Heterosexual Sex Moral?
Is Heterosexual Sex Moral?
An Ethical Reflection
Joseph J. Green
Northern Arizona University
There has been much debate over the years about whether or not homosexual sex is legal, moral, or religiously sound, but what about heterosexual sex? What is it that makes heterosexual sex moral? What is it that makes homosexual sex less moral? Must everything be moral or immoral, or are there exceptions?
It seems commonplace for people to believe that heterosexual sex is a morally right thing to take part in. But what does that really mean? John M. Finnis argues against homosexuality with some questionable ideas, but it’s an enlightening way to see how some may find heterosexual conduct moral. One such idea is that heterosexual sex is moral because it leads to reproduction. That, of course, leads to questions of whether reproduction itself is moral in order to determine if the heterosexual sex is moral, or, and perhaps more importantly, assuming that reproduction is moral, how does that necessitate that non-reproductive sex is immoral? Does this also mean that we are consistently being immoral when we are not engaging in acts, sexual or otherwise, that do not lead to reproduction?
Since heterosexual sex is regarded as moral already, perhaps we should focus more on homosexuality. How can homosexual sex possibly be moral? What good could come from it? Those who subscribe to a utilitarian view could see it as increasing general happiness. If there is a contingent of people wanting to engage in homosexual acts, yet morally they feel obligated to abstain and instead have heterosexual sex that may not actually bring happiness, does this not go against the ideal of promoting happiness amongst people? The biggest argument against homosexual sex, at least where John M. Finnis is concerned, is that it is not, nor does it have certain characteristics of, heterosexual sex. How can one thing be moral, and the other immoral, based solely on the reasoning that these two things are different?
Perhaps, what we need to realize, is that the acts themselves are not necessarily moral or immoral. Yes, it would be immoral to have sex with a non-consenting partner. Equally so, it would be morally sound to have sex with a consenting partner. These considerations of other living beings, are where morals exist. It doesn’t matter if it’s two men, two women, or even an adult and a child. So long as consent is there, true consent, not that which is derived from coercion or other such trickery, the act is moral. Therefore, if we assign morality to an act, we must view the considerations that lead to the specific act in order to find our judgement. To clarify, is it okay to kill an innocent man? Is it okay to kill a man before he can kill 30 innocent men? Many will find one of these acts to be more or less moral than the other.
Do we now find that heterosexual sex is moral? Did we even question it before? How about homosexual sex? We must be able to define how heterosexual sex is moral before we attempt to declare homosexual as immoral. Furthermore, how can we claim any act is moral or immoral without first examining the reasoning that brought the act into existence? What morality can be derived solely from an act itself?