October 9th 2011


Archbishop Nienstedt & Same-Sex Marriage

By MarieAlena Castle
[Letter to the Minneapolis Star Tribune]

According to Archbishop John Nienstedt’s letter on Oct. 8, the Catholic Church’s opposition to same-sex marriage does not rely on religious beliefs but on anatomy. Since male and female genitalia fit together, and fitting them together often results in offspring, that must be nature’s purpose – it’s sole purpose. And because there are offspring there must be marriage. Because there is marriage, government has the duty to oversee and protect that arrangement by limiting it to one man and one woman. (Lots of non sequiturs here.) As Nienstedt says, the Church “finds its logic in the complementarity of the human anatomy, as well as the male/female psyche and in the propagation of the human species.”

What he means by the male/female psyche in this context is anyone’s guess. If it’s the emotional aspect of sexuality, that psyche seems to be operating rather nicely for same-sex couples as well. As for anatomical complementarity, people of all sexual orientations have found that there is more than one route to complementarity. If nature was purposeful and wanted sex to be limited to one form of male-female complementarity, there wouldn’t be all these other anatomical options available – some even useful for preventing unwanted propagation.

One is almost tempted to think nature actually is purposeful and finds it useful in natural selection terms to provide a variety of sexual work-arounds to enable us humans to control this whole sexual orientation/anatomical/psyche/propagation business to our advantage.

And speaking of sexual purposes, I don’t recall ever reading any Vatican pronouncements about the female clitoris. Unlike the male penis, which has three distinct and useful purposes, the clitoris has only one – pleasure. It has no complementarity function. Yet there it is, conforming fully to natural law, doing nothing but providing the one thing that has historically made the Vatican nervous – sex-related pleasure. No wonder there is silence on this. The Catholic hierarchy needs to study a good sex manual and something on sexual evolution before they expound on a topic they obviously know nothing about.

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