It seems our conversation about sex today is at an impasse. In one corner you have religious people and people who have morals influenced by religion and in the other you have people who have thrown off the shackles of both religion and conservative ethics to create a new ethic where the individual and their right are held up as inviolable. The two groups in our society seem to talk past each other at every point about sex and this is because we haven’t talked about our assumptions and the intellectual and philosophical baggage each group brings to the conversation. What I want to show is that unless we have a conversation about this baggage we bring we will never hear each other and I would also argue that this about sex conversation is not really about sex at all it is about the baggage we are bring to the conversation. It is a clash or worldviews.
Most people ask as question today like “Why can’t a bunch of consenting adults do whatever they want with each other as long as they don’t harm each other?” This question is a great place to start because it shows that whoever is engaging this question needs to be concerned not about a timeless ethic first and foremost but people. People who love and lust and people who can experience hurt and love. The harm that can be done or not done is one of the chief concerns for Christians who engage in this discussion. But the question itself begs another question. “What do we mean by harm?” Most people would say a person is harmed when that person something happens that doesn’t allow that person to be fully human. So, if I yell abuse at you I am harming you because in that moment of abuse you are feeling threatened and your humanity, at least for a moment, is diminished. But this definition of harm begs another question. “What does it mean to be fully human?” Or a similar one may be “What is the purpose of humanity?” And these questions raise other questions like “Is there a moral framework to the universe?” and “Is there a force/ creator/ God who has created humanity to exist and relate in a certain way?” This leads us to the question of God. You cannot get very far into a conversation about sex and sexuality without talking about God and if we don’t ask the deeper questions about God and the related questions about what it is to be human we will never have a constructive conversation about sex. We will only end up throwing verbal hand grenades at each other and never talking about something that we all agree is very fundamental to being human.
You cannot talk deeply about sex and sexual ethics without talking about God. Here is where we need to start the conversation.
You may also like: