“If I am behaving morally, my partner’s sexual participation is not a means for me to get pleasure, but that partner’s sexual participation is a means by which I enhance the quality of her/his life; my pleasure is a simultaneous byproduct of benefiting her/him.”
We now live in a world where morally right behavior is claimed by just about everyone (which is not new) back by the sophisticated methods to make their claim appear utterly believable to millions upon millions of people. Morality is now just one of the tricks in the business of getting people to do what you want.
Again this in itself is not new, but prior to my life time there was not an entire, financially lucrative, industry devoted to obfuscating the what is morality and replacing it with things that are not. It is easy to see this in the Goebbels’s propaganda machine for the NAZI’s, but even he was only a precursor to the modern industry of phony morality. To make matters worse, most of this industry is not geared at making evil into good (as did the NAZI’s) but rather to making good actions into moral imperatives. This might seem innocuous, until one considers that there are many good behaviors but good behaviors does not make a person moral.
Hitler did not smoke or drink and was not known to eat meat. To a Baptist, no drinking and smoking would count for morality and a vegetarian diet is called basic morality by PETA and many other groups for numerous reasons. Did those things make him a moral person?
Of course not; yet, there are well funded efforts to create a public morality based on a plethora of equally narrow definitions of morality. Equating good behavior with morality makes morality transient and subject to circumstances; morality must be foundational with “good” actions being optional ways of working out the core morality. Thus what one eats, drinks or smokes is not what makes them moral or immoral; they are individual expressions of ones underlying morality. The “morals industry” seeks to reverse that order, making the individual action key, not the underlying reasons or impacts.
The oldest morality industry, of course, is religion. “Do this” and “Don’t do that” is the foundation of most religions and all hierarchical type religions; obedience to the code of behaviors is explicitly spelled out at the definition of morality. My favorite moral philosopher, a certain Rabi from Palestine, viciously attacked the replacement of morality for a code of behavior and was executed for his efforts. He was not the first, nor the last, but likely he was the most influential. Sadly those who came after him, used his name to justify the very same rules based morality that he died opposing.
A 18th century German by the Name of Immanuel Kant let the way to reviving morality based on the universal “categorical imperative” of valuing and respecting every person simply because they are human. Pretty much the same thing as that Rabbi who taught people that true morality was based in your care for others and the “thou shalt not’s” was phony morality.
What was different however, was that Kant said this universal morality does not need to be found via supernatural methods, but can be found via reason and reason alone. That Rabi, spoke to people who could not conceive of morality apart from a supernatural god, hence he spoke of God a lot. By Kant’s day humanity was ready for a higher level of morality that applied throughout the globe, for people with one God or many gods and for people with no god at all. The categorical imperative did (and does) not rely on any particular religious text or prophet, for it was not founded on the historic traditions, beliefs or particulars of any religion (though it is nominally espoused by many). It was applicable to all humans, for all humans could discern that universal human respect of other humans…. all other humans, is what is right for all of humanity.
This is morality. It is immutable and universally applicable. It applies to every situation and to every historical epoch and to every person on the planet.
To act in a way that denies or undermines the equal worth of another person’s humanity is simply wrong. It needs no other explanation. We do not need spin doctors, or doctors of psychology to prove this or support this, or to make up slick ads to convince us this is so. We do not need catechisms or commandments or priests to give this basic morality validity.
It just is.
All other measures of “good” and “bad” come from this basic moral proposition, but none of them are equal to this proposition. Individuals, or groups or religions or nations can write all the lists of rules they want, but their list of rules are just that, a list of rules. Keeping those rules or not keeping those rules does not make one moral or immoral.
In this blog, I will write a great deal about sexual freedom. But that should never be confused with morality. Morality has nothing at all to do with where I put my penis. It has a great deal to do with how I treat people in whom I put my penis. Do I see a person as just a means to my climax? If so, I am acting immorally, even if that person is my wife. Or do I enter into a relationship in which this other person and I meet one another’s emotional and/or psychological needs as a fellow human being? That relationship could be as short as the time it takes to make eye contact in an orgy so as to know this woman or man wishes me to give and/or receive sexual stimulation for a few minutes; or, as long as an entire lifetime. Either way, morality is determined by my commitment that the other person is just as valuable as I am.
If I am behaving morally, my partner’s sexual participation is not a means for me to get pleasure, but their sexual participation is a means by which I enhance the quality of her (and/or his) life; my pleasure is a simultaneous byproduct of benefiting my sexual partner.
So, I ask you to ask yourself. Is your sexual behavior moral?
*Oh, if you didn’t get it, that Rabbi that opposed rules based morality, his name was Jesus.