Aquinas: Masturbation is worse than rape

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Aquinas: Masturbation is worse than rape

#1  Postby Moses de la Montagne » Oct 11, 2013 3:38 pm

By the term "the unnatural vice," St. Thomas refers here to non-procreative sexual activities. The most egregious of these, he concludes, is bestiality. He fails, however, to file bestiality under rape—instead he argues that its heinousness is derived because "use of the due species is not observed." After bestiality, the second worst unnatural vice is sodomy, and slightly less horrendous than sodomy is masturbation. All three of these unnatural vices are rated, by Thomas, as worse than rape.

For those unfamiliar with Thomas' style of discourse, the first four "objections" listed in this passage are the arguments he wishes to refute. "Objection 1" contends that rape is worse than masturbation or sodomy. The Angelic Doctor disagreed: offenses to humans are bad, but offenses to God are worse. And God hates masturbation and sodomy.

Article 12. Whether the unnatural vice is the greatest sin among the species of lust?

Objection 1. It would seem that the unnatural vice is not the greatest sin among the species of lust. For the more a sin is contrary to charity the graver it is. Now adultery, seduction and rape which are injurious to our neighbor are seemingly more contrary to the love of our neighbor, than unnatural sins, by which no other person is injured. Therefore the unnatural sin is not the greatest among the species of lust.

Objection 2. Further, sins committed against God would seem to be the most grievous. Now sacrilege is committed directly against God, since it is injurious to the Divine worship. Therefore sacrilege is a graver sin than the unnatural vice.

Objection 3. Further, seemingly, a sin is all the more grievous according as we owe a greater love to the person against whom that sin is committed. Now the order of charity requires that a man love more those persons who are united to him--and such are those whom he defiles by incest--than persons who are not connected with him, and whom in certain cases he defiles by the unnatural vice. Therefore incest is a graver sin than the unnatural vice.

Objection 4. Further, if the unnatural vice is most grievous, the more it is against nature the graver it would seem to be. Now the sin of uncleanness or effeminacy would seem to be most contrary to nature, since it would seem especially in accord with nature that agent and patient should be distinct from one another. Hence it would follow that uncleanness is the gravest of unnatural vices. But this is not true. Therefore unnatural vices are not the most grievous among sins of lust.

On the contrary, Augustine says (De adult. conjug. [The quotation is from Cap. Adulterii xxxii, qu. 7. Cf. Augustine, De Bono Conjugali, viii.]) that "of all these," namely the sins belonging to lust, "that which is against nature is the worst."

I answer that, In every genus, worst of all is the corruption of the principle on which the rest depend. Now the principles of reason are those things that are according to nature, because reason presupposes things as determined by nature, before disposing of other things according as it is fitting. This may be observed both in speculative and in practical matters. Wherefore just as in speculative matters the most grievous and shameful error is that which is about things the knowledge of which is naturally bestowed on man, so in matters of action it is most grave and shameful to act against things as determined by nature. Therefore, since by the unnatural vices man transgresses that which has been determined by nature with regard to the use of venereal actions, it follows that in this matter this sin is gravest of all. After it comes incest, which, as stated above (Article 9), is contrary to the natural respect which we owe persons related to us.

With regard to the other species of lust they imply a transgression merely of that which is determined by right reason, on the presupposition, however, of natural principles. Now it is more against reason to make use of the venereal act not only with prejudice to the future offspring, but also so as to injure another person besides. Wherefore simple fornication, which is committed without injustice to another person, is the least grave among the species of lust. Then, it is a greater injustice to have intercourse with a woman who is subject to another's authority as regards the act of generation, than as regards merely her guardianship. Wherefore adultery is more grievous than seduction. And both of these are aggravated by the use of violence. Hence rape of a virgin is graver than seduction, and rape of a wife than adultery. And all these are aggravated by coming under the head of sacrilege, as stated above (10, ad 2).

Reply to Objection 1. Just as the ordering of right reason proceeds from man, so the order of nature is from God Himself: wherefore in sins contrary to nature, whereby the very order of nature is violated, an injury is done to God, the Author of nature. Hence Augustine says (Confess. iii, 8): "Those foul offenses that are against nature should be everywhere and at all times detested and punished, such as were those of the people of Sodom, which should all nations commit, they should all stand guilty of the same crime, by the law of God which hath not so made men that they should so abuse one another. For even that very intercourse which should be between God and us is violated, when that same nature, of which He is the Author, is polluted by the perversity of lust."

Reply to Objection 2. Vices against nature are also against God, as stated above (ad 1), and are so much more grievous than the depravity of sacrilege, as the order impressed on human nature is prior to and more firm than any subsequently established order.

Reply to Objection 3. The nature of the species is more intimately united to each individual, than any other individual is. Wherefore sins against the specific nature are more grievous.

Reply to Objection 4. Gravity of a sin depends more on the abuse of a thing than on the omission of the right use. Wherefore among sins against nature, the lowest place belongs to the sin of uncleanness, which consists in the mere omission of copulation with another. While the most grievous is the sin of bestiality, because use of the due species is not observed. Hence a gloss on Genesis 37:2, "He accused his brethren of a most wicked crime," says that "they copulated with cattle." After this comes the sin of sodomy, because use of the right sex is not observed. Lastly comes the sin of not observing the right manner of copulation, which is more grievous if the abuse regards the "vas" than if it affects the manner of copulation in respect of other circumstances.

New Advent | Summa Theologica II-II, Question 154
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Re: Aquinas: Masturbation is worse than rape

#2  Postby archibald » Oct 11, 2013 3:45 pm

Whilst I inevitably have difficulty not joining a thread where sex is the topic, I do wonder what the point is in dredging the opinions of some superstitious medieval baldy guy for any useful or enlightening material, bar the fun of seeing a confused mind expressed in writing. :)
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Re: Aquinas: Masturbation is worse than rape

#3  Postby Animavore » Oct 11, 2013 3:48 pm

Aquinas saying something obscenely and immorally outrageous?!

Nah. Can't be.
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Re: Aquinas: Masturbation is worse than rape

#4  Postby Moses de la Montagne » Oct 11, 2013 3:54 pm

archibald wrote:Whilst I inevitably have difficulty not joining a thread where sex is the topic, I do wonder what the point is in dredging the opinions of some superstitious medieval baldy guy for any useful or enlightening material, bar the fun of seeing a confused mind expressed in writing.


I'd say it's useful because Aquinas' popularity has seen some improvement in Catholic circles in the past few years. Here in the U.S., "traditional Catholicism" is trendy (at least, among those stalwarts who remain Catholic despite the pedophilia scandals). Along with this trend comes an Aquinas revival. Edward Feser, for example, who wrote a book purporting to refute the so-called "New Atheism," is a big-time Thomist.
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Re: Aquinas: Masturbation is worse than rape

#5  Postby Paul » Oct 11, 2013 3:57 pm

And God hates masturbation and sodomy.


Bugger that! Aquinas sounds like a bit of a wanker to me.
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Re: Aquinas: Masturbation is worse than rape

#6  Postby Animavore » Oct 11, 2013 4:01 pm

Moses de la Montagne wrote:
archibald wrote:Whilst I inevitably have difficulty not joining a thread where sex is the topic, I do wonder what the point is in dredging the opinions of some superstitious medieval baldy guy for any useful or enlightening material, bar the fun of seeing a confused mind expressed in writing.


I'd say it's useful because Aquinas' popularity has seen some improvement in Catholic circles in the past few years. Here in the U.S., "traditional Catholicism" is trendy (at least, among those stalwarts who remain Catholic despite the pedophilia scandals). Along with this trend comes an Aquinas revival. Edward Feser, for example, who wrote a book purporting to refute the so-called "New Atheism," is a big-time Thomist.


I'm sure they ignore the massively fucked up bits though.

Well, except for what you posted above also ties in with homosexuality. It's not mentioned specifically, but I'm sure you could throw in homosexuality along with masturbation and sodomy as something "that which is against nature" and so worse than rape, of a person of the opposite sex at least. In fact, I think it's safe to say they already do.

He has a fucked up philosophy and his Summa Theologica deserves to be lumped in with On the Jews and Their Lies and Mein Kampf for messed up, intolerant and fuck-witted writing.
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Re: Aquinas: Masturbation is worse than rape

#7  Postby archibald » Oct 11, 2013 4:10 pm

Moses de la Montagne wrote:

I'd say it's useful because Aquinas' popularity has seen some improvement in Catholic circles in the past few years. Here in the U.S., "traditional Catholicism" is trendy (at least, among those stalwarts who remain Catholic despite the pedophilia scandals). Along with this trend comes an Aquinas revival. Edward Feser, for example, who wrote a book purporting to refute the so-called "New Atheism," is a big-time Thomist.


Personally, I'm still struggling to see 'useful' in there.

One bunch of superstitious people disagreeing with another bunch of superstitious people about what is or isn't fashionable or 'true and right' just passes me by, not least because it seems to be endemic amongst the superstitious throughout history. Useful to other superstitious people I suppose. A bit like two groups of elf believers arguing about whether black or white elves are better.

One thing does interest me though, how did masturbation get to be seen as a bad thing?
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Re: Aquinas: Masturbation is worse than rape

#8  Postby Animavore » Oct 11, 2013 4:11 pm

Aquinas also had some things to say about the Jews. Not as messed up as Luther, but still pretty ignorant and embracing every dumb stereotype.
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Re: Aquinas: Masturbation is worse than rape

#9  Postby Animavore » Oct 11, 2013 4:12 pm

archibald wrote:
One thing does interest me though, how did masturbation get to be seen as a bad thing?


I think it has something to do with some Bible passage about "spilling the seed". That or some Pope got caught by his pious Mum as a young teen and was shamed :dunno:
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Re: Aquinas: Masturbation is worse than rape

#10  Postby nunnington » Oct 11, 2013 4:26 pm

Moses de la Montagne wrote:
archibald wrote:Whilst I inevitably have difficulty not joining a thread where sex is the topic, I do wonder what the point is in dredging the opinions of some superstitious medieval baldy guy for any useful or enlightening material, bar the fun of seeing a confused mind expressed in writing.


I'd say it's useful because Aquinas' popularity has seen some improvement in Catholic circles in the past few years. Here in the U.S., "traditional Catholicism" is trendy (at least, among those stalwarts who remain Catholic despite the pedophilia scandals). Along with this trend comes an Aquinas revival. Edward Feser, for example, who wrote a book purporting to refute the so-called "New Atheism," is a big-time Thomist.


There is definitely a Thomist revival. I think that Feser and his associates regularly criticize homosexuality on the grounds of natural law, i.e. that sex should be both procreative and 'unitive'. But then Feser argues that lying is always wrong, even in the usual examples where it seems the right thing to do, e.g. lying to Nazis about hidden Jews, and so on. So it seems very unnatural to me.
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Re: Aquinas: Masturbation is worse than rape

#11  Postby Animavore » Oct 11, 2013 4:41 pm

nunnington wrote:
Moses de la Montagne wrote:
archibald wrote:Whilst I inevitably have difficulty not joining a thread where sex is the topic, I do wonder what the point is in dredging the opinions of some superstitious medieval baldy guy for any useful or enlightening material, bar the fun of seeing a confused mind expressed in writing.


I'd say it's useful because Aquinas' popularity has seen some improvement in Catholic circles in the past few years. Here in the U.S., "traditional Catholicism" is trendy (at least, among those stalwarts who remain Catholic despite the pedophilia scandals). Along with this trend comes an Aquinas revival. Edward Feser, for example, who wrote a book purporting to refute the so-called "New Atheism," is a big-time Thomist.


There is definitely a Thomist revival. I think that Feser and his associates regularly criticize homosexuality on the grounds of natural law, i.e. that sex should be both procreative and 'unitive'. But then Feser argues that lying is always wrong, even in the usual examples where it seems the right thing to do, e.g. lying to Nazis about hidden Jews, and so on. So it seems very unnatural to me.


Given that he's a Thomist, he'd probably be the one looking for the Jew (or homosexual) anyway. :coffee:
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Re: Aquinas: Masturbation is worse than rape

#12  Postby archibald » Oct 11, 2013 4:50 pm

Animavore wrote:

I think it has something to do with some Bible passage about "spilling the seed".


My understanding is that this refers to onanism, which (I understand) is/was practicing the withdrawal method as a means of contraception (which, oddly was later seen as ok) and the seed being then spilled on the ground. It (that passage) seems to have been 'taken to mean' masturbation though, at quite an early stage in xianity, which is the interesting part.

I am happy to be corrected on this by those with more expertise on sex in the bible. :)

Now, obviously, both onanism and masturbation both work against increasing the size of the cult membership, which may be the main part of the explanation, because I sometimes apply the rule that if you want to really know the 'why' of something, just examine the result.

I mean, the leaders of any tribe or group may seek to prohibit things which are not conducive to group survival and therefore set about enacting rules so that group members eventually feel bad (inside themselves) for thinking of 'breaking' them.

Which of course makes the frequent use of the term 'natural' all the more ironic.

What bonobos get up to is arguably closer to natural.
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Re: Aquinas: Masturbation is worse than rape

#13  Postby willhud9 » Oct 11, 2013 5:20 pm

You would be correct Archibald. There is no strong biblical restriction against masturbation itself except for "spilling the seed" which in its context used in the Bible is more about having sex and not impregnating the woman.
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Re: Aquinas: Masturbation is worse than rape

#14  Postby willhud9 » Oct 11, 2013 5:22 pm

As for Aquinas' teachings I have this to say: Did Aquinas say rape was okay? Did Aquinas say we should tolerate rape because it is a lesser sin? No. He had a different means of prioritization which makes sense in the age of scholasticism before the renaissance and humanism. The focus in many studies was on God, not the application of God to the people, which would develop during the Renaissance and subsequently the Reformation.
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Re: Aquinas: Masturbation is worse than rape

#15  Postby Animavore » Oct 11, 2013 5:28 pm

willhud9 wrote:As for Aquinas' teachings I have this to say: Did Aquinas say rape was okay? Did Aquinas say we should tolerate rape because it is a lesser sin? No. He had a different means of prioritization which makes sense in the age of scholasticism before the renaissance and humanism. The focus in many studies was on God, not the application of God to the people, which would develop during the Renaissance and subsequently the Reformation.


It doesn't mean it wasn't a completely stupid prioritization even back then. I don't buy into moral relativism at all. What he said brought much untold suffering and unnecessary shame and continues to do so. It should be kicked into the annals of completely messed up ideas and forgotten about, not subject to a resurgence.

Anyway, my comparison with On the Jews and Their Lies was more to do with the justification for a "believe or die" mentality as mentioned in my sig below.
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Re: Aquinas: Masturbation is worse than rape

#16  Postby willhud9 » Oct 11, 2013 5:48 pm

Animavore wrote:
willhud9 wrote:As for Aquinas' teachings I have this to say: Did Aquinas say rape was okay? Did Aquinas say we should tolerate rape because it is a lesser sin? No. He had a different means of prioritization which makes sense in the age of scholasticism before the renaissance and humanism. The focus in many studies was on God, not the application of God to the people, which would develop during the Renaissance and subsequently the Reformation.


It doesn't mean it wasn't a completely stupid prioritization even back then. I don't buy into moral relativism at all. What he said brought much untold suffering and unnecessary shame and continues to do so. It should be kicked into the annals of completely messed up ideas and forgotten about, not subject to a resurgence.

Anyway, my comparison with On the Jews and Their Lies was more to do with the justification for a "believe or die" mentality as mentioned in my sig below.


My bold. That's a bummer as it is quite easy to anachronistically place our 21st century morals and values when reviewing history, but by not allowing moral relativism we do not understand the drive that shapes the historical culture. Yes, from a 21st century outlook that is a stupid priority as rape clearly outweighs masturbation in criminality. But Aquinas was not the only person in that time period to hold this view and it was a dominate view regardless of Aquinas' writings. What he said was a standard line and mentality from that cultural period. With moral relativism we can look at that period without biasing it with our, arguably superior, morals and perspectives.
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Re: Aquinas: Masturbation is worse than rape

#17  Postby Animavore » Oct 11, 2013 5:54 pm

willhud9 wrote:
Animavore wrote:
willhud9 wrote:As for Aquinas' teachings I have this to say: Did Aquinas say rape was okay? Did Aquinas say we should tolerate rape because it is a lesser sin? No. He had a different means of prioritization which makes sense in the age of scholasticism before the renaissance and humanism. The focus in many studies was on God, not the application of God to the people, which would develop during the Renaissance and subsequently the Reformation.


It doesn't mean it wasn't a completely stupid prioritization even back then. I don't buy into moral relativism at all. What he said brought much untold suffering and unnecessary shame and continues to do so. It should be kicked into the annals of completely messed up ideas and forgotten about, not subject to a resurgence.

Anyway, my comparison with On the Jews and Their Lies was more to do with the justification for a "believe or die" mentality as mentioned in my sig below.


My bold. That's a bummer as it is quite easy to anachronistically place our 21st century morals and values when reviewing history, but by not allowing moral relativism we do not understand the drive that shapes the historical culture. Yes, from a 21st century outlook that is a stupid priority as rape clearly outweighs masturbation in criminality. But Aquinas was not the only person in that time period to hold this view and it was a dominate view regardless of Aquinas' writings. What he said was a standard line and mentality from that cultural period. With moral relativism we can look at that period without biasing it with our, arguably superior, morals and perspectives.


No. I don't agree with that. Because you're effectively saying that if someone else were around in Aquinas's time totally disagreed with Aquinas on the basis that masturbation affects no one. unlike rape which does, (which seemingly people did think as per Objection 1) then that person's moral view is wrong because it doesn't go with the majority. And that it wouldn't become right until later, ie. after the Renaissance and Reformation when the view subsequently became the majority.
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Re: Aquinas: Masturbation is worse than rape

#18  Postby willhud9 » Oct 11, 2013 6:02 pm

Animavore wrote:
willhud9 wrote:
Animavore wrote:
willhud9 wrote:As for Aquinas' teachings I have this to say: Did Aquinas say rape was okay? Did Aquinas say we should tolerate rape because it is a lesser sin? No. He had a different means of prioritization which makes sense in the age of scholasticism before the renaissance and humanism. The focus in many studies was on God, not the application of God to the people, which would develop during the Renaissance and subsequently the Reformation.


It doesn't mean it wasn't a completely stupid prioritization even back then. I don't buy into moral relativism at all. What he said brought much untold suffering and unnecessary shame and continues to do so. It should be kicked into the annals of completely messed up ideas and forgotten about, not subject to a resurgence.

Anyway, my comparison with On the Jews and Their Lies was more to do with the justification for a "believe or die" mentality as mentioned in my sig below.


My bold. That's a bummer as it is quite easy to anachronistically place our 21st century morals and values when reviewing history, but by not allowing moral relativism we do not understand the drive that shapes the historical culture. Yes, from a 21st century outlook that is a stupid priority as rape clearly outweighs masturbation in criminality. But Aquinas was not the only person in that time period to hold this view and it was a dominate view regardless of Aquinas' writings. What he said was a standard line and mentality from that cultural period. With moral relativism we can look at that period without biasing it with our, arguably superior, morals and perspectives.


No. I don't agree with that. Because you're effectively saying that if someone else were around in Aquinas's time totally disagreed with Aquinas on the basis that masturbation affects no one. unlike rape which does, (which seemingly people did think as per Objection 1) then that person's moral view is wrong because it doesn't go with the majority. And that it wouldn't become right until later, ie. after the Renaissance and Reformation when the view subsequently became the majority.


No their moral view wouldn't be wrong as we are relatively looking at morals. The person who would have disagreed with Aquinas would have been an odd man out, but his morality wouldn't be any more correct or incorrect as Aquinas'. It wouldn't be mainstream.

Let's bring an example into the the 21st century. Abortion. Many pro-life people are morally opposed to the concept of abortion and wish to offer the fetus legal protection. Many pro-choice people are not morally opposed to the concept of abortion, but are morally opposed to the government denying a woman a reproductive health service.

Now there is disagreement between the two positions, but is one morally superior? Is one morally correct and the other just wrong? Not at all. Both positions are morally correct from a relativist perspective. Does morally correct mean factually correct? Not necessarily.
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Re: Aquinas: Masturbation is worse than rape

#19  Postby Animavore » Oct 11, 2013 6:09 pm

willhud9 wrote:
Animavore wrote:
willhud9 wrote:
Animavore wrote:

It doesn't mean it wasn't a completely stupid prioritization even back then. I don't buy into moral relativism at all. What he said brought much untold suffering and unnecessary shame and continues to do so. It should be kicked into the annals of completely messed up ideas and forgotten about, not subject to a resurgence.

Anyway, my comparison with On the Jews and Their Lies was more to do with the justification for a "believe or die" mentality as mentioned in my sig below.


My bold. That's a bummer as it is quite easy to anachronistically place our 21st century morals and values when reviewing history, but by not allowing moral relativism we do not understand the drive that shapes the historical culture. Yes, from a 21st century outlook that is a stupid priority as rape clearly outweighs masturbation in criminality. But Aquinas was not the only person in that time period to hold this view and it was a dominate view regardless of Aquinas' writings. What he said was a standard line and mentality from that cultural period. With moral relativism we can look at that period without biasing it with our, arguably superior, morals and perspectives.


No. I don't agree with that. Because you're effectively saying that if someone else were around in Aquinas's time totally disagreed with Aquinas on the basis that masturbation affects no one. unlike rape which does, (which seemingly people did think as per Objection 1) then that person's moral view is wrong because it doesn't go with the majority. And that it wouldn't become right until later, ie. after the Renaissance and Reformation when the view subsequently became the majority.


No their moral view wouldn't be wrong as we are relatively looking at morals. The person who would have disagreed with Aquinas would have been an odd man out, but his morality wouldn't be any more correct or incorrect as Aquinas'. It wouldn't be mainstream.

Let's bring an example into the the 21st century. Abortion. Many pro-life people are morally opposed to the concept of abortion and wish to offer the fetus legal protection. Many pro-choice people are not morally opposed to the concept of abortion, but are morally opposed to the government denying a woman a reproductive health service.

Now there is disagreement between the two positions, but is one morally superior? Is one morally correct and the other just wrong? Not at all. Both positions are morally correct from a relativist perspective. Does morally correct mean factually correct? Not necessarily.


I would say abortion is far more grey so I don't think it's a good analogy. Aquinas was putting an act which is definitely harmless above a definitely harmful act in terms of it's severity. To me it's like putting cutting carrots above genocide. So yes, I do think the odd man out would've been a more moral person (that's if he really was the odd man out, people probably didn't listen to half the crap the clergy came out with even back then). And I do think Aquinas was morally* wrong and still is and will forever be even if his fundamental and sexually backward way of thinking came back.



*Well, more ethically wrong, I'm not too keen on morals.
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Re: Aquinas: Masturbation is worse than rape

#20  Postby Moses de la Montagne » Oct 11, 2013 7:01 pm

willhud9 wrote:The person who would have disagreed with Aquinas would have been an odd man out, but his morality wouldn't be any more correct or incorrect as Aquinas'. It wouldn't be mainstream.

Let's bring an example into the the 21st century. Abortion. Many pro-life people are morally opposed to the concept of abortion and wish to offer the fetus legal protection. Many pro-choice people are not morally opposed to the concept of abortion, but are morally opposed to the government denying a woman a reproductive health service.

Now there is disagreement between the two positions, but is one morally superior? Is one morally correct and the other just wrong? Not at all. Both positions are morally correct from a relativist perspective. Does morally correct mean factually correct? Not necessarily.


The fundamental problem with Aquinas' ethics is that he injects Christian theology into his scheme. He's judging the severity of masturbation vs. rape on the basis of who is offended. It's worse, he reasons, to offend almighty God and corrupt his natural ordering of things than it is to sexually violate a mortal human.

And to be fair, Aquinas was, of course, a product of his culture and his time. Injecting Christian theology into ethics was the thing to do. Aquinas was doing his reasoning on the widely-held assumption that God existed and was capable of being offended. Unfortunately this kind of thinking obscures an attempt to ground ethics in observable reality. That's where your comparison to abortion fails. Both fetuses and women demonstrably exist; from there you can proceed to weigh the particulars. Religion complicates every ethical question with the problem of a Divine Dispenser of Morals who bristles at transgressions against his natural order. Aquinas took God seriously, and that's why his conclusion is so awful. A contemporaneous philosopher who removed God from the equation, and viewed rape as an assault and masturbation as a victimless crime would've been objectively more sensible. (He also would've risked execution).

As for Onan, Christianity is not unique in interpreting that passage as a proscription against masturbation. Jews read it likewise.
"The vanity of teaching often tempts a man to forget that he is a blockhead." —Lord Halifax
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Moses de la Montagne
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