Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Why are incest and polygamy wrong?

For purposes of discussion, Natural Law and the Bible are not admitted as arguments.

Not because I don't believe them; or because you don't.

But because we've been told for some time neither of these are acceptable grounds for sexual morality--and we can do without them.

That's the reason why we're supposed to accept contraception, in vitro fertilization, and now, equivalency between homosexual and heterosexual activity.

So tell me: what are the criteria for sexual morality, if not, (a) Natural Law and (b) the Bible?

Make your case. Tell me why incest or polygamy are wrong? Or, if you think they aren't wrong, then tell me what the criteria for right and wrong, in matters of sex, are?


Matthew Roth said...

I know I'm preaching to a priest here Father, but there is no reason if they are presenting the Lie.

TerryC said...

It's a trick question, and there lies the problem with modern secular society. Without Natural Law there is no moral framework. The Biblical Revelation just builds on Natural Law. Since both come from God they cannot contradict each other. Even other moral systems are primarily based on Natural Law in the areas where they are true. In the absence of Natural Law and Revelation there is no morality and anything goes. All is opinion and we can each have our own moral code, which can conflict with the moral code of others. Then he who has the biggest stick can rule by whim and force others to conform to whatever is wished. Like legal contraception, abortion, sham "marriages" and eventually incest and polygamy.

Tom said...

The criteria for right and wrong, as TerryC has said, ultimately must be some source and authority external to Man's own judgment, otherwise anything goes. Man has an innate capacity to rationalize anything from his own imagination. The transcendence of God is superior to the mundaneness of Man.

Natural law, consolidated with Divine Revelation, has been the basis for Western Civilization. When this conflicts with Man's desires and wishes, as it has in the modern day, he will seek to replace it with his own judgment, and is often quite clever in doing so. But the result is not Truth.

Pat said...

I answer it this way: I would advise my son not to marry his sister because (A) mental health professionals say that because you already have an established, complex, close and intimate and defined relationship, changing that relationship to a spousal relationship would likely greatly impair your ability to relate in a mentally healthy fashion to each other, to other siblings, to the extended family, as well as to other married couples and (B) medical health professionals say that any naturally conceived children will have a significantly increased chance of miscarrying and, if born, birth defects.

I would advise my daughter not to share her husband with another sister-wife because, although globally and over the centuries it's been accepted and has worked in some contexts, it doesn't work for an American middle class woman in 2013. On the contrary, for such a woman, a polygamous marriage is most likely to contravene her right to equality, particularly equality within the family life, and make the wives objects denoting the husband's economic, social and cultural dominance over women.

Fr Martin Fox said...


All, right, now if you're game, I ask you this.

Since all you did was articulate personal advice, I'd be interested in how you articulate a general moral norm. I think it was pretty clear already that's what I was looking for, but in case that was unclear, it's not now.

Let's hear a statement of a "thou shalt not"--and why.

This is your chance to offer a substitute for all the various--and well known--Catholic "thou shalt nots" based on the Bible and Natural Law.

That's what I'm looking for.

I maintain that the only thing left is consent. What do you wish to offer as an alternative?

Pat said...

That wasn't my personal advice. That was my advice based on what EXPERTS say about incest and polygamy.

Pat said...

(Didn't mean to yell the word "experts", meant to emphasize it. Tone is hard to convey sometime so blog posts. Nonetheless, rethinking my answer I believe it is a good response to the question. If you like, feel free to precede my words with "though shalt not" marry your sister because (A and (B), as well as "though shalt not" become a sister wife because although globally....

Jennifer said...

Father, the older I get, the more I trust in my Heavenly Father. If he says certain behaviors are wrong, I'll take his word for it. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is enough proof for me of what God expects of us.

I could never sufficiently articulate why some behaviors are wrong, though common sense tells me that they are wrong.

My children are small, but they are very attractive and will have a lot of "social opportunities." I want to tell them that their happiness lies in being able to say no to things that are obviously wrong, but might seem good or fun at the time.

I want to tell them to not get into debates with people who won't be persuaded simply because they want to lead you astray in most cases, perhaps to talk you into unwanted sexual activity.

I appreciate your blog. You have good common sense! :)

Fr Martin Fox said...


So you would actually couch a moral prohibition in terms of what mental health professionals say?

How do you respond to the obvious rejoinders:

1. You/they may be wrong (I'm betting I could find some "experts" who say something different, or aren't categorical);

2. The second half of your justification has to do with procreation; once procreation is severed from marriage, that's irrelevant.

I think you get the drift of my original question. You don't have to like it. But it's not clear that you're fully engaging with it.

To restate it: Divine and Natural Law, if taken to be valid, provide expansive reasons for commandments against sex outside marriage, same-sex sex, sex that cannot be procreative, incest and polygamy.

I'm asking what is still supported, if anything, once Divine and Natural Law are no longer the basis of moral prohibitions in matters of sex?

I contend the sole remaining criterion is consent.

Feel free to show otherwise?

rcg said...

Pat, I would hesitate to base my advice on the opinions of others. What if they change their advice? The mental health profession has undermined morality with professional opinions that will eventually lead to legalized pederasty.

I would say they are wrong because they place our animal self in control of our minds and spirits.

fxr2 said...

The simple fact is that the basis for the new morality is: "If it feels good do it" or its spin off "If it gives me what I want do it"


Pat said...

I think my response should be sufficient. You asked for an explanation as to why incest and polygamy are bad and I gave some pretty good reasons.

Maybe presenting another angle will add helpful color: You didn't ask about masturbation, but if you had I would have not been able to answer your question. That is, unlike incest, or polygamy or stealing or lying or cheating, etc., I cannot give you a reason that would indicate that masturbation as a moral wrong, even though some religions and cultures say that it is.