Reason, Faith and Homosexual Acts (Finnis)

The Church “refuses to consider the person as a ‘heterosexual’ or a ‘homosexual’ and insists that every person has a fundamental identity: the creature of God and, by grace, his child and heir to eternal life.” Each person also has a “sexual identity”: either male or female, man or woman. The Church does not use the term “sexual identity” as some people do, who claim that people have “sexual identities” as homosexuals, heterosexuals, bisexuals, and so forth. Instead, the Church teaches that each male should accept his sexual identity as a man, and each female her sexual identity as a woman; and that means accepting that one is different from and complementary to – and equal in dignity with — persons of the opposite sex (gender).

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The Good of Marriage and the Morality of Sexual Relations: Some Philosophical and Historical Observations (Finnis, 1997)

Aquinas organized his account of the morality of sexual relations around the good of marriage. The good of marriage is one of the basic human goods to which human choice and action are directed by the first principles of practical reason. Sex acts are immoral when they are “against the good of marriage” and therefore unreasonable (and, inasumuch unreasonable, unnatural).

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Certainty and Charity. Presentation to House of Bishops Advisory Group on Sexuality (O’Donovan, 2012)

Christians are used to appealing to heavy reasons for doing what they do; they think of themselves as always acting on their beliefs. Theology, with its own warning against making a graven idol, teaches us to travel light ideologically, to allow the non-ultimate claims of immediate practical need to have their own space.

Practical theology can understand the place of the “pastoral accommodation” within the church. A pastoral accommodation is a response to some urgent presenting needs, without ultimate dogmatic implications. A pastoral accommodation may be paradoxical in relation to basic moral belief, as with the miscalled “just war” which appears at first glance to undermine the commitment to peace which it claims to uphold. The Winchester Report, in recommending a provision for marriage in church of someone with a previous partner still living, conceived this as a pastoral accommodation, making it quite clear, as did the episcopal advice to clergy that followed it, that this was to uphold the principle that marriage was essentially a lifelong commitment and broken marriage was a wrong

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