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Title: A critical analysis of the sexual ethics of Michael G. Lawler and Margaret Farley
Authors: Vella, John
Keywords: Sex -- Religious aspects -- Catholic Church
Sexual ethics
Marriage -- Religious aspects -- Catholic Church
Catholic Church -- Doctrines
Issue Date: 2016
Abstract: Michael Lawler identifies two Magisterial principles that dominate the Catholic moral sexual tradition, namely that any activity related to the sexual organs has to take place between a married couple, and that each and every act of intercourse must be left open to the possibility of procreation. He says that the theoretical basis for the first is founded in human reason and that of the latter in nature or the natural order. Lawler says that in Catholic sexual teaching, especially following Vatican Council II, there were methodological and anthropological developments that included a move in perspective from one mainly focused on a classicist worldview to another one more focused on historical consciousness where reality is seen as active and changing. The result was a disconnection between a number of traditional absolute proscriptive sexual norms, and now one feels the need for a process to possibly fully integrate the normative implications of these developments into the Church’s teaching, especially vis-à-vis these absolute sexual norms. This process would necessitate the reconsideration of these norms and their justification. Another disconnect identified by Lawler is between the sexual anthropological developments in tradition and the formulation and justification of these absolute sexual norms. He says that although Gaudium et Spes did away with the hierarchical ends of marriage, yet the emphasis of the teaching remains on the nature of the act rather than on the nature of the human person and actions. With the human person at the centre of moral teaching, the coming Synod on the family may very well be a discovery journey into a deeper meaning of marriage and family vis-à-vis sexual ethical behaviour. Margaret Farley proposes a set of criteria to act as the basis to a sexual ethic founded in a framework of justice and virtue, and in the process she engages in a critique of the Roman Catholic tradition and Scripture. Her guiding principle concerns the interrogative of what happiness, an overemphasis on procreation is still at large. In her work Farley argues that it is a somewhat false perception for one to consider that any sexual ethic can be applied as a set of universal and absolute substantive norms. She proposes that the objective of a sexual ethic should be one that evaluates a particular sexual expression to determine whether this expression is fitting and appropriate in its particular setting, as opposed to passing a judgement in the abstract on whether the particular sexual act is per se morally sound. Therefore, a sexual ethic must consider motives and circumstances, as well as the kind of relationship in which persons share their sexual lives in ways that are good and true, right and just. Farley’s work can also be seen as a discovery journey into the deeper meaning of human sexuality and action. In this dissertation I will endeavour to analyse the perspectives of these two contemporary Catholic authors in the context of their proposals for the formulation of a sexual moral ethic for human sexual activity and expression.
Description: M.A.THEOLOGY
Appears in Collections:Dissertations - FacThe - 2016

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