Sex - Procreative and Unitive but WHY?


#1

I know that the conjugal act must be procreative and unitive in order for it to be in conformity with natural law and therefore not sinful. Why must it be this way though? Why does the Church put such a big emphasis on sex being within the framework of natural law? When elderly people where glasses, are they not going against natural law? Their bodies are designed to break down as they age and, along with many other functions, eyesight will worsen as well. So are they committing a sin by going against natural law?

I’m trying to play Devil’s advocate in order to get a better understanding on why the church believes sex must be unitive and procreative.


#2

No, they’re not. Do some research on Natural Law. Here are some starting ideas:

The best known formulation of Natural Law comes from Aquinas. He relates Natural Inclinations to the precepts of Natural Law, eg:

(1) natural inclination for the good ⇒ “do good, shun evil”
(2) natural inclination for the preservation of life ⇒ those means which help to preserve life belong to natural law. [E.g. “do not kill,” “live healthily,” etc.]
(3) natural inclination for the preservation of the species, i.e. for generating ⇒ matters regarding sexuality and education belong to the natural law. [E.g. “do not commit adultery”]
(4) natural inclination to know the truth ⇒ precepts such as “shun ignorance” [or do not lie]
(5) natural inclination to live in society ⇒ precepts such as “do not offend anyone” [and generally the precepts of justice, e.g. “don’t take the goods of another.”]

I am not suggesting the “procreative and unitive” formulation of sexual relations derives from Natural Law considerations.


#3

Sex must be unitive and procreative because the sex is ordered to those functions. From the anatomical to the biological function of the reproductive system, it is abundantly clear that sex is for unity and procreation.

To use our sexual capacity for other purposes would be like using a paintbrush to write someone a letter. Can you technically “get it done” with a paintbrush? Yeah, of course. But it is obvious that you’re missing out on what the paintbrush is really for. So having sex that is neither open to life or unitive within marriage is like that, too. The guy using a paintbrush for a letter rather than for a painting is missing out on the opportunity to create a genuine artistic masterpiece because he’s fooling around with paintbrushes and notebook paper. The awesome thing about the sexual function is that if it is procreative and unitive within marriage it is literally helping to create a masterpiece, which we also call Matrimony.


#4

When elderley people wear glasses they are redressing a disease or failing in the faculty of sight. Technology is working here for the good of that important faculty by restoring the body to a wholeness that disease or wear are breaking down. The Church does not prohibit the use of modern techniques and medicines to address disease and pain and restore the body to a more whole state.

It would be sinful to damage oneself or someone elses sight though, in order to gain a worldly benefit. Think of the guys in Slumdog Millionaire who destroyed the beggar childrens sight in order that they attract more charity dollars from people.


#5

YosefYosep #1
Why does the Church put such a big emphasis on sex being within the framework of natural law? When elderly people where glasses, are they not going against natural law

This and all similar feelings show the abysmal state to which so-called “thinking” has descended in those who promote disorders as natural, or good. Also feeling that pleasure is the purpose of all activity then excuses everything which is directed first to that as a purpose.

The malady blinds the afflicted to accepting that it is normal for mankind to think and reason from cause to effect – that we are made to use our bodies to achieve the ends for which the Creator has made us. Procreation and unity in marriage which then produces pleasure from the action used correctly by the design of the Creator.

The natural law says that if you want things to prosper, you have to use them in accord with their nature. If you want to grow good tomatoes, you have to treat tomato plants in accord with their nature. You have to give them sunshine and water and fertilizer and a good soil. It is something that man can discover by the basis of his own reason. What assists this process is used by man such as artificial fertiliser, sprays or baits against insects. Thus we assist our eyes to perform their function of seeing by eye exercises, or glasses, or eye operations.


#6

What is good health? It is when the body works as it is supposed to. How do we know how it is supposed to work? By the functions of the parts. If a person has eyes, but the eyes do not see, we know there is a problem because the eyes are not fulfilling their function. This, we do something to the eyes to allow them to see again: Surgery, glasses, medicines, etc. Or we accept that they are broken beyond our ability to fix.

So you can see that doing something to cause a body or a part of a body to *not *fulfill its function would be the opposite of healing–it would be damaging the body. If I were to take the spark plug wires out of your car, you would not say i had made it better, you would say I had broken your car.

In the same way, rendering the parts of a body concerned with reproduction incapable to fulfilling their function is *not *“health” but breaking or damaging.

Our bodies break down as a result of sin–original sin and the presence of sin in the world. The end of a woman’s fertility, however, does seem to be a natural part of being human: it does not occur in other species and it happens to all women who live long enough.


#7

I personally don’t want to have kids at all in my life. I barely take care of myself, lol.

The whole “sex only for procreation” is the only Catholic rule that I won’t follow.

I hope God understands me on this. I still want to be Catholic, but I will always use some means of contraceptives if sex is to be done.


#8

Sex is not just for procreation. But Catholic teaching opposes contraception.


#9

If I don’t want children and use contraception, then am I going to be doomed to hell because of that?

I want to be a good Catholic. Should I pray more so God understands?


#10

No one knows your fate. Pray that God will you show you the way.

Does your wife also not want children?


#11

Personally I don’t believe sex is just for procreation. how many times do you have to do it to get pregnant? There are many couples who do it a million times and never have children. There are cases of failed contraceptives,failed abortions and unknown pregnancies. Do you think its yours to decide?


#12

You should definitely pray more… so that *you *understand.

That’s what I did–I returned to the Church and I prayed and asked God to help me understand about this, and He let me know :slight_smile: He is great!


#13

The Church believes and teaches that because that is what sex is and what it does. It naturally leads to children and the union of husband and wife. The Church is simply observing a fact, not artificially thrusting conditions on the sexual act as though it could potentially be something different. It is what it is.


#14

We can definitively make that declaration, but we can examine it objectively.

1 - God asks that we treat sex as He intended it, that it be unitive and procreative.
2 - Using contraceptives prevents the procreative aspect of the union from being fulfilled.
3 - From 1 and 2 - Using contraception rejects God’s intention for sex.

4 - Mortal sin is the knowing rejection of God’s will on a grave matter.
5 - Grave Matters are defined by the Church, and include the misuse of sex.
6 - From 4 and 5 - Misusing sex is objectively a grave issue

7 - By your own declaration, you are choosing to use contraceptives.

8 - From 3, 6, and 7 - you are knowingly engaging in a grave act which, if you meet the criteria, would mean that you are engage in mortal sin.

Note: The criteria for an act to be a mortal sin is as follows:
1 - The act must be grave matter.
2 - You must know that the act is grave.
3 - You must willingly engage in that act.

If you are knowingly choosing to commit a mortal sin, then you are placing your soul in objective danger of being separated from God eternally (the state or place known as Hell). We do not know your heart and therefore are incapable of proclaiming that by doing this you are going to Hell, but we can objectively state that you are in danger of it, as illustrated above.

I want to be a good Catholic. Should I pray more so God understands?

You should always pray more, but not for God to understand. It’s not God who need to change, it’s you. Pray for understanding, pray for humility, and pray for God to fill you with his love. It is hard to turn away from our worldly desires, trust me, I know; but it is always worthwhile to overcome them and dedicate yourself more fully to our Lord.


#15
 The first article in the Creed is "I believe in God, the Father Almighty, CREATOR of heaven and earth." All created things are within the natural law. It is the eroticized society in rejection of the Creator that tries to locate the activity of sexual organs outside how God made us and instead give total license to all abuse of the body for the indulgence of the will & desire of the individual. Contemporary hyper-eroticism is the thing that attempts to place a value on indulgence with no reference the matter of right use of the things made by God. 

Because we confess our belief in the Creator; because we believe that we can discern what right use of creation is, even without that faith by looking at what the organs do, we make a big deal out of them -- just as we make, or ought to make, a big deal out of the people who poison & devastate the rest of the created order to the detriment of humanity.

#16

There seems to be a misstatement of Church doctrine going on in this thread. It’s not that every sexual act must be procreative, per se; rather, it’s that each sex act must be open to procreation. As CCC#2366 puts it, “every marriage act remain ordered per se to the procreation of human life.” To put it another way, “‘every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible’ is intrinsically evil” (CCC, #2370). In other words, marital relations need to be ordered to procreation, not per se procreative.

However, this distinction between ‘ordered to’ and ‘procreative’ doesn’t imply that you should use contraception. Instead, “periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality” (CCC, #2370).

So, if you and your spouse prayerfully discern that, for a grave reason, you are unable to have children at the present, it would not be sinful to practice NFP (which would keep intact both the unitive and procreative aspects of marital intercourse). Still, the use of contraception would be gravely sinful.


#17

In the context at hand, the word “procreative” is being used to mean exactly “ordered to procreation”. And of course, “ordered to procreation” does not mean that “everything is lined up to make conception likely”, or that “conception is intended or desired”.

Hence, the marital act where contraception is utilised is not procreative, because steps have been taken to “order” it otherwise than to procreation. The marital act absent contraception but occurring when the woman is infertile is procreative, despite the fact that conception might be impossible at that time. This latter point explains why natural family planning (NFP) meets the requirements to be a proper means of regulating conception.


#18

If you say so. :shrug:

Yet, your own response to Returner addressed ‘procreation’ and not being ‘ordered to’ it. And, in #11, Eva’s post is clearly talking about procreation and not just being open to it. So, you might be thinking that this is the shorthand that everyone is using, but I’m not certain that this is the case.

Hence, the marital act where contraception is utilised is not procreative, because steps have been taken to “order” it otherwise than to procreation. The marital act absent contraception but occurring when the woman is infertile is procreative, despite the fact that conception might be impossible at that time.

I would disagree; a marital act which takes place outside the woman’s fertile period is merely open to procreation, not procreative. Therein lies the whole misunderstanding: when folks hear Catholics say “every sex act must be procreative,” they think we mean that the Church wants babies to be the result of every sex act if at all possible. Of course, that is not at all what the Church is saying… :wink:

This latter point explains why natural family planning (NFP) meets the requirements to be a proper means of regulating conception.

Exactly. Because it’s open to procreation. :thumbsup:


#19

You appear to be using the word to mean “generative”, that is - leading to conception. And indeed, this is the usual dictionary meaning of the word, but not how the Church uses it in discussing this subject. Swathes of church literature may seen odd if read with the distinction you make above in mind.

The Church, and those (knowledgeably) discussing the Church teaching, use the word “procreative” with the same meaning as “ordered to procreative”. For example, see this article (written by a priest), which uses the word “procreative” nine times, and the meaning is plainly “ordered to procreation”.

catholicherald.com/stories/Straight-Answers-The-Unitive-and-Procreative-Dimensions-of-Conjugal-Love,6736

Here is one extract (quoted from Paul VI):
Thus, the original import of human sexuality is distorted and falsified, and the two meanings, unitive and procreative, inherent in the very nature of the conjugal act, are artificially separated: in this way, the marriage union is betrayed and its fruitfulness is subjected to the caprice of the couple
And one more by the author:
Essentially, God has designed marital love to be both unitive and procreative; to suppress or to violate either one contradicts the design of God.


#20

That’s quite the interesting take on things. Since you assert I don’t know the definitions of the words, I thought I might look them up. Know what I found? The word procreative means having to do with procreating (i.e., reproducing), whereas the word generative means ‘capable of creating or reproducing’. In other words, the definitions of the words are exactly the opposite of what you’re asserting they mean!

The Church, and those (knowledgeably) discussing the Church teaching, use the word “procreative” with the same meaning as “ordered to procreative”.

Thanks, Abu. I really appreciate when my betters help me understand when I’m not speaking knowledgeably. :rolleyes:

Thus, the original import of human sexuality is distorted and falsified, and the two meanings, unitive and procreative

Here’s the thing: in the article you cite, the notions mentioned are the procreative meaning and the procreative dimension of marriage. Maybe I’m picking nits, but a ‘meaning’ of marriage is that it’s fruitful; that’s a completely different notion than looking at intercourse and saying that it produces children. The former notion speaks of an end of marriage, in the abstract, whereas the latter is an expression of a completed act. I would argue that the good Father’s article is saying something slightly different than you assert it’s saying. :wink:

But, let’s stay on topic: in this thread, we have people looking at the way we use the term ‘procreative’. Inasmuch as it might mean something different in general usage than (you assert) it does in Catholic jargon, it behooves us to point out what that difference in meaning is. If we presume that people understand it to mean something different than they’re used to, we risk a serious misunderstanding of Church teaching. If we quibble that those in the know use the term properly, we’re actively inviting these misunderstandings, as I’ve demonstrated to you is actually happening in this very thread. :wink:

Blessings,
G.


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