Thursday, October 6, 2011

Remember "college student"? She's back. ;)

It's been a while since we've heard from "college student" (who is now a college graduate, by the way -- congrats!).

Longtime readers will recall that she sparred often with the Catholics here over abortion, contraception, women's biology, the hook-up culture and Planned Parenthood. She provided one of the most memorable moments on the blog when she mentioned that all her friends, whom she polled, could not see any downside to the hook-up culture other than the constant sobbing.

I was pleased when "college student" (who is an agnostic) struck up an email conversation with me a while back, and we have occasionally kept in touch. Then, a few days ago, she sent me the following, reprinted with her permission:
I know you are not a Priest and have better things to do than listen to your 22-year-old pen pal confess, but I need someone to agree with me today ;) 
One of the boys I told you about earlier and I starting seeing each other (#3 -- he's a good guy I swear). He was home for the weekend and I went over his house. We went out to dinner with his parents and it was late so I decided to stay over in the guest room. Boy walks into guest room, takes off his pants (non sexually), gets into bed. I tell him to get out, we are in his parents' house. He asks why. His mother comes in and I am just mortified. I tell her not to worry and that [boy's name] will sleep in his room upstairs. She shrugs nonchalantly and says to sleep where we want and no one will bother us in the basement!! 
Thinking it was hilarious and ridiculous I told my friends, "[Boy]'s parents let us sleep in the same bed, can you believe that!" The unanimous answer: "So What?" "We are Adults." Apparently this is normal and a lot of parents are cool with it including my girlfriend's very Catholic parents!! 
Furthermore, when I yelled at my mother for letting me go out of town to see said boyfriend and told her leniency was the result of letting my older sister get away with too much stuff, she told me to stop being so judgmental and live my own life, I love you mom, but C'MON!
So we agree, the world is indeed. GOING. TO. HELL.

As you can guess, my response was to affirm her assessment and her disgust. I also experienced an internal joy that she gets it! Even though it was never explicitly taught to her, she gets, on an instinctive level, that this permissive attitude and lack of judgment on the part of parents today just isn't right. "College student" gets a sense of her own dignity, the dignity of her boyfriend, and the (dare I say?) reverence that is due human sexuality.

In a subsequent email, she went on:

But something didn’t make sense. Parents don’t exercise the same amount of control over a 22-year-old as they do a 16-year-old. Nor should they, we as young adults are charged with making responsible choices. Yet when we are in their presence they still reserve the right to tell us what to. We are still yelled at, still disciplined, and still not allowed to swear. Yet, that on that day at my boyfriend's house, we were autonomous adults who governed ourselves. Go figure.
I suppose it is easy to think the only parents who would allow this are perhaps bringing their own boyfriends to spend the night or are liberal moral relativists. Yet every single person I talked to whose parents allowed them to cohabit was the child of married parents. One was the daughter of a Catholic family who never missed Sunday Mass and educated all of their three children in Catholic Schools. Another was the son of self-proclaimed fundamentalists who devoutly attend church every Sunday and Wednesday. Some voted for Republicans. 
The question is not why are parents who have moral and sexual failings failing to uphold strong standards for their children. That is hardly a paradox and the answer is rather obvious and uninteresting. 
Rather what has me perplexed is why are doting parents committed to structure and safety omitting sex from the discussion? Why are they okay telling their son, even their adult son, to make up his bed and not to smoke so long as he is in their home, but they can not tell him to at least wait to have sex until he gets back to his own apartment? Why do they bombard him with texts whenever he travels to make sure he is safe, yet say nothing when he is potentially catching a disease in their basement (and they are both doctors)? Why? Because I cannot figure it out.
With those questions, "college student" has proven herself wiser than many twice her age. I've yelled out my own similar question for years now: "Where are the grown-ups?!"

And she's right to push further and ask how it is that even Christian parents can wimp out on this issue while taking a stand on things that don't necessarily affect their children's souls and eternal destinies. I believe it has to do with a confusion about God Himself, a profound lack of courage, and/or the all-pervasive desire to be "friends" with one's children above all else.

J. Peter Nixon describes the devastating effects of a generation of Christian parents who refuse to form their children morally:
Our children and grandchildren are abandoning the faith because they perceive -- rightly -- that its demands are at fundamental variance with the lives we have prepared them to lead. We have raised them to seek lives characterized by material comfort, sexual fulfillment, and freedom from any obligations that they have not personally chosen. Should it surprise us that they fail to take seriously our claims to follow one who embraced poverty, chastity, and obedience to the will of God? (From the article, "Only the Saints Can Save Us")
"College student" is obviously on to something with her observations, and she is hoping that her questions and general bewilderment will be the catalyst for a good discussion here. In her words: 
I am really looking forward to what everyone says, as I could use some adult advice on the matter! 
Thoughts, readers?





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354 comments:

  1. To me it is just the result of the hyper-sexualization of society. Sex has become so mainstream that it is no longer even questioned as normal.

    Whether or not to have sex has morphed into "Whether or not to have sex on the 1st date or wait until the 3rd?"

    In teen/high school dramas, the "odd one out" is no longer the rare, sexually active kid, it is the solitary virgin that people can't even believe is a virgin.

    The message that sex is naught but a hormone driven, instinctual right of passage and routine activity has been fully accepted by the mainstream.

    You have to believe something is wrong or unhealthy in order to be able to raise objections.

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  2. I wish I could tell you, College Student. I'm in college now, and my (Catholic) parents pushed me to have sex when I was at home, and now they're pushing me to go out and do things they told me I was never to do under their roof. I know a ton of Catholic parents of kids my age who either don't care what their kids do, or actively encourage them to do things like party and hook up for fun.

    I think the grown-ups are afflicted with this leftover (from when we were kids) sense of wanting to be "cool", combined with a classic moral relativism. It's sad, but we can change it be resolving to tell our kids that there are always going to be limits to what they can do when they live with us, because we are their parents, and we love them.

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  3. I have a funny story to tell you.

    I am a Gen Xer, and former a college student from the "hook up culture." I had pre-martial sex with my husband. By the grace of Mommy Mary, we are now happily married, big time Catholics and have 5 children.

    A few years after our marriage, I watched a scene in the movie Nicholas Nickleby where a brother punched out a gentleman's lights for insulting the virginity of his younger sister.

    I burst into tears!

    I mean, I got it! I knew without a doubt that I had I been born two centuries earlier, in a time where women's virginity was both expected and protected, I would have been a virgin too on my wedding day.

    Instead, I got thrown to the wolves. I mean, how many pre-marital sex movie scenes did I watch with my own parents as a young girl? We never had a chaperone. In fact, if you weren't sleeping with a boyfriend by a certain age, people (including your parents) would worry something was wrong with you!

    Meanwhile, it stinks. Boy or girl, I don't care if your religious or not. Once you start making love to a husband or wife, you can see that all the other "sex stuff", (even if with the same person you later marry) was horrible junk compared to the treasure you have now.

    Keep demanding better "college grad!"

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  4. College student, it is a HUGE grace from God that you are able to see this so clearly! Praise God for that!

    I think that so many of us fall into the trap of labeling ourselves or others as "good Catholics" or "good Christians" and fail to see the very serious sins we are committing. I have seen this firsthand with my father (on my blog under my faith story).

    The blessing of having watched my father fall from grace has been that I no longer assume anyone is good (myself included) just because we say the right things or do the right things. We are ALL subject to temptation at every turn.

    As a parent, I know what it's like to want your child to be liked, accepted, normal, cool. It's very hard to turn to God in these temptations, and we all fail. This is why it's so important to stay close to the sacraments at all times! That's the beauty of the church. And to teach your children to embrace the faith on their own rather than having them turn to you as parents for direction all the time. That way God, the Church, the commandments are their directives rather than us sinful parents!

    CS, you are on to something major here. Praise God for your clarity in this situation and ask Him to continue to show you the truth. Your thoughts are beautiful!

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  5. In our current culture and environment, many many people have been exposed to the lie that pushing and encouraging abstinence won't work. That children and teens and young adults are going to "do it anyway so educate them on safe sex".

    As someone who got pregnant at 19 and had a baby at 20, I do not believe this is true. I take full responsibility for my choices, but I wish I had been encouraged more strongly with abstinence. I think it's important to cultivate your surroundings with supportive and like-minded people who believe in a human being's dignity and worth. If your friends are all having sex outside of marriage, why not try it? However, if your friends are constantly being reminded of their worth and the value in waiting until marriage when they can rightfully and truthfully give all of themselves to the one they've been waiting for all their lives, there is beauty in the truth and there is something worth waiting for.

    I have an interior struggle when I think about this in my own life. I can't imagine life without my oldest and I know she wouldn't be here if I had waited for my husband. But I believe God can make good come from any situation, he works around us constantly, and he has brought good from my own faults and failures.

    However, I will use the knowledge and wisdom I have gained from my own experience to teach my children their worth and dignity as children of God. I will always preach abstinence, as old-fashioned or out-dated as it may seem and I will use my own experience as a guide for my daughter. She missed out on me giving her the love and attention she deserved as a little child. I was young and immature, and didn't have a college degree yet. I was often pre-occupied with things that add up to very little, if I wasn't working or at school. Her father and I are not together today because sex was created for marriage, to cultivate and nurture a loving environment for children and and a loving union between two adults ready and willing to serve one another. We were not aware of that, we were not ready for it.

    She has the opportunity her own mom blew, to take the path that was intended and sought out for her by God.

    I will show her the other side, the Planned Parenthood side and explain to her the lies Satan has woven to look like truth because it encourages pleasure and self-service. Satan never wanted to serve, that was his problem. He had too much selfish ambition, too much pride to put someone else before him and it manifested into him rejecting God. He now tries to take whoever he can with him. Many people buy into the lies because they sound good and fun. But they don't come from love.

    College Student,
    I am so impressed you saw the truth and embraced it that night, even though that adult told you to go for it in the basement. Use your own wisdom and knowledge and share the truth with others. The world needs more people to speak the truth.

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  6. My own cynical answer is "lazy parenting". It's not the best answer, but it's the answer I come up with every time we are tempted to do what comes easiest to us; avoidance, rather than teach.

    My kids are small so as of now, my issues with them are small too. I just have to teach them to treat others respect, not watch too much TV, not use "bad words", use their table manners and so on. The problem is that i have to stay on top of it, all the time. As kids get older, get their own friends and social life, I think they "give up" a little (or a lot) and use the thinking that they can't control it anyway, and they're going to do it anyway.

    Parents these days want to be the "cool parents", not the prudes, especially to older kids/young adults. My guess is that these parents caught you guys in an awkward situation and decided to treat it as "no big deal" to diffuse the embarrassment of the situation.

    I remember once i was at a friends house, and a friend of mine put on a porno. I was embarrassed--mostly because we were watching this at her Dad's house. Her Dad walked in, and I was so mortified. Yet he glanced at the TV, asked us a question, and left.

    "Lazy Parenting" and being the "cool parent" I think is the biggest problem these days, whether they are religious or not. We all struggle as parents with occasional laziness ("I don't feel like dealing with another tantrum today, so I'll let it go just this once") but especially for us Christian parents, it's important for us to remember the baptismal vows we made at our childrens baptism, that we will do all we can to instruct our children in our faith.

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  7. As kids get older, get their own friends and social life, I think they "give up" a little (or a lot) and use the thinking that they can't control it anyway, and they're going to do it anyway."

    Sorry, it should be "as kids get, get their own friends and social life, the PARENTS give up a little...

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  8. I am really looking forward to what everyone says, as I could use some adult advice on the matter!

    Despite the faults of parents, as young adults we are able to make our own choices in how we act. Would it have been better had parents been more strict? Perhaps.

    But here you are as a young adult, experiencing these awkward moments with a guy you like. I don't have any sage advice, but I do believe that we teach others how to treat us. That's not meant with snobbery or manipulation on your part, because you can strongly (silently in some regards) express to him how you will or won't act, what things you refuse to engage in while gaining his friendship and respect.

    You can raise the standard for yourself, show him what it means to treat you as a lady, even if his parents failed to teach him that. You can do this through friendship moreso than romance (that's my estimate anyway).
    He'll most likely (hopefully) respect you more for it in the long run, even though he maybe won't articulate it. Unless he's truly a wolf, in which case, you won't want him anyway.

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  9. I will say though that I think that the charge of "moral relativism" is bandied about for too liberally (pun intended). It seems much more likely given the state of society today that it is just that sexuality has been removed from the moral spectrum in the mainstream.

    People in general don't see sexuality as something that is a moral issue. Which is an entirely different problem than branding someone a moral relativist.

    It may seem a semantic quibble, but you have a much harder time getting people to listen to you and be open to arguments when you mischaracterize their failings as something worse :-p

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  10. College Student, you should think about going on a speaking tour!~

    To grown ups.

    That was really well thought out and good for you for taking a stand. Thanks Leila for posting this. It is revealing. Our kids, even though they don't always say so, want us give them rules and boundaries.

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  11. Nicholas, the problem with saying that people don't see sexuality as a moral issue, is...how can you not? Sex is one of those things that stirs emotions and thoughts and triggers doubts and fears and emotions. It's a moral issue, and it's written on our hearts. Whether we want to admit to that or not, is up to each and every one of us.

    Even with organizations out there telling us that sex is good and natural and fun and should be explored as much as possible, doesn't something ring as 'not right' there?

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  12. I'm goin to agree with Becky that some of it has to do with lazy parenting. I think that a lot of parents also just refuse to open their eyes and see what's really going on.

    My husband and I began dating when I was 18, he was 19. We both lived at home and continued to do so until we got married when I was 23 and he was 25.

    I was not raised with any sort of religious background. However my father was a single father of 3 girls. Up until the day I got married my husband was not to ever be in my bedroom. EVER! Not with the door open, not ever. I didn't argue with this. It was my dad's house, his rules. I had respect for that. Until he would go out of town of course.

    My husbands parents on the other hand are Catholic. We were always in his room, door locked. No one had an issue with it. No one thought twice. We did things under his parents roof while they were home that I'm ashamed to admit.

    By the grace of God we have much more sense now. We will be raising our children with boundaries. We will be teaching them the reason for these boundaries and pray that they will still adhear to them when we are not there with them to be sure.

    My husband said his parents never talked to him about sex. They just assumed school and the Church taught him. Because they assumed this, they assumed he would do it. They assumed way too much.

    I think the problem with a lit of parents is that they don't want to be parents, they want to e ther kids friends. When you're a parent your job is not to be a friend. You can't be both.

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  13. Okay, first off. Abigail! I read that first paragraph of yours and I began wondering if I have an alter ego that comments on here in the middle of the night. 'Cause, word for word, that paragraph describes me and my husband/family - including the five children. The only possible discrepancy might be, being born in '78, puts both my husband and I on the border between Gen X and the following one.

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  14. CS - I had a comment but it got lost. ARG!!!

    All this to say, your gut is RIGHT ON! A couple quick reasons I think parents do this (as I've seen this in my own extended family):

    1. Fear of alienating kids if they speak on this issue.

    2. A belief that they can't expect their adult kids to live to a certain standard (everyone's going to "do it" anyway at their age), so they figure it's better to show acceptance and teach them to "minimize" risks than a better way. (I despise this approach as I think it is very condescending even if that's not the intent of these parents. It's also the approach Planned Parenthood preaches loud and clear).

    3. Guilt over their own pasts. They may be married and Catholic now, but they grew up in an era where "free love" was "in" and they don't feel they can speak on this issue given their own youth.

    I will say: My parents were heavily criticized by their peers and family members for being strict with us on this very issue. But as their kid... I am SO glad they were! For several reasons:

    1. Even if I went through phases where I didn't agree, I knew I could trust my parents to always speak their minds and do what they believe is best for me. Trust is the key word here. I felt taken care of. I also knew they had confidence in me to strive for the very best instead of settle for less.

    2. They demonstrated respect in THEMSELVES by speaking up. If they weren't comfortable with something, they at least asked us to respect that by our behaviors under their roof. They taught us what it looks like to be both loving and courageous in speaking up and to allow for *real* diversity to exist because beliefs and standards are respected, not just bowled over.

    3. My family members and friends with lax parents do NOT have better relationships with their parents now that they are grown. There is a lot of animosity and ambivalence towards their parents. I got the sense even when these peers were younger that they felt abandoned by their parents. There is also a lack of respect for their parents, who they perceive to be weak. You can see a lot of eye-rolling and frustration towards their parents for their "antiquated" ways (isn't that interesting? Here the parents were trying to be "modern" by not speaking up on certain topics, and yet these parents are often labeled outdated anyway).

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  15. Oh yeah, congrats cs, on graduating! Feels good! What's next?

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  16. Becky, this is exactly right:

    As kids get older, get their own friends and social life, I think they "give up" a little (or a lot) and use the thinking that they can't control it anyway, and they're going to do it anyway.

    Parents these days want to be the "cool parents", not the prudes, especially to older kids/young adults.


    Parents give up in the teen years and I can't figure out why. And they do want to be seen as the "cool parents". And they are lazy. Hey, I'm a lazy parent, too, in many areas, but the one area that parents must not be lazy is the area of moral formation. I am relentless on that (as you can imagine, ha ha!).

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  17. An episode of Two and a Half Men where Charlie Harper unknowingly goes to bed with a lovely blonde but prior to sexual relations learns that the woman is his half sister. The woman wants to sexually proceed with intercourse but Charlie gets out of the bed saying, "I draw the line at incest!" which is played for laughs. A scene from the movie American Pie depicts a high school student stumbling upon his mother sleeping with one of his (hopefully 18) fellow high school buddies. Without a sense of God who determines such moral boundary lines? Satan's seemingly appealing definition of hell's freedom from God is "No Rules!" but unfortunately translates as well to "No Love."

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  18. I recently had a convo with my very liberal sister who's daughter is 16 and my sister said she'd "like" her daughter to wait to have sex until she got to college.
    I told her I'm going to tell my kids what I expect of them. I expect them to wait till they're married. They may not listen to me but it's still my job to set the guidelines and tell them what's best for their well being. And this post inspires me all the more to do that!

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  19. @Manda and Leila -

    When you are just speaking to the choir in this blog and elsewhere, all is good... But clearly there are MANY people who just don't "get it" or cannot see it or won't see it.

    I'm not disputing the truth of what you are saying (which would be a nonstarter even if I wanted to :-p) but clearly there are many many people in the world who cannot see things as clearly as you can.

    It seems just as clear to me that the use of "moral relativism" continues to cause confusion and disagreement, which is why it is a bad choice. Just in your post here you say:

    "Even moral relativists don't believe that rape is wrong, or pedophilia"

    And you think that ANYONE you label as a Moral Relativist will have ANY kind of open mind in a discussion? When out of the gate you say they are OK with rape or pedophilia (even with a "under certain circumstances" qualifier)?

    and

    "and it does not imply that the moral relativist 'has no morals'. Of course, everyone has morals! But a moral relativist's morals depend on the situation, not on a universal, unchanging moral law that is external to ourselves."

    And again, that is NOT the accepted definition of Moral Relativism. If you want to use that definition, fine, but it will continue to cause confusion :-p

    What I am trying to say is that take something like being Vegetarian. This is not a moral issue. However, to some people they would think it was. Either because they believe that animals are equal to people, or for religious reasons, like they are Jains or something.

    What I am contending is that there are plenty of people out there, Catholics even, who are just misinformed, uneducated, or confused by secular society messages and are no longer registering sexuality as a moral issue.

    That is an issue to be addressed through education, explanation, etc. that is best served by NOT stating that their entire moral concept is broken :-p

    If you use the example of the 10 Commandments... if there were a guy who was like "I totally believe and follow the 9 Commandments" - you would explain to him that he forgot one, not call him a moral relativist :-p

    I guess what I want to say is it is a toxic term that kills rational debate.

    As for how someone can not see sex as a moral issue? How about the last 30-40 years or so of secular society saying that is isn't one?

    Why do you think that pre-marital, even extra-marital sex is something that lauded and promoted in secular society, on virtually every TV show out there? The mainstreaming of homosexuality, pornography? Reclassification of masturbation as healthy?

    The majority of voices out there in society have been preaching that sexuality is divorced from morality for decades.

    Just because it isn't true doesn't mean that a lot of people don't believe it.

    Off topic but in a similar vein, the Devil in popular culture is portrayed more and more as the sympathetic figure.

    I believe you are mistaking the blessings of grace that you have for common sense.

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  20. I have a friend whose nieces' lives are a mess. The mother (my friend's sister) was disturbed that the (teen) girls were doing drugs in their rooms. She was not as disturbed that the girls were having sex in their rooms. When she asked my friend about what to do about the drug use, etc., my friend said, "Take the doors off their rooms immediately!" (That's what I would have done.) The mother's response? "Oh, no. I couldn't do that. The girls need their privacy."

    AAAARRRRGGGGGHHHHH!!!!!

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  21. WHOOPS, Nicholas that was a MAJOR TYPO ON MY PART!! I meant that they don't believe that rape or pedophilia is RIGHT. SORRY!!!

    Yipes!!!!!

    Forgive me!!!!

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  22. I've removed that comment from above, that had a very bad typo which changed the meaning of my thoughts, and I will reprint it here, corrected:

    Nicholas, I've gotta agree with Manda. How can someone not see sex as a moral issue? Even moral relativists don't believe that rape is right or good, or pedophilia (for the most part). Misuse of sex has hurt more people than probably any other thing, as the witness of 53 million dead babies, rape victims, victims of adultery, child molestation, promiscuity (being used then dumped), porn victims/addicts, etc. bears out. (Even my liberal Jewish neighbor conceded that most people she knew had their biggest wounds from sexual misuse.)

    Still not quite clear on why we can't use the term "moral relativism" when we mean that morality is seen as relative to the situation? It's a term we all can understand, and it does not imply that the moral relativist "has no morals". Of course, everyone has morals! But a moral relativist's morals depend on the situation, not on a universal, unchanging moral law that is external to ourselves.

    Originally posted:
    October 6, 2011 8:12 AM

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  23. Nicholas - I was actually thinking something similar. The parents I happen to know in my own world that don't speak about sexual issues have no qualms about preaching on other issues they perceive to be "right" or "moral." I think nowadays, it's "in" to judge when it comes to say, someone driving an SUV or who doesn't recycle. But it's "out" to discuss boundaries or virtue or health regarding sex or sexuality.

    I think as a society we're confused about the very definition of morality, actually, and how it should play into our lives and our culture.

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  24. p.s. To clarify, sex is an inherently moral issue, but there are many who want to claim otherwise. :(

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  25. Nicholas said: "I guess what I want to say is it is a toxic term that kills rational debate."

    Thanks very much, Nicholas. To Leila's credit, she did not begin to use this term, it has come right from her pope. However, it is incorrect.

    Leila's corrected statement is still wrong: "I meant that they [moral relativists] don't believe that rape or pedophilia is RIGHT."

    That's incorrect -- using the real definition of moral relativism, a moral relativist would actually think that rape is ok as long as the society (or even the PERSON, or family) thinks it is. A moral relativist says, "Well, muslims think that women are to be owned, so what westerners might consider rape (wrong), the muslims consider it to be the man fulfilling his marriage (right).


    To quote Nicolas again, "And you think that ANYONE you label as a Moral Relativist will have ANY kind of open mind in a discussion?"

    Just because the pope says it or uses it a certain way, doesn't mean it is true.

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  26. The majority of voices out there in society have been preaching that sexuality is divorced from morality for decades.

    Nicholas, of course, but on a deeper level of conscience, people do really understand that sexuality is fraught with moral implications. If they won't admit that regarding pre-marital sex, they will admit it on rape, child molestation, adultery, etc. Maybe not everyone, and maybe not all the time, but even the atheists I speak with "draw the line" and understand that sex cannot be a "free for all" (though they might act like it is, and they might say they tow the Planned Parenthood line). Most people's consciences are still working, just beneath the surface.

    If you read my "Read this First" link up above, you will see that my primary aim is not to "preach to the choir" but to teach Catholics that their faith makes sense. Even good Catholics cannot often articulate why or what they believe in a way that can edify them, solidify them in their faith and make them want to find out more. Primarily, I am a teacher of Catholics (at least I think that is what I am best at). As to the non-Catholics who dialogue here, I have learned so much. I cannot tell you how enlightening it has been, and I have had to learn more about my own Faith (and natural law, philosophy, science) just to keep up. It's been very fruitful. I think most of the regular secularists have found it interesting as well, or they would not stay.

    And I have to say, Nicholas, it is not simply the graces one receives that make it clear that sex is fraught with moral implications. It is definitely an issue of common sense! So, there I have to strongly disagree. Like I said, even secular folks have admitted that it does appear that the most wounds their friends have somehow touch on the misuse of sexuality. This can be attained with the simple light of reason. It does not take revelation.

    Note that college students' own friends, when asked, said that the hook-up culture had no down side…. except for the constant sobbing!! You see, it's there for all to see, and even they know it on some very basic, primal level. It's called natural law, and it's accessible to all. Is that actual grace (as opposed to supernatural grace)? Yes! But everything that nudges us to God (including conscience and the natural law) is actual grace. It's not the domain of Christians.

    Does that make sense?

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  27. Just because the pope says it or uses it a certain way, doesn't mean it is true.

    Similarly, just because MaiZeke or Nicolas use the term in a certain way doesn't mean it's true, either. But, frankly, Pope Benedict XVI has a lot more expertise when it comes to the study of moral theology, so I'd be more inclined to go with his definition.

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  28. So, moral pluralism is the phrase I prefer these days. I'm a secular humanist, and even though our morals are different from yours, we do actually have a set of morals. We just arrive at them from a different logic. We start reason, and find truth. Catholics start with capital-T Truth, and use reason to get back to the same Truth.

    Here's a nice Chesterton quote I saw today: "Briefly, you can only find truth with logic if you have already found truth without it." He sees finding truth without any logic whatsoever as an essential first step, and I do not.

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  29. JoAnna says: "just because MaiZeke or Nicolas use the term in a certain way doesn't mean it's true, either."

    This is not my idea, JoAnna, I cannot claim to take credit for defining moral relativism. Much more intelligent philosophers and social scientists have defined it that way. Apparently the pope didn't study philosophy.

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  30. Apparently there is no "one" definition of moral relativism, from Wiki:

    Moral relativism may be any of several descriptive, meta-ethical, or normative positions. Each of them is concerned with the differences in moral judgments across different people and cultures:
    Descriptive relativism describes the way things are, without suggesting a way they ought to be. It seeks only to point out that people frequently disagree over what is the most 'moral' course of action.

    Meta-ethical relativism is the meta-ethical position that the truth or falsity of moral judgments is not objective. Justifications for moral judgments are not universal, but are instead relative to the traditions, convictions, or practices of an individual or a group of people.[1] The meta-ethical relativist might say "It's moral to me, because I believe it is".[2]

    Normative relativism is the prescriptive or normative position that, because there is no universal moral standard by which to judge others, we ought to tolerate the behavior of others - even when it runs counter to our personal or cultural moral standards.[3] Most philosophers find that this position is incoherent, or at least that it is unclear how meta-ethical relativism can lead to 'ought' statements.[3]


    My definition for our purposes is that morality is not something outside of ourselves, a truth to be sought and conformed to, but something that we determine for ourselves, based on MaiZeke's oft-repeated criteria.

    Does truth come from ourselves? Do we determine it? Or is it something objective and unchanging which we are charged with seeking and finding and then conforming our lives to no matter our feelings and desires?

    That is how I approach it.

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  31. Sorry, baby is tired of me on the computer. Getting sloppy here. I meant this as referring to moral relativism:

    My definition for our purposes is that morality [moral relativism] is not something outside of ourselves, [not] a truth to be sought and conformed to, but something that we determine for ourselves, based on MaiZeke's oft-repeated criteria.

    (Is there an easy term for this? If this is what the Pope calls moral relativism, I'll go with that.)

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  32. We should not be using sexual partners as manikin objects into whom to masturbate.

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  33. MaiZeke, as an atheist: Do you believe that human sexuality and the use of sex has a moral dimension?

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  34. We just arrive at them from a different logic. We start reason, and find truth.

    But this begs the question, MaiZeke: What is the source of "truth"?

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  35. I think the parents are scared. Scared they're going to alienate their children and make them rebel. And yet, I think that idea is a modern one--your actions being the cause of your child's rebellion. God gave us all free will and people will rebel but parents' lack of adherence to their standards is their own pathetic rebellion and kowtowing to pop-psychology.

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  36. Apparently the pope didn't study philosophy.

    ...

    Please take a look at his biography and bibliography to disabuse yourself of this notion.

    I would echo Leila's question - what is the source of truth and how do you know that source is reliable?

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  37. Here's the delineation in my mind:

    Either:

    A. There is one universal moral law ("natural law") that is extrinsic and objective, and that applies to all men of all times and societies

    or

    B. There is not.

    If you want to call "B" moral relativism or moral pluralism, it is still not "A".

    I see moral relativism as morality being relative to each person, each situation. It does not, to me, imply that someone "has no morals". That would be moral indifferentism, I think. I do believe that most people have their own set of morals. But that's the point, they have "their own set" of morals that they determine to be "true". They don't seek and find extrinsic truth and then conform their lives (sometimes very painfully) to that truth.

    Does anyone have a copy of the Pope's definition of moral relativism handy?

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  38. Catholics start with capital-T Truth, and use reason to get back to the same Truth.

    Not this Catholic. Thanks.

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  39. Apparently the pope didn't study philosophy.

    Whoa!!! I just now caught this! Thanks for addressing it, JoAnna. Seriously? The Pope didn't study philosophy?? Oh, my. And speaking of the previous pope, JPII, he was a brilliant philosopher -- it's what he was known for!

    Oh, my. No wonder the atheist community looks askance on the Church if they don't even know these basic things. :(

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  40. Does anyone have a copy of the Pope's definition of moral relativism handy?

    From here:

    "Today, having a clear faith based on the Creed of the Church is often labeled as fundamentalism. Whereas relativism, that is, letting oneself be 'tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine', seems the only attitude that can cope with modern times. We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one's own ego and desires."

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  41. Apparently the pope didn't study philosophy.

    False.
    From his bio:
    "Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI, was born at Marktl am Inn, ... From 1946 to 1951 he studied philosophy and theology in the Higher School of Philosophy and Theology of Freising and at the University of Munich.

    He received his priestly ordination on 29 June 1951.

    A year later he began teaching at the Higher School of Freising.

    After lecturing on dogmatic and fundamental theology at the Higher School of Philosophy and Theology in Freising, he went on to teach at Bonn, from 1959 to1963; at Münster from 1963 to 1966 and at Tübingen from 1966 to 1969. During this last year he held the Chair of dogmatics and history of dogma at the University of Regensburg, where he was also Vice-President of the University."

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  42. Again, my point has never been to argue that you are wrong. My point has only been that for rational discourse beyond "You are wrong" it helps to be a bit more cognizant of how you phrase things.

    Naturally I am not going to argue theology with the Pope, but I would state that when /most people/ ie the general secular society, discusses "moral relativity" and "morality" they are NOT discussing the Catholic theological doctrine, but are discussing philosophy that is much more broadly interpreted and really has an entirely different meaning.

    If you cannot bridge the gap between those meanings it will be difficult to get your point across and effect change.

    Unless you are not really interested in trying to get people to change their minds and are waiting on the Holy Spirit to do that.

    And I say that, with no ill-will, but anecdotal evidence is not in itself indicative of truth.

    If you'll humor me a moment, the original post here refers to people in the hook-up culture, that are rejecting it, seeing it as a real moral problem. THAT IS AWESOME. However, if EVERYONE saw it that way, the hook-up culture would have already erased itself.

    So yes, you can say there is a universal truth written in the heart that all know instinctively. And yes you can point out examples of that. But the fact that millions of people still willfully reject it is equally compelling evidence that people can still be blind to it, either involuntarily or through willful ignorance.

    And I just think that "moral relativism" is a sloppy choice for a catch-all. Even by the wiki article you excerpted, the definition that most closely matches the one you have used here is (3) which even the wiki says is rejected by most: "Most philosophers find that this position is incoherent, or at least that it is unclear how meta-ethical relativism can lead to 'ought' statements."

    Yes, you can say that one is either Catholic or one is not, and that is the only important determinant. But I am saying that, true or not, it will offend people to lump all non-Catholic morality into the same bucket whether it is justified or not. To say that Buddhists, Scientologists, Secular Humanists, misguided Catholics, Protestants, NAMBLA supporters, Islam, and anything else you can think of that discusses morality are all the same will just turn people off so they won't hear what you have to say.

    If you're OK with that, fine :-) I personally have a more refined scale, where I differentiate between people that almost have it from those that are way out in left field.

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  43. @JoAnna - That is great, but would most people say that actually matched their beliefs? Do Buddhists on the Eightfold Path say that they recognize nothing as definitive and only satisfying their own ego is what they are all about?

    I am not saying the concept defined there (which no where states "moral relativism") isn't a useful one. But it doesn't necessarily apply to every single non-Catholic or bad-Catholic in existence.

    That is a general idea that most certainly applies to secular society as a whole.

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  44. Maizeke,

    If we could get off the subject of the pope for a second:

    You have a daughter, right? What advice do you have for CS relating to the topic in this post? Are you ok with PP's view of sexuality, and why/why not? Will you tell your daughter it would be good to wait until marriage to have sex, or will you tell her to have safe sex when she feels she's ready?

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  45. but would most people say that actually matched their beliefs?

    To be honest, Nicholas, I don't think most people really think about it all that much.

    The Pope says, "We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one's own ego and desires."

    I would say that, yes, most people's criteria for morality boils down to, "Well, I think X is wrong but I can't force my beliefs on anyone else," and "if it feels good/makes you happy, then do it!" Which is essentially what the Pope is describing.

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  46. MaiZeke,
    What are your parenting standards for your kids as they hit the dating age. What is that age for you? What will you tell them if they're dating someone who has very loose parents, indifferent to all things sexual?

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  47. Nicholas, I totally get that you think I am over simplifying things, and if I had a hundred hours a day and were able to carry on individualized conversations with every person who read my blog from one spectrum to another, I would. But I don't. So, I have to generalize, which is not always such a bad thing:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2010/09/generalizing-is-not-bad-thing.html

    I realize that not all Catholics think alike, much less all Christians, all Buddhists, all secularists and all atheists, etc. Everyone is an individual. I definitely can't speak to everyone at all times, and this blog was never meant to do so.

    I know that there are others who do what you describe, and they do a brilliant job of it. I have no philosophical credentials; I'm just a homemaker with a blog. What I say speaks to some but I do realize its limitations, and it definitely is not going to speak for all.

    I mean this with absolutely zero sarcasm or snark: I think you should start your own blog. I would read it!

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  48. But I am saying that, true or not, it will offend people to lump all non-Catholic morality into the same bucket whether it is justified or not.

    By the way, I never said that only Catholicism taught objective moral truth! I believe that Islam, as only one example, believes in an objective moral truth extrinsic to oneself (even though, because of their "sola scriptura" model, they interpret it subjectively).

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  49. To be honest, Nicholas, I don't think most people really think about it all that much.

    JoAnna, truer words have rarely been spoken!

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  50. Being only 17, I am pretty sure that my parents would sooner kick out a guest, then let a boy sleep in my room. And after my birthday in several months, I am pretty sure that is not going to change.

    I can see why parents wold not want to bother with young adults though. I guess that the parents figure they could easily go somewhere else.

    I was watching something, I think it was The View, and an interview was done. Some parents said that they would rather that those kinds of things happened in their own home, so if the girl needed a way out, they could get out of it more easily.

    Somewhere else, is a girl felt pressured, and yelled for help, they might not get it.

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  51. Bad spelling above, no spell check at school, sorry.

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  52. I am late to the party and have only read about half of the responses, but how interesting. First, Nicholas said,
    "People in general don't see sexuality as something that is a moral issue. Which is an entirely different problem than branding someone a moral relativist."

    I would change that to say that people don't think consensual sex between two adults (or near adults) to be a moral issue.

    Also, I second what many have said, that the parents feel hypocritical telling their adult children that they should not have sex when they themselves did so.

    I really (again) have to quibble a bit with the idea of the good ole days when everyone waited until marriage. I point blank asked my 73 year old father about this and he demurred. So did my FIL, so did my uncle, so did my other uncle etc. Seems that none of them wanted to talk about it, and none had waited, way back in the fifties. Remember, thinking of Manda, until VERY recently, most women were married off by 22. 19 would have been right in the middle of marriageable age. Therefore, people became sexually interested and got married right away. I think about this quite a bit, as I regret waiting to have my children. Would society be better off if 95% of women (or so---just throwing out a number) were married by 22? I think it would change society significantly, but would it be better? I really don't know.

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  53. Chelsea, I have heard that argument, too. But would those same parents be okay with providing alcohol or even drugs and clean needles to their kids for the same reason (safety)? Actually, I do think a lot of parents might... with the alcohol at least. But for Christian parents, it puzzles me about the sex, because where is the care for the child's soul? I understand that they want to protect a child's physical safety (as misguided as that would be in that situation), but when did parents stop caring for their children's souls?

    Mary, I think you are harkening back to the post from the priest. But again, the fact is (and it is a fact) that parents in the "good ole days" would never have shrugged, yawned, and openly allowed immorality* to occur under their roof.

    That is the difference, and that is what College student is baffled by.

    *and yes, it was considered immorality, no matter if people were doing it in great numbers or not.

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  54. Mary,

    I think some women are ready for marriage at a younger age. I wasn't, and not only because I was immature. I was in a relationship with someone I had no intention of marrying. Ever. But since I had already lost my virginity to the man I THOUGHT I would someday marry, and this was my "rebound" of sorts, I didn't see the harm in continuing the trend of pre-marital sex. I was "having fun" and doing what "felt good".

    "Would society be better off if 95% of women (or so---just throwing out a number) were married by 22? I think it would change society significantly, but would it be better? I really don't know."

    Society would be better off if mothers and fathers taught children that they are worth waiting for, that sex is a serious thing, not for play, and that they will know exactly when they're ready for it because the right time will conveniently fall on their wedding night.

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  55. I'd like to go back to the "the parents are doctors aren't they worried about their son catching a disease inside their own house."

    A couple of years ago I read this completely SHOCKING (to me) work by a doctor who said she rather her 20 something patients started smoking than started having sex. Her argument was that in a healthy 20 something --smoking is actually LESS dangerous to their lungs than catching an S.T.D. It was also more likely that a 20 something year old smoker could "kick the habit" without causing long term damage than it was likely that even a mildly sexually active young adult could not catch something serious which could cause lifelong infertility among other issues.

    It shocked me because man EVERYONE told us college kids NOT to smoke. I mean everyone. Parents, teachers, random TV ads. And while some of my college friends did smoke, most have completely stopped by age 30. Meanwhile as for sex, we were just told to use "condoms". Can you imagine if they told us "just use low tar cigs" since you're going to smoke anyway??

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  56. @Mary - I would agree that changes in demographics can help explain it, but that doesn't change the wrong/right factor.

    Somewhere along the line secular society decided to reinvent the wheel, which has led to a lot of social problems.

    But it is beyond mothers and fathers at this point. Open sexuality has become a staple in the culture and it will take a lot of time and effort to reverse that.

    And again, I don't think it has ever been an issue that people were perfectly chaste in prior era... not in 1950, 1850, 1650, or 1050. But they knew they weren't supposed to and did it anyway (people are sinners). In the modern era though, we have thrown out the conventional wisdom and have decided it isn't even wrong.

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  57. Thankfully, studies do show that parents have a lot of influence in their childrens' values/ belief system. I am not convinced that its too late for parents. If it were, cs would not have been shocked by boxer guy's mom's reaction. She expected clear boundaries set forth by the parents.

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  58. And again, I don't think it has ever been an issue that people were perfectly chaste in prior era... not in 1950, 1850, 1650, or 1050. But they knew they weren't supposed to and did it anyway (people are sinners). In the modern era though, we have thrown out the conventional wisdom and have decided it isn't even wrong.

    Bingo, Nicholas.
    And I would on to so say not only is sex in any context "not wrong", it's even glamorized and glorified everywhere a person looks.

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  59. So after thinking about this some more and reading others comments I've come to the conclusion that I come at this issue from an interestingly different perspective than some people.

    While my husband and I did engage in pre-marital sex (though we were both virgins - as if that makes it better *shakes head*), my parents were incredibly strict regarding EVERYTHING! We never spoke about sex specifically, I was NEVER allowed to have a boy in my room. Heck even after my husband and I were married we still slept in a separated trundle bed in my old bedroom, up until my parents moved (we had been married for 9 years and had 4 children by that point).

    Of course my parents were strict with everything. We had to sleep with our doors open at night, there was never any alcohol in the house (not even cooking wine), the word "hate" was consider a curse word, and we weren't allowed to watch the show Roseanne or the Simpsons or anything. A lot of people thought I would go crazy and rebel when I went to college, and I guess with the whole sex thing I did.

    There was always a sense of doing something I wasn't supposed to (despite the fact that I wasn't Catholic at the time) which is probably why in the 3 and half years before we got married, we got carried away - maybe a dozen times. Not that that makes it better, but that there was a hesitancy to what we were doing, an admittance that we probably shouldn't have been engaging in that activity.

    To this day we still don't do anything when we visit my parents. It's creepy and weird, and it will NEVER happen.

    To be continued...

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  60. CS-congrats on coming into the light! Welcome to the club!!

    The sexual morality of our society is just plain perverse. It contributes to the lack of reality and contributes to perpetual fantasy, which is healthy for no one.

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  61. Nicholas,

    I don't know what you mean by this "@Mary - I would agree that changes in demographics can help explain it, but that doesn't change the wrong/right factor."

    What about demographics? I am truly interested.

    Also: "And again, I don't think it has ever been an issue that people were perfectly chaste in prior era... not in 1950, 1850, 1650, or 1050. But they knew they weren't supposed to and did it anyway (people are sinners)"

    Well, you know the old double standard? Boys will be boys, but a girl who gets pregnant out of wedlock is a SLUT. It seems to me, that this was a much more prevalent idea in the 1950's and prior than it is today. I think people were afraid of it because it meant an unplanned pregnancy; not so much that it was wrong. For people born before 1910, it seems that over 60% of men admitted to premarital sex.

    Certainly more would admit it today, but I think it was fully known that men were cads and had mistresses etc. for eons. I think that what has changed is that women are no longer expected to be virgins upon marriage. That is a big change.

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  62. Sorry for the delay, juggling children...

    Now that being said, my perspective of parents today maybe a little more pessimistic than most.

    Many parents see their children, nowadays, as status symbols. They're their own marks on a popularity contest that attest to the parent's popularity, not just with their own children, but among the parents' friends.

    I think Parents ignore or even encourage what they believe is "cool" and "popular" behavior in order to score points for just being seen as the parents who haven't let their children "ruin" their own social lives.

    I mean can anyone else explain the rash of boys running around with mohawks? ;)

    Anyway, they really just don't care as long as the child serves the purpose of upping the parents' popularity.

    Can you tell I became cynical seeing the parents of the children I used to work with in child care?

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  63. Bethany, that is so interesting! Were you a fundamentalist Christian growing up?

    It's sad that your parents did not talk to you specifically about sex and it's beauty and purpose, and answer all your questions. My kids get a fairly healthy dose of sex talking! (When they are old enough!!) I think it's soooooo important that parents talk about human sexuality and also answer EVERY question they have. It may be uncomfortable for some, but it has to happen, and they will be the better for it if it comes from parents.

    Bethany, how about your siblings?

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  64. I think people were afraid of it because it meant an unplanned pregnancy; not so much that it was wrong.

    I totally disagree. Sex outside of marriage was considered immoral in and of itself, by society.

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  65. Just catching up and most have already said what I would have said, but I just want to congratulate you, College Student, on being more mature and wiser than most your age (and older!). See...that internal moral compass will nag all of us eventually. Glad you're listening to yours! :)

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  66. Actually, my parents were nothing, when I was growing up. My mother had been "raised" in a Methodist church, but hadn't been to any church or service (save funerals or weddings) since she was a teenager. My father is nothing. Both my grandfathers were Catholic, but when I was growing up neither were practicing, my mom's dad just left the Church all together, my dad's dad reconciled about 4 years before he died. Which made me so happy, but I was less than thrilled with his children's decision to not have a funeral mass (long story).

    The best way to describe my parents is personally conservative (socially and fiscally), but they want [think that] everyone else to [should] be liberal (socially and fiscally).

    As far as not talking about sex. It probably worked out for the best. This is probably TMI, but the entire reason why my oldest had the chance at life is because prior to getting pregnant (6 weeks after getting married) was because I was 22 years old and had never been to an OBGYN, my first appointment for my oldest was my first one ever.

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  67. I'm still stuck on the sentence about the constant sobbing of those partaking in the hook-up culture. That's a BIG clue that sex is serious and emotional.

    Another thing College Student wrote was about diseases. Doesn't anyone worry about herpes or AIDS? There are no cures. Well, I could go on about STDs. Somedays I feel like I was the only paying attention during the sex ed lessons in my high school health class.

    I do have older relatives who set rules for their adult children and visitors: unmarried couples will not be sleeping in the same room under their roofs. It doesn't matter if one party is over 40 or even pregnant.

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  68. Bethany,
    Your testimony of how you were brought up is very interesting to me, because I was brought up in a similar manner (although with alcohol in the home, both responsibly used and not, and perhaps a bit more media). However, I rebelled like CRAZY. I seemed to be attracted like flies to honey to wild girls with divorced parents. Everyone in town thought my mother was the "Church Lady". There were a few other strict families; the "real" Catholics with 5 plus kids, but most (even the religious homes) were rather mellow about rules.

    My sister and brother also rebelled like wild people. Some of the other kids from strict families also rebelled.

    I dunno...seems like being strict can backfire, especially if the cultural milieu all around you runs against your rules. I am currently examining strict families right now, to see what seemed to work and what did not work.

    My parents did not have a rock-solid marriage due to alcoholism and some other issues, but they stayed together, and we were loved dearly. However, in comparison to the standards of most other households around us, my parents were very traditional.

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  69. LEila,
    Do you think that men and women thought it was wrong in equal measure to have premarital sex? Or put another way, do you think society thought it was equally wrong for men and women to have premarital sex?

    Seems to me that premarital sex (or extramarital sex) has been partially accepted for males from time immemorial.

    Read "Domestic Revolutions" by Steven Mintz and Susan Kellogg. They report that in the United States by the mid-18th-Century premarital sex was very common. They assert that over 40% of women who were married gave birth less than 9 months after the wedding date.

    Do you have some sources?

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  70. Don't get me wrong. I think women are insane to have wanton sex before they get a commitment from a guy (as I was). It is best to wait for marriage or at least a ring. Otherwise, it is giving in to men's baser nature to "get the milk for free". But, I am not so ready to think that we are soo far away from where we were, at least with respect to how premarital sex was viewed for males.

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  71. They assert that over 40% of women who were married gave birth less than 9 months after the wedding date.

    I'm calling BS on that statistic. They would have needed access to accurate 18th century marriage records AND birth records (neither of which are readily available), not to mention a reliable source for the gestation of the baby (again, no records exist from that time period because the technology to accurately estimate gestation didn't exist).

    What about women who got pregnant on their wedding night and had a baby at 37 weeks gestation? Seems like the researchers above would assume that meant "OMG PREMARITAL SEX!" when it actually wasn't.

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  72. JoAnna, thanks for saying that! Were there shotgun weddings? Of course! Human nature is weak! (All the more reason for societal standards.) But there was no widespread acceptance of contraception, esp. in marriage back then. So, many folks got pregnant the first cycle. I know young Catholic couples today who get pregnant immediately. That seems odd today because of contraceptive use and mentality, but if married couples acted like they have from the beginning of time, we'd have tons of babies nine months after the wedding! That's biology.

    Mary, just because people "expected" it more from men does not mean it was in any way, shape or form considered moral. "more expected" does not equal "moral".

    And again, you seem to want "sources" or a "study" for everything. I don't get that. What did human beings do before there were social scientists conducting "studies" (In other words, for the the history of mankind before the 1960s, let's say)? Could we know anything? Were we able to assess truths, were we able to have wisdom, understanding and common sense? Could we know anything about societies and our own human nature? I'm saying yes, we could.

    Studies are fine and they have their place (specifically medical studies, statistics, hard science, etc.). But these social science studies are, as a rule, either something we already know or else they are wrong. Social sciences do not carry a lot of weight with me. I have been in sociology courses…. oh, my. We can actually know human nature and understand the past without sources and studies.

    Still and all, I know that JoAnna and Nubby and others can do the "study" thing with you (and I'm glad they do), but it's not my interest.

    Without a consulting a single study, I can tell you this: Women are at their optimum fertility and at about the age of 20 (biologically). Most women in the last few centuries were married young, certainly around the age (give or take) of 20. They did not use contraception. Most would have been quite fertile and many, many would have conceived in the first cycle, including on their very wedding night. Many of those who immediately conceived would have given birth within the next nine months, give or take some days or a week or two or three, and many would have given birth several weeks before the "official" 40 week estimated date of arrival (from last menstrual period, if they even calculated it that way back then?). All that makes me know, without a study, that the statistics (in whatever way they could be measured, which is not well and not too accurately), if they were available, would show that a very good proportion of those fertile, young, non-contracepting newly marrieds would have babies within or before the first nine months.

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  73. Otherwise, it is giving in to men's baser nature to "get the milk for free".

    Yes exactly. Common sense, no need for a study, we instinctively know this. You are right and I totally agree. And that attitude of "getting the milk for free" is a huge reason why we have a crisis of manhood today. Again, common sense.

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  74. I dunno...seems like being strict can backfire, especially if the cultural milieu all around you runs against your rules. I am currently examining strict families right now, to see what seemed to work and what did not work.

    In my humble opinion (and I am still learning how to parent!), it's a combo of high standards (virtue education), much love (a cold religious family will tend to drive children away from God), and lots of teaching of the faith that actually lets children make sense of the world around them. An open door policy for talking, and LOTS of apologies from the parents when they screw up.

    But mostly: LOVE (including lots of affection) and HIGH STANDARDS.

    And a boatload of prayer!!
    :)

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  75. From college student, who cannot post:

    "I wanted to respond all day but I had a very long day at work!

    It didn’t so much disturb me that our parents were
    allowing/encouraging us to do something immoral rather they were
    allowing encouraging us to do something so clearly unhealthy

    Sex is horribly dangerous and there is no way around that. Girls are
    taught to sleep with boys they “like,” boys are taught to sleep with
    anyone who is cute. I’m not being moral I’m just being practical when
    I say that’s not safe. I have no moral qualms with condoms however I
    realize they are made of rubber and not steel! I have no moral qualms
    with birth control pills yet I realize artificial hormones wreak havoc
    on your system. I even think abortion is permissible. But do you
    really want to have one? Again, even on non-moral grounds its terribly
    bad for your body. Getting pregnant by a man who doesn’t care about
    you is sad, its sad and bad for you.

    Why are we pretending these things aren’t bad for us?

    If I were caught smoking a cigarette in Boyfriend’s parents house, his
    mother would scold me and dislike me. She would assume I had bad
    judgment and that I lacked respect because I was smoking in her house.
    She would not close the door and offer an ashtray.

    I think it’s deeper than lazy parenting. My mother still starts my car
    for me when it’s cold outside. And my parents still barely let me
    drink at home even though I am 22. I think it’s a genuine
    lapse/difference in understanding"

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  76. And from Maureen, who also can't post (darned Blogger!)

    here's what I think about CS and her question I think it has to do with the mantra of "I can't tell anyone that their choice is wrong because it's being judgemental". Not only is it wrong but it's doubly wrong with your children. They've been entrusted to you for life, not just 18 years. You still have an obligation to set and uphold standards. My 86 year old Mom loves all 10 of her children unconditionally..but that doesn't mean that she allows profane behaviors in her house. And while not all agree with her definition of what is acceptable we all honor her position as matriarch and respect her rules in her home. It caused chafing with some when we were younger but, now as we've been raising our own children, we see the value in clear and unwavering standards held up in love.

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  77. And, College student, I admit to being surprised by your saying that you don't think it's a moral issue, when a lot of what you say above in the post is talking in moral terms. From the world "going to hell" because parents allow it (I know you were being facetious, but still, you wouldn't say that so strongly if it were simply a health issue), to the fact that you were "mortified" that his mother walked in and saw that he was in bed with you.

    Lots of other comments you said make me think this is not simply a public health issue and you know that. ;)

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  78. I want to say something about virginity that often isn't said by either those who think premarital sex is without spiritual damage as well as Catholics who think that it is damaging: let's not forget to remind people that even if they have lost their virginity, they can still come back to chastity.

    When I read comment boxes and editorials, I see the word over and over again. Virginity, virginity, virginity. I understand the importance of reaching young people who still have theirs, I do. I do think, though, that by making it the focal point, we're losing people who think that once the horse is out of the gate there's no point in trying to get him back - so to speak. That's not what we really believe about sin and grace, and I think we stand to lose men and women at college who desperately need to know that a wild past is no barrier to chastity and that the nagging sense of emptiness and woundedness can be rectified.

    We need to be gentle with people who come from a sexual past, as well, and open to really believing in the power of reconciliation, instead of viewing them as damaged goods. Some Catholics do that, and we should be honest with ourselves about whether we recoil a little bit ("Ew? She used to live with someone?") or instead respond with joy: "I'm so glad you found chastity! I'm so glad you found your way home!" Virginity is good, yes, but let's not glorify it in a way that we lose those hurt by hookup culture by making them think that they've lost the right to enter chaste love.

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  79. Isn't that the interesting thing with morals though? I don't think it's coincidental that things Catholics and other religions consider to be immoral are also physically and psychologically unhealthy. The same reason why shellfish and pork was prohibited for Jews- because they made people sick and still do.
    Morals aren't just arbitrary "rules." It's for our physical, psychological AND spiritual health.

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  80. College Student: I think you raise lots of good questions, need for moral clarifications, and points for broad speculation, that so many have responded to.
    But what I really want to say to you is that I am so sorry that the confusion of parents and boomers and gen exers and millenials about what it means to be a human person, the ignorance of the value and dignity inherent to our ensoulled bodies, has been handed down to each next generation.
    I am sorry that our young people are learning that sex is casual and the human body is expendable, that sex has little to do with love, and that pregnancy is a horrible consequence or illness rather than a gift.
    And I for one want to tell you that no matter What older people say, or how people of faith behave, You are unique and unrepeatable, wonderfully made in the image of God, worth every effort to preserve your heart and body until someone is willing to lay down his life for you for the rest of his life and you promise yourself as a total gift of self.
    And perhaps the challenge is written on Your heart. Perhaps you are the one to raise the question and bring hope to your friends and your children tht Yes, sex is valuable and sacred, that Yes, the body is sacred, that Yes practicing this belief brings greater dignity to the human person and introduces real freedom and truth.

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  81. Wow, so many wise and wonderful comments and thoughtful discussions. It took me an hour to just go through all of the comments!

    I grew up in a strict, conservative Baptist church and I remember when another woman at the church accused one of the deacons of having an affair with my mom, I was livid. This man had done so much for us and helped us during difficult times after my dad left us. Years later, when I went to my mother with an unplanned pregnancy, I found out the truth: she not only had an affair with that deacon but got pregnant and he paid to have her go away and "take care of it." Everything I believed (and was raised to believe) became a lie to me. It was then that I turned away from God, the church and followed a lesbian lifestyle.

    Looking back, I was blaming God for the faults of humans. How fair was that?

    DD

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  82. JoAnna,
    You said, "I'm calling BS on that statistic. They would have needed access to accurate 18th century marriage records AND birth records (neither of which are readily available)"

    They had that. It is well known that detailed birth and marriage records were kept in colonial America, particularly in New England. I have a friend who has a Ph.D. from Harvard and undergrad from Princeton in History...he has seen the primary sources for these stats.
    Read the book.

    Mary Lee

    Don't throw out all historical statistics because you don't like them. "Some" historical stats are actually true.

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  83. JoAnna said, "What about women who got pregnant on their wedding night and had a baby at 37 weeks gestation? Seems like the researchers above would assume that meant "OMG PREMARITAL SEX!" when it actually wasn't. "

    In fact, if I remember the data correctly, it was determined that the weddings happened before 8 months before the baby was born...so not so wishy washy on the gestational age. I can try to find the stats from the book.


    Leila is agreeing that that your assessment is correct (that the data is bogus) and then turns around and says, "sure there were shotgun weddings! What does that prove?" THese are two different arguments.

    What is 95% of weddings were proven to happen to pregnant women? Would you still argue that people were more shameful about having premarital sex than they are today?

    What I am saying, is that, at least for men, I think throughout the ages they have had a very strong drive to have premarital or extramarital sex (I realize you are not disputing this), and that they mostly felt bad about it when a baby resulted, therefore bringing their behavior to light. Not too different from today. But I do think women's view of premarital sex has changed.

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  84. @Mary -

    By demographics, I mean the very thing you mentioned - people getting married at later ages, etc. The more time that passes prior to getting married means more relationships, more chances to engage in premarital sex, etc.

    As far as double standards go, you are also correct. But I am not sure that replacing double-standards with "everyone is a slut, men and women both" is a huge improvement :-p

    Yes, it is gender equality, but achieved by pushing the standards for everyone through the floor :-p

    And we seem to continue to dance around the issue as to what people thought about sex, regardless of whether they did it or not. I can't prove it either way, but I would say go back to all those relatives you asked about sex to, and ask them whether or not they felt sex was taboo, regardless of whether or not they engaged?

    Because that is the issue. In the 50's people had premarital sex all the time I am sure, but that was in spite of them knowing they shouldn't do it. People do the wrong thing in spite of knowing it is wrong all the time.

    People today generally feel the opposite, that it is wrong to not have sex!

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  87. I don't understand this whole "how can we tell what happened in the past?" dispute.

    What changed women's sexual attitudes in modern society???


    THE PILL!

    Since the Pill in the 1960s (plus legalize abortion in the 1970s) it's easier to "prevent" or "take care of" unwanted pregnancy.

    For those of us engaged in that awful "hook up culture" during college ask us if we were more afraid of getting pregnant, or getting an STD-- I think fear of becoming pregnant would win hands down.

    So was sex a confusing, immoral thing in the past. Of course! Does "the pill" suddenly make pre-marital sex more socially acceptable. You bet!

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  88. @Abigail -

    The question of perceived morality goes back to previous blog post discussions, not just this one :-)

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  89. DD Your testimony is very interesting to me. I think you are correct, that you cannot make a blanket judgement against all religion based on the failings of two humans...I have done the same in my past....but I do think that it is right to examine why the practicing of the religion in this case did not lead to a different outcome (at least not an abortion). What about the way your mother and the Deacon were practicing Christianity made it possible for them to transgress in such a way...just like two total unbelievers? If we examine this it might lead us to a deeper understanding of how we can make our religious practice and pastoral care more effective.

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  90. If we examine this it might lead us to a deeper understanding of how we can make our religious practice and pastoral care more effective.

    Mary, I don't think we need a study for this, either. It's called human nature. Concupiscence. We are fallen and in need, always, of conversion. Not just one conversion (as many Protestants believe), but a daily conversion. Daily growth in holiness. Frequent reception of the sacraments and a progression on the path of sanctity. (The three stages that I've talked about.)

    Of course affairs happen in Catholicism, too (so please don't get me wrong), but in the Baptist tradition it's "once saved, always saved"… they "cannot lose their salvation"! Crazy… So it doesn't matter what they do, because in their minds, they will still be going straight to Heaven. Now, I am NOT saying that all Baptists (or even most!) make that a license to sin freely, but some don't care. As long as they are going to Heaven no matter what, then go for it.

    I think it was Luther who said, "sin freely" because you can't lose your salvation once "saved". He had scrupulosity, so there is a psychological reason he taught that.

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  91. Abigail,
    I totally agree that the Pill has been PART of what changed women's attitudes about the morality of of premarital sex. I do not think the PILL is in any way a good idea (unless it is for some medical reason)....although I think it guards against some forms of cancer.

    The reason I am concerned about getting it right about what happened in the past, is that many people on this blog and in the world today hold that people had higher moral standards for themselves and for society in years past ("in all previous eras" as a priest put it).

    I think it is important to really understand what did in fact happen, so that we are not hearkening back to a fictitious world. It makes people think that if we only could go back to the power structures of the past, or the social morays of the past, then our behavior will improve (not become perfect). I sense you really need to be careful with this type of nostalgic thinking. Not saying there is no merit to "morays of the past", but I am always wary.

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  92. CS - regarding morality, I think there's a lot of confusion about what morality is. Let me ask you:

    1. Do you believe as human beings that we have critical thinking skills and the ability to anticipate outcomes of our decisions?

    2. Do you believe we have the freedom to make decisions?

    I ask because if we're capable of thinking through our decisions and anticipating either a good, bad, or neutral outcome then don't we have a responsibility to discern a) what it means to be good or bad, right or wrong and b) what will bring about a good outcome for ourselves AND others?

    This is where we move beyond utilitarian practicalities and step into the realm of morality. Practical is just "Oh, this chair is more functional than that chair, so I'll buy it." Moral is, "If I do A, I may harm myself or others. So I shouldn't do A."

    So, in your response above, you are identifying risks, harm, a potentially bad outcome from a situation and identifying a person (the parent) who is failing to responsibly encourage a good decision. You're seeing this as a moral issue (and heath dangers are one aspect of why this is a moral issue. In other words, if I saw a loved one drinking poison, don't I have a moral responsibility to speak up? The fact that it's a health/body issue doesn't excuse it from being a moral issue. Hope I am making sense here!)

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  93. Leila said, "And again, you seem to want "sources" or a "study" for everything. I don't get that. What did human beings do before there were social scientists conducting "studies" (In other words, for the the history of mankind before the 1960s, let's say)? Could we know anything? Were we able to assess truths, were we able to have wisdom, understanding and common sense? Could we know anything about societies and our own human nature? I'm saying yes, we could."

    I am VERY VERY careful about understanding things without documentation. Please understand that people used to live their lives mired in superstition and misinformation. People the world over believed the world was FLAT! People the world over believed that meat could spontaneously turn into flies. Most people believed that being sinful could give you disease (they did not understand germ theory). People used to believe that handicapped people were cursed and deserved their fate. People used to believe that if you educated a woman it would cause her ovaries to shrivel. People used to believe that a smothering mother could cause her son to be gay, or a distant mother could cause her son to be autistic. Studies have cleared this up. Facts are important..historical and scientific facts.
    Here is a fact that helps religious belief: People who are religious and attend church have better stats for marital happiness and all sorts of other mental health metrics. If the converse was true...I would hope it would cause everyone to want to dissect and understand why.

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  94. It is a bit off, but I liked your response to the parenting question, but i would like to know more about how you fight the cultural milieu. For example, how about if your kids go to public school? Do you know people who have had luck with this?

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  95. Leila,
    Regards to your understanding of the "milk for free" comment, I think some current research is giving this new vigor "http://www.markregnerus.com/new-book-on-premarital-sex.html".

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  96. Nicholas
    You said, 'As far as double standards go, you are also correct. But I am not sure that replacing double-standards with "everyone is a slut, men and women both" is a huge improvement :-p"

    I could not agree more!

    But...if we are to make any progress at all we have to really understand where we came from...the reality...the truth, not a nostalgic vision.

    Maybe Leila is right, and I am actually leaning that way myself, that we should get married much younger, as it jives with our biology...no argument for me there. We should turn the idea of college on its head, and make much more married student housing, and consider it normal for women and men to take 6 plus years to get their educations while working and beginning a family. But! We will have to give generous help to young women who want to become doctors and lawyers and business execs, so they can work in these fields in some capacity while their children are young and then get set to take on more work as they are in midlife. I have seen some variations on this model that have worked out.

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  97. I am VERY VERY careful about understanding things without documentation.

    I completely understand this about you. I think you should read the section on "The Cult of the Expert" in What We Can't Not Know. He talks about how we need "expert" now to tell us what we all used to know about human nature (common sense). This is a VERY new phenomenon, as even the ancient philosophers did not believe that they somehow knew more than the "common man". They understood that their lofty philosophical ideas and dialogues were only confirming and digging more deeply into what they all knew was "common sense". (Natural law)

    This idea that we can't know anything about people and human nature without a university study is just such a departure.

    Much of the list you provided is scientific stuff. Obviously, science is different than philosophy, the natural law, human nature. Of course need studies and experiments to find out more about the physical world. But, don't mix apples and oranges. (And, some of what you claim I would dispute, by the way.)

    More in a bit….

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  98. College Student,

    Something else that I ran across was that the Regnerus guy thinks that the changing sex ratios at college (56 to 44 percent females to males) these days, fuels the hookup culture, as females are no longer a scarce commodity at college, therefore they are giving it up earlier, as they are in fiercer competition for males.

    Interesting.

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  99. I am VERY VERY careful about understanding things without documentation.

    I'm sincerely asking, Mary, do you ever feel almost paralyzed in your life and your parenting because of this? I don't think I could live this way, in all honesty. I'm getting an anxiety attack just thinking about it, lol. Please don't read any negative tone in that. I just am trying to understand how that works, practically speaking, with a busy wife and mom.

    I will read that link and tell you more about the parenting thing in a bit. Thanks for patience!

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  100. Mary - many college students are taking 5+ years to finish their degrees anyway. :) But hey, I am all for encouraging married life younger.... IF the young people are ready, have the support and preparation for it. It's not a sin to marry later, and sadly many today aren't ready to marry young (but some are). It's not a sin to be single for the rest of your life! :) I think far too often our society pushes this idea that we NEED sex almost like we need food. But no, we don't. In these conversations, it's often brought up anecdotally that people "had sex outside marriage" anyway even though it went against the moral code. Well, you also have to remember there are countless, normal folks throughout history that have happily remained celibate for their entire lives (my great aunt is one of them). Living in a society that values sex as part of the marriage vocation and also values celibacy in other life states helped them accomplish this, I am sure. In fact, in some cultures, the celibate vocations are coveted above marriage (as an African priest told me not long ago). So I think we need to resist the temptation to "sexualize" the past more than it was just as we need to resist the temptation to idealize the past as some perfect, virtuous Utopia with happy smiling children and in-tact homes.

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  101. Mary
    Social studies have their place. But they always contradict at one point or another. The more info we gather, the more we find past studies contradict. At what point is a study correct ?

    Take social studies out.
    Science studies show facts. There are some things proven. Social studies draws conclusions in info where science tests info. It's not provable. It's a conversation.

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  102. As to shot gun weddings being relevant, I'd argue that with the divorce rate. Was it higher or lower back then (whenever then is)? Point being we can make logical conclusions on facts.

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  103. Whoa there, wait just a gosh darned minute.....social science is the evil here??? Leila proclaims experts at universities are dictating what the common person thinks and does? So Leila, are universities NOT the place to hash out debates, think deeply about human culture and behavior and encourage discussions amongst "the common people"?

    And here's Nubby jumping on the bandwagon that no social studies can ever be as correct as "hard" science.

    Well, great, so I'd like both of you to be able to tell me about historical and social ramifications of textile production in the southwest, what dye methods were used in early textiles in Chaco Canyon area? What are Hopi, Navajo and Santa Clara conceptions of history and how to they differ? What do the deer dances at Rio Grande Pueblos symbolize? How did climate change affect the caloric consumption and growth of Chaco Canyon?

    If clearly these are all things that you can be an expert on without that egotistical, expert of a professor (who is making pennies, by the way) then go right ahead, tell us all.

    -gwen

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  104. Okay, Mary, you're missing the key point here. I sincerely doubt the records involved cited the conception date for each child born, and unless you know that key data, there is a significant margin of error.

    For example, my son was born at 36w3d gestation. I know my dates were accurate because I was charting when he was conceived. His conception date was June 30, 2007, and he was born February 25, 2008 even though his EDD was March 21, 2008. He was 6lbs 4oz when he was born, which is small for a full-term baby but not unheard of (and it was pretty on target for his gestational age). He was perfectly healthy and didn't need any NICU time. Note that he was born EIGHT MONTHS after conception.

    Now, let's say my husband and I had gotten married on June 30, and everyone assumed my baby was full-term. It'd be easy to make the assumption, from that, that we'd had premarital sex. Sure, I could whip out my charts and prove otherwise, but Agnes Smith in Massachusetts probably didn't tell the city registrar the date her baby was conceived because she likely didn't know herself.

    Note also that rates of prematurity were no doubt significantly higher in the 18th century given that inadequate prenatal nutrition is a risk factor for prematurity, as was alcohol use by pregnant women. Most pregnant women drank alcohol back in those days given that it was often safer than drinking plain water, especially in a new colony.

    So, I don't think the statistics are necessarily accurate, because key points of data (date of conception and gestational age at birth) aren't available, and without them I see the potential for a huge margin of error.

    Here's another point of consideration -- let's say, for argument's sake, that premarital sex was as prevalent in past days as it is now. Notice, however, that most men did the right thing and married the woman they got pregnant. Most men wouldn't abandon women to her own devices because community disapproval would be too hot to handle. There was still a sense of right and wrong. "You did wrong, and now you have to do right by her."

    Nowadays, it's not "You did wrong and you should do right," it's "It's not wrong at all, even though bad consequences often result!"

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  105. Gwen, that's all very interesting (and I love learning about cultures and such), but you miss the point. Universities are now telling folks (based on social science) that men and women are the same, that homosexual "marriage" is peachy, that abortion does not harm women, etc., etc., and on and on. And we are supposed to go against our understanding of human nature and common sense and say "Oh! We were all so wrong about that! Thank goodness for the experts to straighten us out."

    And we are making public policy on those "factual" studies.

    Do you see what I mean, Gwen?

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  106. No Leila, I don't see what you mean. There has to be room in this world for different thoughts and opinions; I think you are giving social science far too much credit in changing/making public policy. Last time I checked there are plenty of conservative folk who consider themselves experts too, informing all of us about the wrongs and rights of public policy, politics and American culture.

    I wrote you a piece of social science for goodness sakes-and you all enjoyed reading it: I went to Mass. I participated and observed, I wrote down notes when I got home, and I put on my 'cultural relativity' cap and shared ritual activity with people I don't know and probably don't agree with on much.

    I don't mean to detract from the subject at hand-but your quick condemnation sparked me to speak up.

    -gwen

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  107. Whoa there, wait just a gosh darned minute.....social science is the evil here???

    Who said it's evil? I said it has its place. Not evil in the slightest.

    And here's Nubby jumping on the bandwagon that no social studies can ever be as correct as "hard" science.

    Not as pertains to natural sciences, which was the point of Mary's I was refuting. And the only bandwagon I jumped on was for the Vancouver Canucks last year in the SC finals, and you see what that got me.

    Well, great, so I'd like both of you to be able to tell me about historical and social ramifications of textile production in the southwest, what dye methods were used in early textiles in Chaco Canyon area? What are Hopi, Navajo and Santa Clara conceptions of history and how to they differ? What do the deer dances at Rio Grande Pueblos symbolize? How did climate change affect the caloric consumption and growth of Chaco Canyon?

    Gwen, this has nothing to do with measurable, testable science as per Mary's example of "people used to believe the world to be flat" vs. "I think we're more/less moral today than in days gone by".
    One can measure the world to be round. That's provable (measurable). Hard sciences are mathematics, chemistry, physics. They deal with predictability and outcome. Your last paragraph here says nothing of that sort.

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  108. I wrote you a piece of social science for goodness sakes-and you all enjoyed reading it: I went to Mass. I participated and observed, I wrote down notes when I got home, and I put on my 'cultural relativity' cap and shared ritual activity with people I don't know and probably don't agree with on much.

    You wrote an op/ed that included specifics of the Mass, and even some errors as to what was going on. It was your own personal experience.

    You didn't run tests to validate that experience, you weren't testing for anything. That's the difference.

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  109. Nubby, thanks!

    Gwen, you can't see that when social scientists declare that women and men are the same (for one example) that the common man with his common sense can and should dismiss that "science" out of hand? I think most people get that. The fact that policy is being made from some of these bogus studies is troubling to many, many people.

    Your thoughts and experience of the mass was much appreciated, but it's not science and it's not even an objective understanding of the mass. I enjoyed it very much, but I wouldn't claim it as Truth, nor would I make any kind of public (or ecclesial) policy based on it.

    I truly do hope you can see. Not agree, but at least see.

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  110. Nubby,
    Sorry, but I cannot understand your comment at October 7, 2011 8:04 AM . Could you try again?

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  111. I happen to like social science (got my degree in polysci) but it's clearly biased the majority of the time---even hard science studies are often biased. You often have to look at who funded the study. Big pharma, for example? Testing whether a drug is safe...etc.

    Same goes for social science studies. Who funded it, what was the intended outcome, what did they have to lose/gain the list goes on.

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  112. Sarah,
    You are right that there is no problem being celibate if one chooses that freely, (I also have a single great aunt) but, not sure if you have read anything about the supposedly celibate priests in Africa or the Buddhist priests in Tibet and Nepal. Many are not really all that celibate. I have been to both Africa and Nepal/Bhutan, and in Nepal and Bhutan the Buddhists talked about how sending a son to become a monk was a coveted action, as they were assured food and shelter.

    Food and shelter were at a premium, so celibacy was not so steep a price to pay. Not saying that some are not truly "called", but it makes it easier to give up a traditional lifestyle when that lifestyle is dire.

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  113. Manda I agree. That is why we have the peer review system. It is flawed, but the best we have! Can anyone think of something better?

    Take Kinsey for example. Much of his work was skewed by improper techniques. Peers called him out on this AT THE TIME he published even! Some of his findings have held up, others seem wildly skewed, and have not been repeatable. The problem with the Kinsey stuff was the media reaction. The scientific outcry against him was not really reported! And, that movie about him was so biased in favor of him I could hardly watch it.

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  114. Manda,
    That's true insofar as studies are slanted looking for some particulars, but the methods the hard sciences use are not slanted.

    Social studies does not prove out theories or verify any predicted results. It doesn't because it can't. Too many variables in dealing with people, unpredictable people.

    There is a place for soc studies and there's a place for hard science.

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  115. Back to the topic: The Catholic Church teaches that sex outside of marriage is wrong. It doesn't matter how many people in the past secretly had sex outside of marriage, it was still a sin. It's a sin now, and will continue to be a sin according to the Church.

    Take religion out of the equation, and sex outside of the marriage is a bad thing. It causes people to use each other. It causes the spread of disease. It causes children to be raised without a mom and dad in the home. It causes heartbreak and sobbing.

    Now that this particular sin is out of the closet and glorified, it just encourages more sin. So while acceptability increases so do all the negative consequences.

    I hate the so-called sexual revolution. It's just a big boiling pot of insecurity, stress, confusion, dishonesty and risks. Where is the love?

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  116. Wow, I can't talk here anymore. The things you have said, including holding up "The Cult of the Expert" as a piece of fine literature completely discredit everything you presume to know so much about on here. The claim above that all social science is biased (and of course, 'hard' science isn't) is really amusing too. As if nothing here about "the Truth" or conservative values is ever biased.

    peace out,
    gwen

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  117. Today is first Friday and I will pray my rosary at Adoration, in part, for the sexual battles that go on...good vs. evil. Most of the rosary is prayed for the Blessed Mother's Intentions and the Holy souls in Purgatory.
    Always teach the truths that God set before us and you won't have a problem. Great DVD on Blessed Seelos, "Tireless Intercessor" in which I learned he said.."IF YOU WANT TO BE HAPPY, BE HOLY, AND IF YOU WANT TO BE VERY HAPPY, BE VERY HOLY"....OH, if only some adult had said things like that to me when I was growing up.....

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  118. Let me be clear that the hard sciences use experiments to disprove a theory to the point where it cannot be disproven or built upon. Thus it becomes a fact in science. What are you testing for in your soc studies, gwen?

    What theory are you proving out?
    We are not talking about studying a demographic.

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  119. Whoa, hold on Gwen! First, the "Cult of the Expert" is a chapter in a book. Have you read those paragraphs, or read the book in which they are contained? If not, how can you say that it discredits me? I am utterly confused.

    Secondly, please remember that you are speaking to people who are educated. Many, many social science degrees among my readers. My husband majored in political science with a minor in philosophy. I have an English degree but I sure did take my share of sociology courses.

    I'm not even sure what your last comment meant, or how it pertains to this discussion?

    I hope you will answer Nubby's questions.

    Lena, exactly! Sally, thank you!

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  120. Mary, sorry. I meant if you want to isolate one opinion and draw a conclusion for an entire era, it is too generalized. The divorce rate was lower therefore society was better as a whole. Families were intact.

    My argument is that. If you put forth one opinion I can put forth another. It's not going to be provable by studies. It's just a discussion based logically.

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  121. Here is "college student"'s response to my last comment to her:

    Leila,

    You were right. There was a "wrongness" there which I think I was reacting to. Something that didn't seem quite right. It's not my first instinct to label it immoral but I suppose the whole redefining morality trend is exactly the point of this post

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  122. Nubby,
    Thanks for the clarif. You said, "My argument is that. If you put forth one opinion I can put forth another. It's not going to be provable by studies. It's just a discussion based logically. "

    When people debate, and one person puts forth many assertions, and the other puts forth counter assertions, backed up by studies, historical records etc., I would tend to look to the first and say, "Well, what do you have to bring to the table?" If the person says, "I dispute your studies." but cannot bring any to the fore for their side, then I would be skeptical.

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  123. Mary, sort of off topic, but I'm just curious. When the great philosophers (Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, etc.) put forth their ideas (lots of socratic dialogue) they did not have "studies" to offer. They had logic, common sense, natural law, etc. to make their case. Was that valid? Or are the classic philosophers not credible because they didn't have an academic, peer-reviewed university study to back them up when they placed their ideas on the table?

    I'm sincerely asking.

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  124. Mary
    I see what you mean, but
    I have no time for a thesis project.

    I guess then I'll bring the question, you can bring the answers. Site a study on divorce rate from that era to now. Overlay that with your shotgun wedding data from the same period, then til now. Let's see the trend. Let's draw conclusions.

    Let's use our own logic not a study for this and that.

    You are wanting to include loads of data that would be laborious to sift thru. I'd need a year for that. Let's use our own logic. Can we see trends? Honestly asking.

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  125. Jumping back in here - as an aside, I get these comments in a reader and sometimes the feed gets stuck or something and I don't get comments for a while. I suspect it is because a comment is in spam, but not sure.

    Anyway, about the social science stuff - here is an article where the social scientist tried to see if certain personality traits predicted a belief in God. His conclusion is that people who are more intuitive thinkers tend to believe in God.

    A quote: "God is related to decision-making style, with those who rely more heavily on intuition reporting higher rates of belief, while those who are more reflective tilt toward atheism."

    And the link:
    http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2011/09/intuitive-try-god/

    While we are at it, one of the tests was a story problem designed to elicit an intuitive response. The people who answered intuitively were more likely to believe in God than those who reflected and didn't give the intuitive answer.

    The researcher points out that intelligence has nothing to do with it - just intuitive or not.

    I, of course, will point out that the intuitive answers were not simply intuitive, but they were WRONG.

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  126. MaiZeke, so glad you are back! Could you answer my question about whether or not there is a moral dimension to sex?

    Also, I haven't clicked the link but already I have a question: Since the vast, vast, vast majority of people who have ever lived in the history of mankind have believed in a god or gods, does that mean that most (vastly most) people are intuitive?

    Personally, I am so danged left-brained. Would intuitive mean more "right-brained"? I honestly don't know, so I'm asking. I know plenty of people on both side of the right- and left-brained spectrum who believe in God.

    So, I'm not fully understanding. Atheists are such a teeny-tiny part of the population of mankind.

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  127. I have a quarter in my pocket. And nothing rhymes with Orange.

    Huh?

    Exactly.

    I just posted this to cancel out maizeke. Equal now. Moving along...

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  128. Any moral imposition on sexual intercourse is developed through cultures. One wonders if neanderthal women sobbed to each other about hook-ups or when "scaggie" would 'pop the question' I suggest reading 'A History of Sexuality' by Foucault.

    Oh wait, but that's just words from the lowly biased social scientist!

    Sorry-couldn't help responding. I'll promise to leave this discussion to the experts of morality : ) (not meant to be snarky, just plainly spoken).


    -gwen

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  129. Maizeke....as Leila has pointed out, I am reflective to an annoying degree....and I am a theist.

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  130. Gwen, same with murder, too? And stealing? Morality was "imposed" on those situations as well? But at base it's all morally neutral?

    And why pop in and out? Why not stay in the discussion? You leave waaaaay too quickly.

    MaiZeke, is there a moral dimension to sex?

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  131. I leave way too quickly Leila because I'm up against some major deadlines. I popped in to read the discussion for a break and then foolishly began typing.

    -gwen

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  132. Gwen, you can always take your time. Seriously, we don't mind. But please come back at some point and answer. Nubby asked you:

    What are you testing for in your soc studies, gwen?

    What theory are you proving out?


    And I asked you a couple of questions, above.

    Thanks! I'm seriously interested in your answers.

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  133. Gwen, that is not snarky, by the way. I am really, sincerely interested in your answers.

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  134. Orange Schmorange

    Orange you going to answer our questions relating to the topic of this post, Maizeke?

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  135. It seems to me that many morals came from reason in the past. You should not murder becaus that means there are less people. You should steal becaus that would lead to an unusable community.

    Pertaining to this conversation, one should not have pre-marital sex (or in general, sex before you are garunteed to be together forever) because you could get pregnant.

    Seems like morals=reson

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  136. I saw the study that MaiZeke was talking about, and while interesting, really doesn't say anything relevant about God, and didn't even try to.

    Of course, the sound bite culture is happy to try and shoehorn an amusing bit of trivia to try and prove a point.

    To sum up the study, they asked people tricky word problems where the "intuitive" answer was incorrect. For example, something like "Joe buys a pencil and an eraser for school, and the total cost is $1.10. If the pencil costs exactly $1 more than the eraser, how much was the eraser?"

    The "Intuitive" people most often gave an incorrect answer of 10 cents. The correct answer is 5 cents.

    While the study is interesting about how people think, it doesn't say anything about the veracity of religious beliefs.

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  137. Above= proof why I should not type from my iPhone.

    I meant

    Morals= Reason

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  138. @Chelsea - The problem with that line of reasoning is why did ancient cultures bother with religion at all?

    If they based their moral codes on reason, why have religion? If Jews practices circumcision because it was easier to maintain good hygiene, and refrained from Pork because of the prevalence of Trichinosis when pork is improperly cooked, then why the charade?

    Or is it perhaps also possible that religious practices, even though supernatural in origin, and not based on science, actually turned out to be "coincidentally" also really good ideas from health and welfare perspectives?

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  139. Mary, take your time, but this is one I'd really like answered:

    Mary, sort of off topic, but I'm just curious. When the great philosophers (Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, etc.) put forth their ideas (lots of socratic dialogue) they did not have "studies" to offer. They had logic, common sense, natural law, etc. to make their case. Was that valid? Or are the classic philosophers not credible because they didn't have an academic, peer-reviewed university study to back them up when they placed their ideas on the table?

    I'm sincerely asking.

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  140. Simple algebra. And I'm a believing Catholic.

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  141. Pencil is y= x + 1
    Total cost is $1.10 So x+y= $1.10

    Therefore x+(x+1)=$1.10
    Solve for x. 2x +1= $1.10
    So
    2x=.1
    X=.05
    X is the eraser.

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  142. @Leila - Regarding the Greeks, that is an interesting topic, and one that I always wonder about from time to time... Were people actually smarter back in ye olde days? I mean, you wouldn't necessarily think so... But then again a bunch of Greek guys with bronze age technology did things like invent mathematics! :-p

    Today we laud the incredible achievements of Steve Jobs... but in the end he really just made some really nice electronics gadgets :-p

    In defense of Social Science, studies are nice particularly when you are talking about theories and ideas that may be counter-intuitive.

    But I do agree with you insofar as society today has become overly fixated on the testimony of experts, who really aren't necessarily any smarter than anyone else, but they (hopefully) have at least more experience on a particular subject.

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  143. @Nicholas

    To me, seems like a community thing.

    I heard that they did some if those things to separate them as a community.

    Plus, when something goes wrong. They would have had to try something. They when it worked, they assumed it was something out of their control, even though whatever they did fixed it.

    I can't tell if that is clear, bit do you are how I am seeing it?

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  144. @Nubby - Of course, but it is true that a lot of people will "intuitively" make the false guess of $1 and $0.10. "Trick" questions have been around forever.

    So while it may be an interesting study on cognitive processes, it isn't indicative of truth with regard to the existence or not of God, which I am sure many people are trying to say it does.

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  145. I'm with you. Just showing the work.

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  146. @Chelsea - I see your point clearly. But I am simply saying that just because that is a logical explanation that doesn't make it a correct one.

    It is very easy to use hindsight and assume that we can accurately interpret events of the past, but it isn't any more valid on its face than another explanation.

    In the end, people are going to be influenced by their beliefs. Religious people will see the influence in the past, agnostics or atheists will assume the people of the past were unwitting scientists.

    :-)

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  147. Of course, just because I say it, does not mean it is true.

    Just means it is what I believe.

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  148. @Chelsea - Agreed. Now here comes the problem... :-)

    If morality was just the best ideas/conventions that our ancestors figured out to keep their society intact, and has no unique, intrinsic truth or correctness other than that...

    What is to stop someone from killing people? It isn't Wrong in the absolutely true sense, if it is just a good idea from our ancestors.

    Well, it is a pretty well entrenched good idea, so Society is going to stop people from killing other people... But again, now that is just one idea with equal weight to others being enforced by the majority. That means that the opposite pro-murder supporters could gain enough political clout to have their way be enforced, and the society becomes one based on might makes right.

    Now of course, this kind of logical conundrum doesn't in and of itself prove that there is a God Given Morality.

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  149. Mary - the priest I spoke with is most certainly dedicated to his vocation as are the others in his religious order. He's one of the holiest, happiest priests I've ever met. In fact, the priests from his area are so devout that they come to America to evangelize because we lack so much here. They see us as poor, at least in a spiritual sense.

    I hear you on being fed, sheltered etc, not saying that dynamic doesn't exist anywhere, but there are plenty who truly feel called and live it out (and not just in Africa, all over the world. I just used that one priest as an example). This priest told me, "You American Catholic youth are so hung up on sex and marriage!" Basically what he was saying was, not every culture is as sex-focused as ours nor is every era of every culture. I think it's safe to say that modern America is pretty sex-obsessed and it's easy to lose sight of the fact that that's not what's going on all the time everywhere else (or even among our own. I can't count the times teens have groaned and said, "We've heard the sex talk so many times. Can we talk about something more interesting? You grown-ups are so obsessed."

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  150. That means that the opposite pro-murder supporters could gain enough political clout to have their way be enforced, and the society becomes one based on might makes right.

    Nicholas, exactly, and I've never gotten a sensible answer from the other side about why their views of morality don't reduce down to "he who has the biggest guns wins." Because if there is no objective moral law that is extrinsic to us, then it does come down to might makes right. I can't figure out how it could be otherwise?

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  151. Sarah, I've heard the Catholic teens I know say that too!! Lol!

    And, I knew a very holy old bishop from India (who lived in the USA after his retirement). He told how as a boy in the 1930s he was basically handpicked to be a priest. He didn't "choose" it. Well, he became the most amazing bishop, and was so beloved, and very holy and definitely loved his vocation. He has written books and was just a font of wisdom for all who knew him. He loved writing and talking about the Faith and Jesus Christ and holiness. We were all so sad when he passed away.

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  152. Donald DeMarco wrote an article in oct. 1999-a few excerpts here --he talked about how a woman, Wurtzel; wrote a book titled "Prozac Nation". "A therapeutic society is a culture which systematically encourages people to expect from life a sense of total well-being, achieved at little cost, and based on a complete rejection of any demands that society places on the individual." As the noted sociologist Philip Rieff has stated, "Religious man was born to be saved; psychological man was born to be pleased."
    "Plato, taught by Socrates (the most politically incorrect philosopher ever) taught that philosophy is not merely the cataloguing of human woes but that it has a noble and triumphant side. It inspires us to cultivate moral strengths - virtues - it takes to overcome the unavoidable difficulties of life."
    "Like Plato, Louis Marinoff is a strong advocate of personal virtue. He said, "The only thing that is not market-driven is virtue. Virtue is a person's heroic response to noble discontent. It is inconvenient, but fulfilling; difficult but meaningful; dangerous but AUTHENTIC.
    The Playboy empire is dedicated to 'sex without fears.' Politics is often 'power without principle.' Drugs can easily induce 'comfort without conscience.' Education leans more and more to 'learning without effort.'
    LIBERAL CHRISTIANITY SLOUCHES TOWARD "CHRIST WITHOUT THE CROSS."
    "The only thing I fear," as Dostoevsky wrote, "is that I will not be worthy of my sufferings"> This is what Plato teaches. CHRIST AND THE CROSS TEACH US SOMETHING MORE - NAMELY, THAT WITHOUT SUFFERING, THERE IS NO REDEMPTION. "
    And again I say to you, the truly joyful sufferer for Christ, for a role model is Blessed Seelos. What a life! What an example! Waht a tireless intercessor! And after 22 years of re-discovering Catholicism, I just found him myself! What a joy! God bless!

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  153. Leila,
    No time, but will return. Quickly....Aristotle for one, thought that slavery followed the natural law. So....he was right? I'd rather criticize his view on that and ask for supporting evidence (retrospectively) than just accept it because he reasoned it so.

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  154. Mary
    Leila is asking you to draw a conclusion using logic and what you know. Can we discuss without someone else's research?

    Your own opinion. Does it seem right?

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  155. Mary, I think you miss the point. Let's say you are an ancient philosopher sitting across from Aristotle. First, you'd need to ascertain what he means by "slave". Because to understand his meaning you will have to question him and receive his answers. And let's say after your questioning, he believed in chattel slavery (highly unlikely)... you would delve further in the dialogue and get to a point of either understanding and agreeing with him, or discrediting him (at least in your mind and hopefully in your hearers' minds). You could do all that based on logic, rational thought, natural law. Not a single peer-reviewed university "study" would be needed. Or, is this type of thought, method and dialogue just not valid in your mind? There are no transcendent, universal truths that we all can apprehend? And that we all can watch unfold in socratic dialogues?

    Of course, there were the Sophists....

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  156. My 'own thoughts' come from the experiences of the consequences of sin and being 'alone' in the world, just as 'college girl' finds herself if she really took a good hard long look....you are always alone when you don't realize that you have a, valuable eternal soul.... the soul awakens when people pray.... it is that simple...someone's prayers helped 'college girl' to 'see' things a bit different in the realm of finding her soul as part of her life in God...it could be the prayers of a homeless person, an old woman sitting in a church in Austria, it could be her next door neighbor who whispered her first prayer to God only last week...we don't know where our prayers go, for God is the giver and dispenser of graces and He gives to whom it fits His Kingdom and His plan for all eternity.....finding the writings of St. Augustine, Peter Kreeft, Donald Demarco, Plato, bible just to name a few, helped me to realize that, so if I use their words from time to time it is because they may express their thoughts as my thoughts when we 'met in this life'.

    Of course being on the precipice of falling over into the final pit of hell surely awoke the good and bad spirits fighting over my soul to a screeching halt, as my mind awoke from the lethargy of the world's teachings on spiritual life which is an oxymoron! -A lot of us are sitting on the brink of hell and yet we would never believe it... We will all get the whispers of God in our lives, just as 'college girl' got hers and may she get many more that she acts on....I know I prayed for her today, feast of the Holy Rosary.

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  157. "Plato's contribution to philosophy is so great, proclaimed another distinguished philosopher, Alfred North Whitehead, that all philosophy after him is merely a series of footnotes". humorous

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  158. Going back to a few posts I missed until I get tired.

    Leila says, "But this begs the question, MaiZeke: What is the source of "truth"?" in response to my quote from Chesterton. But, Leila, it is Chesterton who is begging the question. He starts with truth and then comes back to it. Why would someone even need to do that?

    In my case, I start with questions and arrive at truth through logic. In Chesterton's case, truth is something that he is told. In my case, truth is something I conclude after deliberation.

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  159. Leila,
    Just to focus on Aristotle, he said,

    "But is there any one thus intended by nature to be a slave, and for whom such a condition is expedient and right, or rather is not all slavery a violation of nature?

    There is no difficulty in answering this question, on grounds both of reason and of fact. For that some should rule and others be ruled is a thing not only necessary, but expedient; from the hour of their birth, some are marked out for subjection, others for rule."

    Of course I could argue using logic and appeal to my concept of natural law that he was wrong, but how much more convincing to say, "Gee Ari, you are a smart guy, but let me show you these numerous twin studies that show how nurture is important in how a person develops their intellectual capacities. Let me show you studies of how children in deprived environments grow up stunted. Etc. Etc." I think I could convince him.

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  160. Back to the moral relativism stuff I missed a few days ago. I will quote from the encyclopedia of philosophy:
    "Moral relativism has the unusual distinction—both within philosophy and outside it—of being attributed to others, almost always as a criticism, far more often than it is explicitly professed by anyone. "

    Which is of course how the pope is using it.

    And I think it is clear from my arguments and Gwen's and mary's that we do not really tolerate your view of morality in many cases. It is not, as Leila says, that I am deciding morals only for myself -- I am not gay, but I think gay people should be allowed to marry, and I also do not tolerate religious people discriminating against gays.

    With the whole brouhaha with Stacy, you say the "tolerant" left - but we clearly are not tolerant of discrimination. It is you who think/declare that we are tolerant of all things, not us.

    Another example of me not being tolerant -- this business of not wanting to have a baby shower for an unwed mother and the father of her child. What I am NOT tolerant of is forcing/coercing the mother to wed the father and inflicting a lifetime of arguments on that poor child for the rest of her life. I am intolerant of people who do that. All of those studies that say children of intact families do better than children of non-intact families -- would children actually do better if we had a society where divorce is forbidden (or much harder to get) and people who hate each other are forced to raise children together? We can't study that because by now we have easy divorce.

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  161. Nubby, you said, "Your own opinion. Does it seem right?"

    I am going to hope that YOUR opinion is informed by the many years of formal education you have received combined with your personal, direct experience in life, filtered in with your faith upbringing and maybe some personality traits.

    Nubby, you studied science I think? Every single thing you studied was the result of reams of experiments, failed and successful. Every history fact you learned was the result of record keeping and discovery. Math is the result of logic-type proofs and publications.

    So, I would contend that many of your opinions are actually directly derived by your understanding of "studies" howevermuch you or I might be or not be aware of it.

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  162. Thanks, JoAnna, for the quote from the pope: "Whereas relativism, that is, letting oneself be 'tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine', seems the only attitude that can cope with modern times. We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one's own ego and desires."

    I will second that quote that said, if people only understood catholics, they would like them. Or something of the sort. The point Catholics make is that people don't UNDERSTAND catholicism which is why they don't LIKE catholicism.

    Well, I will say the same thing here. If THAT is what you all think we do over here in atheist-land, then I can see why you think we are going to hell in a handbasket. To add insult to our injury, if we try to correct this completely incorrect view of secularist morality, we are rebuked with the statements that the pope is simply not to be disagreed with, because (how do you say?) the pope studies philosophy. The pope is smarter than MaiZeke, so he must know what MaiZeke's moral stance is. And everyone else's too. Reminds me of your god.

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  163. Nicholas said - "So while it may be an interesting study on cognitive processes, it isn't indicative of truth with regard to the existence or not of God, which I am sure many people are trying to say it does."

    The reason I brought this study up is that you all were having this conversation about whether or not we need a study to know if something is good. The god-believers were all saying, "We just KNOW it isn't good, we don't need no study!" and the atheists were saying, "well, sure you say that, but is there any kind of study to show that is the best way?"

    And might I point out that the article bent over backwards saying this is not about intelligence -- "This isn’t about how smart you are; it’s how much you follow your intuitions versus stopping and reflecting,” Rand said.

    I guess the article interests me because I'm also trying to figure out what it is that makes you all tick - and tick in a way that is so different from me. As the article says - "The researchers’ aim is to get at the cognitive nuts and bolts of religious belief."

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  164. Finally, and I think this will be my last comment for the night, people are asking about my moral thoughts on sex, specifically as it relates to my children. For the record, no I do not have any daughters, but I have a stepdaughter and two boys of my own.

    I'll focus on the boys for now, since I will presumably have much more say in their moral development as they sally into their sexual years. First and foremost, I will expect them to treat women with respect, and I will expect them to respect themselves as well. I certainly do not agree with the using culture that is being described by college student. One thing I said to myself as I was growing up was, don't have sex with someone you couldn't see yourself having children with. That is CLOSE to your thoughts, but not exactly. I also disapprove/disapproved of people hooking up with friends for a night or two - but that is a far cry from saving yourself for marriage.

    I play this little game with my two nieces who are sixteen. It's a little dating question and answer period. Question: you meet a guy who has three children from a previous relationship (not marriage). He doesn't want to pay child support, and in fact goes out of his way to work for cash only so his wages can't be garnished. When this guy says, "hey babe, wanna hang out?" What do you do? a) say, "awesome dude, I'll bring the beer, who cares about condoms?" b) have sex and hope the condom doesn't break c) run like hell. The only correct answer is c), of course. (note: we actually know someone who dated a guy like this, and had children with him.)

    Also, I think it is important for young women to understand that babies aren't just cutie pies to cuddle. I was at the house of one of these nieces, and my three-year-old and my 8-month-old were pretty much acting their ages. She said, "Wow, little kids are a lot of work." I said, within earshot of her mother, "Yes, that is why you need good contraception, and a father who helps out." Her mother seconded my opinion.

    Seriously - even though Leila denies this, it really does seem like if we don't have the catholic morality, then we have no morals at all. I certainly am not teaching my nieces that the hookup culture is great - far from it! I don't want to see them get caught up in that culture, and neither do their parents. But one thing we are NOT doing is saying, "Don't use contraception." and then when they turn up pregnant, we won't say, "I guess you're stuck with this guy for the rest of your life. And by the way, no baby shower for you."

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  165. I guess you already know that according to Guttmacher, 54% of women who have abortions say they were using contraception the month that they got pregnant.

    I think you completely misunderstood the whole baby shower comment as well. The point was that back in the day women who got pregnant out of wedlock were embarrassed and ashamed at their mistake...now they celebrate it like it's all gravy. Nobody says, "no baby shower for you"...the person who made that comment originally said that the women from back when just wouldn't have expected one. They grew up fast and took responsibility.

    If anyone ever tells me daughter she needs "good contraception" I'll give them a round house kick to the face hi-ya!

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  166. Wow! I came home to a lot of things I'd love to respond to, but I'll just touch on a couple of things.

    MaiZeke, I do appreciate all your thoughts, but I'm left, again, feeling like you are evading direct questions.

    1. Is there a moral dimension to sex? (Not just a practical or health dimension.)

    2. Regarding Chesterton, he would say that the source of truth is God. (That's easy.) But you still have not answered that question, which I keep repeating: What is the source of truth, MaiZeke?

    To the "intolerance of intolerance" issue, I would just refer readers back to this post, because it sort of touches on that issue:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2011/04/answering-choice-who-describes-herself.html

    Now as far as rejecting the pope's thoughts, can you tell me (I am truly interested) what moral stance you have integrated into your life that actually makes you uncomfortable, or that, when you discovered the truth of it, made you change your whole life around to conform to it, even though it cost you dearly and was not at all what you desired? I hope that makes sense.

    Okay, I still don't know what that article taught you about believers? Since the vast majority of all thinkers (intuitive or otherwise) believe in a god or gods? Still not sure what you learned?

    Also, you are quite fine with abortion, so why would anyone you know need to be stuck with a baby anyway? Can't they just abort the baby and go on with their life as planned? That is the point of abortion (which you support) right? So, I'm confused there. If contraception fails (as it often does), just abort. Or, do you have moral reservations about abortion? Generally I know you do not like to talk about abortion. But I'm very curious about this.

    FYI, I agree with Manda on the round house kick. I have raised two daughters. If either of them had heard someone say "you need good contraception" they would have been so freakin' insulted! Seriously… blech!

    I think I do have more to say, but there is a cross country meet for my boys early morning…

    Maybe you don't want to answer it all, but if you could at least hit the two questions in bold?

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  167. Mary, you said to Nubby:

    Every history fact you learned was the result of record keeping and discovery. Math is the result of logic-type proofs and publications.

    History and math are about facts. But we are talking about wisdom. About what we can know about human nature, about the moral law and about goodness. Do you think we can know and discuss what is philosophical, what is real in our own human nature, without a university study?

    Can peasants have wisdom? Can the uneducated know anything? Do they have common sense?

    And, couldn't you convince Aristotle without falling back on studies? I think you could. ;)

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  168. Leila,

    Thank you for sharing. Having done a little better job than glossing all of the comments, it appears that there are a number of camps on this issues.

    1. Traditional- see that morality derives from the nature of God. The good, beautiful and true are one in that they share in their being from God. Morality can be known through reason because we can "see" it in nature using our intellect, and that the intellect can do more than merely process sense data--it has the ability to act (i.e., abstract from individuations/particulars to get to universals)

    2. Utilitarian-see morality as a scientific pursuit of the best possible state of affairs. Open to all possible moral means given that they only look for sensed ends. I say "sensed" ends because the "happiness" desired is not a moral "goodness" but rather a lack of pain and an increase of pleasure. Thus, the utilitarian can "be against" certain immoral behaviors that the traditionalist is, but on the grounds that it causes pain.

    3. True Relativist- see nothing as intrinsically or extrinsically good or evil. "Unhappiness" and "happiness" are subjective states of affairs, and thus cannot be looked at through the utilitarian lens. Reject #1 and #2 on the same grounds in that they doubt the objectivity of both the act of intellection and the judgment of the value of the senses/universal good of some felt happiness.

    What is lurking behind all of this is a meta-discussion about the philosophical merits of 1-3. All three assume their method is preferable, and thus the comments here are rather loaded and many times talking past each other. Of course, one cannot merely work out these fundamental disagreements about our philosophy of being and man in a combox! Nonetheless, we should be careful to note that our disagreement is not at the point of conclusion but at the point of assumption/first principles.

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  169. Brent, excellent distinctions and assessment! It makes a lot of things clearer (which I love).

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  170. Manda, thank you for clearing up the baby shower issue. I'm the one who posted that and you're exactly right. It's the expectation from of the woman who is pregnant...it used to be shame in knowing they committed a sin, but now it's the expectation that their "sin" should be celebrated because, well, they didn't even really sin in the first place!

    MaiZeke, you frame it as though we tell girls and young women the same thing you do - "better have good contraception" - and then tell them "Oops! Sorry sucka! No party for you!" when they get pregnant. If we told women to "have good contraception" then we wouldn't be surprised when they wound up pregnant and of course we'd happily, with no reservations, throw them a shower because again, they didn't commit a sin! It's not their fault the contraception failed!

    On the contrary - we expect more out of women. We tell them that they have dignity and deserve more out of life than premarital sex and out-of-wedlock pregnancy. We teach the morals of sex. And when they fail, as we all do with some sin or another, we still support them (and my family members DID even get baby showers!!!), we just don't celebrate their sin. We make it very clear that this was not the ideal situation, but they of course can redeem themselves...something we all need.

    Oh, and by the way, we don't tell them they have to get married!!!

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  171. Dear Miss G

    I would love to talk to you sometime. My research focus is poststructural theory, relying heavily on authors like Foucault, Butler, Lacan, Kristeva, and Bakhtin. I still maintain a very Catholic outlook on things; in fact, while Judith Butler might be disappointed by this particular use, I see "Bodies That Matter" as an extremely powerful piece of work that speaks for the dignity of persons and bodies.

    I don't know beyond the shadow of a doubt what the objective morality of sex is. This is true of many Catholics, especially the reflective ones. We wrestle with doubt, and this is part of the really breathtaking landscape of faith. Here are the possibilities: a) by using someone for sex, even if we consent, even if I love him, when I know that I have not made a commitment to accept him unconditionally for the rest of his life, I am devaluing him as a whole person - I have ignored his fundamental dignity and purpose in favor of viewing him as put here on earth for my gratification of b) the opposite; that I do not devalue his dignity by using him for sex.

    If I cannot be sure, objectively, which one is correct, how must I act? When certainty fails me, as it does and should to all people of goodwill and responsibility, I know that the only option is to err on the side of love, that is to say, option a. I would rather risk my pleasure than the usury of someone else, and even in the absence of moral CERTITUDE, we can see that we still have to make moral choices and in the context of which side to err on, they are clear if you believe in human dignity.

    For the record, it is not just sex that is the only form of lust or usury. All forms of usury of human beings are wrong. If, for instance, I held the view of my father that I didn't really love, respect, or feel fidelity towards him but I happily took his money and help when it suited me, this would be a crushing misuse of the human person and a heartbreaking violation of an intimate bond - that of the family. Or, to make it broader, it is a profoundly horrifying misuse of the human person to have children work in sweatshops; we are full of lust and greed when we say, "I know that enslaved children made this rug, but I will buy it anyway because I want it; their bodies can be used for a purpose that pleases me without regard to their dignity or true purpose as human beings."

    Some people flinch when I equate the usury of premarital sex to things like child labor, but I think it's completely apt. Have you ever heard the phrase "Let peace begin with me?" I believe it. And so, also, let a view that human bodies should never be used and abandoned for the gratification of others begin with each one of us, in our own hearts, and bodies, and beds. And again, if you aren't sure about the morality, that's fine, but ask yourself on what side we all should err.

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  172. Just catching up on the conversation. I haven't had a chance to read through all the comments, but one of Mary's yesterday (12:08 PM) caught me:

    "Society would be better off if mothers and fathers taught children that they are worth waiting for..."

    Right on! And especially Fathers. If we had Fathers who were literally willing to lay down their lives to protect their daughter's dignity (as we are called to do, and let young men know it), I'd venture to say a lot of the issues would start to be corrected very quickly.

    Getting the culture back to a place where dignity and sexual purity are both respected and protected is an uphill battle, but isn't that why God put us (Christians) here and now?

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  173. Sure, ok, I'll follow suit above like Mrs. M: My research focuses on the politics of historical representation, ideologies of modernity and decolonization. I utilize Foucault, Mignolo, Althusser, Ann Stoler, and a host of literature that deconstruct post-colonialism, decolonization and historiography. My methods include participant observation, formal interviews in English and a Native American language, triangulation, social networking strategies archival research, and videography.

    Do I think there is a moral component to sex? Only in so far as cultures ascribe a specific morality to the act. Furthermore, in order for the dominant 'correct' and 'moral' designation of sex to be lorded over as superior, there has to be the threat of 'immoral' sex in order to reinforce dominant ideologies about sex and sexuality. When missionaries arrived in southeast asian and south pacific cultures they brought with them the idea of 'proper' sex and were horrified by Indigenous practices of sexuality. Where do you think the 'missionary position' comes from?

    At the turn of the 19th Century in Hopi (before the full forces of colonization and missionaries) there was still an open sexual attitude about sex deemed appropriate for Hopi culture. Certain older clan and family relatives would be allowed to sexually 'tease' you and openly discuss sex with you unlike your parents; an auntie might say "hi handsome little man, did you sleep with me last night?"

    There are different ideas about what is correct, moral and immoral all over in terms of sex.

    -gwen

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  174. Also, it's another long day of work for me so I may not be able to get around to debating everyone who immediately jumps on me for daring to suggest there is more than ONE correct way to view sex.

    thanks,
    gwen

    go Maizeke!

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  175. Mrs. M, that is so interesting! Thank you.

    And Gwen, you said this:

    Certain older clan and family relatives would be allowed to sexually 'tease' you and openly discuss sex with you unlike your parents; an auntie might say "hi handsome little man, did you sleep with me last night?"

    There are different ideas about what is correct, moral and immoral all over in terms of sex.


    So, in your belief system, this conduct is "equal" to other ideas of sexual morality? Asking the little handsome man if he slept with auntie last night? In other words, we Americans can't judge that, correct, because it's not our culture and not our place to say what other societies might like or believe? I think that is consistent with what I have understood from the left, about the equality of cultures (well, maybe except western civilization and "patriarchy", which are not seen as equally "good", but that opens up a whole other discussion).

    Okay, so I am sure that I am just very thick or something, but then why is it bad when an uncle in America (who, let's say, subscribes to a pedophile culture -- a minority culture, but still real) says to his niece, "Hey pretty little girl, did you sleep with me last night?" Is it bad only because we don't decide as a larger group to accept it? In other words, it's not objectively wrong for an uncle to say that to his little niece, and if enough Americans can be convinced that it's acceptable, then it could be? And we can't judge if we evolve that way?

    Or am I missing something? I did get up early and I am tired. Help me out.

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  176. And, Gwen, I completely second your "go MaiZeke!" in the sense that I hope she will jump right back in and finally give me some straight answers to some very clear questions!

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  177. Miss G -

    Do you believe in objective human rights? For instance, do you believe that we can say it is "wrong" to kill 14-year-old wives in rural Afghanistan who run away from their husbands because culture of honor demands it? Though it is not our culture, are we imperialists for trying to stop those actions? I ask this without any flip agenda; some very astute people would suggest that it is none of our Western business, and they have compelling arguments, in truth. They are not compelling enough for me in light of the idea of human rights, but I won't dismiss them as worthless.

    What is your position?

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  178. Manda says: The point was that back in the day women who got pregnant out of wedlock were embarrassed and ashamed at their mistake...now they celebrate it like it's all gravy. Nobody says, "no baby shower for you"...the person who made that comment originally said that the women from back when just wouldn't have expected one.

    Manda, who shamed them into thinking they shouldn't expect a shower? Who told them that they should be ashamed? Who pointed out another woman having a child out of wedlock and said "THAT woman should be ashamed of herself and doesn't deserve a shower." This is basically the same thing as saying "No shower for you."

    Also, Manda says: If anyone ever tells me daughter she needs "good contraception" I'll give them a round house kick to the face hi-ya!

    Manda. Manda. Hold on here. Why are you asking me how I will teach my children about morals? So that you can reply with a swift kick in the mouth? Let's have a discussion, for goodness sake.

    Man, and you guys think *I* don't make any sense.

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  179. Leila thinks I am avoiding the question: Is there a moral dimension to sex? (Not just a practical or health dimension.)

    It is good to have sex with someone you love, who loves you, and someone with whom you would be happy to be tied to for the rest of your life. Even if you are not officially tied to them at the time.

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  180. Leila also asks this question, which I have answered like five billion times (forgive me, I live with a three-year-old).

    What is the source of truth, MaiZeke?

    wait for it ...

    free and open inquiry, reasoned discourse, supporting evidence, honest respect for opposing positions, and modern scientific methods.

    You keep asking, because the only answer you will accept is god. Your god, the one who talks through your pope, to be specific.

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  181. Leila asks: can you tell me (I am truly interested) what moral stance you have integrated into your life that actually makes you uncomfortable, or that, when you discovered the truth of it, made you change your whole life around to conform to it, even though it cost you dearly and was not at all what you desired?

    I do not eat every single thing I see or want. It is not morally good to be a glutton. When I discovered that eating made me fat, I changed my whole life to n ot be fat any more, and this is not what I desired.

    Or were you thinking more along the lines of sex? Or wearing a hair shirt, perhaps? Or not stealing from the dimestore?

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  182. Okay, I still don't know what that article taught you about believers? Since the vast majority of all thinkers (intuitive or otherwise) believe in a god or gods? Still not sure what you learned?

    I'm still learning every day. The statistics for atheists in the sciences is much higher - the vast majority of scientists are atheists. This is just helping me to figure out how to interact with others. Like I said when I first got here, I'm not super happy that I keep myself in a bubble of academics, scientists, and liberals. There are a lot more people out there who don't think like me, and I'm just trying to figure out why they don't. This study-or-no-study is a good study on how people think differently, and because they think differently it is unlikely they will ever be able to come to a conclusion.

    Maybe if I can start to understand how the intuitive thinkers are thinking through their intuition, I can come away from the rational stance I prefer and have a discussion from an intuitive standpoint. I'll give it a shot - it will either work or it won't, and after that I'll have more data to support or not support that theory.

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  183. Did you get that story problem posted by Nicholas or any in the study, correct, maizeke?

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  184. Leila says: Also, you are quite fine with abortion, so why would anyone you know need to be stuck with a baby anyway? Can't they just abort the baby and go on with their life as planned? That is the point of abortion (which you support) right? So, I'm confused there. If contraception fails (as it often does), just abort. Or, do you have moral reservations about abortion?

    Three or four sentences saying the same thing - this must be an important point.

    Apparently all of the pro-choicers around here have not yet disabused you of the notion that we aren't running around saying "Abort! Abort!" The operative word is "choice". If my niece got pregnant and wanted to have the child, then awesome! I don't remember who, but some catholic commenter said a coworker was not married and had a shower, and the commenter was trying hard not to show shock. Another coworker made a sarcastic comment like, "Well, at least she's not aborting it!"

    Can nobody ever win with you all? What is it that should happen if someone makes a mistake - what EXACT path should that person take without incurring your ire? Is t here any possible path that will not incur your ire? They can't NOT have the baby. They can't NOT get married. They can't ever get away from the father because if they divorce late in life they incur the wrath of children like JoAnna.

    I so wish everyone were perfect just like you all are, but they are not. When we (liberals) don't shame people into following the path you mandate, we call it compassion, not loose morals. And compassion is a moral good.

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  185. Off to go biking again, my three-year-old got a new bike a few weeks ago and he is all about riding his bike these days.

    I know nobody really asked me, but my areas of study are math, computer science, and librarianship. And I have the perfect job for it.

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  186. Nubby says: Did you get that story problem posted by Nicholas or any in the study, correct, maizeke?

    Nubby, I have a quarter in my pocket. And nothing rhymes with Orange.

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  187. I will take that as a "no" .
    Is that because you weren't reflective? Too intuitive? Or because that study proves nothing about the intelligence or ability to think in regards to figuring story problems and believing in God?

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  188. "to say nothing when he is potentially catching a disease" The wrongness of the matter isn't the risk of catching a disease, it is in the treating of a human being as a toy. Having sex is NOT the same as going to a movie or dinner together, just entertainment. The intrinsic value of a human being, teen, young or old, is what is missing. Like a rare painting, each human being is a unique masterpiece of God. Treating any human being's body as just a plaything is to disrespect it's creator, even as adding a mustache to a masterpiece.

    Sex is wrongly thought of as for having fun. It is a means of showing respect and giving love, not taking it. The commandment was "Love your neighbor", not "Take his love."

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  189. MaiZeke, you said in response to Leila's question about the source of truth:

    "free and open inquiry, reasoned discourse, supporting evidence, honest respect for opposing positions, and modern scientific methods."

    These all look like ways of *discovering* truth to me, not the actual source of it. Or are you saying the human mind/brain is THE source of truth? That truth originates in human brains (or our five sense interpreted by our brains)? This would also mean there was no truth before human beings populated the earth?

    Just trying to figure this out.

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  190. MaiZeke: "I so wish everyone were perfect just like you all are, but they are not."

    To be fair, many here, including Leila, have made it clear they don't believe they are perfect and have even shared difficult stories about their pasts.

    I think many (liberal or conservative or any religion) recoil when they see a person who "made a mistake" flaunt it as a "good thing" instead of humbly say, wow, I made a mistake! Now I am NOT saying the girl who had the shower was actually doing that, but I suspect that's where the person struggling to feel good about the situation was coming from (or hey, maybe she was just being super judgmental. Please don't pretend liberals are somehow superhuman and never get snarky or judgmental. That's just false). In regarding to "at least she didn't abort", I didn't see that comment, but 9 times out of 10, that is said not out of snarkiness but out of genuine gratitude.

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  191. free and open inquiry, reasoned discourse, supporting evidence, honest respect for opposing positions, and modern scientific methods.

    Sarah, thank you for what you said about the above. I was going to say the same thing. These are not "sources" of truth. This is how MaiZeke determines what she believes to be true.

    So, yes, I ask for the billionth time (I deal with children all day long too, MaiZeke):

    What is the *source* of truth. (Not "how do you determine truth".)

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  192. Leila thinks I am avoiding the question: "Is there a moral dimension to sex? (Not just a practical or health dimension.)"

    It is good to have sex with someone you love, who loves you, and someone with whom you would be happy to be tied to for the rest of your life. Even if you are not officially tied to them at the time.


    MaiZeke, can I take this as meaning "Yes, there is a moral dimension to sex?"

    For sake of saving time, I am going to assume that you do mean "yes".

    So, if you could, please tell me why, it is morally "good" (if that's what you meant) to have sex with someone you love. And does that mean it's morally "bad" to have sex with someone you don't love?

    Thanks! Trying to figure out what you're thinking.

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  193. I do not eat every single thing I see or want. It is not morally good to be a glutton. When I discovered that eating made me fat, I changed my whole life to n ot be fat any more, and this is not what I desired.

    I don't understand the last part. Are you saying that "being fat" was not what you desired, or "not eating every single thing you see or want" is not what you desired?

    I think you mean that you gave up gluttony so that you would get what you desired, which is being thin (or healthy, whatever). To me that sounds specifically like a health issue, and that you changed your habits for health reasons?

    I guess I was talking about something more deep than deciding to go on a diet. I meant: You discover that truth is at odds with what you've always believed or done, or what you feel or desire for yourself. Have you ever had to conform your life to such a newly discovered truth?

    Here's what I mean. Some secularists stop using hormonal contraception because of health risks. That is not what I mean. People do a lot of things to improve their health and no one bats an eye. The person has not fundamentally changed a thing, on the level of Truth. She still doesn't see it as a moral issue, just a health one.

    But some secularists (and Christians) are moved to stop using hormonal contraception because they were confronted with the truth (as they discovered it) that to use it is immoral. Not just unhealthy. But also immoral. This type of change of heart is deeply profound, and nothing like the first example. One's whole life and identity are shaken up and changed because of this awakening to an external truth, which then one must conform one's life to no matter the cost, real or perceived. It's a moral imperative.

    I guess I'm asking more along those lines. Is there a moral law that you have discovered, with all your criteria, that has shaken you to the very core of who you are and turned your world on its head, compelling you not just to change your health lifestyle, but compelling you to conform your entire life to that truth, and its implications?

    Just curious. Seriously not a trick question.

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  194. Perfect? Oh my, I am so far from perfect it's not even funny. I stipulate imperfection on a massive scale over here.

    You said:
    Apparently all of the pro-choicers around here have not yet disabused you of the notion that we aren't running around saying "Abort! Abort!" The operative word is "choice". If my niece got pregnant and wanted to have the child, then awesome!

    No, we are not saying that and we NEVER HAVE. Of course you don't want all babies aborted!! I even wrote a whole post on that. An entire post, answering Michelle, who inferred the same thing. It is bizarre to me that you can't get what we are saying.

    Of course you are fine with many, many children being born. And you are willing to love those children. But correct me if I am wrong: you are saying that given the choice of having a baby or aborting a baby both choices are morally equivalent. Isn't that right? In your mind, one choice (to have the baby) is no better or worse than another choice (to abort the baby). Correct?

    Morally neutral.

    So, what is it that we don't understand?

    We simply would say that shredding a child in the womb is not morally equivalent to sheltering a child in the womb. In fact, we would say that the former is evil and the latter is good.

    But how do you extrapolate from that that we are saying that you are running around screaming "ABORT!"

    I am truly not understanding that reaction.

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  195. Anyone have thoughts on Brandon's distinctions at 3:52AM? Nicholas? MaiZeke? Gwen? Mary?

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  196. If THAT is what you all think we do over here in atheist-land, then I can see why you think we are going to hell in a handbasket. To add insult to our injury, if we try to correct this completely incorrect view of secularist morality, we are rebuked with the statements that the pope is simply not to be disagreed with, because (how do you say?) the pope studies philosophy. The pope is smarter than MaiZeke, so he must know what MaiZeke's moral stance is. And everyone else's too. Reminds me of your god.

    Ah, irony. You accuse me (or rather, all Catholics?) of holding an incorrect view of atheist philosophy and in the same paragraph expound upon a completely incorrect view of Catholic philosophy.

    Here's the thing, MaiZeke. The Pope did NOT say, "All atheists subscribe to this philosophy" when speaking of the dictatorship of relativism. He said he sees that particular philosophy as becoming prevalent in modern society. No doubt it is espoused by many atheists, but there are probably some who hold to a different philosophy altogether.

    Here's the thing. If you were studying biology, whose opinion would you find more compelling -- the man who has several postgraduate and doctoral degrees in biological sciences, and who has spent his entire adult life studying the biological sciences, or the Random Person on the Internet who has read a couple of books on biology and even knows a couple of biologists?

    You'd say the first guy, right? If so, then why do you find it so difficult to comprehend that I (personally) think the Pope just MIGHT have a slightly better grasp on philosophy than you do?

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