B: Ya know, the world seems to agree, or nearly agree, with God on a bunch of virtues: kindness, honesty, industry, respect, education, diligence, etc. When it comes to sexual morality, however, the world sees it quite nearly opposite from God’s directives. So diametrically opposed are the two, in fact, that this kind of morality is the real “elephant in the room” when serious discussions about religion come up.
First, what is God’s stance on sexual morality? One recalls one of the Ten Commandments: “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” There have been some infamous interpretations of this to mean that sex itself should be completely avoided. But if God meant for us to practice no sexual relations whatsoever, how in the world did He mean for this Earth to be populated? Clearly, that’s not the intent of the commandment. So how are sexual relations to be had, if adultery is to be avoided? It could only be that God meant them to be confined to within marriage relationships.
A: What about fornication? That isn’t adultery, if neither party is married.
B: Good heavens, buddy, of course it is. Where on Earth did you get that ridiculous idea? Just because it wasn’t explicitly mentioned in the commandment? Do you think that when God gave that commandment, He actually meant to say, “No adultery, but fornication is OK?” If He had, large masses of people would easily circumvent the intent of the law by just never getting married.
A: Well, what would be so wrong with that?
B: Let’s think about why God would give this commandment; that is, why it may be that He would so strongly disapprove of adultery. Think about what adultery fundamentally is: a great pleasure without any long-term commitment or true devotion; in short, “something for nothing.” Of course, fornication is the same thing. The same idea is apparent in pornography, which is why it too is so appealing to so many. In each case people are using others to attain the pleasures they seek. If this sounds familiar, you might recall that I was recently talking about the evils of using people as though they were objects.
A: So I get something for nothing. Big deal.
B: This “something for nothing” idea is also the basic reason people gamble, and commit crimes such as murder and theft. If everybody had this kind of attitude, society would gradually degenerate into one in which every member constantly demands immediate gratification.
B: Good point. I don’t mean to imply that simply because something is readily available without significant effort, it must be wrong to have, or immoral to experience. One thing you’ll notice, however, is that these new conveniences are the result of strenuous and monumental accomplishment by myriad millions. One can hardly call that “something for nothing,” considering the bigger picture. We now enjoy the fruits of those labors without necessarily having put in much work ourselves; however, we also have new challenges of our own that would require the next generation’s ingenuity to solve.
You’ll also notice that there really have not been any technological advances that have ever made illicit sex any more accessible – unless you count pornography as a kind of illicit sex, which is simply much more accessible nowadays because of the Internet, which certainly was not developed with the express intent of purveying pornography, regardless of how many people use it for that purpose, and has far more uses than simply porn. There have also been tools developed to increase the safety and pleasure of sex, but the question I’m raising is concerning only its accessibility.
Another thing is that these conveniences really have nothing to do with morality anyway. Considering the many advances in transportation, for instance, is there anything inherently immoral about how quickly we get from point A to point B?
A: The Amish may have something to say about that.
B: Perhaps they would, but I have no intention to critique their beliefs; besides, we’re going way off topic. I will instead respectfully disagree with anyone who answers “yes” to my last question and end it at that. Let’s move on.
But it isn’t just this something-for-nothingness that makes sexual promiscuity wrong. It sows distrust among all involved, whether directly or indirectly. This makes a big difference in families. Perhaps it wouldn’t be such a big deal if nobody was familially bound to another, but who isn’t? Just about everybody has some kind of familial obligation to another, whether to a spouse, parent, or child. Even a bachelor is a son to somebody, and his promiscuity may cause that somebody to lose trust and be otherwise disappointed in him.
Distrust leads to hatred: divorces and other devastating breakups run rampant where this kind of immorality abounds. Children are often born out of wedlock and grow up in adverse circumstances. Sexual immorality has also led to the legalization of abortion, and life is denied to those who would otherwise have it.
Back to objectification: any act of sexual immorality is largely for some person’s personal pleasure. If the couple were married, there would presumably be a lasting, permanent commitment – usually made with witnesses and a legal contract – to each other, made out of true love for each other. But no such commitment is made if sexual acts are immoral. The purpose could only be self-serving, no matter what justification is given. Even if a couple is planning on marrying, i.e., “engaged,” and they participate in premarital sexual activity, it’s because they don’t want to wait until the official commitment is made; this impatience, of course, is a product of selfish desire. And there’s always the legally easy possibility to back out of the official commitment until it is actually made.
This objectification means that the culprits don’t really love each other; at the time of the act they’re really thinking only of themselves. In fact, because of the mutual objectification, each party is actually showing a form of hatred toward the other, as per our earlier discussion about the topic. It’s all about self-satisfaction at the expense of the other person’s very identity.
A: What?! You’re saying that sex is hate?! It’s clearly love between people.
B: Sex without long-term commitment, or even if it happens with just the verbal kind, is clearly love for pleasure, which is not bad in itself unless, for instance, it comes at the expense of another. But as I just said, it denigrates people, which is inconsistent with God’s type of love. If it was truly love, as in the same type of love that God has for us, then why aren’t they willing to make that long-term commitment, or to honor each other enough to wait until it is made? It further entrenches the people, and by extension society in general, in a temperament of an expectation of immediate gratification: people seek more to get “theirs;” people ask “what’s in it for me?” without regard of the feelings, needs, and desires of others. With this kind of general attitude, how could such virtues as patience, self-responsibility and the desire for the welfare of others (i.e., love) possibly thrive? In their stead come desires for self-entitlement, and people become only increasingly larger burdens on others, and to carry these burdens, calls are commonly made on government for enlarged taxation and further restrictions on others.