Introduction to Sexual Ethics

This course does more than serve as an introduction to the Church's teachings on sexual ethics; certainly it covers carefully both contraception and homosexuality since these are the most controverted teachings on sexual issues. But it also provides introductions to natural law ethics, personalism, the debate about proportionalism and biologism, and the role of conscience in the moral life, since these topics all are integrally connected with sexual ethics.

The following lectures supplement the tapes. Listed under each lecture is the reading required for the tape and the lecture. The reading load is considerable. The beleaguered and judicious student will profitably read selectively from assigned texts. The eager student with time to spare will wish to read not only the required texts but will find the suggested additional readings absorbing as well. Additional readings authored by Janet E. Smith and marked with an asterisk are available on her web page.

1. What is Natural Law?

    A) Summa Theologica I-II, Questions 90-97; a useful edition is Treatise on Law, intro by Ralph McInerny. Gateway Edition. 1996

    B) J. Budziszewski. Written on the Heart: The Case for Natural Law. Intervarsity Press. 1997

2. Meaning of Human Sexuality

    A) Rev. Ronald Lawler, Joseph Boyle,Jr. William E. May. Catholic Sexual Ethics. Our Sunday Visitor. 1985

    B) Father Charles Curran. "Natural Law in Moral Theology" in Readings in Moral Theology No. 7. Paulist Press. 1991, pp. 247-295.

    C) Familiaris Consortio (1980; Exhortation on the Role of the Family in the Modern World)

3. Personalism and Natural law

    A) Karol Wojtyla. Love and Responsibility. Ignatius Press. 1993 (rpt.)

4. Homosexuality

    A) Catechism: section 2331-2400

    B) Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Declaration on Certain Questions concerning Sexual Ethics. 1976

    C) Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons. 1986

5. Proportionalism and Biologism

    A) My tape Contraception: Why Not distributed by One More Soul*

    B) Humanae Vitae (my translation recommended: Appendix 1 in my Humanae Vitae: A Generation Later and published as a separate pamphlet A Challenge to Love: Humanae Vitae by Catholics United for Life)*

    C) Catechism: 1749-1761

6. Natural Family Planning

    A) Karol Wojtyla. Love and Responsibility. Ignatius Press. 1993 (rpt.)

7. Reproductive Technologies

    A) Donum Vitae

8. John Paul II and Newman on Conscience

    A) Canadian Bishops. Formation of Conscience. Daughters of Saint Paul. 1974.

    B) Catechism, 1776-1802.


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