Thomas Aquinas, who followed a century after Hildegard, wrote commentaries on 10 works by the greatest scientist of his day, Aristotle, even though the pope had forbidden Christians to study Aristotle. So controversial was Aquinas in his day that the king of France had to call out his troops to surround the convent where Aquinas lived to protect him from Christians aroused by fundamentalist clergy. For Aquinas, “revelation comes in two books—the Bible and Nature” and “a mistake about nature results in a mistake about God.” Aquinas insisted that one is always responsible to one’s conscience, more than to any other authority (emphasis added).
There are clear echoes of this in the modern world, where so many religious reactionaries insist on ignoring the clear findings of science, inserting instead their own established prejudice. If we accept Aquinas’ thesis that “a mistake about nature results in a mistake about God”, the implications for Catholic sexual ethics are profound. The first of these would have to be a recognition that same-sex attraction is tu entirely natural and non-pathological dominant sexuality for a small but distinct minority of people, and a smaller part of the sexual make-up of many more. This much is familiar, as is the knowledge that many animals (possibly even all or most mammals, but also birds, reptiles and insects) also practice degrees of homosexual activity.
No species has been found in which homosexual behaviour has not been shown to exist, with the exception of species that never have sex at all, such as sea urchins and aphis. Moreover, a part of the animal kingdom is hermaphroditic, truly bisexual. For them, homosexuality is not an issue.
- In some animals, sexual intercourse begins as much as a year or two before physical maturity and the onset of fertility – and so with no prospect of procreation.
- Some species practice anal intercourse. or conventional intercourse without ejaculation, or intercourse outside of the estrus period.
- Many species engage in masturbation, alone, or with others of either sex. Where they lack hands they use alternative strategies.
Autoeroticism also occurs widely among animals, both male and female. A variety of creative techniques are used, including genital stimulation using the hand or front paw (primates, Lions), foot (Vampire Bats, primates), flipper (Walruses), or tail (Savanna Baboons), sometimes accompanied by stimulation of the nipples (Rhesus Macaques, Bonobos); auto-fellating or licking, sucking and/or nuzzling by a male of his own penis (Common Chimpanzees, Savanna Bonobos, Vervet Monkeys, Squirrel Monkeys, Thinhorn Sheep, Bharal, Aovdad, Dwarf Cavies); stimulation of the penis by flipping or rubbing it against the belly or in its own sheath (White-tailed and Mule Deer, Zebras and Takhi); spontaneous ejaculations (Mountain Sheep, Warthogs, Spotted Hyenas); and stimulation of the genitals using inanimate objects (found in several primates and cetaceans)-Bagemihl, Biological Exuberance
- Dophins engage in non-procreative sex that has no human counterpart. They use their partners’ blowholes as additional orifices available for penetration.
- Some species practice oral sex – including oral self-pleasuring (“auto-fellatio”)
Animals of several species are documented as engaging in both autofellatio and oral sex. Auto-fellatio or oral sex in animals is documented in goats, primates, hyaenas, fruits bats and sheep
- Remarkably, some primates even make their own sex toys, fashioning dildos out of liana vines, and masturbation aids from suitable fruits.
- Chimpanzees and penguins have been found to engage in forms of prostitution, exchanging sexual favours for food (chimps) or pebbles used in nest-building (penguins).
The implications for sexual theology are profound.
- The other side of the Catholic tradition – Guest Voices – The Washington Post
- Procreation, and Natural Non-procreation
- Animals Use Sex-toys, Too
- Queer Bonobos: Sex As Conflict Resolution
- Sexual Nature: Picture Gallery
- Squirrels Masturbate to Avoid Sexually Transmitted Infection(Discover Magazine)
- Holy fellatio, Batman! Fruit bats use oral sex to prolong actual sex(Discover Magazine)
- Sex and Morality, Penguins and Fallacies (psychologytoday.com)