unnatural sexual acts are intrinsically evil

In these public comments, moral theologian Fr. Faggioni suggests great discretion in discussing sexual acts, which is generally a good approach. But the circumstances are such, at the present time, that proponents of unrestrained sexual expression in marriage, as if there were no moral law in the marital bedroom, use no such discretion. And it is more difficult to refute their errors if too much discretion is used in the way a point is phrased. So this compels us to be somewhat less discrete than would be ideal, to avoid the bad consequence of grave moral harm to souls.

An example of the problem cause by too much discretion in explaining a point is seen in the quotes from that article. He condemns unnatural sexual acts, but his phrasing in some cases is so discrete that someone might interpret him to reach a different conclusion. He seems to suggest, but again it is not clear, that unnatural sexual acts might be morally used as foreplay.

To the contrary, in order to be moral, each and every sexual act in a marriage must be procreative, and unnatural sexual acts are per se not procreative. The spouses cannot justify a non-procreative sexual act by combining it with a prior, concomitant, or subsequent procreative sexual act.

In moral theology, an act is a deliberate choice (a knowingly chosen act).
A sexual act is a deliberate use of the sexual faculty.

It is a disingenuous excuse to claim that a set of unnatural sexual acts can be combined with the natural sexual act such that the unnatural acts take their morality from the natural act, as if all were one act, and as if that one act takes its fonts only from the natural act. The result is to exempt any number and kind of immoral acts from the moral law. Such an approach would be ridiculed if it were used in any other area of human life. But for some reason it is accepted in the area of sexuality.

“Could it not be admitted, in other words, that procreative finality applies to the totality of married life rather than to each single act?” (Humanae Vitae, n. 3). This question also applies to any set of acts in the marital bedroom. Can we say that the procreative finality applies to the totality of the whole set, rather than to each act? Humanae Vitae answers the question in the negative.

“The Church, nevertheless, in urging men to the observance of the precepts of the natural law, which it interprets by its constant doctrine, teaches that each and every marital act must of necessity retain its intrinsic relationship to the procreation of human life.” (Humanae Vitae, n. 11)

The USCCB Catechism phrases the same point this way: “Each and every sexual act in a marriage needs to be open to the possibility of conceiving a child.” (USCCB Catechism, p. 409)

And this point is made even more clear in these words: “Neither is it valid to argue, as a justification for sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive, that a lesser evil is to be preferred to a greater one, or that such intercourse would merge with procreative acts of past and future to form a single entity, and so be qualified by exactly the same moral goodness as these.” (Humanae Vitae, n. 14) This teaching is on the subject of contraception, however, it applies equally to any sexual acts — acts that are non-procreative cannot be justified by acts that are procreative. Each sexual act must be open to life.

An unnatural sexual act cannot be justified by combining it with an act of natural intercourse, even if the unnatural sexual act lacks climax. The lack of climax in a sexual act does not exempt that act from the moral law, nor does it change the moral object. Climax is a result in the third font of consequences, not the moral object. The moral object is found in whether or not the marital, unitive, and procreative meanings are present, i.e. in whether or not the act is by its nature ordered toward those ends.

Foreplay does not justify unnatural sexual acts. The purpose for which an act is chosen cannot justify an intrinsically evil act. Unnatural sexual acts are intrinsically evil because they are inherently non-procreative and non-unitive. An unnatural sexual act cannot be justified by the purpose (intended end) for which it is chosen, such as choosing an unnatural sexual act for the purpose of foreplay, i.e. as a preparation for the natural act.

Neither is it true that, after the natural act, the husband can commit an unnatural act on his wife so that she may achieve climax. Such an act is non-unitive and non-procreative. That these are separate acts, each subject to the moral law, is clear from the fact that each is knowingly chosen.

An unnatural sexual act is a per se sexual act, i.e. a deliberate use of the genital sexual faculty, that is not inherently procreative. Unnatural sexual acts include oral sex, anal sex, and manipulative sex. The use of ‘sex toys’ is included in the type of unnatural sexual act called manipulative sex. It is just as immoral to manipulate with an object as with the hand. Unnatural sexual acts are intrinsically evil because they are non-procreative and also because they are not truly unitive, even if there is a type of mere physical union. For this is not the type of union intended by God for the use of human sexuality.

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