It’s only natural

Fifty years ago, our first Catholic president, John F. Kennedy, assured us that he believed in an America ” where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source — where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials.”
Rick Santorum, by contrast, thinks the government should impose Catholic teachings on sex on everyone. Gay marriage? As bad as slavery. Abortion? Murder. And birth control is a “danger … It’s not okay. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.” Which he explains is because sex becomes deconstructed to the point where it’s simply pleasure.” Which like many conservatives he considers a Bad Thing.
Santorum states he wouldn’t ban birth control, he simply believes state governments should have the power (and should exercise it). Like I said, this looks like a classic case of someone imposing their personal religious beliefs on the rest of the country, but I honestly don’t think Santorum sees it that way.
The way he talks (and I admit I can’t read his mind, so I may be wrong) I suspect he sincerely believes nonprocreative sex is unnatural. Unhealthy. Harmful. It’s a common idea: I’ve read columns and blog posts by women who don’t use birth control for religious reasons and the thought that each act of sex might generate a new life gives it an extra specialness they can’t imagine not having.
The trouble is, I’ve also read accounts from women for whom sex without contraceptives became a nightmare: They want sex with their spouse, but they can’t risk having a fifth or sixth kid, or going through childbirth again. In Santorum’s worldview, that’s not a difference of opinion: These women are unnatural freaks embracing perversion for wanting sex without children.
I’m sure Santorum’s also sincere in believing that gay sex is so obviously wrong and abhorrent that federalism be damned, we have to stop the states allowing gay marriage. Much like the Texas priest who insisted homosexuality was so obviously unnatural that even pagans would have to agree with the Church on its vileness. But other people see it differently, and contrary to what Santorum and Father Rodriguez think, their concept of “natural” isn’t self-evidently right.
Arguing that something is “natural” is as flimsy as “well it’s just common sense” merely a rationalization for the speaker’s own preconceptions. Pundit Kathleen Parker once opined that gay adoption was obviously unnatural; I’m pretty sure she doesn’t agree with the conservatives of so many religions who believe that for a woman to speak on politics is equally unnatural.
It also reflects the conviction so many people have that everyone else shares their attitudes and feelings. Much like David Brooks (who believes having several sex partners in a year is “spiritual suicide“) Santorum assumes that since he’s repulsed recoils from nonprocreative sex and gay love, it must corrode everyone else’s well-being too. So corrosive, in fact, that if it takes the nanny state to stamp out sex for fun, so be it. Sure, a majority of Americans use contraceptives, but that’s because they don’t see the danger! It’s government’s job to save them!
But no matter how sincere Santorum may be, he’s still wrong. Still trying to impose his personal concept of nature onto others who disagree. He just doesn’t get that “unnatural” isn’t an argument, it’s a way of saying “oooh, I think that’s icky.”


Filed under Politics, Undead sexist cliches

5 responses to “It’s only natural

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