Clarifying Homosexuality and Natural Law
Harry V. Jaffa Replies to Philip Dynia
Professor Dynia prefaces his diatribe with an epigraph. A priest advises a sodomite that his sin is against nature. The sodomite replies, "Oh, father, but it is so very natural to me." Professor Dynia evidently thinks the sodomite's reply is a sufficient one, although it should be evident that the priest and the sodomite are using "nature" in two entirely different senses.
The antebellum slave owner, who sipped his mint junlep while sitting in the shade, as Sambo chopped cotton in the burning sun, thought it entirely natural to do so. The Inca priests, who disemboweled maidens on their alters, evidently thought human sacrifice to be entirely natural. Hindus, who burned widows on their husband's pyres, evidently thought suttee to be natural. Hitler, of course, thought it quite natural to kill Jews.
The central point of my review — which Professor Dynia nowhere addresses — was that the only ground in unassisted human reason for objecting either to slavery or to genocide is the ground of nature, not in the sense of what "is," but in the sense of what "ought" to be. We ought not to enslave other human beings — as we may "enslave" dogs or horses or oxen — because we recognize in them a nature that we share. We ought not to slaughter (or eat) other human beings, as we may cattle, for the same reason. All moral obligation arises form the perception that another being is a human being — towards whom we should act as we would have him (or her) act toward us — and not a being of a lower order of nature. At the normative center of the idea of nature itself is the distinction of male and female, which is the ground of morality because it is the ground of the existence of nature itself (the being of being). If then sodomy is not unnatural, in the same sense in which the priest said it is, then nothing is unnatural, and nothing (including the persecution of sodomites) is wrong.
Harry V. Jaffa
August 19th, 1992