What is "natural" anyway?

From: Tim Ikeda (tikeda@sprintmail.com)
Date: Tue May 14 2002 - 20:40:41 EDT

  • Next message: Kamilla Ludwig: "Re: Is there a gay gene?"

    Kamilla wrote to Shaun:
    (in the "Re: Is there a gay gene?" thread)
    > Since your brother is a psychiatrist, he surely knows the consequences
    > to his physical health of acting on his homosexual desires.

    I suppose levels of stress-related hormones in his body may drop
    and he may live longer and happier. Long-term depression can really
    take a toll on the body.

    > Is that something you really want to embrace on his behalf?

    Well, heterosexual sex may lead to the often risky medical condition
    known as pregnancy. I've known people who have nearly died from this
    dangerous consequence of heterosexual intercourse. Only advanced,
    medical technology saved them. Very few women completely recover from
    the trauma of birth or the stretching & other changes visited upon
    their bodies. Prior to this century and continuing today in many parts
    of world, women have died in disturbing numbers thanks to heterosexual
    sex. Sure, giving birth may be "natural", but it is certainly not a
    pretty sight and it is anything but "safe" (as we regard medical
    procedures today). The only safe, heterosexual form of sex is
    unproductive intercourse.

    Fortunately, medical technology allows those who wish to safely
    participate in heterosexual relations several means of avoiding the
    danger of pregnancy. And recent changes in public attitudes have
    lead to the general acceptance of marriage between non-
    reproductively active couples.

    Verily, if it truly is safe and "natural" sex that we want,
    masturbation is the only option (I suppose that opinion kills my
    chances of becoming the next Surgeon General). Just avoid using sharp
    objects or ungrounded electrical devices and you should be reasonably
    safe. Of course, self-gratification could be a sin too, depending
    on whether one thinks Onan ticked off God because Onan masturbated
    or because he refused to have sex with his dead brother's wife.
    [Side note: How would we have interpreted the situation if Onan
    had oral or anal intercourse with the wife of his dead brother
    instead of seeding the ground? (Clearly, this Biblical story
    predates Kleenex)]

    Go figure...

    Personally, I feel "natural law" arguments are weak, post-hoc
    justifications for many Biblical edicts. If there was a biological
    "imperative" for a law, would it have been so difficult to include
    that explanation in the Bible rather than making blanket statements?
    (e.g. "Don't cook meat and milk together until the process of
    pasteurization is discovered").

    Now, circumcision may have medical benefits and it is clearly
    described as a necessary Jewish custom. But apparently it is OK for
    Christians not be circumcised. What has changed? Certainly not the
    medical issues - Christians are not known to practice better penile
    hygiene than other groups (worse, in some instances) - and God,
    in theory, hasn't changed. No, I suggest that if one wishes to obey
    a demand seemingly imposed by one's interpretation of the Bible, then
    one should be prepared to forego a "natural" or even understandable
    explanation for that "command".

    Whether the Bible clearly proscribes a particular behavior is
    another matter that is of some importance (to some). But as for
    "natural" justifications be aware that "Nature" does as it pleases;
    nothing more and nothing less. Accelerating a corn dog faster than
    the speed of light is unnatural. But walking around with a corn dog
    under your armpit is perfectly natural (as long as you walk slower
    than 300,000 kps).

    Tim Ikeda
    (another one of those unrepentant, unnatural lefties who wear
    clothing made from more than one fabric)

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