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The Morality Of Incest: A Catholic And Secular Comparison

1301 words - 6 pages

“We can’t allow gays to marry! What would be next? Incest?” Opponents of gay marriage frequently cite a common philosophical fallacy known as the "slippery slope", to relate same-sex unions to incestuous relations. According to the Purdue University writing center, a slippery slope is defined as “a conclusion based on the premise that if A happens, then eventually through a series of small steps, through B, C,..., X, Y, Z will happen, too, basically equating A and Z” (“Logical Fallacies”). However, we often ignore the true moral implications of these “next level” immoralities we would slip into. Incest, in nearly all modern cultures and faiths, is considered wrong, including the Catholic ...view middle of the document...

Incest is denoted as a “grave sin” by the Catholic Church; St. Paul is quoted in the official Catechism as saying, "it is actually reported that there is immorality among you . . . for a man is living with his father's wife. . . . In the name of the Lord Jesus . . . you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh. . . . " Later in the same portion of the Catechism states, “incest corrupts family relationships and marks a regression toward animality” (“Catechism of the Catholic Church: 2388”). Incest can be seen as corrupting family relationships because it defies the four kinds of love believed in by many Christians. Whereas loving a spouse would fall under the category of Eros love, that is a physical, romantic attraction, loving a relative would fall under the category of Storge love, an affectionate, loyal bond (Lewis). Incest, by definition, corrupts these loves by tainting one with the other, combining two separate relationships that are believed entirely separate. Arguments against incest often cite the fact that healthy familial relations can never be romantic due to the separate kind of love and loyalty one feels towards family members compared to non-related individuals. In essence, we trust our relatives to be there for us and love us as family–a completely platonic love.
Additionally, Catholics believe that sex before marriage is wrong, but it would be against Church teachings to ever marry incestuous couples, because according to the Catechism, the purpose of “the matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring” (“Catechism of the Catholic Church: 1601”). Since it has already been established that the union between two relatives should not result in children due to birth defects, an incestuous marriage would not adhere to the definition of Catholic marriage. Therefore, incestuous relations are wrong on the level that the Church deems gay marriage as wrong. Thus, the combination of familial corruption and the impossibility of a holy matrimonial covenant between relatives are the core arguments of the Catholic Church’s view on incest.
Not many people disagree with the stance of the Catholic Church on this topic, for varied and numerous reasons. However, when approached from a certain secular standpoint, incest can be justified as a moral action. The secular core of the incest dispute looks to science to explain why the mention of any form of incest frequently receives a “yuck!” response. Psychologist Jonathan Haidt is credited with creating the most famous incest-centered moral scenario (as well as being referenced in this class’ first seminar on moral instinct). Haidt’s scenario tells of Julie and Mark, a brother and sister who decide to have sex. The scenario assures that there is no chance of pregnancy and recounts Julie and Mark thinking...

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