John Corvino Responds to “New Natural Law” (Book, and Video)

Central to the orthodox Catholic rejection of homoerotic relationships, and all sexual intercourse not open to procreation, is the natural law theory of the medieval theologian and great doctor of the Church, Thomas Aquinas. However, there’s a great deal that needs to be said about the distortions of Aquinas’ understanding of natural law to support “traditional” marriage, while suppressing what he wrote about the naturalness of same – sex relationships for those whom modern terminology would describe as having a same – sex orientation.

Aquinas and the Middle Ages were an awfully long time ago, and it’s not surprising that it is now generally acknowledged, by traditional and revisionist moral theologians alike, that there are some problems with his conclusions (for example, that masturbation, which is not open to procreation, is more offensive to God than rape, which is). So some modern day conservative theologians who respect the core of Aquinas’ Natural Law theory have developed what is known as “New Natural Law Theory”.

I’m delighted to have found, via a short post at “Letters to the Catholic Right”, a link to a video series by John Corvino dealing with his book, “What’s Wrong with Homosexuality”.

As a professor of philosophy specialising in ethics and the philosophy of religion, Corvino is well equipped to tackle the problems with natural law theory, and of New Natural Law Theory, as they are regularly applied to debates about marriage equality.

In the Youtube video above, Corvino, introduces his argument.

This is what Amazon has to say about his book:

For the last twenty years, John Corvino–widely known as the author of the weekly column “The Gay Moralist”–has traversed the country responding to moral and religious arguments against same-sex relationships. In this timely book, he shares that experience–addressing the standard objections to homosexuality and offering insight into the culture wars more generally.

Is homosexuality unnatural? Does the Bible condemn it? Are people born gay (and should it matter either way)? Corvino approaches such questions with precision, sensitivity, and good humor. In the process, he makes a fresh case for moral engagement, forcefully rejecting the idea that morality is a “private matter.” This book appears at a time when same-sex marriage is being hotly debated across the U.S. Many people object to such marriage on the grounds that same-sex relationships are immoral, or at least, that they do not deserve the same social recognition as heterosexual relationships. Unfortunately, the traditional rhetoric of gay-rights advocates–which emphasizes privacy and tolerance–fails to meet this objection. Legally speaking, when it comes to marriage, “tolerance” might be enough, Corvino concedes, but socially speaking, marriage requires more. Marriage is more than just a relationship between two individuals, recognized by the state. It is also a relationship between those individuals and a larger community. The fight for same-sex marriage, ultimately, is a fight for full inclusion in the moral fabric. What is needed is a positive case for moral approval–which is what Corvino unabashedly offers here.

Corvino blends a philosopher’s precision with a light touch that is full of humanity and wit. This volume captures the voice of one of the most rational participants in a national debate noted for generating more heat than light.

Books by John Corvino:

What’s Wrong with Homosexuality? 
Debating Same-Sex Marriage  (with Maggie Gallagher)


Also related and recommended:

Alison, James: Faith Beyond Resentment: Fragments Catholic and Gay 

Alison, James: On Being Liked 

Alison, James:  Undergoing God: Dispatches from the Scene of a Break-In

Alison, James: Broken Hearts and New Creations: Intimations of a Great Reversal

Boswell, John: Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century  (University of Chicago Press, 1980) 424 pages

Boswell, John: Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe

Glaser, Chris: As My Own Soul: The Blessing of Same-Gender Marriage 

Glaser, Chris: Coming Out as Sacrament

Jordan, Mark:  Blessing Same-Sex Unions: The Perils of Queer Romance and the Confusions of Christian Marriage

McNeill, John: The Church and the Homosexual

McNeill, John: Freedom, Glorious Freedom: The Spiritual Journey to the Fullness of Life for Gays, Lesbians, and Everybody Else 

McNeill, John: Taking a Chance on God: Liberating Theology for Gays, Lesbians, and Their Lovers, Families,  and Friends 

McNeill, John: Sex as God Intended  

Recommended Books

Boswell, John: Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People In Western Europe From The Beginning Of The Christian Era To The Fourteenth Century: Gay … of the Christian Era to the 14th Century
Moore, Gareth: A Question of Truth: Christianity and Homosexuality
Oliva, Adriano: Amours : L’église, les divorcés remariés, les couples homosexuels (French Edition)

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