Category Archives: Sexual morality

Bonding Necessary for Love

In Love is More than Willing the Good of The Other , I point out that we cannot say all  we intend to say with “love” by talking only of willing and thinking of the good of the one loved. There is a need for a complex of affections, thoughts and actions forming a relationship of bonding. There is a variety of bonding relations which could be called “love-forming.” The varieties of bonding leads to a variety of ways of loving. There are personal bonds which relate two people to one another which are not love-forming., viz., hatred. I focus mainly on on what might be recognized as love-forming bonding.

 Typically bonding is a relation of one person to another. What are some basic semantic features of almost all types of bonding relations?

The relationship is not always symmetric.  For instance, consider a case of a man and a woman who mutually respect one another and will the good for each other.  However, the man, as the saying goes, falls in love with her.  For, good or ill, he had bound himself in love with her.  However, she does not have, and cannot by any act of will create that love forming bond with him. He loves her while she does not love him. Obviously, bonding relations are not transitive. A friend of your friend may not be your friend. Some might think that love-forming bonding is obviously, and maybe necessarily, reflexive. I challenge an assumption that a love-forming bonding is reflexive.Suicide suggests that some people hate themselves. Anecdotal evidence indicates that many people find their happiest times of life when they have forgotten themselves.

I write that bonding is typically a personal relationship for I want to set aside discussion of bonding with non-human animals, such as our pets. Also I do not want to get distracted on whether or not there can be bonding with non personal entities such as organizations or locations. I could easily become distracted by tryng to distinguish bonding from loyality and a sense of who one is. I do not intend to define “bonding.” I discuss bonding only by making semantical observations about how we talk of bonding. I present these semantical observations as bringing out what we mean by “bonding.” Story tellers perhaps give us a better understanding than could be given by any definition. Stories can reveal bonding from the perspective of the characters and from the omniscient author perspective. Unfortunately, I am not a creative writer.

Is bonding a thought or a feeling?

Frequently, bonding is talked about as a some type of feeling or complex of feelings. As a saying goes one might admit to starting to love by admitting “having feelings for so-and-so.” However, it is not a thoughtless raw feeling. It is a feeling for someone with certain,perhaps indefinable, features. I doubt that there is a way of identifying the feeling, as opposed to the thoughts in loving. Suppose Tom fell in love with Sue 2016 and after a break-up in 2018 falls in love with Jane in 2022. Would there be a way of deciding the truth of “The feeling of Tom for Sue is the same as the feeling of Tom for Jane” apart from any thoughts of Tom? Even the binding of an infant with his or her mother is a mixture of inexpressible thoughts and feelings. Facial recognition is cognitive. Facial recognition devices – a type of robot- provide evidence that facial recognition is cognitive. The program for a facial recognition robot mimic the thoughts of facial recognition.

More generally, bonding is to something or someone under a description.

All things considered, bonding is best classifed as the affective dimension of love. I suspect that if there were a way of investigating a brain of a bonding person, brain regions associated with feelings would be more active than regions associated with cognitive processing.

Proper control of bonding is essential in sexual morality. In my book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilihism Tulsa 2012, I specify courting, bonding, mating as the main areas of sexual morality. In the book I focus on mating, eg. coitus. A free copy of this book is available by emailing .

Sexual Revolution Undercuts Christianity

Christianity is Incompatible with Acceptance of the Sexual Revolution

Acceptance of Christianity is acceptance of at least the Apostles’ Creed.

Acceptance of the sexual revolution is acceptance of the Moral Neutrality of Sexuality.

  Characterizing acceptance of the sexual revolution as acceptance of a thesis in moral theory  characterizes the outlook in a neutral, if not favorable, way.  People who accept. in principle, extra marital sex, homosexual acts, etc., may strongly condemn various “outrageous acts” because they deem the consequences of those acts are harmful.

Acceptance of the moral neutrality of sexuality is not logically inconsistent with acceptance of the Apostles’ Creed or the Nicene Creed. Because I cannot argue for a logical inconsistency, I shall argue that acceptance of the sexual revolution, viz., the moral neutrality of sexuality, undercuts attempts to understand the Christian creed.

The line of argument goes as follows.

If we accept the sexual revolution, then we accept the moral neutrality of sexuality.

If we accept the moral neutrality of sexuality, i.e.,no intrinsically wrong sexual act, then we use consequentialist reasoning to decide what is morally wrong in sexual matters.

If we use consequential reasoning for sexual morality, there is no rationale preventing use of consequentialist reasoning for all moral decisions.

                The objection to universal use of consequentialist reasoning is that some natural features ought never be used a certain way because the nature of those features show us that certain way is not how they ought to be used.  The nature of sexual features are paradigms of natural features  showing how they ought to be used.  If we discard sexual features as showing how they ought to be used, we at least began making a paradigm shift away from regarding internal features of acts as having normative significance towards regarding only the consequences of acts as having normative significance.

If there is no rationale preventing consequentialist reasoning for all moral decisions, rational people use consequentialist reasoning for all moral decisions.

If rational people use consequentialist reasoning for all moral decisions, then rational people recognize no intrinsically wrong acts.

If rational people recognize no intrinsically wrong acts, rational people find no rationale for Retributive Punishment.

If rational people find no rationale for retributive punishment, then rational people hold that a doctrine that Jesus suffered and died to redeem humanity presupposes an incorrect moral theory.

If rational people hold that a doctrine that Jesus suffered and died to redeem humanity presupposes an incorrect moral theory, then rational people hold that the Apostles’ and Nicene creeds presuppose an incorrect moral theory.

Putting all of these claims together we can conclude:

If rational people accept the sexual revolution, they hold that the Apostles’ and Nicene creeds presuppose an incorrect moral theory.

Male Masturbation is a Grave Matter

Why do I sincerely belief that male masturbation is a grave matter? I realize that from the currently popular utilitarian moralities masturbation is a paradigm of triviality.

I wrote in Moral Gravity as Degrees of Disobedience to a Moral Authorityy: An act is a grave moral matter if its performance is the highest degree of disobedience to the moral commander. I proposed further that logical distance from basic moral principle measured degree of disobedience to commands. Acts whose wrongness is almost axiomatic are grave matters.

“Logical distance” refers to the number of theoretical assumptions and factual claims added to basic moral principles to show that an act is wrong. It is really common sense. For instance, the notion of logical distance explains the frequent discussions in my high school religion classes on how far a boy could go with a girl before it became a mortal sin. If much imaginative details needed to be added to show how the conduct led to the boy and girl physically stimulating each other sexually the conduct was not gravely wrong – not a mortal sin.

Back to the question: Why hold that male masturbation is immoral and from a Catholic perspective a grave matter, a mortal sin?

Strong cases can be made for the following claims. Making these cases was writing to convince myself that the claims are correct. I intend my writings help others do the same. Of course, the details cannot be repeated here.

1.There are basic moral laws and they are best understood as commands of a supernatural moral authority.

A case for a moral theory based on rules commanding pursuit of basic human goods is developed in several posts over two or three years. A post with which to start is Core Concepts of Authoritarian Morality . “Authoritarian” was a bad label. I now call it “command moral theory.”

2. The Paternal Principle, used below, is one of these basic moral commands. See Chapter IV of my book* for an extended discussion in favor of taking the Paternal Principle as axiomatic or properly basic principle of even purely secular morality.

3. There is a reality upon which all other realities depend for their existence , viz. God.
See A Proof of the Existence of God for one of several posts on the Transcendent.

4. The moral commander can be understood as that God upon which all realities depend,
See Moral Authority as God .

These four claims entail that the Paternal Principle is a direct command of God.

What is this Paternal Principle?

The Paternal Principle tells us that a man should intentionally seek an orgasm only in coitus open to conception with a woman to whom he has a life-long commitment to care for her and any conception resulting from their coitus.

A condemnation of male masturbation, and incidentally male homosexuality, is an immediate corollary of the Paternal Principle.

Hence, male masturbation and homosexual acts are contrary to morality and, from a Catholic perspective properly regarded as grave matters.

* My book is Confronting Sexual Nihilism, Oklahoma City, 2014. A free copy of my book is available by emailing

Non-Sexist Morality is Misogynistic

I am not digressing from trying to articulate what a morally grave matter might be. I intend to resume with specifying what it might mean to say that male masturbation is a grave matter. Focusing on male masturbation involves using a sexist moral theory. A sexist moral theory presupposes that some sexual obligations and privileges are prefaced with “because you are a woman” and “because you are a man.” I defend using a sexist morality in my book* although I did not there point out the misogyny of a non-sexist morality.

This observation of this post is also a critique of the moral theories used to justify abortion on demand. See Banning Abortions Might Undercut Prolife Goals It also supports a much earlier post that it is the prochoice camp and not the prolife groups that are waging a war on women. See HHS Mandate as a War on Women .

A rational person valuing autonomy could not consistently will that nature should be designed so that half the people seeking to satisfy a extremely strong inclination risk losing their autonomy. I will not digress to any discussion of Kantian moral theory. I want only to note that I need to set aside much of Kantian moral theory which has influenced me greatly. Kantian morality is non-sexist. The brief allusion to Kantian reasoning brings out a “hatred” of a non-sexist morality for the reality that nature has created men and women; more exactly a hatred for human sexual reproduction.

I won’t cite many implicitly misogynistic pleas, many by women, that we cannot have full sexual equality until women have the possibility of the same sexual freedom men allegedly have. I sketch an argument without details of daily between the sexes. The argument expresses opposition to women as they are naturally. With “women as they are naturally,” I refer to the way women were before birth control pills enabled millions, if not billions, of women to be infertile through most of their reproductive years. Implicitly, I think, Paul VI’s 1968 Humanae Vitae condemned use of The Pill because it would be a major step toward suppressing femininity.

(1)If morality is non-sexist, then sexual activity should not place obligations on women which are not placed on men.
(2) If women should stay as they are naturally, then sexual activity places obligations on women which are not placed on men.
Hence,(3) if morality is non-sexist, then women should not stay as they are naturally.

* Confronting Sexual Nihilism Oklahoma City, 2014 A free copy of my book is available by emailing me at

Why Is Masturbation Gravely Wrong?

Why Sexual Wrongs as Gravely Wrong

In this post, I try to make a case that all sexual wrongs are gravely wrong, by making a case that masturbation is intrinsically gravely wrong. I make this attempt under the assumption that that some sexual acts are intrinsically wrong. Masturbation and homosexual acts are included in this assumption.

The assumption of the intrinsic immorality of male masturbation and male homosexual acts is well justified. The purpose of male orgasm is procreation and the unitive bond of male and female. These basic human goods are never to be directly inhibited. Male masturbation and homosexual acts directly inhibit the procreative and unitive goods of sexuality. So, they are always on the wrong side of being right. That takes care of intrinsic wrongness.

See Intrinsic Wrong vs. Formal Wrong for a defense of using “intrinsically wrong instead of formally wrong.

But how wrong? How grave? Compared with all the horrible evil humans inflicted upon one another, a couple of guys messing with each other’s penises seems naughty rather than evil.

In common sense and the law, the graveness of an immoral act is extrinsic to a wrong act. Gravity depends upon inflicting serious physical or mental harm or being done with the intent to inflict such harm. It is obvious that masturbation is not extrinsically grave as we ordinarily talk about gravity of offenses.

I could specify other extrinsic feature of masturbation as what makes it grave.

The Catholic church – my church- has simply specified that it is grave where “gravity” means that it must be forgiven in a sacrament of confession as a condition for avoiding the even more grave evil of receiving the Eucharist without such sacramental forgiveness. Of course, organizational specification of a type of act as gravely wrong is a feature external to the act.

Other external feature of sexual acts felt to be immoral, are cultural judgments about the gravity of these acts. Personally, I think that a horrible feature of humanity is the horror felt against sexual wrongs. These harsh attitudes and action upon them vary from place to place and time to time. But harsh societal reaction to harmless sexual acts is real. There may be social evolutionary explanations for these harsh judgments about sexual misconduct.

But the goal is to try to articulate the insight of the Church in her imposition of such sacramental requirements.
So, if masturbation is a grave wrong, its gravity must be intrinsic.

I suggest the following. The masturbator recklessly treats making the act for continuing humankind incapable of continuing humankind. That reckless attitude towards what is necessary for humanity to exist is a grave matter.

More generally, why might all sexual wrongs be gravely wrong? Other wrongs inhibit goods such as knowledge, friendship and beauty. But sexual wrongs inhibit human life. The fundamental nature of life for other goods makes inhibition of life a grave matter.

Authentic Male Opposition to Abortion

Coitus Without Commitment is Essentially Abortive

Coitus is for creation of new life in two ways*. One: It is for conception. Two: It is for the creation of the unity striving to emerge which is the male/female monogamous lifelong bond – the nuptial pair. In coitus without commitment such as in prostitution and casual sex, there is mutual dismissal of both of the goods. In intention any conceptus is aborted and in fact the joint new life is aborted.

It is not surprising, as Christine Emba reports that casual sex is disappointing. As the couple go their separate ways, one or both, are vulnerable to a sense of having pleasure at the expense of destroying new life. Implicitly we have a sense of coitus as immensely important. (Social-biological speculation could easily invent evolutionary hypotheses about why the life-giving activity would not be taken lightly.) If there was pleasure, it was for nothing. In a coitus fully open to conception and nuptial bonding, the pleasure is carried forward as having been an aid in forming the nuptial bond.

Here, though, my focus is on male sexual morality. My goal is not a therapeutic goal of advising men on how to avoid regret about unsatisfying sex. I do not rely upon men feeling inchoate regret about pointless sex as do the women in Ms. Emba’s stories. On the whole, men may not be seriously dissatisfied with promiscuity. We ought to be. By reflecting on the double abortive element in promiscuous sex, I propose a standard for men to morally judge their actions – themselves and one another. It is directed to men who profess to be opposed to abortion.

Never lie with a woman if you are not willing to be her exclusive sexual partner and to care for her and any child which might result from your coitus with her.

A male who does not accept the above standard is not authentically opposed to abortion.
Also a nasty A-word describes his character.

*See Susanna Spencer’s
July 25, 2022 National Catholic Register article for a clear account of Catholicism’s development of the Church’s doctrine on this bifold good of sexuality

Contraception as Intrinsically Wrong but Not Gravely Wrong

Contraception as Intrinsically Wrong but Not Gravely Wrong

This post develops my previous post in which I distinguished being instrinsically wrong from being gravely, or seriously, wrong. I speculate judging contraceptive coitus of a married couple as intrinsically wrong but not, in general, gravely wrong. I am a Catholic. But what I write here is definitely not Catholic teaching. The thesis of marital contaception as only a venial sin is only presented for consideration.

An intrinsically wrong act is morally wrong regardless of the intention of the actor, circumstances in which it is performed and consequences of its performance. The gravity of an act can be mitigated by the intention of the actor, circumstances in which it is performed and the consequences of the performance of the act. The mitigating factors are not excuses for the wrong act although they may be considerations for mitigating punishment. I have not yet discovered a precise way of distinguishing gravely wrong from not being gravely wrong.

A paradigm distinguishing an intrinsically wrong act from a gravely wrong act is shoplifting a candy bar from a UDF convenience store and confusing a clerk at an AT&T store to walk away with a $500 cell phone. For theft the gravity mitigating factor is frequently the monetary value of the stolen item. I recall reading, once, that $25 marked the difference between a morally sinful theft and a venially sinful theft. That distinctiion seemed arbitrary to me.

Intrinsic wrongness is determined theoretically. If the theoretical determination is clearly developed, it is a deductive argument from theoretical premisses. Consider, for instance, a moral judgment against contraception.

A basic good of coitus is conception.
Coitus is a morally significant act.
It is always wrong to inhibit a basic good of a morally significant act.
Contraception inhibits the basic good of coitus.
Therefore, contraception is always wrong.

The circumstance of the contraception being an act of a married couple with children and planing to have more children in a year or so does not alter the theoretically determined judgment that the act is immoral. Theoretically, it is on the “wrong side” of being right.

A judgment that the act is gravely wrong – a mortal sin requires more than the moral theory presupposed in the above deductive argument. I do not think that secular reasoning alone can support a theoretical principle that all sexual wrongs are gravely wrong. The notion of moral gravity is not clear enough and there seems to be sexually wrong acts which are not gravely wrong, viz., contraception of marital coitus.

However, living a good life is more than avoiding gross immorality. Even on a secular level, we need to consider the damage to our character by habitual performance of wrong acts, albeit venial immoral acts. On a religious level, it is folly to think God is indifferent to regular intentional disobedience.

Could anyone be genuinely seeking holiness while intentionally choosing what is immoral in any degree?

Why the Function of Sexuality Is a Moral Purpose

My moral defense of sexual privacy me to a break-through in how to justify and defend principles of traditional sexual morality. I finally employed the improved way of thinking about sexual morality which I have been developing in these blog posts in the eight years since I published my book, Confronting Sexual Nihilism. *

In Confronting Sexual Nihilism, I faced a theoretical problem challenging all of us who, in the last analysis, morally condemn a wide range of sexual acts as frustrating the natural function of the acts in question. In general, though, frustrating natural functions is morally accepted and, indeed, morally required. So, why, select from the innumerable morally neutral natural functions of natural functions the procreative and bonding function of human coitus as morally significant? Note in passing, that the problem is not about selecting procreation and bonding as THE function or main function. The main functions of most natural systems are also morally neutral.

In my book, I tried to solve the selection problem in a theoretically unsatisfactory way. I made an empirical case with anecdotal evidence that if we regarded our sexuality as too trivial for moral control or too animalistic for moral control, we alienated our sexuality from ourselves as moral beings. Then, assuming that sexual alienation was a bad condition, I justified taking a stance that the function of human coitus was a moral purpose. I did not answer why sexual alienation was a bad condition needing moral correction.

The selection of procreation and male female bonding purposes of coitus as morally significant requires argument that these purposes are basic human goods. It is not enough merely to observe that they are natural purposes. I believe that after careful reflection on natural facts about human sexuality a persuasive case can be made that these purposes are basic human goods. However, because the arguments require reflection on natural facts, I concede that intelligent people may not be persuaded. This lack of persuasive power arises because the notion of basic human good is tenditious. Basic human goods are obligatory goods. This means that we ought to pursue them and ought never act to inhibit them. It is the obligatory goodness which some might not accept. Obligatory goodness entails the notion of intrinsically immoral act. Intrinsically immoral acts are those intentionally inhibitingbasic goodness.

The selection problem for naturalistic sexual morality is solvable. But not without hard work. There is theoretical work in moral theory to establish a theory with a notion of obligatory goods. There is empirical work of making a case that procreation and life long male female bonding are obligatory goods.

* A free copy of my book can be ordered at

Good of Sexuality is Not a Premoral Good

Why hold that the genuine goodness of sexuality is natural but not chosen without a sense of moral obligation?

The natural good of sexuality is the natural purpose of sexuality. The natural purpose of sexuality is coitus for procreation and the life long monogamous bonding of males and females. If this natural purpose were a premoral good, people naturally choose it independent of any thought of what they are morally obliged to choose. In reality, though, people do not choose the natural purpose indendently of moral rules.

In a previous post, I stated a fundamental moral principle of male sexuality: a man should engage in coitus only in a lifelong marital commitment. I admitted that justification of this principle requires difficult empirical work. Theoretically, the empirical work would result in a description of life in accordance with the principle which would naturally lead people to choose living in accordance with the principle. This empirical work can never be completed satisfactorily. A description of a moral life may be appealing. But not appealing enough to make it a natural cause of choices.

The empirical evidence for the good of sexuality does not function as empirical evidence usually functions. Usually, empirical evidence guides us to agree that something is the case. For instance, we might bring a die into better light to see that it is really blue rather than black. If we had never thought about the matter, someone might point out that a die, from a pair of dice, is a cube and that not only is it the case that the cube has six surfaces. Counting the surfaces leads us to see that a cube must have six surfaces. This is a situation in which empirical considerations provides a proof. Similarly, factual considerations about sexuality in marriage are intended to lead us to appreciate that the sexuality which is in accordance with moral rules must be desirable along with being desirable. In reality no empirical descriptions are compelling enough to be a proof about sexual moral rules.

Each person must be led to appreciate that there is a good of sexuality by a moral awareness of laws requiring pursuit of this good. Significant appreciation of the good of sexuality is attained by pursuing it under constraints of these moral laws. Or maybe, as Christine Emba shows a better teacher is regret from seeking sexual satisfaction in violation of these moral laws. In sexuality the moral laws teach us the good the laws promote and protect.

There are no special people, philosopher kings, who come to see beyond the slightest shadow of doubt the goodness of the good of sexuality. Perhaps the only goodness of sexuality we can all be brought to see is the goodness of being bound by rules.

I hesitate, though, to propose duty as a good we pursue. Duty has no attraction by itself. Duty is not selected for its own sake. It is selected as the alternative to the chaos of choice by whims of our unbridled inclinations.

Review of Christine Emba’s Re-thinking Sex: A Provocation,

Good Sex is Not the Good of Sexuality

I just completed a first reading of Christine Emba’s Re-thinking Sex: A provocation, Penguin, New York 2022. She vividly exposes the wounds inflicted by what I, and she too, calls the belief in the moral neutrality of sexuality. Roughly, the moral neutrality of sexuality creed holds that no consensual sexual act may be morally condemned.

With the polished style of a Washington Post opinion columnist, , Ms. Emba reports numerous conversations, interviews and studies uncovering a deep dissatisfaction amongst college students, especially females, and successful professional women. Believing in the moral neutrality of sexual acts, they consented to sexual activity which left them feeling profoundly unsatisfied even if they enjoyed intense pleasure during the activity.

Furthermore, there was a long-lasting regret which they might have called moral shame if they dared talk of morally shameful sexual acts. In short, the sexual revolution, which is accepting the moral neutrality of sexuality, leads to an ever increasing amount of what is popularly called “bad sex.”

Ms. Emba’s provocative, for her intended readership, re-thinking of sex, is casting aside the moral neutrality of sexuality. The first two thirds of Re-thinking Sex: A Provocation prepares readers for her provocative proclamation that men and especially women must realize that some sexual acts ought never be done even if they want to perform them. With moral limits, they will have less bad and more good sex .

She sketches out how we might discover the moral constraints. I shall not critically evaluate as insufficient her speculations basing sexual morality on intentionally seeking the good of the other party in sexual relations. Ms. Emba does not claim to be a moral philosopher. At this time, it is sufficient that a writer for a popular readership cries out for moral evaluation of sexuality. The fact that she is willing to morally evaluate her own sexual activity and desires shows the sincerity of her cry.

However, I interpret her as proposing sexual morality as a means for having more good sex and less bad sex. Our priorities are mistaken if we accept morality as some type of mental technique for enriching sexual satisfaction – having good sex. On the contrary, we ought to pursue good sex as a means for attaining the good of sex, viz., that for which sex is good.

I state dogmatically what I defend extensively elsewhere. The good of sex is procreation and the life-long monogamous bonding for the mutual companionship and support of men and women in the care of life created by sexual activity.

It is proper to separate the good of sex from good sex. If we hypothetically assume that evolution has purposes or goods, we could say that the good or purpose of human sexuality is spread and perpetuation of the human species. Whether individuals are satisfied with their mating is totally irrelevant to perpetuation of the species. Maybe even the pursuit of good sex by individuals thwarts the evolutionary good of sexuality. Individuals might pursue good sex which avoids procreation.

Keeping good sex as the primary goal of sexuality is, in effect, keeping pleasure as the primary goal – the good of sexuality. It just turns out that sexuality within the limits of morality is a higher, longer lasting and, may I dare say it “more feminine” pleasure. Unfortunately, it also turns out that the pursuit of pleasure for the sake of pleasure, even the most “spiritual” pleasures, leads to failing to find pleasure in what was pursued. Eventually, even morally constrained sex will become boring, viz., bad sex. And, then, when morality is no longer a recipe for good sex, the default setting is the downward spiral into sexual degeneracy which Ms. Emba has so saddeningly portrayed.

When our priorities are properly ordered, we will engage in sexual activity under moral rules to promote the good of sexuality and never intentionally frustrate them. Then it turns out that one of our sexual moral obligations is to pursue good sex in our married lives. Life shows us that we need to struggle-morally struggle- to avoid letting marital sexuality become morally dangerous routinized and boring. That’s a huge occasion of sin.

I try to avoid aphorisms. Nonetheless, I propose “Do not pursue sexual pleasure as the good of sexuality, but you ought to pursue sexual pleasure for the good of sexuality.”