Wotton’s Society Dr John Perry, Christ Church, Oxford, ‘What’s the point of Sex?’

The Macnaughten Library was full for the first Wotton’s meeting of the Michaelmas half, given by Dr. John Perry from Christ Church, Oxford. The talk, titled ‘What’s the point of Sex? Recent Christian debates’, started with an exposition of 8 ‘bad arguments’ relating to the moral value of homosexuality, before considering why bad arguments arise, not only about homosexuality, but to do with a wide variety of contentious or controversial issues. The answer provided relied on the context of an historical narrative, taking into account the general prevalence of what might be called Natural Law ethics before the Protestant Reformation, and showing that since then, the diversification of ethical systems means that often we cannot argue on the same terms because we do not agree on a universal standard of goodness. In his final section, the speaker outlined his hope for the future of arguments about homosexuality, based on the consideration of analogous situations to establish common ground. The following questions raised the debates of whether human nature is constant, whether it is intrinsic of homosexual behaviour to have multiple sexual partners, whether we can meet prejudices with rationalism, and what the difference is, if any, between homosexual and heterosexual partnerships.

John Clark-Maxwell OS MS (GRP)