Saturday, May 25, 2013

When morality is immoral. . .

There are voices, not many now but some, who insist that the hook up culture that seems to dominate youth is not the free and easy sex it seems.  In a piece called The End of Meaningless Sex, Nathaniel Peters (no relation) writes convincingly of the inability of the hook up culture to satisfy and of the acting that goes on by those who seem content with sex without emotion, pure physical "pleasure".  You can read it all here.

I was struck by those who argue against the hook up culture and its superficiality of sex and emotion -- not because it is wrong.  Lord, no!  They argue against it because they believe it inhibits better sex.  In other words, they do not believe that chastity is reasonable or that youth will accept restrictions in their pursuit of pleasure (self-imposed or those imposed on them by others), but they do believe that they may be persuaded that to feel better about doing it and to do it better, some changes need to be made.

In other words, though we might be tempted to think that this was a type of new morality which challenges the idea that perfect contraceptive sex (reproductively and emotionally) is the best sex of all, it isn't.  Instead of morality, which is still unacceptable, the underlying argument is that better sex, you feel better about, needs emotion and commitment.  It is still not wrong, it just is not as right as it could be.  Even if it derails the hook up culture and reigns in the rampant promiscuity and sex without emotional investment, this is no morality at all.

The goal argued here is not that virginity is good, that abstinence is good, or that marriage is good.  No, the goal is whatever helps students expand their sense of rights-- whatever makes them happier!  The author believes that "traditional" morality of faithfulness in marriage and chastity outside of marriage is unrealistic.  “It is an extreme to the point that students cannot imagine living it, nor do they wish to.”

Now this is where the seeming morality becomes itself immoral.  We cannot imagine doing something we do not want to do...  Ahhh, now that is the ultimate immorality and yet it is the highly prized virtue of modern culture and life.  We do what we want.  If that is the criteria, even if it leads to a slow down of the hook up culture, it is not a victory for morality.  It is no more a victory for morality than if we counted early death as an aid to the problem of world hunger or a benefit for the economic health of the social security program!

... we should reclaim abstinence from “a single, politically interested, religious group” and teach students that abstaining from sex could be a healthy temporary decision for them. Pressing pause on your sex life “could become one of the most subversive, profoundly effective tools” students have. “It is abstinence within reason. It is abstinence that makes sense, given the sexual activity that young adults already engage in.”

In other words, a temporary pause from sex is first of all temporary (no one could or should be expected to refrain from this "natural" urge and desire).  Second is it not an end in and of itself but a tool toward, well, better sex and sex with a better class of people (because, remember, no one could ever be expected to deny their pleasure seeking desires).  As one put it, sex is “a big deal” and that the hookup culture is harmful because it makes many students have bad sex.

Freitas fails to offer a robust alternative to the hookup culture. She founds her solutions on the same relativism, emotivism, and pragmatism behind the problem she seeks to combat.  To put it my way, when seeming morality is itself immoral...  The best way to combat the hookup culture is to help students seek not just what feels good, but what is good.  Now there is a breath of fresh air!  Imagine that, things do not merely feel good, some things are good.  What a shock that we should seek after such things and follow the cause of virtue more nearly than we follow the fickle desires of a heart helplessly defined by me, the moment, and a total lack of values attached to my thoughts, feelings, and actions....

The goal of the Church is not better sex or more sex or no sex or less sex.  The goal of the Church is godliness, Christ-likeness, the good that ennobles instead of the evil that diminishes.  Perhaps if we could learn to say this out loud in high schools and in colleges, we might find that some of those folks are listening and are not as good with the hook up culture and its idea of sex without cost or investment.  If we really were bold enough to say it out loud and to believe it without embarrassment!

1 comment:

Janis Williams said...

Satan, the flesh, and the world know no real virtues without co-opting and twisting those of Scripture.