Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sexual Ethics From Almost 20 Years Ago . . .

I am amazed at how some right-wing bloggers love going through the college papers of Hillary Clinton or Michelle Obama and claim to uncover the secret ideology of that person. Of course Clinton and Michelle Obama both went to great schools and had ambitious papers. They should be commended for that.

After talking with a friend, I went back and revisited a sexual ethics paper, Sex, Love & Utilitarianism, I wrote while a student almost 20 years ago. It is about sexual ethics, a topic as a minister and newly single/divorced man, I've been thinking a good deal about. There are parts of this paper, I no longer agree with. Certainly, my worldview is more complicated than it was in 1989, but I think the core is quite helpful (for no one else than me).

I no longer view utilitarianisms as the ideal ethical system. I can't ever now imagine a case when incest could be morally acceptable. But this paper is an interesting part of my own ethical journey.

I guess I'm most proud of the line that, "Condemnations of homosexuals are based in misunderstanding and self-righteous assumptions. Such criticisms do not have a place in the world today." Of course, I knew I held that intellectually, but I probably wasn't personally at that place. For in 1989 there weren't many openly gay or lesbian individuals at Graceland.

I did not yet know what my brother was gay, as were many of my closest friends. I remember as a first year seminary student having an older man (and by older, he might have been my age now) come out to our small group as gay. Intellectually this was "no problem" for me, but I remember actually physically shaking because of the anxiety I had about being so close to a gay man.

Sigh. We are always growing and adapting. So, as if anyone is interested. I'm publishing this paper online. (Sex, Love & Utilitarianism is on Google Docs, a click should just take you there.)

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