Whom You Have Sex With is My Business

by Jeffrey Polet on March 12, 2011 · 23 comments <span>Print this article</span> Print this article

in Articles,Culture, High & Low,Uncategorized

BYU’s suspension of forward Brandon Davies for having sex with his girlfriend has divided the sports blogosphere between those who applaud the University for upholding its honor code and those who express incredulity that anyone could get kicked off the team for such a thing (after all, isn’t this why many people play sports, to get first crack at the most attractive members of the opposite sex?).

What has been decidedly missing in the conversation, however, is an investigation of why BYU has this as part of their honor code in the first place. If asked, most persons would simply chalk it up to the sexual peculiarities of Mormons: sex with no one before marriage, and multiple spouses after. But this would be overlooking the proposition that any well-organized community will and ought to have a say in the selection of sexual partners.

The hoary cliche goes like this: “Who I have sex with is no one’s business but my own” – a phrase that obscures more than it reveals. On the surface of it this idea can’t possibly be true, for surely it is the business, in one way or another, of the person with whom one is having sex. (Here I’ll freely confess that, as a father, I think it’s my business too if it happens to be one of my kids.)

Once this concession is made, the libertine takes a step back and introduces the idea of consent. “Sex between two consenting parties is no one’s business but those two parties.” But even here, one suspects that the libertine cannot effectively make a rearguard action, for introducing the idea of consent necessarily involves an examination of the characteristics that make one capable of consent. In other words, it will require, in some fashion, a discussion of the necessary and natural characteristics a person has such that their engagement in sexual acts is considered acceptable.

These reflections are grounded in a community’s deliberation about the nature of sex itself, the nature of the persons who engage in it, and its appropriate contours and expressions. Without such communal deliberations connected to sex’s nature, lines of legitimacy become hopelessly blurred and arbitrary, even confused. Why, for example, should 16, or 17, or 18 become a magical moment of legitimacy? Are all 18 year-olds equally capable of such deliberation? Why is it that we have child pornography laws that are designed to protect the dignity of 14 year olds while at the same time we are handing out condoms to them in our schools? Why is it sex between two 16 years olds is permissible (and condoms provided with taxpayer dollars), but between a 19 and a 16 year old it’s not?

Surely part of the problem here is the malleable way we have come to understand biological determinations of sex itself. In the March issue of First Things, Douglas Farrow demonstrates the legal significance of replacing objective characteristics such as the biology of sex with subjective categories such as “orientation” and a largely liquid sexual “identity,” which, as Charles Taylor has argued, require mutual recognition in order to legitimate themselves.

Farrow still believes that nature divides us into male and female, but the reasoning of “identity formation” has moved backwards on this issue, with the result that “scholars” are now arguing that nature is as fluid as subjective self-perception. Anne Fausto-Sterling, Professor of Biology and Gender Studies at Brown, has made her own bargain with the devil by arguing that there are at least five sexual classifications, “male” and “female” simply being extreme ends of a biologically diffused spectrum. Her book Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality argues that “labeling” someone as a man or a woman is a social (therefore contingent and subjective) construction. One is reminded of a scene from Monty Python, where parents of a newborn ask if it’s a boy or a girl and are told that it’s too early to start imposing social roles on the infant. Life imitating satire.

The claims largely undercut themselves, however, for science itself is not grounded in nature the way human sexuality is: as a language of discourse it’s far more open to subjective manipulations. Fausto-Sterling has no way to protect herself against the charge that her claims are not, properly speaking, scientific ones but are rather ideological.¹ One breaks the connection to nature at one’s own peril, for if “maleness” and “femaleness” are not given in the nature of things, then it is hard to know what might be, and the scientist is simply engaging in a counter-discourse which advances the cause of knowledge not at all.

A community that has no way of communicating “maleness” or “femaleness” to its offspring is unlikely to figure out how to communicate to them the proper exercise of the gift of human sexuality. Any reference to an authority outside the self will necessarily be seen as an oppressive restriction of one’s primordial mode of self-expression. Perhaps Freud was right that cultural formation is a result of sexual repression; but one fears now that cultural illiteracy has left the confused youth of our age with nothing more to project on to the world than their own ejaculations, and that moaning is as eloquent as they’ll get.

Our communal confusion about sexual conduct and the status and nature of the persons who engage in it necessarily results in efforts to isolate sex from its communal context. It’s hard to imagine any form of human interchange that has been further removed from the nurturing solicitude of communal life – assuming, that is, that you have a nurturing community. For the most part, the larger community is what I’m trying to shield my children from.² So what we say about who can have sex with whom alters that fragile social ecology that informs and sustains our daily decisions. More than that, however, sex cannot be abstracted from our general conversations about other goods in human life. A person who is willing to take what they want sexually is unlikely to be trustworthy in departmental meetings, or when the lights go out in our cities. Only if one rejects the proposition that being human demands consistency of character in the light of a comprehensive accounting of our lives does contemporary libertinism get any traction at all. That it tracks the “end of philosophy” is no coincidence.

Sexual libertinism is a sign that society has broken away from the full truth about unified selves and their capacity for moral discernment and moral discipline. The complementarity of male and female in modes of mutual donation and acceptance, of being both active and receptive – ultimately to life itself – has given way to a pervasive selfishness. The spiritual wholeness of sex, predicated on the unified wholeness of persons body and soul, now is seen as just one more bodily function, although one requiring external stimulus (thus also leading to an attenuation of modesty, which means in turns that people will be treated like objects. That the people who complain about “objectification” are the same ones who celebrate the “gains” of the sexual revolution is one of the many ironies of the modern academy).

The Church has recognized the scope of this problem. In its 1995 Statement on the Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality (which was itself largely a restating of the core teachings of Humanae Vitae), the Pontifical Council wrote:

In the past, even when the family did not provide specific sexual education, the general culture was permeated by respect for fundamental values and hence served to protect and maintain them. In the greater part of society, both in developed and developing countries, the decline of traditional models has left children deprived of consistent and positive guidance, while parents find themselves unprepared to provide adequate answers. The new context is made worse by what we observe: an eclipse of the truth about man which, among other things, exerts pressure to reduce sex to something commonplace. In this area, society and the mass media most of the time provide depersonalized, recreational and often pessimistic information.

Sex is thus located within a general accounting of what men and women are, how their complementary differences alone can provide a basis for a sexual love that is neither selfish or impure, and how such love connects to a life of  hope and faith (for what else are children but the ultimate expression of the theological virtues?).

We expect economic exchange to be well and fairly regulated. We demand that speech be civil and respectful, to the point where we have complex codes, often legally entrenched, which carefully manage the way human beings speak to one another. We place all sorts of restrictions on who may drive and how, who may drink and how much, who may smoke and how much; on living arrangements, and how we treat animals; on whether certain music or movies are appropriate for certain persons; on everything, it seems, except sex. Here the community falls silent.

But it’s not silent, of course. Our obsession with sex has infiltrated every corner of our lives. Even the academy, which one would hope is a redoubt against cultural trends, one which celebrates the virtues of the mind, has been torn apart by sexual politics. Many faculty can’t stop talking about it. Curricula are designed to indulge the appetite. Life again imitates satire: whereas instructors having sex in front of class was farce for Monty Python, it is now supported by tuition dollars, replete with instruction in the proper use of a “sex-saw.” [JMW has brilliantly analyzed this event in an earlier post. For the stout of heart, CBS did a story on this, complete with video of the sex-saw, which is actually much worse than it sounds.] A professor might defend it in the negative – “I can’t see any reason not to” – but one suspects that the same professor wouldn’t be too keen on teaching students the virtue of prayer by having someone pray in front of the classroom. We ought to worry about a world where public acts of piety are frowned upon, but public displays of masturbatory masochism are celebrated and paid for with other people’s dollars – so that which is properly public becomes hopelessly private, and that which is most intimately private becomes public. We can’t agree on the higher good, so let’s at least agree on sharing that which is most base. One thinks of Freud’s epigraph for The Interpretation of Dreams: Flectere si nequeo Superos, Acheronta movebo.³

One fears, however, not that the new libertines respect sex too much, but far too little, for in partitioning the standards for sexual activity off from every other form of human activity, they have severed sexual expression from our deepest understandings of what human beings are, and to what they ought to aspire. The very persons who insist on these detailed speech codes are the ones who insist we ought to have nothing to say about who does what to whom. Is sex as a medium of human interaction less valuable, less worthy of our collective ordering, than talking? Less intimate, less necessary, less connected to our sense of what is good? So it would seem.

Any community must think carefully of its perpetuity, and for the better part of the history of the species that has meant regulating sex, for reproduction was generally thought to be necessary for social continuity (Europe is losing its experiment in challenging that proposition). In the wake of development of technologies which make reproduction without copulation and copulation without reproduction possible, the community loses its foothold in sexual conduct: not in the sense of prurient observation but in the sense that it helps individuals contemplating sexual action tame their otherwise parlous impulses. After all, the authoritative voice of a priest or a parent is more likely to be a restraining presence in the back of an SUV than your 8th grade sex ed teacher. But in our pornographic age we invert, for we observe without taming instead of tame without observing.

The problem here is at least twofold: one is the general state of understanding what language is and how language operates, and the other is the uncoupling of sex from any genuinely human good other than gratification. One of the more pernicious consequences of the so-called postmodern movement has been its proclivity to treat all reality as if it’s discursive. This has infected and affected almost all moral deliberation (think, for example, of the strange use of the word “margins” to describe persons with no apparent social power). Language is, of course, an essential quality of being human and a primary mode of expressivity, but it also points to our fundamental sociality and participation in a larger reality. Only if we buy the Saussurean conceit that language has no external referent but only gets its meaning from tracing its grammatical significance will we embrace its potential to alter reality according to our desires. I’m afraid we’ve lost on the substitution of the word “gender” when we mean “sex” – the latter being biology, the former being that which pertains to words. It’s a concession we made too readily.

Making reality as contingent and malleable as language has led to adjusting it to conform to our desires or “deepest selves”, be they expressive or experimental. The social confining of sexual desire to its proper sphere is unlikely to be accomplished by concepts as thin as “consent” or variations of the harm principle, or by recourse to putative “rights.” The recent public spectacle of Charlie Sheen ought to give pause to most people who would otherwise be inclined to carry the baggage for his moral arguments. The barely contained ridicule of him for his interviews may actually be cause for hope. In the main, however, one suspects that Sheen is simply a harbinger, for the legal case for polyamorous relationships is receiving greater and greater support in law journals.

Nor can consent or the harm principle provide principled objections against other forms of sexual license which ought to cause decent people to shudder, such as incest, which is receiving increasing public attention. Larry Constantine, Professor of Psychology at Tufts, has argued that “children have a right to express themselves sexually, even with members of their own family.” Only when one understands that sex has a proper nature, and the community must organize itself in accord with its nature, can one see why incest is such a problem. Otherwise, one is left like the poor author of “I Had Sex with My Brother But I Don’t Feel Guilty” (The Sunday Times) who cannot see or understand the right ordering of love, and its concomitant jealousies (there is a jealousy proper to well-ordered love, after all). Nor can these principles be of any use to the feckless schlep Joshua LeSeur who, writing in the pages of Salon, couldn’t figure out why he didn’t want to have the threesome his wife was recommending. The essay is a piece of such profound confusion that one actually ends up feeling sorry for the guy. But alas, he has to navigate this all on his own, and the cues he gets from his culture only deepen his confusion, which, after all, is testimony to the fact that he retains at least a residual sense that sex has some boundaries.

Perhaps in its most pernicious manifestation, the sexual revolution, which was supposed to put women on their feet, ended up with their daughters on their knees (see footnote 2 below). The debasement of our young women in the casual performance of fellatio is a problem that very few feminists seem to want to acknowledge. Perhaps they made too cozy a deal with a former president who did, after all, do so much good for them by working to expand their abortion rights. Oral sex would seem to solve two problems at once, but only if you don’t think carefully about what you’re being asked to do. We live in the era where all orifices are created equal, and where young men can find young women only too eager to “service” their needs. Given the unilateral nature of the exchange, that eagerness is curious, to say the least.

It would seem most young men would welcome the advent of a world where sex, be it oral or intercourse, is readily available with little expected of them in return. But here we see how what we think we want is the opposite of what is good for us. I think some women, at least, are beginning to realize they have paid a high price by bargaining off their chastity and modesty for – what, exactly? Power? As Kay Hymowitz has argued in her Manning Up: How the Rise of Women has Turned Men Into Boys, one of the main effects of female promiscuity has been that it has allowed males to stay in a state of arrested adolescence well into their 20′s. This delay of adulthood has all sorts of consequences for the formation of healthy families and the raising of children in the most propitious circumstances. Having a generation of young males who are ill-prepared for the rigors and responsibilities of adult life damages the political community in all sorts of profound ways. The repercussions of easy sexual release have a rippling effect over the whole social fabric.

One argument against the constant broadening of our communities is that it leaves us with nowhere to go with things go awry. Our “culture” has become more individualized as it becomes more abstract, more libertine as it becomes more statist, and more sexually pathological as it becomes increasingly convinced that we are only as good as our next orgasm. The crudeness of expression reveals how inconsequential it has all become. College students “hook up” with one another, like two (or more) box cars whose coupling is temporary and unrelated to what’s inside of them. In the memorable and depressing deflowering of Charlotte Simmons, Hoyt Thorpe gallantly remarks that he “had to knock the dust off her” – an expression of such crudeness it requires no commentary. Any thinking parents have to ask themselves if sending their children to college is even responsible, given the levels of harm to which you are exposing them.

But local communities can still provide tenuous bulwarks against the corrupting tides. Here we can find those backward red-staters who cling bitterly to archaic ideas such as “male and female He created He them” and have articulated principles which define lines of permissibility. When my college got into a public dispute over the Board of Trustees issuing a statement affirming traditional ideas of human sexuality, the local townspeople came under attack from some faculty for their purported “bigotry.” I couldn’t have been prouder of my fellow citizens, for if there are any cues I don’t want to be taking from this culture, they are sexual ones. Perhaps the culture wars will inevitably end in some sort of Balkanization of America, but only if the federal government decides it won’t take sides in the battle. Unfortunately, present circumstances give us no reason to hope this will be the case.

______________________________

1 This is, of course, independent of the issue whether it’s even good science. Leonard Sax in the Journal of Sex Research has provided a damning critique of Fausto-Sterling’s “science.” Fausto-Sterling’s work is little more than the execrable work of Judith Butler given scientific sheen.

2 Caitlin Flanagan has produced a worthwhile essay on this, especially as it pertains to the sexual development of young girls, in the pages of The Atlantic. If you’re a parent with young children it won’t make you feel better about your odds.

3 From The Aeneid Book VII: “If I cannot bend the higher powers, I will stir up the Acheron” (or the infernal regions). Knight translates: “If I cannot change the will of heaven, I will release hell.” Whatever the complexities of Freud’s use, he clearly favors apparent realities he think he can control to “illusions” he can’t. The Promethean implications can be discussed all on their own.

H/T: MVDG

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar dave March 12, 2011 at 10:57 am

Very well done, and interesting to me since I agree with you except on this: “the full truth about unified selves”. For myself that I hold the idea of a unified self to be false; or a result of narrative.

I’m going to have to think about this one for a bit.

avatar JonF March 12, 2011 at 8:46 pm

I don’t think it’s well done. I’m going to be a bit rude here and say that this piece is nothing but a lot prolific verbage tied in a Gordion Knot in defence of the proposition “Why I shouldn’t just mind my own bsuiness, but should be set up as the Lord High Arbiter Over My Neighbors.” Busybodyism masquerading as virtue.

avatar BMW March 13, 2011 at 9:53 am

JonF- I disagree, and I think any parent would disagree too. Being concerned about our collective vision of what life is about (and therefore, what sex is about) is not busybodyism, it’s responsible living. Caring about ourselves and our neighbors demands that we care about everything that impacts us as a community, including our society’s vision of sex. What could be more important to a community than the creation of new human life?

On that point, I think we need to reflect on the warnings of Humanae Vitae more seriously. In that document, the Pope clearly warned about the problems that would result from the widespread use of artificial contraception. Those results are now here for us to see in our pornographic pop culture, our abortion mills, our divorce rates, our objectification of women, etc. Of course, artificial contraception is not the sole cause (by any means) of these social trends, but it is surely a contributor to them.

The problem we face is that so many Christian couples have rejected the traditional and historic Christian prohibition against artificial contraception that the Christian community has almost no grounds on which to mount a defense of traditional marriage and traditional sexual mores. Since we ourselves have adopted the contraceptive practices of the culure, and divoced sex and procreation, we have removed from sex its most profound and transcendent dimension (i.e. the possible creation of life). It is therefore difficult for us to tell others that sex has a profoundly social dimension, and is not an act closed in on itself and limited in importance to the consenting couple, when we ourselves have voluntarily chosen to forego the truly public, life-creating dimension of sex in our relationships and marriages. While there is still a public dimension to sex beyond its life-creating potential (e.g. mental and physical health of those engaged in sex, HIV, STDs, etc. etc.), the most profoundly public dimension of sex is now largely hidden from public view, and is not an ongoing, regular consideration of most married, sexually active, contracepting Christian couples. In a very real sense, artificial contraception has turned most heterosexual marriages – Christian or otherwise – into gay marriages, where sex may be about bonding but not procreation.

If sex is principally about bonding, and procreation is an entirely optional component of sex, it seems to me that there are far fewer legitimate reasons for society to “regulate” it through social mores, etc.

avatar G. Koefoed March 13, 2011 at 8:39 pm

Very thankful for the citation of articles. I’m glad FPR (thinking of James M .Wilson’s piece as well) is tackling the issue of sexuality. It is such a pervasive discourse, with so many unquestioned and pernicious assumptions.

avatar R. Dreher March 14, 2011 at 10:46 am

Wendell Berry is magnificent on this topic in the title chapter of his essay collection “Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community.” He describes how the integrity of the entire community is related to the sex act — that it cannot be merely a private act, because it has unavoidably public consequences.

avatar Ray Ingles March 14, 2011 at 10:53 am

Sure, “any well-organized community will and ought to have a say in the selection of sexual partners”.

But that’s only a starting point. Which restrictions should have the force of law, which ones should be entered into by voluntary commitment (e.g. BYU’s honor code), and which ones should just be a matter of some people clucking their tongues?

avatar Russell Arben Fox March 14, 2011 at 11:00 am

Rod! You’re alive! And commenting! It’s great to see your face hear–and your comment is, of course, exactly right. I was talking to a student of mine just last Friday, and I recommended that very book of Berry’s to her. All of Berry’s work is worth reading, but I agree with you: that single essay is perhaps his magnum opus, tackling what has, since the 60s, emerged as the central force for so much (and unfortunately, mostly negative) social change.

avatar Peter B. Nelson March 14, 2011 at 11:29 am

I have an idea for Professor “I couldn’t think of a legitimate good reason why people shouldn’t be allowed to see that” Bailey, who decided an extra-curricular exhibit of the “sex-saw” orgasm was a great lesson on the spectrum of human sexuality…

He should take his class on a forbidden field trip to a Catholic Cathedral to witness someone’s real-life consecration to perpetual virginity.

Assuming, of course, that it isn’t against the law. Think about that.

avatar Javier Martinez March 14, 2011 at 12:10 pm

It is not just busybodism masquerading as concern for the common good, it is also an attempt to justify exerting personal, private opinions and values over the bodies and lives of others. People have a right to control their own bodies in physical intimacy with others who consent to enter into such relations with them. It is the essence of free will. Moreover, people have the right to all sorts of conduct hat others may think immoral or wise, and consensual sexual activity is but one example of the right to free will. If you want to teach your child a conservative sexual ethic, go right ahead. But others will want to teach their children a more progressive or liberal sexual ethic based on the requirement of mutual consent between adults . Stop trying to control other peoples’ bodies and morals., and perjhaps people will respect your right to live iin a countercultural manner.

avatar GingerMan March 14, 2011 at 1:09 pm

I guess I don’t really understand the point of this post. There are a number of things that seem to cut against the essential claim that sex in the modern US is completely unregulated.

1) The article references a successful example of a non-legal mechanism (BYU Honor Code) that an institution is utilizing to help in regulating exactly the type of behavior the author laments.

2) The article also references, in passing, the age of consent laws that exist relative to statutory rape. Clearly this is the establishment of legal boundaries that distinguish legal from illegal sexual activity.

3) The author uses a lot of examples drawn from academia to bolster his point. Maybe I’m missing something here, but I find it highly doubtful that most people take their social cues from whatever falls out of the mouth of their local gender studies professor. (Note: My wife also works in academia)

Now clearly I am not trying to dispute the fact that social and legal rules surrounding sexual conduct have changed. But, at the end of the day, there are a number of problems with this kind of kvetching, which is that it seems to lay the blame for present circumstances on whatever sort of intellectual nitwittery is roiling around in academic circles without speaking to the fundamental nature of modern life which enables a more libertine sexual culture to exist:

1) Mobility – Modern life means that the constituents of your local community are nearly always in flux, excepting if you live in a small rural setting. Therefore, generating and maintaining consensus is difficult except for the most basic levels of common agreement (e.g. age of consent laws) in a heterogeneous community. It’s not surprising therefore that the example drawn here is from Utah where a much more homogeneous social community still exists.

2) Enforcement – The prior social agreement on sexual mores was not primarily enforced legally but rather socially. Yes, there were laws that bolstered the social consensus (re: co-habitating couples, sodomy, etc.), but the primary mechanism of enforcement for such behaviors wasn’t the local police force. Today, now that you are dealing with a much more polyglot social space, I am not sure how one can realistically envision closing this Pandora’s box.

For example, it is my understanding that in some Central American countries where abortion is still illegal, a woman who has a miscarriage must submit to a state medical examination to ensure that she hasn’t procured an illicit abortion. Nothing screams localism quite like Federal Miscarriage Inspector.

In the end, to have success, such standards are going to have to be recognized and enforced socially in a local community where agreement on such sexual behavior exists. To expect this to occur in a standardized fashion across the US as a whole (300 million+ people) is simply silly. By contrast, the Orwellian police state that would have to exist to enforce it legally would far outweigh the benefit.

3) Modern communications – As we see in the uprisings across the Middle East, ALL forms of authority are undermined by cheap and ubiquitous forms of mass communication. The prior capacity of communities to firmly control what gets in/out of the social space is lost, barring some global catastrophe, at least certainly for the natural lifetimes of anyone reading this.

4) Contraception / Women’s Equality – The nature of modern work life (not principally driven by manual labor and physical strength) combined with easy access to effective contraception allows for women to participate in economic life in a manner that would have been less practical in prior eras. Given the level of education now needed to gain a measure of economic security in our modern economy, the time lag between onset of puberty and age at first marriage is such that the old rules were bound to undergo some sort of change and loosening. This is not because pre-marital sex was just invented, but because the gap between the ideal and the actual reality can only be so wide before the ideal starts to seem more of a farce than a model to live by. Social attitudes change because the social reality (typical 10 years lag between puberty and marriage) is different.

At the end of the day, the problem I have with the article is it seems to pine for a form of solution where the community somehow “grabs the reigns” and begins bringing the hammer down on sexual libertines and starts enforcing at least some of the old prohibitions that the author would like to see return. This seems to me to be a near hopeless fantasy given all of the above.

What is practical is the point that BMW makes above:

The problem we face is that so many Christian couples have rejected the traditional and historic Christian prohibition against artificial contraception that the Christian community has almost no grounds on which to mount a defense of traditional marriage and traditional sexual mores.

The problem you need to police isn’t the behavior of libertines. They aren’t part of your community in any meaningful sense and thus you have no available capacity to reprimand them. The problem is those who are seemingly on-board with you philosophically, but not in practice as BMW notes above.

Douthat and Millman went round on issues related to this point (at a more pragmatic level , in my opinion) here:

http://douthat.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/10/sex-marriage-and-upper-class-obligation/

- GingerMan

avatar Patrick Ford March 14, 2011 at 4:15 pm

GingerMan,

Yours was a well-articulated response, and I don’t think your best insights would really be much challenged by the author.

Still, I’m not sure the “point” you were searching for was as complicated as all that. Prof. Polet didn’t really seem to be offering a practical solution to the problem he describes, and you do well to point out that a practical solution will not be able to address the problem (if we concede it is one) on a society-wide scale.

The post begins with a fairly clear observation: the oft-heard assertion that the sexuality of individuals is not the business of anyone but themselves–that is, that sexuality, being so deeply personal, cannot fall under communal scrutiny–is simply false. His second point seems to be that the (now largely, but as you say, not entirely, successful) attempt to eliminate sex and our nature as sexual creatures as topics for common deliberation, combined with an increase in public consumption of the sexuality of others, in fact carries with it inevitably dramatic social consequences.

Solutions for putting the evil genie back in the bottle are not readily apparent, as you point out, precisely because our communities have suffered so much from the same individualizing trend. But the first step surely should be to attempt to pull back the curtain on the individualist mantra and to help confused parents, at least, start to think about the problem in a coherent way. Here articles like the one cited from The Atlantic become very interesting; people who might ignore Prof. Polet as being hidebound might sit up and listen to a progressive-type feminist who makes some of the same basic points.

avatar Patrick Ford March 14, 2011 at 4:16 pm

Oops. Forgive the rookie HTML formatting error.

avatar dave March 14, 2011 at 7:51 pm

@JonF and Javier Martinez, what I keyed in on was this: “In other words, it will require, in some fashion, a discussion of the necessary and natural characteristics a person has such that their engagement in sexual acts is considered acceptable.

These reflections are grounded in a community’s deliberation about the nature of sex itself, the nature of the persons who engage in it, and its appropriate contours and expressions.”

Which I took to mean that it is in community where we develop our ideas of what’s appropriate; echoing Rieff, there is no more aggressive prosecutor against us than our own conscience.

@GingerMan, I understand the sentiment “This seems to me to be a near hopeless fantasy given all of the above.” I often struggle with that. But we are not only confronted by our culture, we shape it, however minute our fingerprints. What I do this evening is of course meaningless to the general drift, but at the same time what I do next is the most important decision in my life – it’s in fact the only decision I’ve got. And from that perspective, whether or not it alters the course of society seems less important to me.

avatar Nortaneous March 14, 2011 at 8:27 pm

16, 17, or 18 is as much a magical moment of legitimacy for sex as 21 is a magical moment of legitimacy for the consumption of alcohol: that is, not at all. Laws cannot consider the individual personality, circumstances, etc. of every person who those laws apply to. Instead, they make general pronouncements, and the people who make the laws hope that their general pronouncements will have an effect reasonably approximating what they could do if they had the resources to consider every relevant action on a case-by-case basis.

Farrow’s claim that gender identities “represent subjectively determined conditions—mere attitudes toward oneself, or attitudes combined with behaviors (cross-dressing, say) intended to express or alleviate those attitudes” is questionable, and even if it is true, so what? The same could be said about religion; considering the high rate of conversion between different religions in modern America, it’s far more anchored in subjectively determined conditions than sexual orientation, which hardly ever changes.

If cultural illiteracy stems from sexual hyperactivity, then what of the important figures of Western culture who were distinctly sexually hyperactive? Do Catullus and Casanova, to name two, not count for anything here?

Why must supposed libertinism in one aspect of life lead to libertinism in all areas? Is it impossible for someone to be sexually active and trustworthy? It seems to me that there are ways for people to be sexually active, trustworthy, and philosophically consistent. Social contract libertarianism fulfills all three of those points; it allows for sexual activity, requires trustworthiness (after all, pacta sunt servanda), and I, at least, don’t see any inconsistencies in it.

I won’t deny that objectification is a problem in modern society, but that comes from overemphasis on sex, not any sort of libertinism. It is possible for things to be freely allowed without being overemphasized, and, to respond to the obvious argument that ‘sexual liberation’ at least enables objectification and obsession with sex, it is also possible for things to be severely regulated, or even banned outright, and still glorified to an absurd extent. (Alcohol and marijuana, respectively.)

The community most definitely does not fall silent on sex. There are many different standards going around in many different communities; a sex-and-drugs liberal arts college, a tech school, and Liberty University will obviously have different standards for sex, but that doesn’t mean standards don’t exist. (And yes, standards do exist even in a supposedly ‘libertine’ culture. In my experience, it’s practically universal for both participants in an open relationship to have veto power, or at least be limited to only hooking up with people who the other person knows and keeping the other person informed as to what’s going on.) But not even that is necessary to disprove Polet’s point that there are no community standards on sex; for that purpose, one need only scroll up a few paragraphs and see the bits about legal ages of consent!

Fellatio is not as unilateral an exchange as Polet makes it think, and it does go the other way also; at least as far as I’ve heard, it’s about as easy for a girl to get fingered as it is for a guy to get a blowjob.

What does female promiscuity have to do with arrested adolescence? It seems to me that that state can be traced entirely to two factors: the expansion of education (it’s hard for college/grad/etc. students to be adults) and the (most probably permanent) drop in the number of entry-level jobs.

avatar Sergio Méndez March 14, 2011 at 8:46 pm

BMF:

“I disagree, and I think any parent would disagree too. ”

Well, I know many parents who will disagree with YOU (and if I was a parent, I will STILL disagree with you). So I fail to see how is that a criteria for this discusion.

“Being concerned about our collective vision of what life is about (and therefore, what sex is about) is not busybodyism, it’s responsible living. Caring about ourselves and our neighbors demands that we care about everything that impacts us as a community, including our society’s vision of sex. What could be more important to a community than the creation of new human life?”

But then:

1) I disagree that sex is only or even primarely about procreation.

2) Who are you or “the comunity” to tell parents when to conceive and how to educate their kids? I mean, I am personally dismayed by the way christian conservative parents educated their kids (including sexuality), but I respect their right to live their sexuality and raise their sons and daughters as they see fit. Why so difficult for conservatives to return the courtesy?

“On that point, I think we need to reflect on the warnings of Humanae Vitae more seriously. In that document, the Pope clearly warned about the problems that would result from the widespread use of artificial contraception. Those results are now here for us to see in our pornographic pop culture, our abortion mills, our divorce rates, our objectification of women, etc. Of course, artificial contraception is not the sole cause (by any means) of these social trends, but it is surely a contributor to them.”

But then I do not see why “divorce rates” are a problem. Pornography is a problem only in the way women are forced and presented (not simply objectified, but how sexuality is presented usually in forms of violence against women. That is real problem, very different than just the prudish concern of seeing people naked of having sex…). And no, I don´t think it has anything to do with sexual liberation (pornography is a very old practize, not a modern invention).

“In a very real sense, artificial contraception has turned most heterosexual marriages – Christian or otherwise – into gay marriages, where sex may be about bonding but not procreation.”

How tragic christians can´t control other people (including christian married couples who reject catholic theology on sexuality) bed life. I am shocked.

“If sex is principally about bonding, and procreation”

Well, its not. That may be for animals, but people know better.

avatar GingerMan March 15, 2011 at 12:51 am

@Patrick Ford

I see what you mean after reading the article again. I suppose there is something to be said for raising the issue even if one cannot, at present, articulate a solution per se.

One of the great difficulties with this all is that while there is no doubt, in my mind at least, that personal decisions about sexual behavior have communal impacts, they are (lacking immediate onset of pregnancy or disease) diffuse and accrue slowly over time in ways that are difficult to isolate in terms of pure causality. Whereas the hard imposition (and enforcement) of community standards into what is undoubtedly extremely intimate and personal space is difficult to justify in individual circumstances between adults once issues of violence and/or consent are removed from the equation. The barrier to imposition into such personal decisions OUGHT to be high given our just conceptions of individual liberty.

My long excerpt below (apologies in advance) from an Arturo Vasquez post, summarizes why, to my mind at least, I doubt the current circumstances are likely to change. Namely, because the cost of “policing” the boundaries of the desired standards is higher than most people, even those who putatively hold such standards in high regard, are going to be willing to pay.

From: http://arturovasquez.wordpress.com/2010/08/19/sex-and-the-latino-family/

Perhaps the lack of moral severity in the Catholic family has little to do with lack of catechesis, and more to do with the inherent inability of people to shun others for their sexual transgressions. Rodriguez’s case above is a prime example of this. While some would say that his mother is a “heretic” for not shunning her son or his lover, most would not feel comfortable disowning their son for such a consensual situation. In other words, people are not able to consistently live their lives according to the teachings of the Church because what is required of them is something that they are not willing to do.

We all know the counsel to “love the sinner, but hate the sin”. Usually, only those who are FAR AWAY from the sinner can believe that this is possible. Most who are in touch with the sinner find that it is hard to detach a person from what he or she does. It is not some light you can switch on and off. You can’t just pretend the person standing in front of you doesn’t do what he or she does, and feels justified in doing it, and love them as some sort of abstraction. That is the sort of bad faith that religious people are often called upon to have, but in the end it is neither honest nor virtuous.

In the past, all of this was taken care of us by societal pressure. Sodomy was punishable by death or imprisonment. Social pressure was such that one had no choice but to disown someone for such sins. Even if their heart wasn’t in it, they were obligated to shun the sinner, and cast him or her from the midst of the community. What the Church asks now is that people do this themselves, or even cast their “sin” away but not the “sinner”. If anyone has succeeded in doing this without being a total bigot, they deserve to be canonized. So far, I haven’t really met anyone who has.

[snip]

My next point, somewhat related at least in familial terms, is the attitude towards sex and women in Latino society. We tend to have a very harsh double standard, a remnant of when women literally were locked up at a certain point and all courtship had to be done through the bars of a window. That is why when people talk about promiscuous girls and sexually predatory boys, I am not at all surprised. Our ancestors knew that when you get young people together, sex would be involved. People didn’t have more self control back then, nor did they have a keener sense of sexual morality. Sexual mores were upheld by sheer force, either in confinement for the women, and threats of violence for the men when confinement wasn’t enough. Often, the way to get married in Mexico was a tactic called “robarse la novia”, in which a man kidnapped his half-consenting bride, presenting his future in-laws with a fait accompli. This is how my maternal grandparents were married. The male members of the offended family could still retaliate and kill him if their honor wasn’t sufficiently satisfied, but usually they came to some sort of agreement. Don Rufino and the young Jorge did, and that is why I am here.

But even when I was growing up, girls still felt the pressure to not be a “callejera”: to leave the hearth and enter into the dangerous world of promiscuity. My sisters couldn’t walk within two feet of the door without being asked where they were going. I remember my sister a few years back being scowled at by my grandfather for talking to her boyfriend in front of the house. So when people talk about “sexual education” or “chastity promises”, I sort of have to laugh. That shit has never worked, and people shouldn’t expect it to work now. If you want to be absolutely sure that no shenanigans go on, lock up your daughters and threaten your sons. Otherwise, just learn to deal.

avatar Tim Holton March 15, 2011 at 6:55 pm

Conservative sensibilities should find this article really irresponsible. First, taken as a piece of scholarship, it’s illogical. For example, the logical leap made from unconventional sexuality and succumbing to extramarital temptation to “libertine” and predatory is an error—a careless, unconservative error. As another example, how do we reconcile the distinctly humanist notion that the fate of “maleness” and “femaleness” depends on the community’s ability to communicate those qualities (not traits here, but transformed, apparently, into malleable human constructs) to its offspring with the endorsement of the biblical “male and female create He them”? If our fundamental sexuality is God-given, how can it depend on people communicating it to their children?

But that’s the least of the flaws. As reasoning toward forming public action, it’s chillingly irresponsible. One need look no further than its opening: A school’s suspension of a student “for having sex with his girlfriend has divided the sports blogosphere…” And Professor Polet’s complaint is, “What has been decidedly missing in the conversation…is an investigation of why BYU has this as part of their honor code in the first place,” the reason being that BYU believes—and he concurs—”that any well-organized community will and ought to have a say in the selection of sexual partners.”

But what strikes me as “decidedly missing” is a conversation about whether the blogosphere —that is, potentially the entire human race—is the place to discuss what a young man and young woman did one night. I’m sorry, but I’m a conservative on this matter. I do not believe inviting the entire world to weigh in on such private matters is helpful or responsible to either the community of BYU, the individuals themselves, or humanity as a whole. A conservative sense of limits and balance and scale would impose considerably more modesty, gentleness in delicate matters, and social humility than the heavy-handed, arrogant, presumptuous sensibilities underlying the thesis and the dreadful policies this kind of reasoning leads to. One sure-fire way for a community to drive members—especially its young—into ill-advised sexual liaisons is to make them feel misunderstood, unloved or loved only for their physical prowess, and longing for authentic affection. Having done so, the community does not rectify the situation by ostracizing and publicly humiliating the individuals. As a lesson in responsibility this approach is a patent failure. The damage to the social fabric is terrible and even irreparable, worsening those weaknesses that led to the transgressions in the first place.

It seems to me there is a conservative approach to people who fail to always resist their sexual cravings OR — and this, a fact lost in the author’s careless reasoning, is an entirely distinct category — people in a sexual minority (primarily gay people). It is the other side of the coin taken up here—the community’s responsibility for coping with the power of sexuality and its temptations (which reside, lest we forget, in every member), not with the iron fist of condemnation but a loving hand guided by a humility before the awesome power nature has planted in each of us. What we need to maintain and strengthen the social fabric is to cultivate that loving hand. And I see the fault in BOTH those who indiscriminately celebrate all sexual adventures (far fewer they are, than Professor Polet imagines) AND those, like the author, who flatly condemn “libertines” without bothering to exercise any human empathy or responsibility.

I must say that the statement “science itself is not grounded in nature the way human sexuality is: as a language of discourse it’s far more open to subjective manipulations” is astonishing—not in fallacy (I wouldn’t argue with it) but in application to the thesis. Apart from the fact that it clashes with the malleable notion of sexuality that says “maleness” and “femaleness” are transmitted through socialization, dismissing empirical reasoning altogether as inadequate on the subject of sexuality undercuts the reasoning here by acknowledging that we are relatively weak in our ability to manipulate our sexual appetites. Is there no science the author can cite to back up his position? Is convention—which is not, after all, neither science, nor history nor tradition, but nothing more than a “comfort zone” of the majority—the sole basis of judgment? And what then is the point of such judgments on sexuality and sexual transgression unless it’s to justify public humiliation—such as having one’s most personal dealings made the business of the blogosphere—and punishment of those who don’t conform to convention? One is left to assume that if “the community” (let’s be honest: what’s meant is those with the power in the community to take such action, for example, the administration of BYU) is going to impose sexual discipline on the individual, it will be not on the basis of knowledge and understanding of human sexuality generally but on the basis of the only reliable knowledge of sexuality those in authority can have, which is THEIR OWN backed by the dubious “authority” of convention. This approach locates power not in the collective knowledge and experience of the WHOLE community reflecting nature’s variety but in the personal, individual knowledge of sexuality that resides in the community’s most powerful individuals. This is not the shift in authority on sexual matters the author calls for, from “libertine” individuals to the community, but from some individuals to others.

Professor Polit creates a category, a separate class of person — and for the author, separate most of all from himself— which is “the new libertine,” for public consideration and condemnation. He does so disregarding the fact that every member of the community is imperfect, fallible and vulnerable to temptation. He helps lead the chorus of condemnation, the louder, the wider-spread the better, for a young man (what, 20?) who slept with his girlfriend. He does this by exercising his own liberty—his free access to the blogosphere and public opinion—to tear a piece out of the social fabric separating it out with its own brand. AND he does so in the name of conservative values.

I agree that the issue of sexuality and community is an important one to discuss, and I agree that on the whole we wrongly frame in individualistic terms. But one need not choose between “Who I sleep with is no one’s business but my own” and “Sex that people like us think is weird or evil must be exposed to the world and snuffed out.” Perhaps the reply is that there is no such program in the article. There is not only a program, but it is executed: Professor Polet has taken it upon himself to name a young man who slept with his girlfriend so that those like-minded on crushing human weakness can point at him together, not that his behavior may be mended (there is no indication whatsoever that Professor Polit has the least concern for the young man himself), but so that his transgression will stand as a warning to all “the new libertines” who will ruin civilization if we don’t expose them. What’s “decidedly missing in the conversation”, apart from adequate logic, is personal responsibility for casting stones. This stands as a sophisticated rationale for bullying minorities and those unfortunate enough to have their commonplace, private human failings exposed—no less irresponsible, but more, for being cloaked in the respectable language of conservatism and scholarship.

avatar BMW March 17, 2011 at 10:38 am

Sergio – I think that one of the main points of this discussion was to acknowledge that sex has public consequences, and it is not an entirely private activity. The prime example of sex’s public dimension is the fact that it can lead to the creation of new life. When a society devalues sex and treats it as nothing more than a consequence-free recreational activity, lots of things go awry. Here are a few examples: HIV/Aids and STDS contracted through sex; abortion which result from unwanted preganacies; divorce due to infidelity (which has been shown to harm children). No one is forcing you to act one way or another. But as a human being, you undoubtedly know in your heart that private acts of sex have public consequences and, as a responsible human being, you undoubtedly feel an obligation to engage in sexual activity in a way that respects yourself and others (i.e. that takes into account the public dimension of your private sexual activity). If you become a parent, I am certain that you will teach your children to engage in sexual activity in a way that respects themselves and others. Out of love for them you will care when and with whom they have sex because you will know that they can be harmed physically and emotionally when they engage in sex irresponsibly. No one will think you a busybody for caring about your children and wanting them to engage in sex responsibly.

In my view, the Catholic Church’s teaching on sex is a way to live out our sexual lives responsibly. The Church’s teaching, which expects those in sexual relationships to be married, promotes both a great freedom within a relationship (i.e. no need to use pills or condoms or other barriers, and no fear of unwanted pregnancies), and also a great responsibility (open to life, and a need for periods of chastity). It is a hard teaching, no doubt, because it asks weak human beings to make sacrifices for their spouses and their children – but that is also why it is worth considering. At the heart of love is sacrifice, and if we are going to love well, we will need to sacrifice much. The fact that our culture does not understand the relationship between love and sacrifice, or teach it to its children, may explain some of the problems we have today.

avatar Tim Holton March 17, 2011 at 3:38 pm

BMW—
There’s a confusion here (for both you and Professor Polet) between tidy abstract moral principles and the messy reality of their practical application. The problem of the article’s reasoning isn’t the moral argument conducted through our abstract REASON, but admitting and accounting in our reasoning for NATURE and our limits with respect to it in our understanding and consequent treatment of human diversity and frailty (including our own). Hence the article’s IDEA of community irreconcilable with its implied TREATMENT of members of the community.

Perhaps the greatest flaw in reasoning is one I didn’t mention, but goes directly to this. The author asserts that “It’s hard to imagine any form of human interchange [than sex] that has been further removed from the nurturing solicitude of communal life – assuming, that is, that you have a nurturing community.” How are we supposed to reconcile this with the determination to paint everyone from the youth who’s engaged in the most ordinary case of premarital sex to the “sex-saw” woman with the same “new libertine” brush (as if pre-marital sex or extreme exhibitionism are both pathologies, or a single pathology, and the peculiar scourge of our age at that); and condemning them one and all so thoroughly, admitting no possibility of redemption, no proportionate sense of justice, that communal authority would have them all marked, publicly humiliated, and driven from the gates of the community? Prof. Polet’s complaint is that the problem of sex is too far removed from the community’s love, but he’s apparently determined to remove it even further. He celebrates community without acknowledging EXCEPT in the ABSTRACT its greatest power, applicable to the REAL WORLD: for what is “the nurturing solicitude of communal life” without the power to HEAL, to make WHOLE? Is community without love the antidote to sex without love (or love that a community’s authority doesn’t morally recognize)? For the good professor is right that love in all its manifestations and consequences and errors is the problem of the community. But it is a PROBLEM; it calls for HUMILITY to understand and for ENGAGEMENT, for us to WORK and not give up. That work too is a sacrifice love demands.

Faith, hope and love—the greatest of these is love. Except, the author has argued, when it’s not.

avatar Jeff Polet March 21, 2011 at 12:30 pm

There are quite a range of comments here, some of which I think understood my piece correctly, and others which almost willfully misread what I wrote (and I should single out for distinction here Tim Holton’s posts, which accuse me of a lack of charity by attributing to me positions I didn’t articulate and ignoring ones I did – a very uncharitable interpretation indeed).

For the record, the piece isn’t about the fact that sex is unregulated, or that a community should condemn without mercy, or that the community should observe and regulate all sexual activity, or that there are no community standards. The essay springs from this basic observation: there is something very strange and unsettling going on in our sexual world. This is hardly a novel thesis, but begins from the assumption that the problems can’t be solved by mere appeal to “decent sensibilities.” At one extreme might find the use of sex-saws, in less extreme forms it may involve a comparatively harmless and more understandable private hedonism, the latter of which is hardly something new to the human condition. My claim here is that uncoupling discussions of sexuality from an understanding of the nature of sex and the sexual nature of the persons who engage in it will necessarily lead to confused and arbitrary community standards. I’m grateful there is a legal age of consent, but I challenge anyone using contemporary theories of the self to articulate why they are what they are. One ends up in the position of Michel Foucault who has argued that “consent” is a largely meaningless legal concept created as an exercise of privileged adult authority, and that “an age barrier laid down by law doesn’t have much sense.” In his view, if a child has not actively resisted sexual overtures, such sex acts ought to be considered permissible. Foucault’s work on sexuality embodies these confusions rather than finds any way out.

Now part of the issue here will involve the definition of what a community is and, as Ray Ingles sharply observed, the means by which communal norms are imposed. Here we might think of the Church’s teaching on sexuality in its sacramentalization – that is to say, a recognition given to and an hierarchical ordering of particular unions. The Church doesn’t persecute those who don’t abide by the rules that would admit of such sacramenting, it simply excludes them from the community. It’s interesting that we immediately think of such things in terms of law because we usually take our inclusion in a comprehensive political community to be our primary loyalty. But if our particular community has a better, more coherent, and more comprehensive accounting of human sexuality I can see no reason why that ought not to be offered to other communities, including ones in which one holds a dual-membership, both by means of diagnosis and therapy.

As to the young man in question at BYU: I don’t know him, but include him under the rule of benevolence which is, as Aquinas argues, of a lower order of charity than is beneficence. As I understand it, however, the young man confessed of his own accord and accepted the consequences without complaint. Confession, penance, forgiveness: sounds familiar to me, but only if one has standards of conduct. This is far from claiming “no possibility of redemption.” It is rather articulating the means by which redemption takes place. This is not removing a young man from a community’s love, but showing him the full range of a love that has justice as well as mercy among its components. It is the way in which a community makes us better than we ever could be on our own. It is leaving people alone with their REAL WORLD “messy reality” of “ordinary” sex that is uncharitable.

avatar ruddyturnstone March 23, 2011 at 9:41 am

I don’t understand why folks who are supposedly in favor of localism would cite the Catholic Church as an authority for anything. The Mormon Church, in Utah, imposing a moral code on students attending a university that it owns and pays for is one thing, a Church which claims universal jurisdiction is quite another. The Church, or its local adherents, would certainly be withing its rights, from a localist pont of view, in imposing a “sex code” at Notre Dame, or even among those it wishes to include in its Church at all. Good for it and for them. But what business does it have imposing that code on everyone else. Tbe author is not arguing for “community standards,” he is arguing for Catholic standards. Well, I’m not a Catholic. My “community” is not the Catholic Church, its congregants, or any of its institutions. It seems to me that true localism would recognize that when it comes to sex, as with many things, different communities have different values.

The author says,

“The Church doesn’t persecute those who don’t abide by the rules that would admit of such sacramenting, it simply excludes them from the community. It’s interesting that we immediately think of such things in terms of law because we usually take our inclusion in a comprehensive political community to be our primary loyalty. But if our particular community has a better, more coherent, and more comprehensive accounting of human sexuality I can see no reason why that ought not to be offered to other communities, including ones in which one holds a dual-membership, both by means of diagnosis and therapy.”

Well, all fine and good. But this is not the first ink ever to spilled on the subject. Far from it. The Church certainly has its position, and it has certainly not been bashful about “offering” it to the rest of us as “diagnosis and therapy.” What the author doesn’t mention is that many people have already considered that position, and found it to be unsatisfactory. Many, if not most people (and perhaps most nominal Catholics as well), find that sex does have other roles than procreation. That sex cements a bond between people even when no procreation is even theoretically possible (as among gays and lesbians) and outside of marriage. That sex is emotionally and psychologically and physically pleasurable outside of marriage and procreation. Does this mean there is no possible downside to sex? Or course not. But we leave that up to the individual to weigh and determine. In most “communities” in our society, the people have concluded that consensual sex, among adults (whatever the precise age prescribed) is best left to the individual to decide. That is our “community standard.” We’ve all heard the Catholic spiel about sex, and we don’t buy it. You’re free to “diagnose” all you want, but keep your “therapy” to yourself, unless it is asked for.

My impression was that this website was dedicated to the notion that different communites can, and should, have the right to decide important questions to their own satisfaction. Not that they should be imposed from the outside by those who think they know “what is good for us.”

And quibbling about the age of consent has nothing to do with it. Michael Foucoult has nothing to do with it. Backhanded attacks on the separation of church and state have nothing to do with it. The antics of various academic buffoons has nothing to do with it. Kay Hymowitz’ absurd, misandric, self serving screeds have nothing to do with it. This just plain old centralized authority trying to dictate to diverse communities.

avatar SameVsDifferent November 14, 2011 at 10:28 am

Nothing else really needs to be said here, but I’ll go ahead and comment: gay people procreate all the time, and not always “artificially”. Last time I checked, gay and straight people have the same reproductive biology.
Also, I would point out that if you’re condemning people for resorting to artificial means of procreation, are you including heterosexual couples with fertility obstacles?
Anyway, your agony over social problems that you perceive to be created by people’s irresponsible sexual behavior stems from the ideologies YOU choose to embrace. Boo hoo. You’re a moral minority. So am I. Live with it. As others have said, it’s not our problem.

avatar DMalk November 15, 2011 at 11:39 am

The author said:
“A person who is willing to take what they want sexually is unlikely to be trustworthy in departmental meetings, or when the lights go out in our cities.”
Please substantiate this completely baseless claim. Of course you can’t, because even if by “willing to take what they want sexually” you meant “willing to rape someone”, this still has no bearing on whether a person is trustworthy or reliable. Many honest, respected and accomplished people abuse their children, spouses, etc., not to mention sleep around. People can rationalize nearly any action, and most people compartmentalize their thinking as it relates to their behavior in ways that serve their own needs and preferences.

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