E-Mail From An Atheist:
I’m curious about something, I wasn’t really looking for Theology but I read some of your recent posts and have a question.
I’m an atheist, so this matter is not a moral one for me but about living my life to the fullest, but I would like to hear from someone with an opposing viewpoint.
I happen to be both a sex positive, single woman and an infertile one. I believe that sex, and ultimately, orgasm, is the greatest human experience and one I endeavor to achieve as often as possible. Since I’m never going to conceive a child, I am never having sex for the purpose of reproduction and since I have unconventional views on marriage I don’t believe I’ll ever do so inside the confines of one.
Do you believe that for a person like me: unmarried (intentionally), non-religious and infertile (with no desire to parent a child) that I should be denied/or deny myself, the thing which brings me such an incredible amount of joy?
I don’t care if you think I’m a sinner, I don’t subscribe to your religious views and am unbothered by this, but I’m genuinely curious about the limitations your views or your religions would put on a person like me who views all consensual sexual activities as fundamentally healthy and pleasurable, and encourages sexual pleasure and experimentation.
Thank you for taking the time to e-mail me and ask these questions. My hope is that you e-mailed me because you are interested in my insight and truly understanding why I take my position on sexuality that I have outlined on my website.
The reason that many people are compelled by the moral prerogatives that you have expressed is that our society reduces all forms of virtue to kindness. Every form of “loving your neighbor” is reduced to “being kind to your neighbor.” However, I think that showing love for an individual is about more than hoping that their immediate desires are satisfied and that they can do things that bring them joy. There are many treacherous evils that bring joy to an individual, and there are many acts of righteousness that do not bring joy or pleasure. Love is about more than kindness. Life is about more than pleasure.
With that in mind, I reject the ethic that says that one should just go for the gusto. I reject the idea that an individual should just do whatever feels good. I reject the notion that if you prevent somebody from indulging in every form of pleasure, that you are bringing harm to them. There is more to life than pleasure and pain. There is more to love than enabling somebody to just do what feels good.
Our culture seems to have a lack of self-control ingrained in its’ DNA. People just want what is front of them with little concern about what is right or what is even ultimately good for them. Consider this obvious example. You may want to enjoy a piece of cake, but you know that you should not. If you have no restraint at all and you spend your life just pursuing your unbridled dietary lusts, you will plummet into obesity.
Everybody has different temptations and indulgences and they often have different consequences. You can do what feels good all of the time and constantly pursue your unbridled lusts, but it will chauffeur a host of consequences, even if you do everything that you can to prevent it. Sexual activity with multiple partners will often disconnect an individual from any sort of emotional commitment to the person with whom they are engaging sexually. Now, you may think that is a good and noble thing. But it could lead to a lot of emotional pain for partners. You may suggest that you do everything that you can to prevent that. Well, that is fine. But it will not always work.
Beyond that, if you are pursuing your unbridled lusts in one area of life, then establishing this precedent and setting this example is likely going to have negative consequences. If you think that you should just give in to whatever feels good, then I do not know what would prevent you from doing anything that was easy. If you are feeling impatient waiting in line, and you have already established a precedent for just giving in to temptations, then lashing out at people might be the easiest thing for you to do. Sitting on the couch watching television will be easier than reading a book. A romance novel loaded with buzz words, rather than a thoughtful analysis of a particular topic will be the norm. You will become less thoughtful, less interested in doing what is right, less interested in intellectual stimulation because you just want to do what is easy and what feels good.
Indulging in immediate temptations is not just about that particular temptation. It is not just about what you want to do right now. It impacts everything. It impacts your character. It determines your character. The question that you should ask yourself is what sort of person you want to do. If you want to be a person who just gives in and does what is easy and what feels good to your own detriment, then that is your choice. I am not here to call you a sinner or shove my views into your face (after all, you e-mailed me and asked me). But I do think that character is important.
It is particularly important because society is comprised of individuals who demonstrate a particular character. How we behave and what we do impacts everything. What you have expressed has quickly become normal behavior in our society. We want a society that accepts and endorses our pursuit of every lustful temptation. I am fairly certain that you read my article How Our View of Sex Creates An Abortion Society and sent this e-mail in responses to it. When we just pursue our temptations without worrying about the consequences, we support a society that is amenable to terrible injustices.
Many of these injustices may be race-based or gender-based. Think about it like this. If an individual is giving in to every temptation that they have, what if they have racist temptations? Should they suppress them? The answer is that they obviously should. Now, you are probably thinking something like, “But racism hurts people, while sex does not.” Well, that is not quite the point. The point is rather that we are setting a precedent for giving into temptations and creating a society in which people just do what their immediate desires demand.
So I take my position on human sexuality because I believe that it is part of a larger narrative. It impacts everything, from every aspect of our character, our temptations, to society as a whole and other people. There is a tangible standard of morality to which we are all called to align ourselves. That is not to say that I am perfect or that I have perfectly aligned myself. I have not. We have all failed in some way. But I do believe that we need to strive after true virtue and righteousness.
Thanks for taking the time to e-mail me,
If you want to read the article that inspired this question, check out my article How Our View Of Sex Creates An Abortion Culture