Human Nature and Aquinas’ Taxonomy of Sexual Sins

St. Thomas Aquinas, in the Second Part of the Second Volume of his Summa theologiae, considers in a little over 1000 pages in Latin a massive number of sins and vices – injustice, gluttony, anger, greed, lying, etc., etc. Sexual sins are considered under the technical scholastic rubric of “luxury” (i.e., lust), and like the other sins are divided up into different species, with numerous concrete examples and applications.

Liberals in our enlightened era generally consider any sexual practice short of rape or child abuse to be “pelvic issues,” not worthy of condemnation, and certainly not able to keep perpetrators from eternal salvation. Aquinas obviously disagrees, but in his taxonomy, while all the sins he considers are “mortal sins,” he ranks them from more to less serious, with reasons for the rankings.  The distinctions he makes are not only important for the insights gained philosophically about the variety of human evils, but also from the standpoint of moral theology.  They were, and remain so today, important for confessors in knowing what types of penances to apportion and for spiritual directors in being able to offer appropriate advice to those who consult them.

It is also important for us to know what such distinctions are.  A lack of distinctions prevails in regard to many sins: Some consider it monstrous for police to beat protesters, but have no problem with radical Islamists massacring women and children indiscriminately. Some are incensed about somebody cheating on food stamps, but not about a politico using insider information to buy stocks. Many are incensed that their favorite movie star’s boyfriend has cheated on her, but have no problem with pornography. Others are against gay sex, but find contraceptive heterosexual intercourse unproblematic. And so on.

The following listing from Aquinas proceeds from the most serious to the least serious. I will discuss some potentially surprising rankings at the end.

The most serious sexual sins (leaving out circumstances such as violence, which compound the sinfulness) are sins contra naturam, sins contrary to human nature, and thus contrary to God the author of human nature.

The most obviously unnatural sin is “bestiality,” i.e., sexual intercourse with animals – a sin which offers an affront to the human species. Next in seriousness is sodomy, which is an affront to the natural relationship between male and female.

In third place are unnatural coital relationships between men and women – for example, anal intercourse, coitus interruptus, or other contraceptive measures – all of which are sinful because they do not observe “the right manner of copulation.”  In his Summa contra gentiles, Aquinas compares such relationships to homicide: “After the sin of homicide whereby a human nature already in existence is destroyed, this type of sin appears to take next place, for by it the generation of human nature is precluded.” By taking measures to prevent a human life from emerging naturally, such non-procreative sex constitutes an action against the potential human soul that might result.

The least serious “unnatural” sexual sin is masturbation, in which pleasure is intentionally sought in isolation from natural social relationships.  Aquinas is careful to distinguish this from “nocturnal pollution” or other unintentional emission of semen, which is not sinful. In our era, we would include pornography, as a means to excite prurient sexuality, as connected with this sin.

Incest, which is borderline “natural,” if it involves male-female intercourse, is nevertheless a grievous sin since it flouts the natural relationships proper to people connected by consanguinity or affinity.

As regards normal male-female relationships, the most serious sin is of course rape, in which sexual sinfulness is compounded with a serious sin of injustice, forced intercourse with someone who is unwilling.

Next in seriousness is sacrilege, for example, intercourse with a nun or priest who has taken a vow of chastity.  Because of the vow, this sin involves a direct offense to God; and if it is accompanied by rape, the seriousness is compounded.

Less serious is adultery, which is consensual, but is combined with the sin of injustice, since at least one of the parties is joined lawfully to another in marriage.

Finally, Aquinas makes a distinction between two of the least serious sexual sins – “seduction” and “fornication.” In making this distinction he is in part taking into account the customs in his era, in which (as also in our own time) a father at a wedding will “give away” the bride.  The legal code then favored marriage, on condition of parental consent and consent of the bride; in the absence of such consent, civil penalties for seduction were prescribed.

Fornication, i.e. what we call “consensual sex” is defined by Aquinas as intercourse with a woman who is not a virgin, and in which no external aggravating circumstances are relevant – e.g., the use of force, or the use of contraceptives.  This act is sinful because it militates against the social welfare of possible progeny who might result – leading to the possibility of children without a father to aid them with moral and intellectual guidance into adulthood.

We might consider some of these rankings to be counter-intuitive:

Masturbation worse than fornication? The psychiatrist Karl Menninger, in his 1973 book, Whatever became of Sin? in his comments on modern culture, points to the change in attitude regarding masturbation as a pivotal development paving the way to a permissive attitude not only towards sexual sins, but toward sin in general. Without too much imagination we can perceive contraception, sodomy, and pornography as sophisticated cultural results from that change.

Incest more serious than rape? Aquinas’ reasoning is that incest, if it is not accompanied by rape, is still a greater affront to the natural relationship of the sexes, especially when we consider familial relationships between parents and children, or sisters and brothers.

Consensual sodomy worse than incest or rape? Incest disrespects individuals in various degrees of relationship, while sodomy is an infraction against the proper relation of the sexes as well as against the perpetuation of the human species. Intersexual rape in a certain sense is less “unnatural,” but brings in the extraneous factors of violence and injustice which can magnify the overall sinfulness of the action.

Aquinas, of course, was operating in the context of the philosophical supposition that human nature is unchanging, and thus contains certain “constants.” Our sophisticated progressive contemporaries—in particular those in positions of academic and cultural influence—believe quite the opposite. Human nature —if there is such a thing— is infinitely malleable, and sexuality blossoms out in evolutionary fashion into polymorphous re-creations–families without a biological mother and father, liaisons for mutual pleasure without procreation, serial polygamy through successive marriage and divorce, etc.

We can pretend that human nature is not what it is only for so long. An indefinite suppression of reality is not possible. We’d do well to reflect on the Angelic Doctor’s instruction.

Howard Kainz


Howard Kainz is professor emeritus at Marquette University. He is the author of several books, including Natural Law: an Introduction and Reexamination (2004), The Philosophy of Human Nature (2008), and The Existence of God and the Faith-Instinct (2010).

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  • Doug

    A well-considered essay on an important topic, Doc. (When I first entered college, my Dad said, ‘Always call the profs “Doc”; you can’t go wrong with that.’) 🙂

    I noticed “unnatural coital relationships between men and women [as] other contraceptive measures”. I’ve often thought as much about their origin. (BTW I’m not a Christian but not Catholic, so I view scriptural contraception as a matter of personal choice, but abortion as wrong. Plan B pills and IUDs e.g. are of course abortive.)

    However, as is usual when I come across your Doctors of the Church, I find their teachings not as useful as scripture. Meaning: excessively detailed as to rules but lacking in simple Godly principles. As an example, Paul wrote to the Corinthian congregation- one badly in need of counseling- “Know you not that the unjust shall not possess the kingdom of God? Do not err: Neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers: Nor the effeminate nor liers with mankind nor thieves nor covetous nor drunkards nor railers nor extortioners shall possess the kingdom of God.” (1 Cor 6:9,10, Douay)

    I see no apparent listing of these fatal sins in any particular order. All are unGodly and will keep the unrepentant, repeat offender out of the kingdom of God. To Aqunas’ point in fact, fornication and adultery are separated in definition but together in proscription. And drunkenness, [mere] thievery, and envy are equally bad. The latter two are part of the Famous Ten, so a Godly principle can be used by Christians, who are “not under the law” (Romans 6:14,1, ibid.) If He didn’t like something then He probably still doesn’t like it. It’s not widely known that Deut 21 listed drunkenness as a capital sin, so that puts it, as Paul noted, on an equal footing with the rest. And covetousness is the one Commandment that itself can’t be detected or enforced by Moses or any other human, since it occurs solely in one’s mind. But if not dealt with by the offender, it often does lead to visible sins like theft or adultery. (James 1:14,15) Or, as we might say, ‘Father knows best.’ (Isa 48:17,18)

    “Masturbation worse than fornication?” Counterintuitive, indeed, which is why reference to the thinking of a Creator is useful. His Son said famously, “But I say to you, that whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her, has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” The tie-in with masturbation is this: try to do it without fantasizing!

    Finally, God himself might be said to put one sin at the top of the list: adultery. It was Israel’s repeated, egregious “adulteries” with other gods- unfaithfulness- that finally led Him to cast her off. (“For I was your husbandly owner …” and “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Behold, your house shall be left to you, desolate.”)
    Regards, Doug

    • Howard Kainz

      Catholic tradition is not sola scriptura, but has always been a coordination of faith and reason, including philosophical reasoning used by Aquinas in his elaboration of the virtues.  However, it is not unknown in Scripture to make distinctions between lesser and greater sins.  For example, in Lamentations, the prophet tells the Israelites that their sins are greater than Sodom; and in the Gospel Jesus tells Pilate that his sin is not as great as the sin of those who delivered Him.

      • Michael Paterson-Seymour

        I suppose a one-line summary of St Thomas’s great achievement in Moral Theology would be to say that he synthesised the Law Ethics of the Hebrew Bible, based on positive divine commandments,  with the Virtue Ethics of Aristotle, based on the concept of human flourishing.

        He was able to do so, based on the principle that we only offend God, when we act against our own good (“Non enim Deus a nobis offenditur nisi ex eo quod contra nostrum bonum agimus”, [ScG III. 122] so that the two approaches would necessarily arrive at the same result.

      • Drpruner

        Howard writes, “Catholic tradition is not sola scriptura”
        You have the advantage of me; I have “little Latin and less Greek.” My experience of discussions like this tells me that sola scriptura means the Catholic view of those who insist on the primacy of God’s word. In any case, the stat

        • Doug

          Did this reply get truncated somehow? Sorry.

        • And the question always is “what is God’s word?”. As I am sure we all know, God’s ultimate Word is Jesus Christ (John 1:1). It is from and in him that we find God speaking to us. It will interest you to know that Jesus passed this Word of God unto his apostles who, first by word of mouth and then by their lives, bore witness to this Word. These apostles continued practices established by Christ himself to perpetuate the ‘speaking’ of God in time, first and foremost the Mass. Some of this witness was put to writing, some continue to live in the practices of the Church, some live too in the understanding of its members championed by the Bishops singularly and collectively who have assumed the office of the apostles. This witness is kept alive and true by the Holy Spirit who resides in the holy lives of the faithful. This witness is protected by the Holy Spirit in the Seat of Peter (for someone who would deny Jesus three times it was the Father that spoke through him when Jesus asked, “Who do you say I am?” – Matt. 16:16. We could say he wasn’t a holy man then).

          The point I am making here is that God’s word is preserved not only in the writings of his immediate witnesses but also in the practices and understanding left behind by those same witnesses. So to refer to the new Testament scriptures exclusively as God’s word and to give it primacy is to assume that it is Christ himself. God’s word too is in the practices of the Church and its understanding, what we may call its Tradition (living witness or maybe its unwritten witness). These things cannot contradict each other but only help to open our minds to a clearer vision of the Word himself. Mind you, it was this living witness of the Church that bore witness to the truth of the scriptures by establishing them in its cannon.

          God’s Word’s is indeed prime but God’s Word does not only subsist in scripture but also in the very life of his Church.

          • Bob

            Great post…….

          • Doug

            Many have commented on the words of Jesus/the Bible. At least one of those in the Canon- Luke- likely never knew the man himself, but most did. In any case, you and I and your Church- the ‘Canon-maker’- agree that some commentators were inspired of God (2 Tim 3:16,17) while others were not. Else why not put the Summa into Catholic Bibles?

            My perception of the RCC is that it considers its three foundations in this order of merit: first magisterium, then tradition, and scripture far in the rear. That’s my perception, and it’s constantly reinforced by comments like Dr Kainz’ in reply to my first post: plenty of direct and indirect quotes from magisterium and tradtion, none from scripture. (You may not have noticed that my posts use scriptures, quoted almost always from newadvent’s excellent Douay page.)

            E.g. Mt 16:13-17: And Jesus came into the quarters of Caesarea Philippi: and he asked his disciples, saying: Whom do men say that the Son of man is? But they said: Some John the Baptist, and other some Elias, and others Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. Jesus says to them: But whom do you say that I am? Simon Peter answered and said: You are Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answering said to him: Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood has not revealed it to you, but my Father who is in heaven.

            Peter identifies Jesus as the Christ, the SON of the living God. Jesus, standing before Peter on the earth, says the identification has the authority of Jesus’ father who IS IN HEAVEN. This I also believe. I don’t believe that Jesus is the same person as Jehovah, nor do I believe in an unmarried priesthood, nor in ‘meatless’ days, nor in Chaplains for the world’s armies. All of these things are addressed in a negative way by “the practices and understanding left behind by those same witnesses,” as seen in the Bible- Douay, Jerusalem, New World Translation- whatever. 

            • Howard Kainz

               The Catholic religion is not based on one’s interpretation of a book, the Bible, but on the continuing guidance of the Holy Spirit through the successors of the Apostles, the bishops.  The book, the Bible, came from that source.

            • Bob

              …..and continue on with Matthew 16 ……Christ founds his Church on Peter……gives Peter the keys to the Kingdom….the ability to “bind and loose”. This is the founding of the Catholic Church through Peter. You do understand, Doug, that Christ gave us a Church (the Catholic Church), and not a book (the bible)? It was the Catholic Church, guided by Christ, that gave us the canon of scripture.

              • Doug

                “You do understand, Doug, that Christ gave us a Church (the Catholic Church), and not a book (the bible)? It was the Catholic Church, guided by Christ, that gave us the canon of scripture.”
                Please make up your mind. If Christ gave “us” the canon of scripture, then how do you say he didn’t give us a book? If he gave “us” a church, then why did he add the two-thirds of the book that’s non-Christian?
                And why is the author ignored by Catholics who have been making your mixed claim to me for decades? That author, of course, is Jehovah [your own Jerusalem Bible uses the equally correct Yahweh]- who is the father of Jesus, not Jesus himself. “Now this is eternal life: That they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” John 17:3. “He that shall overcome, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God: and he shall go out no more. And I will write upon him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God, and my new name.” Rev 3:12, both Douay, and any other Bible you care to quote.
                You worship Jesus as God, but don’t listen to him. No matter who set the canon, these parts of the canon identify clearly the “only true God” of Jesus himself. Peter concurs: “And Simon Peter answered him: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. And we have believed and have known that you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Your “first Pope”, and you deny him also. John, Revelation, John: you’ve denied him thrice.

        • St Thomas was indeed showing that by human reason we could arrive at the truth that is found in God but ultimately it is God that guarantees this truth in the absence of which St Thomas himself could not be sure that his conclusions were accurate.

          There is so much more Doug, that you could be part of if only you would expose yourself to the witness of the community Christ left behind as represented by the Church Fathers. Look for the writings Ignatius of Antioch died c.110, Polycarp, Irenaeus, Clement of Rome… I’m sure you would want to share in the faith of those who themselves learnt from the apostles.

          • Doug

            “There is so much more Doug, [in] Ignatius of Antioch died c.110, Polycarp, Irenaeus, Clement of Rome… ”
            Did I forget to mention that my Catholic respondents almost always go to magisterium, THEN tradition …?

        • Howard Kainz

          “Sola sciptura” can be translated “only through Scripture.”  It was the motto of some Protestant reformers, who held that authority for Christians comes only through the Bible and not from tradition and the Pope and bishops.

          • Doug

            Agreed; I l
            Agreed; I like your definition. I don’t like the title because it’s too limiting.

            An excellent example of listening to men is that of the Etiopian eunuch at Acts, “who said: And how can I [understand], unless some man show me? … Then Philip, opening his mouth and beginning at this scripture [Isa 53, not for beginners], preached unto him Jesus.” Context and a little research show us that this man was a superior person in intellect, in love of God, and in [OT] understanding, yet his most beneficial quality was his humility. (Mt 5:4)

            At Acts 15, which we both consider to be the first ‘church council’ or whatever it might be called, a meeting was called precisely because, “some going out from us have troubled you with [spoken] words, subverting your souls, to whom we gave no commandment.” In that meeting, existing [OT] scripture was used, a humble and prayerful attitude was displayed, and the result was a “writing by their hands: For it has seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us …” At that point there existed a written teaching; in the ms., now lost, and in what we call Acts 15.

            Like you, I have had my own Philips over the years. When I compare the results of my listenening to them- ‘examining the scriptures as I go’- with RCC beliefs taken from your magisterium and tradition, I am content with my position. “Remember your prelates who have spoken the word of God to you: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.”

            Not so content, though, that I cease “daily searching the scriptures, whether these things were so.”
            daily searching the scriptures, whether these things were so.”

            • Bob

              Therefore….how do you know that your own personal “Phillip” is teaching you correctly and has the authority to do so?

              • Doug

                I pay constant attention to myself and to my teaching.I carefully examine the Scriptures daily as to whether these things are so. And, as you’ve seen me do here, accept what scripture plainly says without adding my or anyone else’s tradition. An example is my view of Jesus, “the Messiah, the son of God”. (Quoted above) I take that as a simple declarative sentence with useful, practical information. Others will elevate the speaker- Peter- to some high level according to tradition, and then call him a liar. ‘No, Peter, Jesus is really God. You see …’

                • Bob

                  Then Doug, when Christ clearly tells us in John 6 “you must eat my flesh and drink my blood……etc.” and later at the last supper tells us that the bread he is blessing is “this IS my body”, then it is clear teaching (and also 2000 years of Tradition and teaching) from scripture that the bread and wine do truly become Christ’s body and blood, soul and divinity, correct?

    • Bob

      The Doctors of the Church teachings are both intertwined and founded upon Scripture. Aquainas’ refers much to scripture in his teachings, as do all the Doctors of the Church. I would suggest you study this further. Also, the Catholic Church which put the canon of scripture together has sole authority over the Christ’s teachings within. The passage from Paul you refer to can elicit ten different interpretations from ten different solo scriptura Protestants all in possible disagreement. Which one of the ten is the correct interpretation, or are all ten wrong? Christ did not want such confusion. He gave us a Church, the Catholic Church, which gave us scripture.

      • Bill Bannon

        You might be overestimating the independence of Catholic moral thought from Protestant example.
        Our current Catholic moral stance on slavery ie that it is an intrinsic evil ( Splendor of the Truth/ section 80) was the Quaker stance of St.Alphonse Ligouri’s time in which time, Catholicism still had 4 exceptions that permitted slavery taught in the Catholic Universities despite the papal bulls against slavery ( the reason Catholic religious orders had slaves in the 19th century and were uncensured by any Pope).
        Our Vatican permission in 1830, in answer to dubia, that Catholics could now take moderate interest on loans without the rationalization of extrinsic titles is exactly the 1545 position that Calvin held but Luther did not.
        We learned our current de facto ( not catechism) position on the death penalty ( abolish it) (which I reject) from the world intelligentia…the elite media and the Euro zone ethos. Poles were always considered less civilised than real Europe. John Paul was trying to impress real Europe and the world elite in the death penalty area… that the Church was civilized.
        So our usury answer came really from Calvin; our slavery answer from the Quakers; and our current abolish the death penalty campaign from the civilised world.
        On sex both Augustine and Aquinas could err ( see below). The Holy Spirit’s perfect guidance in morals is only present where there is inerrancy or infallibility clearly… and neither applies to any Father or Doctor per se but only per occasion. Here in a view which the Church now rejects in its acceptance of the use of the infertile times is Augustine giving trace stoicism on asking fir the marriage debt and Aquinas copying the error 700 years later point for point:

        Augustine:  ” The Good of Marriage” sect6
        ” but to pay the due of marriage is no crime, but to demand it beyond the necessity of begetting is a venial fault.”

        Aquinas: Summa T., Supplement…question 49 art 5 “I answer that”: 
          “Consequently there are only two ways in which married persons can come together without any sin at all, namely in order to have offspring, and in order to pay the debt, otherwise it is always at least a venial sin.”

        Both men because Aquinas had no sex and Augustine had had tons of sinful sex only…got it wrong in the eventual eyes of the Church and arguably they jointly burdened Catholic laity with this crap from the 5 th century til the 20th century since even Arthur Vermeesch and many of the clergy resisted the new explicit acceptance by the Popes of the use of the infertile periods after Pouchet scientifically explained them in 1845 and permission went out from the Vatican shortly after that in answer to the questioning of it by the Bishop of Amiens.

        • jpaYMCA

          You are using a particular hermeneutic to read Sts. Augustine & Thomas which practically “constrains” their interpretations into an erroneous position.  You quote but little of De Bono Coniugali … and for someone who has read it in its entirety the reason is obvious; you pasted the Supplement – which was pieced together after Thomas’ death – and even there you are “proof-texting”, for Thomas’ stance on the debt is illucidated in SCG and in the Quaestiones.
          Both Doctors were what we’d call speculative theologians today, so it’s hard to argue that they burdened the laity with anything – St. Alphonsus’ lax statements (according to his contemporaries, at least) show a nearly perfect weaving of his predecessors … w/o the subsequent accusal of error.
          Also, your statement about slavery betrays an ignorance of the moral and linguistic change in the word.  Religious Orders did not have what – proh dolor – we in the US had, or rather whom we had.
          You have read a lot – or else cut and pasted from one who has – but your conclusions do not follow and not a few of the writings are not seen in the context of the author’s entire opus.

          • Bill Bannon

            Well you’ve said a lot without giving your real name or any countering cites. I some times respond to crazy named commenters and sometimes not. I’ll be brief as a compromise. Aquinas’ given position is not only in the Supplement but also in the ST which I read entirely. Here’s bigger Augustine: ” both on this:
            Augustine.  On Marriage and Concupiscence
            Chapter 16 [XIV.]— A Certain Degree of Intemperance is to Be Tolerated in the Case of Married Persons; The Use of Matrimony for the Mere Pleasure of Lust is Not Without Sin, But Because of the Nuptial Relation the Sin is Venial.
            ….To escape this evil, even such embraces of husband and wife as have not procreation for their object, but serve an overbearing concupiscence, are permitted, so far as to be within range of forgiveness….”
            The reason you didn’t quote Augustine is because nothing in the ” Good of Marriage” retracts this.
            Augustine knew fornication first hand for over ten years. His seeing sex never as affirming the other person is based on that. He actually has a passage from his work on Genesis which depicts women as only being a help to man in producing children…for all other purposes, he sees males as better helps to males even in companionship. Hopefully he wrote other things to retract that ( Aquinas again copied the idea wholecloth into the ST twice. I’m so glad the Boston Globe and the Times didn’t know
            the passage. Times up. No name…moderate work in return. False names release authors from a degree of exactness….I’ve done it myself.

            • srdc


              Augustine needs to be read in context. A lot of his responses were to to other groups of people.   His views are not incompatible with the Catholic stance of not separating procreation on purpose from pleasure in a marriage.

              It’s true that the church has grown into a deeper understanding of this over time. But the change has been organic. It’s different from changes proposed by theologians that have no beginnings at all and based on their own personal or political views.

              • Bill Bannon

                His view that asking for the debt beyond procreation is venial sin is incompatible with Catholicism.
                And no context ameliorates that. None. Context is the new excuse. Stop covering up every nutty thing a saint says with allusions ( never lenghty detail) to context. And why can’t you people use your real names?
                Augustine’s context is that he abused sexuality for years, deserted the mother of his child in the name of virtue and then took a new mistress because he couldn’t wait for the young respectable girl Monica picked who was not yet of age. The woman he dumped after ten years said she would love him forever. He was over sexed and burdened the Church where sex was involved even in the issue of the immaculate conception which he got wrong for sexual reasons….. besides helping the Church tremendously with showing Christ hidden throughout the Pentateuch. I have read most of Augustine.
                He is great because he rarely wrote about sex relative to the bulk of his total writings.
                His context is a world of early saints who competed with and copied Stoicism which said that only procreation justified sex. The Stoics didn’t like sex or any severe disturbance in the emotions that threatened constancy…. Shakespeare has one say, ” I am as constant as the northern star of whose true fixed quality, there is no fellow in the firmament.”
                The result of that Christian imbibing of Stoicism is saint after saint restricting sex to procreation:

                Clement of Alexandria: “To have coitus other than to procreate children is to do injury to nature.”
                Incompatible with Catholicism and pure stoicism.

                Lactantius: God gave us eyes not to see and desire pleasure, but to see acts to be performed for the needs of life; so too, the genital [’generating’] part of the body, as the name itself teaches, has been received by us for no other purpose than the generation of offspring.” Divine 6:23:18 (A.D. 307)
                Incompatible with Catholicism and pure stoicism.

                Jerome, another exfornicator: Against Jovinianus, Bk.I,sect.  49. “Aristotle and Plutarch and OUR SENECA have written treatises on matrimony, out of which we have already made some extracts and now add a few more…”. “Does he imagine that we approve of any sexual intercourse except for the procreation of children?”

                Lol….that’s Jerome telling Catholic theology that his pet source is Seneca, a stoic who also believed in infanticide as most of the natural law Stoics did. Indeed many believed in fathers executing children until 14 years of age.

                That was Augustine’s CONTEXT….fornication superceded by saint writings based on Stoicism. Augustine seeing asking for the debt beyond procreation as venial sin was actual a hat tip to Stoicism but an improvement over the previous saints.

                • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                  Miss Ancombe has a good gloss on this “St Augustine indeed didn’t write explicitly of any other motive than mere sensuality in seeking intercourse where procreation isn’t aimed at.  What he says doesn’t exclude the possibility of a different motive.  There’s the germ of an account of the motive called by theologians “rendering the marriage debt” in his observation that married people owe to one another a kind of mutual service.  Aquinas made two contributions, the first of which concerns this point: he makes the remark that a man ought to pay the marriage debt if he can see his wife wants it without her having to ask him.  And he ought to notice if she does want it.  This is an apt gloss on Augustine’s “mutual service”, and it destroys the basis for the picture which some have had of intercourse not for the sake of children as necessarily a little bit sinful on one side, since one must be “demanding”, and not for any worthy motive but purely “out of desire for pleasure”. “

                  • Bill Bannon

                    Wrong again Michael but at least you read more than the light to moderate level that fills the Catholic comboxes. Augustine uses “demand” in “The Good of Marriage” but implies no such concept in ” Marriage and Concupiscence” where he similarly hat tips on non procreative sex to Seneca and company via Augustine via Jerome who once accused Augustine in a letter of wanting to supplant him through criticism. Aquinas doesn’t use “demand”.

                    Supplement ST/Question 49 art.6 I answer/ “If, however, he SEEK pleasure within the bounds of marriage, so that it would not be sought in another than his wife, it is a venial sin.”
                    { incompatible with the Church’s position since even Aquinas writes that recurring venial sin leads to mortal sin…citing the OT….” he that contemneth little things will fall little by little.”}

                    Aquinas. Summa T.  Supplement question 49 art.5  Reply to Objection 2. 
                        “If a man intends by the marriage act to prevent fornication in his wife, it is no sin, because this is a kind of payment of the debt that comes under the good of “faith.” But if he intends to avoid fornication in himself, then there is a certain superfluity, and accordingly there is a venial sin, nor was the sacrament instituted for that purpose, except by indulgence, which regards venial sins.”
                    { This is my favorite absurdity…the man obeys first Corinthians which tells him to marry to avoid fornication….he does so….and Aquinas has him sinning venially for obeying the Holy Spirit which sinning venially leads to mortal sin…I’m sure Miss Anscombe with her cigar and her refusal to use her
                    husband’s name knows best though.”}
                    Aquinas’ central contribution as Noonan notes in “Contraception” (Harvard press) was citing Aristotle’s dictum elsewhere “Pleasure in a rational act is itself rational.”. This would undo his own damage in the sexual area in the hands of future theologians who would lead to the idea that simply asking for sex was simply part of marriage in the non fertile times…you know…like normality.

                    • srdc

                      Augustine was responding to different groups that held opposing views on sexuality. One that held procreation was wrong, because it trapped souls in matter, and the other that held there was no such thing as sexual ethics.

                      Augustine rejected both views.
                      You can read about sexuality in early Christianity here.


                      Corinthians says marry to avoid fornication, but it does not say that marriage is an outlet for fornication.

                      It’s also a covenant between Christ and the church.

                      Fornication is an act that distorts the marital act, which is supposed to be exclusive, life-long, and fruitful.

                      One cannot approach marriage with this in mind.

                      You need to understand what the church means by the term fornication.

                      Nobody says, Augustine or Aquinas were infallible BTW.

                    • Bill Bannon

                      It doesn’t matter who he was responding to. He said that asking for sex of your spouse was venial sin unless you explicitly willed procreation. That idea is rejected by the Church’s acceptance of using the infertile periods. In the infertile periods, you can ask for sex and it is no sin at all. Repeat deliberate venial sins in one area dispose a person to mortal sin. That he was debating the Manichaens to which he once belonged for ten years has no bearing on his error. His error was then copied by Aquinas 700 years later and surely found its way into every confessional. Jointly the two devalued the marriage experience by introducing guilt where it did not belong. The same guilt was placed for centuries on the interest on a loan….and that turned out to be incorrect also with the Vatican in 1830 allowing it for the first time in answer to dubia from dioceses.

                    • Bill Bannon

                      You are perfectly correct that Aquinas was not infallible in morals. Pope Pius XI was perfectly mistaken in suggesting Aquinas was infallible here:

                      Studiorum Ducem

                      Encyclical of Pope Pius XI promulgated on June 29, 1923

                      20. He also composed a substantial moral theology, capable of directing all human acts in accordance with the supernatural last end of man. And as he is, as We have said, the perfect theologian, so he gives infallible rules and precepts of life not only for individuals, but also for civil and domestic society which is the object also of moral science, both economic and politic.


                      I guess Pius forgot a few things like the fact that Aquinas supported the slave status of a child born to a slave mother ( Suppl.ST/Matrimony/ marriage of a slave)…. not to mention what I’ve been mentioning….and forbade any interest whatsoever on a loan….an idea that went bye bye.

                    • srdc

                      I wantthe actual link to this docuemnt.

                    • Bill Bannon

                      I think you can google…it’s at ewtn which you previously linked to.

                    • srdc

                      This is why we have a magisterium,so nobody’s unbalanced views can prevail.

                      You are ignoring balanced statements made by Aquinas and other saints on the same issue.

                      To claim that these views are absolute is ignorance of Catholic teaching.

                    • srdc

                      You keep reading your own views into things.

                • srdc

                  He did not disagree with the Immaculate conception. The disagreement was with at what point, inside the womb.

                  • Bill Bannon

                    Both he and Augustine thought Mary contracted original sin at conception and was cleansed of it prior to birth. Church: Mary never contracted original sin
                    Augustine and Aquinas: Mary contracted it and was cleansed of it prior to birth.

                    That is disagreement with immaculate conception. They didn’t believe in immaculate conception. They believed in immaculate birth. They’ll be a quiz next week.

                • srdc

                  I will be perfectly honest when I cite context. You are not being honest.

          • Bill Bannon

            You’re covering up for religious orders and slavery. John T. Noonan Jr. gives the case in the USA of the Sulpician religious order selling a woman slave away from her child whom the Sulpicians sold to someone else. The Jesuits who were buying the Sulpician land wanted the price of the separately sold mother and child included as assets in their purchase. They expressed no outrage or surprise at a mother being sold away from its child….ergo it was customary. The incident is in ” The Church that Can and Cannot Change”. We covered up the sex abuse. What’s next…the slavery involvement. Are we a cover up culture by habit?

            • Bill Bannon

              ps II
              You recommended the SCG as a corrective of the Summa T. Supplement. Lol….it’s online. Nothing corrective in it as to asking for the debt beyond begetting…as venial sin. In fact, it’s worse on his image than the supplement. In the below passage, he is giving the naturally shameful marriage acts as a reason you can’t have relations with your sister because…get this….you have more respect for your sister than your wife:

              Summa Contra Gentiles
              Bk.III chapter 125 #3

              [3] “Again, because the acts performed by husband and wife are associated with a certain natural shame, it is necessary that those persons to whom respect is due because of the bond of blood should be prohibited from performing such actions with each other. Indeed, this reason seems to have been suggested in the Old Testament law, in the text which states: “You shall not uncover the nakedness of your sister” (Lev. 18:9), and also in other texts.”

              So you can do things associated with natural shame with your wife but not to those “to whom
              respect is due because of the bond of blood”. Thanks for a link to a truly humorous section on sex.
              Much of it has the warmth of the NY harbor tide tables.

            • srdc

              This is gross distortion on your part.

      • Doug

        Bob writes, “intertwined and founded upon Scripture”
        As I think I showed, that’s not the case. Dr Kainz’ summary of Aquinas seems a rather Pharisaical ‘intertwining’ of minute divisions of the topic. Much lengthier than 1 Cor 6 or even Exodus 20, and no scriptures quoted or cited.
        Paul OTOH lists several sins, some of them sexual. He says plainly that any of them suffice to keep the practitioner out of the kingdom of heaven. That’s my “interpretation”; where are your other nine? Do any of them purport to show that the sins are not sins? That they will be passed over by God? And what is that One Proper Interpretation the Church “gave” us, if different from Paul’s?
        sahys plainly

        • Howard Kainz

          Doug, Aquinas’ discussion of this topic includes numberous Scriptural references, maybe 100 — I haven’t counted them.  If you examine any articles in the Summa, you will find this to be Aquinas’ constant “methodology.”

          • Doug

            ‘100 scriptural references’ Glad to know that. I also examine the scriptures, as I’ve noted previously, and I choose to stick with simple, clear, forthright, Godly, Saint Paul.

            • Bob

              So you decide to ignore all that Scripture references that Aquians uses that are not from Paul?

              • Doug

                Scriptures; how one reads them. Two different things. Aquinas was one of those who read Peter but didn’t believe him. (‘No, Peter, Jesus is really God. You see …’) Filtered through tradition and magisterium, all scriptures can be twisted. In fact, that happened long before Aquinas, as prophesied. 1 Tim 4:1-3; Acts 20:29,30. Trinity, hellfire, Easter and Christmas celebrations …

                • Bob

                  Read Joseph Essian’s postings above. Doug, you do realize that the New Testament s the product of Catholic Tradition and Magisterium? That there were more than 50 Gospels/epistles being used and read at Mass for 350 years after Christ walked the earth until four Catholc councils starting in the year 383 decided (guided by the Holy Spirit) which books belonged in the canon of scripture so that we have the 27 books of the New Testament? So if you believe that the New Testament is the correct letters and gospels (and thaat the book of Hermes, the Gospel of Peter, the Didache, etc. do not belong in the bible) then you already have a strong belief in Catholic Tradition and Magisterium.

        • Bob


          You imply that Aquainas’s teaching is separate from scripture, which is simply not the case. As far as authority, let’s take your Paul quote again for example. Paul mentions adulterers shall not inherent the kingdom of God. On the same theme, Christ told the pharisees that he only allowed divorce because of the hardness of your heart…..but I say even if a man lusts in his heart he is committing adultery. The Catholic Church interprets this that divorce is not allowed or recognized, and if someone divorces and remarries they are in a state of adultery, and unrepentant will not inherit heaven. But many Protestant denominations ignore this and allow for divorce and remarriage, and therefore, not adultery. So who is right and has the authority? The Catholic Church or the individual Protestant or denomination.

          • Doug

            Scripture:”But I say to you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, excepting for the cause of fornication, makes her to commit adultery: and he that shall marry her that is put away, commits adultery.” Fornication within marriage IS adultery … in my “protestant” opinion. What’s yours? The “opinion” of Jesus is that it is.”But I say to you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, excepting for the cause of fornication, makes her to commit adultery: and he that shall marry her that is put away, commits adultery.” Fornication within marriage IS adultery … in my “protestant” opinion. What’s yours? The “opinion” of Jesus is that it is.
            My standard is: if my wife commits fornication with another I have the option of forgiving or divorcing. In that case, I am free to remarry. Your standard? Not scriptural. You read the words of your God … and ignore them.

            • Bob

              Matt. 5:31-32 – the Lord permits divorce only for “porneia.” This Greek word generally means unlawful sexual intercourse due to either blood relations (also called incest) or nonsacramental unions. The Lord does not permit divorce for “moicheia” (adultery). It is also important to note that in these cases, a marriage never existed in the first place, so the Lord is not actually permitting divorce, but a dissolution of the unlawful union.

            • Bob

              Gen. 2:20-24 – we see that, from the beginning, husband and wife are joined together by God and become one body. A body cannot be dismembered and still live.

              Mal. 2:16 – God says “I hate divorce.” These are strong words from our Lord. Divorce and remarriage violates the sacred marital covenant between a husband and a wife that has been ordained by God.

              Matt. 19:6 – Jesus makes it clear that it is God who joins the husband and wife together, according to His will. What God joins together cannot be dissolved because God’s will is perfect and eternal.

              Matt. 19:9; Mark 10:11-12; Luke 16:18 – Jesus says that whoever divorces and remarries another commits adultery. This is an offense against the natural law.

              Rom. 7:2-3 – again, Paul reiterates Jesus’ teaching that sacramental marriage followed by a divorce and remarriage is adultery. He who commits adultery destroys himself. (Prov. 6:23). Many Protestant denominations have rejected this teaching of Jesus and His Church.

              1 Cor. 7:10-11 – once again, Paul gives Christ’s teaching that married couples cannot divorce and remarry. This violates God’s divine plan for the husband and wife.

            • Bob


              You seem to be a big Paul fan, so pray on this from 1 Corinthians 7:10. I’ll have other scriptural examples in my next posts:

              ” To the married, however, I give this instruction (not I, but the Lord) a wife should not separate from her husband
              and if she does separate she must either remain single or become reconciled to her husband—and a husband should not divorce his wife.”

              • Doug

                I quoted your god, Jesus, on the topic. That should settle it for you. It doesn’t, but it settled it for Paul, who ‘did not go beyond the things taught.’ 1 Cor 7 is typical: Spouses separate for many reasons, including religious differences (touched on in the same passage). That’s a very serious difference. Yet in case of separation the believer was still in good standing with the congregation but was NOT free to remarry.

                • Bob

                  True……which is why the Catholic Church has always never recognized divorce and the person cannot remarry. If a Christian gets a civil divorce and remarries, that person is in a state of adultery. Interestingly, the “things taught” quote of Paul, he is referring to the apostolic tradition from which he learned, and that apostolic tradition is only passed down in the Catholic Church. No Protestant faith has apostolic tradition,

    • Andkaras

      Doug, Isn’t artificial contraception  an attempt to “leave the house desolate?

      • Doug

        Andkaras, you’ll have to amplify on your reply; I don’t see the relevance or get the point. (Perhaps my interpretation is faulty. 🙂 )

        • Andkaras

          Doug, I could not possibly put it better than  JPII did in his two books “Love and Responsibility, and Theology of the Body , granted they are to some a tough read but well worth the effort .They have greatly enhanced my understanding of scripture ,Especially in regaurdes  to the” Great Mystery” that St  Paul refers to when speaking of Christ and his bride the Church . Man and Woman  were created to be “Gift to one another ”  in totality. and the marital act is not to be violated in such a way as to withhold A part  of that gift lest it damage the sign  or reduce that act to a utilitarian use of the other. Artificial contraception  Denies the very “Male and Female” of the act.

          • Doug

            Well, you put it “better” enough that I now see your point. 🙂

            Yes, we do differ on artificial contraception. When I look through scripture (not through “a tough read” from JPII- see my comment to Dr Kainz and Joseph) I find no direct note about contraception EXCEPT a very specific one in Genesis, the ‘sin of Onan’. The immediate application there is that Onan’s act prevented conception in a particular case for a particular reason that was against Jehovah’s particular wishes. That reason BTW no longer exists because the line leading to the Messiah no longer needs maintaining. I see no reason to extend that teaching; your Church does.

            On further reading I find some like Jeremiah who were forbidden to procreate for a particular reason; Of course he did that by remaining single AND therefore celibate, and it’s the “therefore” that matters. He didn’t acquire a female “friend with benefits” and a supply of condoms. BTW girlfriends and condoms existed in his day.

            Hosea was commanded to marry an immoral woman and to impregnate her, which he did. Again, a prophecy was involved.

            No married Christian was commanded to have children; just the opposite, as in Jeremiah’s day, for the same reason. Paul commanded(!) married folks to give each other their [sexual] due; no additional remark about contraception.

            There are two other scriptures, not obviously related, which govern my thinking on the matter. At Psalm 139:13 ff. David accurately refers to the life of an embryo. Until (as our biology teachers tell us) the sperm joins the egg, there is NO fetus/embryo/person. Therefore no place to ‘implant a soul’, as your Church has it. IN ANY CASE, the “soul” is not something separate from the person to be implanted; it IS the person. “And the Lord God formed man of the slime of the earth: and breathed into his face the breath of life, and man BECAME a living soul.” Gen 2:7, Douay. Man did not ACQUIRE a soul, he BECAME one. A sperm OR an egg is not a soul or a human or a person. If not used, both are “wasted”- eliminated- by the body in the course of time.

            Therefore, I don’t see contraception as anti-God. I mentioned earlier that some TYPES of contraception are.

    • Doug

      Wow! What a typo!
      “BTW I’m not a Christian but not Catholic” was of course meant to read, “I am a Christian …”

  • Tout

    A very good article, for those who have a good understanding of English.

  • Pedro Erik

    Excellent article, Dr. Kainz.

    I have a blog dedicated to St. Thomas (called Thyself O Lord). It is written in Portuguese. Tomorrow, I think I will sum up your article to my readers.

    Pedro Erik

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  • Give the whole truth, please. From the Catechism regarding masturbation, which applies to all sexual sin (2352): “To form an equitable judgment about the subjects’ moral responsibility and to
    guide pastoral action, one must take into account the affective immaturity,
    force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety or other psychological or social
    factors that lessen, if not even reduce to a minimum, moral culpability.” You need to distinguish between moral culpability and the objective nature of the acts.  

    • jpaYMCA

      For one who is well-read in philosophy and theology, the distinction is easily visible in the title and in the first paragraph.  Nature, from both the Greek and Latin Patristic discussions on the subject, and taxonomy into genus and species of sins are clear indications that this regards objective NATURE of acts.  Any moral theologian or even first-year philosopher who has had a course in “ta fusica / de natura rerum” would immediately reply that subjective “circumstances” always accompany the object.
      The article is about a largely-ignored subject, or, the OBJECT!  Obviously.

  • Tom

    Dear Professor Kainz
    This is a very good article. It is time to dig out and read the whole Suma.
    One thing to consider is a modern version of this gradation.
    One could use disastrous outcomes: harm to others by abortion, violence, disease transmission through promiscuity, broken or inability to stay in relations as benchmarks.  Although I did not read the book by Sister Margaret A. Farley, I am not sure if she considered these outcomes in her notion of “justice”.
    At the top of the list, one would have:
    Loving, natural intercourse in marriage, without preconditions.
    Then would follow intercourse in marriage, with intent not to have children, using natural family planning, as this is an actual barrier (in this case, time).
    Then would follow intercourse in marriage, with intent not to have children, using artificial family planning (physical or pharmaceutical), that is not an abortificant.
    Somewhere way further down the gradations, would be various levels of fornication. For example, intercourse with intent not to have a child, but also not to hurt the other person, using a physical barrier (condom) and restrain from intercourse with multiple partners. This would be a sin, but less of a sin than fornication while knowingly hurting other people by spreading infections via multiple intercourse, and not using a physical barrier. 
    Further down the list would be homosexual acts. Here again, these would be sins, but with gradations. This is an act that does not follow basic human biology (its time to use vocabulary that the so called left has high jacked). Here again, a stable relation, use of condoms to prevent spread of disease without multiple partners would be a sin, but less of a sin than intercourse with multiple partners, knowingly spreading infections, not using a barrier. This is what the Pope alluded to about a year ago, it seems to me.
    Intercourse in/outside of a marriage, with intent not to have children, using an abortificant contraceptive, or abortion would be way down the list, as very grave sin.
    Does that make sense?


    • Howard Kainz

      Your list  is different from Aquinas’ list, which is concerned only with gradations of sins.

      • Tom

        Thank you for the reply, Professor Kainz.
        How so is it different?
        Where would one place on that list people that make to decision to have intercourse, knowing that they will abort, when pregnant?
        To me, that is way at the bottom of bad. Way worse than something like homosexuality or fornication (1-with condom the hurt is emotional, a form of using the other person, 2-without condom it is both emotional and physical hurt, as one may pass a disease that is not curable, 3- one’s intentions was not to have a child).
        Or what about the male prostitute that uses condoms, I think the example the Pope gave? Where is that on the gradation?
        What about abuse of children? I think that is what St Thomas calls in part, incest, thus the gravity.
        As distasteful as it is, I think such a gradation using specific modern, day to day examples, using St Thomas’s Suma as a guide, could be very helpful.
        It is not all or nothing, with sin, right?
        A robber who intends to kill a store owner, but decides at the last minute to spare the man’s life and shoots him in the leg instead, for example, has sinned, but less. We are called to Love God with all our Heart, Mind and Soul,  all the time, even when we commit sin, thus we have to steer away as much as possible away from committing sin. At the very, very least, we should move away from committing worse sin. Of course, it is always better not to sin. No?

        • Howard Kainz

          “So how is it different?” Your first item is not a sin.

          • Al_Kilo

            Your first item is not a sin.–>of course its not a sin!
            I am  sorry, it goes from top (not at all a sin) to bottom (worse sin), sorry for not making that clear.

    • Tom

      Addendum, on the top of the above list is no sin, at the bottom, worse sin!

  • srdc

    Bill Bannon,

    If you are angry and want to leave the church you can do so. Stop lying and slandering everybody else.

  • Mark

    In your list demonstrating how many of us seem to lack the ability to make sound moral distinctions, I appreciate that you are trying to be fair, giving the particular errors that both liberals and conservatives tend to fall into, but honestly I don’t know any liberals who condemn police brutality and yet condone  the murder of women and children by terrorists.  Maybe you meant that, out of naivete, they may unknowingly support a front for such terrorists?  But that’s a very different charge.

    At any rate, I enjoyed the post on St. Thomas Aquinas.  I’m reminded of G. K. Chesterton who ranked suicide as worse than homicide:  “The man who kills a man, kills a man.  The man who kills himself, kills all men; as far as he is concerned he wipes out the world.”

  • Mark

    Wanting to know more about Dr. Kainz, I looked for more of his articles.  Unfortunately, I found a completely ridiculous one in which he defends the claims in Ann Coulter’s book Demonic: How the Liberal Mob is Endangering America (a typical title for her).  Without a hint of irony, Dr. Kainz elucidates some of the principles in her book:  “The most prominent characteristic of liberal ‘mobs,’ she writes, is the tendency to idolize their political leaders, and demonize their enemies.”  Gosh.  That sounds a lot like what Coulter does.  Regularly.  And then there’s that title which is a perfectly literal example of this.  But she’s using “hyperbole,” as Dr. Kainz says, so we just have to have an ear for that.  Actually, she’s just a lousy hypocrite and Dr. Kainz is her enabler.

  • A distinction: the severity of the sin by its nature is one thing; the guilt one incurs by committing it is another.  So then, sodomy belongs to a more serious kind of sin; but rape, for example, is not only a sexual sin, it is a sin of violence and cruelty.  Thomas is assigning degrees of seriousness to the sins by kind, but not according to what must be involved in the heart in their typical commission.  In any case, it would behoove us to remember that even though lust is the least of the deadly sins, it is still deadly — just as typhus can kill you as well as a bullet in the head.

  • To Mark:  what leader has Ann Coulter idolized?  She was the one who said “Let’s hold our noses and vote for McCain.”  She has said good things about politicans that she has found something good to say about, but speaking well of someone is not the same as idolizing them.  We conservatives do not have a slogan that matches “No Enemies on the Left.”  Ann lambasted most of the last batch of GOP contenders.  And she had no problem noting Geroge W’s faults.  Many more Liberals than  Conservatives take political affiliatioan more gravely than their religion and imagine that they have a God-given right to not be offended.  I regret to to say that it this very unhealthy loyalty on the part of Catholics that might succeed in re-electing the most pro-abortion, anti-family, anti-Catholic damagouge to reside in the White House.  Mark, if you do not detect even a whiff of that demgougery in his recent rantings about how wealth is created, then we as a nation are in trouble.  Does Ann Coulter really bother you more than Barry? 

    • Mark

      You can quibble about whether Ann Coulter has idolized any LIVING Republican leaders, but I noticed you weren’t silly enough to disupte that she does demonize her opponents.

      There’s nothing in what I wrote to indicate support for Obama.  He has none from me.  Do you assume that because I find Coulter repulsive that I must mirror her partisanship?  That’s sad.  Coulter is an embarassment to whatever cause she latches onto.  The more grave the cause (pro-life, traditional family, religious freedom) the less we need her or Rush Limbaugh as an ally.  As Catholics, we should have nothing to do with them.  They may sometimes land on the right side of an issue, but their rhetoric is not Christlike to say the very least.  It falls below any standard of civility.

    • Mark

      “Many more Liberals than  Conservatives take political affiliatioan more gravely than their religion and imagine that they have a God-given right to not be offended.”

      My experience has been that conservatives are more likely to CONFUSE religion and party affiliation.  I grew up as a Southern Baptist in the 70s and 80s.  Unfortunately, my family and every conservative I knew took the three Rs for granted: Religion, Racism, and Republicanism.  Considering the influence of Southern Baptists around the country, I doubt if this was a fluke.  I think some of this has changed and, of course, there have always been some Republicans who eschewed racism (and religion for that matter).

      It is clear (or ought to be clear) to Catholics in this country that it is impossible to be faithful to the Church and to also strictly adhere to the entire Democratic platform.  What seems to be less clear is that it is also impossible to be faithful to the Church and to strictly adhere to the Republican platform.

  • Dr. Kainz, is it possible that Dr. Meeninger was making too much out the fact that people started to realize that “the solitary sin” was committed by nearly everyone.  Suddenly millions of people in the West who had actually thought that somehing nearly everyone did at some time or another was abnormal and made them perverts was nothing of the kind.  Each of those poor people thought that he or she was the only one and that he ro she was going to hell.  Is it possible for something to be disordered and noraml at the smae time?  Logically, we have to say yes.  Crazy? Given man’s fallen nature, we are prone to commit sin.  And this could be a sin that is so widely committed that, at least statically spekaing, is must be considered the norm.  Think of thoses millions of people waking up from nightmares of being in hell because they did something so harmless and normal.  Harmless! It didn’t make anyone blind or grow hair on thier hadns (remember that one?) The harm was in telling poor chldren that it would make them crazy.  Talk about a self-fulflling prophecy!  That’s what made the poor kids crazy and then made the shrinks rich and the pharmaceutical tycoons rich.  No, it took a lot more than that to get rid of the idea of sin, but when people realized that they’d lied to about this they had to doubt everything that they had been told about anything.  Thye also got a burning resentment of those who had torutred thier little souls with shaen and fear over someting so trivial. 

  • questor

    One thing I wonder about Masturbation.  There is an intentional version for pleasure, but there  is also the fleshly desire which is hard to describe, other than discomfort that grows until a discharge happens.  There are also unwilled discharges.  Is the distinction between a positive act with an intent for pleasure and a negative act to relieve discomfort (with little or no pleasure) – not unlike urination – a real one and if so where does it fall on the continuum?

  • Mark, I’m sorry if I sounded as if I inferred from your attack on Coutler that you were an Obamanite.   I personally believe that party loyoalty is for Communists and Facsists.  I was raised to think that FDR was the saving angel that kept the evil rich from starving the working stiffs and was therefore the Dem party was the natureal home of sincere Catholics.  While it was  the refusal of that party to even let a prolife speaker to address the 1992 that finally pushed me out, I gradually began to see what I had believed was an actual conssciouenss of social  justice that was inaccord with Christian beliefs was a mere facade for promoting an agenda that was only superificailly humanitarian.  Beleiving that it would be fruitless to take no stand at all, I re-rereigtered as GOP, and feel free to criticize its leaership infront of other members.  That goes for their politics as well as personal lives. Many GOPers are embarrassed by Ginrich’s shennaigans and say so opnely, but mention Clinton’s predations in front many Dems (NO, I’ve done no secitific survdy.) and you might as well have called the Pope a pedophle.  Did you happen to see the recent NBC “report” on one of JFK’s young oncquests?  After the interview the ususal team of hagiographers were there to  practically propose him for canonization.   As to wehter Coulter demonizes, well she did a pretty good job on Newt during the primaries, but I don’t think you neeed to go beyond the facts when it comes to a man who backed a biil to kill babies who survive abrotion  attempts.  Sadly, this man will get the votes of many Catholics who have not heard that every Pope from Leo XIII to the presnt one has denounced socialism.  Also saddly, amy Catholics will vote him becuase he is pro abortion and pro sodomy, and they will doing so with false impression that those positions are compatibel with the Teching sof the Chruch.  And just hwere do we suspect that got those ideas? 

    • Mark

      I think our experiences were similar in some ways though from opposite poles.  I noticed something like this years ago when I was talking to a conservative Protestant friend.  He had been raised by free-love hippy liberals and had suffered harm as a result.  He now saw a great (and legitimate) threat from that mindset.  I was raised by no-love bigoted conservatives and I believe I reacted reasonably against that.  Now we were both at a point in our lives where we each saw a threat over the other’s shoulders.  You and I may not agree about which threat is greatest.  The pendulum seems to swing back and forth.  I will concede that the recent attacks on religious liberty from the left are egregious.  Either way, I think we should take advantage of the position we find ourselves in and watch each other’s backs.

  • Doug

    To [especially] Dr Kainz and Joseph E-O: The main point I intended to convey in my first post was, “However, as is usual when I come across your Doctors of the Church, I find their teachings not as useful as scripture.” I think subsequent comments have confirmed that my belief is well-founded. I put Paul (1 Cor 6) side-by-side with Aquinas via Kainz, and anyone can see that

    (1) Paul is less verbose
    (2) He is more authoritative; he refers back to Jehovah’s Law as precedent for Christian law
    (3) his list of sins covers more ground without getting bogged down in irrelevant details
    (4) he leaves no room for, ‘Well, this sin isn’t as bad as some others I could be committing …’

  • Doug

    Bob, when you can clearly name  the author of the Bible, as in my reply above, we can discuss … something, I suppose.

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