human sexuality which ought to promoted and never frustrated.

What is this core act? What is so widely celebrated? What follows the bridal feast? We have a built in modesty which does not dwell on the details of the marriage act. But the marriage act is the core good of human sexuality. What is it?
The marriage act is a sexual intercourse between a man and a woman who are committed to provide lifelong mutual support nurture whoever may be conceived by that intercourse.

The moral law of human sexuality says: The marriage act is to be promoted and never frustrated. Parts of this act pulled out of the marriage act and used for some other purpose frustrate the marriage act. Since the crucial part of the male in the marriage act is dispersal of sperm, the dispersal of sperm’s function in the marriage act should never be frustrated. So we can readily derive the fundamental moral principle for male sexuality.

The fundamental moral law for male sexuality tells us that a man should not intentionally seek an orgasm except in sexual intercourse having the possibility of conception with a woman to whom he is committed to care for while providing for any children resulting from that intercourse. Call this the paternal principle. Acts which frustrate this good are sperm dispersal by a male which can never be used for conception. So masturbation, homosexuality and coitus interruptus are morally wrong. In addition to interrupting the good act they turn attention to a lesser good than that which they ought to be promoting.

Women may be aware of distinct female aspects of what is essential in their engagement in the marriage act. So, a fundamental moral principle for women would prohibit frustration of uniquely female sexual features in sexual behavior. As a male I cannot articulate it.

Others may have developed this type of argument better than I. They are proponents of what is called the New Natural Law Theory.
See Patrick Lee, “The Human Body and Sexuality in the Teaching of Pope John Paul II,” in John Paul II’s Contribution to Catholic Bioethics, ed. Christopher Tollefsen (Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer, 2005), 107–20; Patrick Lee and Robert P. George, Body-Self Dualism in Contemporary Ethics and Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007).

I have not intentionally followed their line of argument. However, I am not interested in being original. I simply want the truth about human sexual morality to be proclaimed. I am sympathetic with the New Natural Law Theory. I would like its proponents to incorporate whatever is useful in my arguments into the New Natural Law Theory.

Proof of the Traditional Moral Law for Male Sexuality

The fundamental moral law for male sexuality tells us that a man should not intentionally seek an orgasm except in sexual intercourse having the possibility of conception with a woman to whom he is committed to care for while providing for any children resulting from that intercourse. Call this the paternal principle.

The focus is on male sexuality. I am most familiar with it because I am a man and male sexuality is the most troublesome in human sexuality.

The paternal principle tells us that masturbation, homosexual relations, uncommitted relations with a woman and, of course, adultery are morally wrong. Men who regularly engage in these immoral sexual acts are with respect to sexuality not the kind of men they ought to be.

Why is this so? The answer is a brief statement that brings out the main points. Much more can always be said. But we need to see the main points before elaboration in a long essay or book.

Consider male sexuality. Its core action is the distribution of sperm. The purpose of sperm dispersal, or orgasm, is procreation of human beings. That’s what we would say about the sexuality of other male animals. We cannot deny that this purpose is a great good for human beings. Hence, the procreative function of male orgasms ought to be promoted and ought not be inhibited.

Yes, this judgment that procreation is a great good is a moral judgment. Making moral judgments is part of common sense and this discussion is at the common sense level.

Besides the great value of sexuality we are well aware that it is troublesome. Anybody can make up a list of the joys and sorrows of human sexuality; especially on the part of males. Evidence of this is that sexuality is restricted by all sorts of customs and rules; amongst which are moral rules. Human sexuality, as we know it, is a morally restricted activity.

Using our capacity to think morally to restrict our sexual behavior may have evolved as one way to control some of the harm of unrestricted sex. Even if the cause of making moral restrictions on sexuality is harm prevention, it does not follow that the reasons in our moral thinking justifying the restrictions is the harm they prevent. As will be shown the reasons are based on promoting the great good of sexuality and restricting that which inhibits this great good.

The question at issue is what are the fundamental moral restrictions. We are not asking whether or not it ought to be morally restricted. Morally unrestricted sexuality would not be human sexuality as we know it. Furthermore, asking whether it ought to be morally restricted already places sexuality under moral considerations. We cannot evade thinking morally about our sexuality. Even those who hold that the only moral restriction on sexual activity is the free consent of those involved are thinking morally about sexuality.

The paternal principle clearly tells us how to promote the great good of human sexuality along with condemning what frustrates that good. It offers men a clear standard for deciding on the morality of their primary sexual action. Think of the chaos of possibilities deviations from it allow.It does not leave room for seeking special circumstance which may permit following sexual inclinations, which are all too frequent, contrary to the good of sexuality. Looking for special circumstances permitting deviations from protection of the good of an activity are rationalizations which undercut the purpose of moral restrictions on the activity. All alternatives to the paternal principle make room for considerations which allow violations of the protection of the good of sexuality. For the paternal principle says exactly what its good is and condemns whatever inhibits it.

So the paternal principle does exactly what is needed for moral restriction on male sexuality. That’s probably why awareness of it is a cultural universal, even if not followed or ignored in many cultures.

I am earnestly seeking readers who will develop this line of thinking about morality and sexuality to extend it to female sexuality along with guidelines on how to apply it to improve the human condition with regard to exercise of sexuality.

The above line of argument was presented in Chapter IV
of my book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism , Tulsa 2014.

See Book Web Page for information about the book. These blog posts are in effect work towards a 2nd edition. I have not changing the basic line of argument in my book. But in these blog posts I am developing better ways of expressing my argument by staying with the language of common sense and removing topics and language which could at best be of interest to professional academic philosophers. Free copies can be obtained here by credit card by paying $3.75 for shipping and handling.





To receive a free book, send check of $3.75 for shipping and handling per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.