What is Moral?

The presidential season seems to have brought a greater than usual number of Chicken Littles proclaiming that the sky is falling and that our future is bleak.  I’ll get the the political voices in another post, in this one I want to look at a couple of preachers.

Franklin Graham is running around to all the state capitols to combat this decline, here is what he had to say:

“I believe we are perilously close to the moral tipping point for the survival of the United States of America,” Graham wrote in Decision magazine. “I refuse to be silent and watch the future of our children and grandchildren be offered up on pagan altars of personal pleasure and immorality.”

Strong stuff.  Another minister, Bryan Fischer, objected to the slightest expression of tolerance in Nikki Haley’s responde to the SOTU address:

What does she mean by that? She means that the Republican Party has officially embraced sodomy-based marriage. That’s what that means. The Republican Party has officially embraced sodomy-based marriage and the entire homosexual agenda.

Wow, sodomy based marriage, I guess lesbian marriage must be OK in his book.  But these and other statements like them raise the question of what is “moral.”

Clearly for many Christians, what is “moral” consists mainly of a list that is written in a book.  It seems they have never bothered to look beyond what they think is written there.  Since Bryan Fischer brought it up, let’s look at sexual morality.

Of course sexual behavior is subject to moral analysis, as it can involve the creation of human life and also engenders strong emotions and attachments, so it is not to be taken lightly.  But are all questions of sexuality moral questions?  I would say not.

I would definitely say that who I choose to have sex with and why are certainly moral questions, but once those questions are answered I would say that how we have sex is not really a moral issue.  Whether we rub noses, kiss, stand on our head or use feathers or handcuffs, as long as we are both freely consenting really is not a moral issue at all.  And the same, frankly, goes for what extremities might contact which orifices.

Secular society has long recognized this.  Laws against sodomy and fellatio have been dropped or go unenforced in most places.  I would like to hear from anyone as to why, say, sodomy is any more immoral than kissing.  Both involve the risk of infection, but both are also done to further human bonding.

I will also say the same of homosexual behavior.  Where is the moral element?  Again, I am speaking of consenting adults.  If I choose to hug and kiss another man, why is that less moral than my decision to hug and kiss another woman?  And please don’t say it is “unnatural.” ” Unnatural” is not the same as “immoral,”  chemotherapy is unnatural, so are glasses.

Again I will say, there are many moral questions about sexuality having to do with the nature of relationships, the role of consent, the protection of others from harm and so on.  But once these questions are answered, the “how” of things don’t rise to the level of “morality.”

Finally, in answer to Franklin Graham, personal pleasure in and of itself is not a moral issue, either.  How one enjoys oneself may be a moral issue, and even how much can be a moral issue.  But once again, the “how” is much less of a moral issue.  Whether I choose to read, enjoy a fine meal, listen to music or have sex in my free time is generally not a moral choice.

Far too many people think that things they don’t like are “immoral.”  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Same goes for god, whoever or whatever such a thing might be.  Making a list of things you don’t like is not a basis for any kind of moral system.

 

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