Degenerate Hoodrats: A dialogue in Moral Theology

K: I get so pissed at people who are uptight over sexual sins. It isn’t exactly converting anyone, and everyone can see the hypocrisy.

DP: People still get uptight over sexual sin?

K: In my family, yes. [Some relative] would not attend a wedding because the bride and groom were living together beforehand.

DP: Yeah, that is uptight.

K: The same guy has an out-of-wedlock child. Who does he think he is? At any rate, fornication is not the evil some Catholics make it out to be. The couple are not choosing something evil, they are choosing something good. They aren’t waking up every day thinking they are going to do evil, they can have an otherwise healthy relationship.

DP: A Jesuit would say they are married in their hearts already.

K: Screw the Jesuits. No, they are not married in their hearts. They should get married but don’t know any better. Getting worked up about it is stupid.

DP:  Yeah, but there are two aspects to sexual sin: on the one hand it is a sin of the flesh, so it is not as dangerous to the soul as the sins of the spirit. It is easier for a sinner to convert from a sin like fornication than to stop being proud. On the other hand, sexual sin is a social evil: visit South Worcester and you see why. Middle-class parents don’t want their daughters to be sluts because they fear the daughter will go to hell but because they don’t want their grandchildren to be degenerate South Main hoodrats.

K: OK, so it is a social problem, but they are not choosing an evil thing. Besides, secular society counters degeneracy with education about contraceptives. I’m not saying that is a perfect solution but from a social perspective it should at least mitigate the negative effects.

DP: The problem with sin isn’t lack of knowledge. You are dealing with a biological and psychological  drive. Sluts know they should be on contraceptives but they have a vice so they slut around anyway.

K: OK, I’ll grant you that. You can extend the problem to something like gay marriage: the problem isn’t the gays, the problem is the social repercussions of forever separating marriage and family.

DP: Yeah, sex has a private aspect that is no one’s business, but it also has the very public aspect of creating families. Maybe sexual sin is analogous to littering. From the point of view of the litterer, it is not a big deal, but the effects of littering are a social evil. We get angry about littering not because litterer is evil, but because of the social effects.

K: No, I will not grant you that one. Littering is evil, sex is good. The fornicating couple is choosing something good, just not fitting for them, at this time. It seems like the default position for some people is that sex is like killing someone, evil, but it is OK if you are duly licensed by the state, as if a married man having sex with his wife is not sinning the same way a soldier at war is not sinning if he shoots an enemy in battle. That anti-sex attitude is the problem.

DP: OK, not a great analogy. Better yet, alcohol abuse: there are worse things than being a drunk as far as your soul is concerned, but drugs and alcohol cause more social problems – at least obvious, day to day ones – than pride or envy.

K: So sex is like getting drunk.

DP: No, drinking is good, drunkenness is not. Sins of the flesh all come down to intemperance. Not a perfect analogy but you get it.

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