Sunday, November 15, 2009

Procreational Ordering without Conception

As I understand it, most marital acts don't result in conception. Lately I've been wondering how the fact that procreation is the natural end of marital relations fits into the qualification that events that happen by nature occur "always or for the most part" (Physics II.8.199b24). I just ran across this old, but very interesting post of Jimmy Akin ("Higamus, Hogamus," June 13, 2004) that may have at least part of the answer:

It turns out that as a result of the marital act, genetic material from the husband is permanently absorbed by the wife's body and becomes part of her--a dimension of the "one flesh" union between husband and wife that previous generations have been unaware of.

...

One of the ways these problems are reduced is that having absorbed sufficient quantities of the husband's genetic material better enables the mother to perform the immune modulation needed to allow her child--with its foreign genetic code--to exist in her body without her immune system trying to eliminate it.

The BBC article Akin links ("Sex 'primes woman for sperm'," 6 Feb 2002) contains this thought-provoking sentence: "The theory could partly explain why humans have sex even when they aren't trying for a baby."

2 comments:

Mike Flynn said...

contains this thought-provoking sentence: "The theory could partly explain why humans have sex even when they aren't trying for a baby."

It provokes this thought: the theory does not "explain why" at all. No one "has sex" [sic] in order to absorb genetic material from the husband and/or to lodge it within the wife. There are more immediate and evident motives and purposes for that, including what we demurely call "conjugal love."

It does IMHO illuminate something of the final causes naturally inherent in the act.

Lawrence Gage said...

Good point, Mike. As you acknowledge, you're talking more about an immediate, subjective idea of "why," whereas the article is speaking more of ultimate reasons (both are final causes, btw, but in different senses).

An analogous case: either you eat because you're hungry or because your body needs nutrition.

Well actually: both. The need for a bodily, biological good (gestational immune-system modulation, nutrition) is the ultimate source of the desire.

LG