One of the only constants that holds true across all human civilizations is this: humans like to have sexual relationships with other human beings. These relationships come in many different intensities, shapes, and forms; sexual relationships are part of a healthy adult’s life. Regular sexual contact has been linked to better overall cardiovascular health, lowered stress levels, higher self esteem, and a plethora of other long-term benefits.
Despite the benefits of healthy sexual relationships, there are also plenty of reasons to avoid sexual contact. While relationships that are psychologically healthy can have a wonderful impact on a person’s life, abusive sexual relationships can be detrimental in the long term. When a person engages in risky or promiscuous behavior, he or she is often putting him- or herself at risk for sexually transmitted infections, many of which are incurable and some of which are not even detectable in the body for a significant amount of time after infection. The Vatican, for example, cites other reasons that unmarried individuals should abstain from sexual activity: sexual activity, the Vatican II says, cannot guarantee the stability of a relationship. The Bible, the Vatican II states, says that one must remain chaste until marriage; this means that premarital sexual relations and masturbation are both sinful acts and should be considered unsanctioned by the Church. Homosexual sexual relations, similarly, are considered sinful; the Church believes that God created man and woman to be husband and wife, and will not entertain the idea that because homosexuality is innate, not learned, it is natural and should be forgiven. On these matters, the Vatican urges pastors to, essentially, love the sinner but hate the sin, and try to motivate the wayward members of their flock into conforming to the Vatican’s standards.
Conservative estimates say that approximately ten percent of the population considers itself part of the homosexual community. It is safe to assume, then, that some minority group in the population is having homosexual sexual encounters rather than heterosexual ones. When people claim that homosexual sex is unnatural, they seem to be implying that because genitals are made for reproduction, and homosexuals cannot reproduce during homosexual sex, that they are going against their natural purpose in life. However, heterosexual couples often participate in sex with no intention of reproducing. “Unnatural” may refer to any number of things, none of which are immoral– for example, eyeglasses and cochlear implants are unnatural by this definition, but it’s rare to hear someone postulate that they should not be used.
“Unnatural” may also be used to mean that the behavior presented is not found in nature, or that the observer finds the behavior distasteful in some way. A speaker may use “unnatural” to define an act that he or she finds abnormal or out of his or her realm of experience. However, it’s also “unnatural” for someone who finds a wallet on the ground to return it to its owner; that doesn’t make the behavior of returning the wallet immoral, however, and it would be silly to suggest it does. Additionally, homosexual behavior is found to be practiced by a number of different species of animals, but even if it weren’t, animals participate in all kinds of behavior we would find appalling (infanticide in lions, for example).
There is no reason to believe that homosexuality is harmful to the individual or society as a whole. Relationships between individuals are the business of the individuals involved, and no one else. If marriage is indeed about children, then– ignoring the hundreds of thousands of couples without children– homosexual marriage is still not morally wrong. It is difficult, economically, to raise a child in a single-parent household; having two individuals to care for and raise a child is an infinitely better situation from an economic point of view.
According to some, marriage is either a deeply personal agreement between two individuals, or a contract that two individuals make with society as a whole. However, this doesn’t mesh well with the purpose of marriage today: marriage is a legal status that affords individuals certain rights, such as different tax brackets, the ability to visit one’s spouse in the hospital, and so on.
Social norms are behaviors that are either encouraged or discouraged in a society. A prescriptive social norm is something that society says we should do; a proscriptive social norm is something that society forbids us from doing. Norms are a way for society to keep order; norms are so ingrained in people that they enforce them on their fellow societal members. All norms are relevant to discussions of moral philosophy, but this does not mean all norms are good or should be considered legitimate.
“Normal” marriage is defined by Gallagher as marriage between a man and a woman that produces a child. She goes on to state that if we allow adult decisions to dictate the definition of marriage, then all social norms would be broken and, essentially, there would be chaos. However, very few in the pro-same-sex marriage community are championing polygamy, or other unions that involve anything but two consenting adults. Gallagher couches her disapproval for gay marriage in language that begs the reader to think of the children, but in reality, her statements have very little basis in research or fact. She makes an assumption that gay marriage would cause fatherhood to cease to exist; however, this takes away agency from both men and women. Men are not animals, and can choose fatherhood; women are not mindless, and can choose men who want to be fathers. If Gallagher really believes in supporting the children, gay couples who wish to be parents should be afforded every legal protection available when they become adoptive parents– in short, they should be allowed to be married.
Essay On Homosexual And “Normal” Marriage: Opposing Viewpoints
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