On a Facebook message board about the legalization of homosexual marriage, this question was asked: “What about sterile people and those who are too old to conceive children? Should we just strip those people of their right to marriage?” How might I respond?
Point out, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church does, that sex must be ordered “per se to the procreation of human life” (CCC 2366). This does not mean that every individual act must be fertile but that the act itself must be naturally ordered to procreation. Humanae Vitaeexplains:
The sexual activity, in which husband and wife are intimately and chastely united with one another, through which human life is transmitted, is, as the recent Council recalled, “noble and worthy.’’ It does not, moreover, cease to be legitimate even when, for reasons independent of their will, it is foreseen to be infertile. For its natural adaptation to the expression and strengthening of the union of husband and wife is not thereby suppressed. The fact is, as experience shows, that new life is not the result of each and every act of sexual intercourse. God has wisely ordered laws of nature and the incidence of fertility in such a way that successive births are already naturally spaced through the inherent operation of these laws. The Church, nevertheless, in urging men to the observance of the precepts of the natural law, which it interprets by its constant doctrine, teaches that each and every marital act must of necessity retain its intrinsic relationship to the procreation of human life. (11)