The sin of Sodom: unnatural sexual acts

Fr. Dwight Longenecker blogs on the sin of Sodom. Read both pages of the article.

I don’t agree with him that the sin of Sodom “is not simply homosexual actions” but included violence. Although the men in the story were also committing rape, what distinguished this city from others was not rape (which unfortunately occurs in all large cities) but the complete acceptance of homosexuality by that society (a direction our society is moving in).

However, he does make some good points:

“If a same sex couple engage in sexual intercourse, and both parties are consenting they may not be doing violence to each other in the blatant way that the men of Sodom intended, but they are still doing violence to one another and to the natural order and to the sacrament of marriage.”

“Furthermore, we sometimes forget that it is possible for heterosexuals to commit sodomy.”

“What we are talking about therefore — whether it is between two men or a man and a woman is un-natural sex — a sexual act that is not procreative and therefore not fully loving as God intended — a sexual act that is for pleasure only. Such behavior, by anyone is called a sinful action. This is an objective judgement based on natural law. Male and female genitalia are designed for a purpose and to use them otherwise is un-natural and therefore sinful.”

The question of unnatural sexual acts between man and woman, between husband and wife: Unnatural sexual acts as marital foreplay. Although many persons online (most of them anonymous) adamantly assert that married couples may use unnatural sexual acts for the purpose of foreplay, or, they claim, for any purpose at all for the wife, the Church teaches no such thing.

The Magisterium teaches that each and every sexual act must be that type of sexual act that is inherently procreative (natural intercourse). Unnatural sexual acts are non-procreative and also not truly unitive, and so all such acts are intrinsically evil, even between a man and a woman, even within marriage, regardless of the purpose (e.g. foreplay) and regardless of the circumstances (e.g. that the wife did not reach climax by the natural act). Neither does the absence of climax in an unnatural act make the act procreative or unitive or at all moral.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic moral theologian and
translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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1 Response to The sin of Sodom: unnatural sexual acts

  1. John Platts says:

    Romans 1:26-27 says the following regarding unnatural sexual acts: “Because of this, God handed them over to shameful passions. For example, their females have exchanged the natural use of the body for a use which is against nature. And similarly, the males also, abandoning the natural use of females, have burned in their desires for one another: males doing with males what is disgraceful, and receiving within themselves the recompense that necessarily results from their error.” Romans 1:26-27 actually makes a distinction between natural sexual relations, which is referred to as “the natural use of the body,” and unnatural sexual acts, which is referred to as “a use which is against nature.”

    Fr. Longenecker correctly points out that unnatural sexual acts can occur between two men or between a man and a woman. However, Romans 1:26 also tells us that unnatural sexual acts can occur between two women. The term unnatural sexual acts includes both unnatural intercourse between a man and another person, as well as all forms of masturbation. Romans 1:26 actually condemns mutual masturbation between two women. Mutual masturbation between two men must also be morally wrong because:
    – Masturbation is always an unnatural sexual act.
    – The “natural use of the body,” or natural sexual relations, is always between a man and a woman. Mutual masturbation of two men, as well as mutual masturbation of two women, are not between a man and a woman, and are both homosexual acts.
    – Mutual masturbation between two men is inherently ordered towards the same evil end as mutual masturbation between two women.
    – Unnatural sexual acts are always morally wrong, whether it is committed by a man or a woman. Romans 1:27 tells us that the moral principle forbidding unnatural sexual acts also applies to men.
    – The Catholic Church has taught that all forms of masturbation as well as all homosexual acts are intrinsically evil and always gravely sinful.

    Pope Pius XII taught the following in Casti Connubii: “any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offense against the law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin” (n. 56). Although some Catholics erroneously interpret this teaching to include contracepted sexual acts, but not anal sex, oral sex, or mutual masturbation, Casti Connubii actually teaches that unnatural sexual acts between a man and a woman, including both unnatural intercourse as well as mutual masturbation, are always gravely sinful, because all unnatural sexual acts (such as masturbation, anal sex, and oral sex) as well as all contracepted sexual acts are “deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life.” Fr. Longenecker is clearly correct when he makes the claim that un-natural sex between a man and a woman is sinful, and this claim is clearly consistent with what the Catholic Church’s teaching.

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