As the media continues to celebrate sexuality in an ever-increasing “anything goes” manner, Christians may find themselves unsure of what to make of it. On the one hand, we do want to be fair and equal people, treating each other with dignity and respect. How can we not want each other to be truly happy? On the other hand, these issues didn’t arise yesterday; religious teachings on the spirituality of the sexual nature of humans are not some ancient arbitrary teachings like “the world is flat” that movies and TV shows are just now calling into question. Everyone understands that our own sexual natures are something intimate and special to us, otherwise there’d be no issue about this in the first place.

If approached with an open heart in a true spirit of seeking understanding, these can actually be healthy conversations to have. (Not that many people would actually want to have them, which only helps to demonstrate how naturally intimate the subject is.)

But we can’t approach the subject with the premises that:

1. “people who disagree with each other actually fear or hate each other” or that
2. “surrendering to your natural temptations is accepting who you are” or that
3. “as long as you’re not hurting other people, whatever you think or do is OK” or that
4. “there is nothing spiritual about sex” or that
5. “sexual actions are just a matter of love and happiness.”

These are the “trick” premises the opponents use in an attempt to take advantage of a Christian’s good nature. (Which isn’t to say that people don’t honestly believe these premises.)

The first two tricks seek to frame the argument as if it’s only about love and acceptance, which it is not. It’s about the morality of sexual acts, not whether we or not we love each other. Still, framing the argument this way is a good way to get a lot of Christians to believe they’re on their side. But it is like the child who begs for ice-cream, claiming that his father doesn’t love him if he doesn’t give him what he wants. And if the father can only ever prove his love on the child’s terms, what can he do, and what can his love ever be worth to his child?

The second trick is especially nonsense, yet people will accept it without question. If you find yourself angry and wanting to hit someone, would you accept the violence as “just being who you are”? When you find yourself envious of a rich man who lives in a mansion, do you honestly think it’s because you were born to live in a mansion, and that’s just who you are? The worst thing about this trick is that it denies your Free Will, your ability to choose what to do. It persuades you that surrendering to your instinctual desires a perfectly OK, because it’s who you are. No, it’s not. You are a conscious entity that can make your own choices. You do not have to be ashamed of a temptation, nor do you have to let it define you or control you. You are what you choose to be; you are not merely the sum of your natural desires.

The third trick seeks to persuade the Christian to just not care, and thereby not get in the way of whatever legal and societal changes they seek. This argument could also attempt to downplay the argument, as in: “there are worse things to worry about, like murder!” Similarly, I have heard Christians argue things like “same-sex marriage is nothing to worry about because so many opposite-sex marriages are already full of immoral sexual acts and divorce.” It is such an obviously fallacy, it is hard to know how to respond.

You may notice that the fourth and fifth tricks disagree with each other. If sex has something to do with love, then it has something to do with spirituality.

The fourth trick seeks to divorce sexual acts from any spiritual understanding at all. This trick would work wonderfully, were it not for our innate understanding of our own sexual natures, and how we understand them to be intimate and special to us. This is similar to how some atheists deny that there is any spirituality to life itself, but rightfully refuse to deny that there exists an objective morality that exists beyond and outside of our minds, or that love is just otherwise meaningless chemicals in the brain. Our acceptance or denial of this premise cannot be based on logic, just as we cannot logic ourselves to the rightfulness of Christianity. (Which isn’t to say that Christianity is illogical; it’s not at all. But it’s like trying to show the logicalness of logic itself; you can’t; you have to accept certain premises on their own terms before you can work with them.) In the end, it is a choice. Do we want seek the physical pleasures of this world, or do we trust our innate feelings that there’s more to life than constantly pleasing the physical sensations? Surely if there’s something worthwhile doing in the nursery school of the spirit that is this physical life, it is answering this question with as much certainty as we can. If we accept that “there is nothing spiritual about sex”, on what grounds can we ever deny that “there is nothing spiritual at all”?

The fifth trick again tries to remind the Christian that love is a good thing, as if that’s all the argument is about. It supposes that “love is love!” would be a good thing to remind each other. Sure love is love, but what does has that got to do with anything? It’s like arguing that two plus two should be allowed to equal five because “numbers are numbers.” Why not instead use the mantra “sex is love”? Could it be that even the opponents understand there is a difference? That not all sexual actions imply love, and that not all love requires to sexual intimacy? So, if the two are in and of themselves different things, we are left to ask: When is sexual intimacy an appropriate expression of love, and when is it not? And this what the thousands of years of Christian teachings on the morality and spirituality of sexual actions are all about, and seeking to oppose them is not new or revolutionary. Rather than considering these teachings or making arguments within their contexts, it is easier for the opponent to try to change the premises to appeal to Christians’ love and use tricks, which would be almost silly in and of themselves if so many Christians didn’t fall prey to them.

Categories: Philosophy

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