Natural Law and Discourse in Ethics

The topic of sexual ethics surfaced today in a sacramental theology seminar in which I was a participant. All one needs to do is scratch the surface on any aspect of sexual behavior, and you will get a strident response from the audience.  It seems that much of our rancor on this subject develops because we fail to agree to discuss the issue from a common philosophical framework.  I would love to have a good conversation about sexual ethics with someone willing to use natural law as a foundation for our discussion.  Not only that, but someone willing to allow for the development of our understanding of natural law over time.

Isn’t it true that when we try to talk about sexual ethics and morality, we talk past each other?  We don’t agree on our assumptions, and as a result, we consistently miss our opportunity for mutual respect.  Pay attention to these attempted conversations;  someone will be arguing their point from a justice perspective (personal rights and autonomy); another will argue from the point of view of consequences (ends and means); others from the vantage point of virtue (natural law); still others from facts and data (scientific/biological).  Wouldn’t it be nice to agree to use each of these vantage points in ethical discourse, but agree to argue the point from each perspective in sequence? A most intriguing perspective is natural law and our developing understanding of what it is given advancements in law, biology, and technology. 

About Deacon Bob

Moderator: Deacon Bob Yerhot of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota.
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