Actually, Aquinas is extremely
careful in distinguishing what he accepts because of Revelation and what he accepts because of Reason, as well as in pointing out which metaphysical assumptions he uses as the basis for the reasoning. Most successive philosophers — included most positivist, materialist ones I know of, by the way — are much less cautious than him about that.
Now, my personal objection to Aquinas' position is that treating "sex" as a monolithic entity is, I think, unwarranted. Yes, there are sexual acts that result in reproduction. And yes, reproduction — the creation of new human life — has a special sacred character. It is definitely something to be celebrated. But that does not mean that other acts that share some similarities with them, but do not share that character, are necessarily twisted versions of it. After all, simple kissing, or — in some circumstances — holding hands are also, in a very definite sense, sexual acts: to reduce all the sexual sphere of the human experience to penetrative sex — or reproductive
penetrative sex — is to do it a grave injustice. And yet, nobody would argue that kissing is a sin because it cannot result in reproduction.
Rather than making sweeping statements about the purposes of "sexual acts" as a whole, I think that it is preferable to examine matters in more detail. Given a specific
act, in a specific
circumstance, shouldn't we ask which purposes it serves in the concrete
? Shouldn't we ask if it respects the dignity of the participants, and what effects it has on their lives?
edited 28th Nov '12 2:14:56 PM by Carciofus