His Book – Love and Responsibility (1960):
First published in 1960, Love and Responsibility by Karol Wojtyla (St. John Paul II) has never ceased to be relevant as an analysis of the metaphysical and ethical dimensions of love. Wojtyla presented the themes of this work in his university lectures in Lublin. They are the fruit, he tells us, of conversations with and pastoral care of many couples over his years as a priest. “It is… the result above all of an incessant confrontation of doctrine with life (which is just what the work of a spiritual advisor consists of).”[i]
Philosophical Approach to Sexual Morality:
Explaining his philosophical approach to sexual morality, Wojtyla states that his aim is to “justify, interpret, and explain” the norms of Catholic sexual morality on the basis of personhood.[ii] He writes, “Sexual morality is within the domain of the person. It is impossible to understand anything about it without understanding what the person is, its mode of existence, its functioning, its powers.”[iii]
The Human Person – Personalism:
In other words, to understand Catholic sexual morality, you have to understand what (who) the human person is.[iv] The approach Wojtyla takes in Love and Responsibility is called personalism.
[i] Wojtyla, Karol. Love and Responsibility (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1993), p. 15.
[ii] Ibid, p. 16.
[iii] Ibid, p. 18.
[iv] When we speak of persons, “who” is usually the correct pronoun. But in philosophy we often ask what something is in order to get to the core of it, and it is in this sense that we ask “What is the human person?” We are basically asking, what is the nature of humanity? What is the thing that we all share, that makes us all human persons?
Continuing to debunk the erroneous comparison of marriage redefinition to interracial marriage, Ryan Anderson and Gloria Purvis talk about what marriage is.
This is the question that has been continuously ignored or set aside in the “marriage debate,” even before the Supreme Court. The state’s version of marriage is necessarily a weak one, and open to manipulation and more changes, because it appears to be solely based on the emotional desires of adults.
Interracial marriage is simply marriage. It is not any different from the definition of marriage that held steady from the ancients until the modern era of one man and one woman, for life, who (often) have children together. The redefinition of marriage in the law to include same-sex couples is completely different; two persons of the same sex, who– by definition, not accident– cannot unite completely or conceive children with one another in a sexual act.
Gloria talks about the distinction between actions and being. The rhetoric today is that a person “is” a “gay man”—but this is an entirely new category in history and the construction of an identity that is based on a feeling or attraction [which can change] and/or actions related to it, not the being or the core of the person. The person remains a man or a woman, whose body is objectively ordered, sexually, toward the other.
In this clip, Gloria Purvis discusses the common comparison of the “Equality” movement to the Civil Rights Movement, pointing out that the ethos is of a completely different character.
The Civil Rights Movement was based on the knowledge that racial segregation was not part of the divine law, and thus was unjust.
How did they know this? Through reason, and a conviction that God created a moral law that is inscribed in human nature. Here’s a copy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail, if you need to brush up on it!
King writes, “Now, what is the difference between the two [just and unjust laws]? How does one determine when a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law, or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas, an unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal and natural law.”
In other words, a right to be treated equally regardless of your race comes from God, not man, and thus a government that denies that right is not acting rightly.
Likewise, the institution of marriage was designed by God, not man…
“An unjust law is no law at all.”