Category Archives: Character Morality

What is Moral Corruption?

This post sketches out a condition of a person’s moral character in which the person needs moral help. The person does not know how to move out of a condition of being in fact in conflict with the moral law, is aware of being in conflict with the moral law, regrets being in conflict with the moral law despite having excusing conditions. He does not feel justified in what he is doing although he feels that he is doing the best under the circumstance.

I frequently wondered why a government in which bureaucrats regularly required bribes for performance of duties which they are paid to perform is called “corrupt.” I associate “corrupt” with rotten meat, wood or some material object ready to fall apart. These so-called corrupt governments or systems last for long periods of time: even centuries. So I needed to develop a concept of corruption which brings to the forefront that it is regular intentional law breaking. Such a concept is proposed in this post. I can focus on moral law. Accepting bribes is in violation of the legal laws of a society and breaking the legal laws, for the most part, is contrary to moral law.

Corruption is a negative feature of a person’s moral character. Particular acts are right or wrong: In compliance with the moral law or in conflict with the moral law. Corruption qualifies the whole of a person’s character even if there is only one kind of moral law being regularly violated. Corruption is not sufficient for making someone a morally bad person

A person has a corrupt moral character if that person knowingly, intentionally, regularly violates a moral law and has no intention to stop the practice. Thus a bureaucrat who regularly takes bribes in a system where that is the practice and who intends to keep his position is morally corrupt. This bureaucrat may be an exemplary person in all other respects; yet he is morally corrupt. A married man who is a womanizer is morally corrupt even if he has the charm and talent to be an otherwise good husband, father and citizen. If he is satisfied with his womanizing he is harden in his moral corruption. The opening paragraphy of this post calls attention to the plight of people not hardened in their corruption. A corrupt person who wishes to get out of the corrupting practice and keeps alert for ways to get out of the practice has weak moral corruption.

Much more could be written to elaborate this notion of moral corruption. But here I want to extend it to apply to Catholic moral marital law discussed in a previous post on controversy about Pope Francis’ hints that certain divorced Catholics could receive the Eucharist. A civilly married Catholic couple, at least one of whom has been divorced from a valid Catholic marriage, is living contrary to Catholic moral law unless they abstain from sexual relations. From the Catholic perspective both are morally corrupt. Pope Francis has suggested that if the corruption in such a couple is weak corruption reception of the Catholic Eucharist may be a spiritual aid for helping them overcome their corruption.

A problem is that there are sacramental laws specifying that people in such a corrupt state ought not receive the Eucharist. We need to be concerned that such married couples and their spiritual advisors not become corrupt with respect to the laws for reception of the Eucharist. This problem of not becoming corrupt by coming in conflict with other laws while trying to heal another type of corruption needs to be discussed in subsequent posts.

My book on sexual morality emphasizes the importance of character formation in sexual morality.

My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. The publisher’s listed price is $26.99. Printed copies can be purchased here by credit card for $3.99, plus $3.71 for shipping and handling.





To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $3.99 plus $3.71 for shipping and handling per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.
Columbus, Ohio 43214
Include your shipping address.

Love requires moral rules to found the moral law

Jesus agreed, Lk 10:27 that the principles: “Love the Lord your God above all things and your neighbor as yourself” provides a foundation for all the laws of morality and religion. This agreement may suggest to Christians that love alone is sufficient foundation for morality. However, proper love is only a necessary condition for morality. There needs to be knowledge, or awareness, of rules on how we ought to act and how we ought to be. To modify an aphorism of Kant: “Love without rules is blind but rules without love are inoperative.”

Proper love is to choose the good for the beloved. But what is the good for God and for others? The good for God is what God wills. God wills what ought to be. So loving God is to choose what God wills, or what ought to be. Now, because the good is what God wills, loving ourselves and others is to choose what God wills for them and ourselves, or what ought to be for ourselves and others. So the problem of how to love our neighbors as ourselves becomes the problem of finding out what ought to be and developing the will to choose what we have found out what ought to be.

For humans, because we choose particular acts at particular times, what we ought to be is bipartite. We ought to choose those particular acts we ought to choose and become the kind of people who regularly choose the acts we ought to choose. So morality requires knowing the rules for the particular acts in particular circumstances we ought to choose and struggling to become people who keep those rules. If we are making that struggle we are loving. That struggle is building moral character. So, if we are struggling to form our moral character, we are loving God and our neighbor as ourselves. Perhaps grace of God is necessary to motivate us to start and persevere in the struggle to build moral character. By hard thinking throughout the ages humanity has uncovered the basic rules on how we ought to act in regard to controlling our basic passions and inclinations.

I wrote a book on sexual morality using the above notion of character morality.
Read more about character sexual morality in my book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. The publisher’s listed price is $26.99. Printed copies can be purchased here by credit card for $12.99, plus $3.71 for shipping and handling.





To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $16.70 per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.
Columbus, Ohio 43214
Include your shipping address.

Male Masturbators are Immoral

Male masturbators are immoral because they are acting on a principle or maxim that they can enjoy up through orgasm any imaginable sexual activity. There are, of course, external constraints on enjoying these activities with any unimagined person beyond oneself. There is fear of legal and social disapproval, lack of any interested partner, etc. The masturbator, though, places no internal restrictions, beyond his sexual interest, on these activities. There is no internal restriction on expanding these sexual interests when more exciting fantasies are needed for orgiastic pleasure.

The acts of a masturbator are not as serious as the acts of a man who actually carries out the sexual fantasy of the masturbator. But their sexual characters are the same. For instance, the masturbatory act of a man imagining fellatio with a nine year old boy is certainly not as serious as the act of a man who does it. But they both share the principle that they can enjoy this kind of activity.

Accepting a practice of masturbation is the basic form of an immoral sexual character for any man. Why? It puts him in conflict with any morality because in his imagination he can flout any rule. Any sexual morality will condemn some sexual activity*. A man who accepts his practice of masturbation holds that no only imagined sexual activities can be condemned.

*(Utilitarian moral outlooks which hold that in principle any sexual activity is permissible will hold some are in fact impermissible because of the damage they do.)

If this condemnation of masturbation interests, or irritates, you, my book defending traditional sexual morality might also be of interest.
My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. The publisher’s listed price is $26.99. Printed copies can be purchased here by credit card for $12.99, plus $3.71 for shipping and handling.





To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $16.70 per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.
Columbus, Ohio 43214
Include your shipping address.

Immorality of Suicide and Physician Assisted Suicide

In this post, I lay out a moral objection to physician assisted suicide. Do not be “put-off” by the academic style of presenting a series of numbered claims linked together to draw conclusions. The numbered claims highlight crucial assumptions. This highlighting facilitates focusing on what needs to be discussed in evaluation of this moral condemnation of suicide. A full examination of the assumptions is not undertaken in this post. I make only a few supporting remarks below the argument.

1. I have a moral obligation to be morally correct human beings under any conditions.
By re-expressing (1) negatively, we get:
2. Under no conditions am I permitted to choose not to be a morally correct human being.
Now let us switch to applying the general moral law to my plans and choices.
3. If I plan to take, or have someone else take, my life I plan not to be under some conditions.
4. If I plan not to be under some conditions, then I plan not to be a morally correct human being under some conditions. (Being is a necessary condition for being morally correct.)
So, linking (3) and (4) we get:
5. If I plan to take, or have some take, my life , then I plan not to be a morally correct human being under some conditions.
Suppose
6. I plan to take, or have someone take, my life by making provisions for physician assisted suicide.
We get from 5) and (6)
7. I plan not to be a morally correct human being under some conditions.
Obviously, my plan expressed in (7) is in direct conflict with the moral law expressed in (2). This conflict is the moral condemnation of choosing suicide or physician assisted suicide.

Claim (1) brings out that my case starts from a moral claim. My argument is not based on only natural non-moral facts. I use first person singular, but the moral claim is for all people. If we do accept morality, it is quite plausible to accept an obligation to be moral, viz., a morally correct human being. A “Kantian” moral theory justifying (1) is developed in my book. If there is anything special in this condemnation of suicide it is expressed in (3). Choice of suicide is a choice not to be. It may seem that choice of suicide is a choice not to be in some miserable condition. However, a not to be is chosen as a means for not being in a miserable condition.

I have written a book in which defending traditional sexual morality using as a crucial premise that we have a moral obligation to be morally correct people. To get a sexual morality from that general moral principles, I show that there are specific ways men and women ought to exercise their sexuality. My book gets complicated because I argue that if we do not accept that there are specific ways men and women ought to exercise their sexuality – which I call the moral neutrality of sexuality- then there are no specific ways people ought to be. If there are now specific ways people ought to be, then there is no morality. Everything is permitted including suicide, of course. Nothing matters. That is nihilism.

My book arguing that sexual neutrality leads to nihilism is Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. The publisher’s listed price is $26.99. Printed copies can be purchased here by credit card for $12.99, plus $3.71 for shipping and handling.





To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $16.70 per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.
Columbus, Ohio 43214
Include your shipping address.

On Ohio State’s “Consent is Sexy” Posters

As an emeritus faculty member, I regularly swim and work out in The Ohio State University’s Recreation and Physical Activity Center (RPAC). At Ohio State, and throughout the country, there is serious concern about the problem of frequent, to put it mildly, less than fully consensual sexual activity amongst university students. Posters in RPAC proclaiming “Consent is Sexy” address the concern. One poster showing the heads and bare shoulders of an attractive couple looking into each other’s eyes tells us “When you look into each other’s eyes and see that you really want each other, now, that’s sexy!” On another we read “When you both tell each other what you want to do, now, that’s hot!”

I came to Ohio State in the early sixties as an assistant professor of philosophy In those days, the university explicitly accepted the role in loco parentis in governing student life in accordance with middle class morality. Indeed, I once served as a chaperone at a student dance! In the sixties the sexual revolution was beginning. In the second decade of the twenty first century, the revolutionaries are in control. They are finding that it is far easier to control public opinion than the strong sexual inclinations they have unleashed. The sexual morality of the revolution is no longer revolutionary. It is middle class morality. With words “sexy” and “hot” in the “Consent is sexy” posters, the university in its in loco parentis capacity is preaching the new permissive sexual morality. The new morality is preached not only to students. During Parent/Student orientation, RPAC is proudly shown to both parents and students. With the word “consent” the revolutionaries are conceding that the new sexual morality has not produced a garden of earthly delights.

These posters and the new sexual morality make me sad. Middle class morality is telling its children that this is what your life is all about and it is not much: getting pleasure. Your sexual inclinations are too strong for you to avoid promiscuity but at least we can avoid coercion and give you moresexual pleasure thereby.

There is a sexual morality at work here! By implication coercive sexual acts are morally condemned and hot sexy consensual acts are extolled as a great human good not to be inhibited and actively sought. Call hot sexy consensual acts voluptuous.

I argue in my Confronting Sexual Nihilism for a fundamental principle of traditional sexual morality which, is obviously, contrary to the new progressive morality. I am assuming that the typical sexual activity celebrated in the posters is between university students who are not married to each other nor committed to a long term relation. What might be a fundamental principle for sexual morality which would morally justify, and indeed celebrate, these acts because consensual? A statement of this principle which could be the principle underlying these progressive moral judgments might lead to questioning of these judgments by those accepting the “Consent is Sexy” sexual morality. The principle will seem so obviously wrong about the significance of human sexuality.

I write of a principle which could underly these progressive moral judgments. I use ‘could’ because particular moral judgments may not be based on any principle and a variety of principles could lead to the same judgment. But I want to propose a line of thought that leads to the progressive judgments and which is a very plausible principle if you think about morality being to promote what could be called the natural end of a system. (If you are uninterested in philosophical reasoning, skip down to Formulation of the Progressive Principle.

To uncover this fundamental principle, I shall stipulate a distinction between ‘function’ and ‘purpose’ to mark ‘function’ as a descriptive term and ‘purpose’ as a moral term. Human sexuality is that wide variety of behaviors constituting human courting, mating and bonding which a behavioral zoologist “from another planet” would pick out as the human reproductive behavior.

Human sexuality has several functions, or conditions it regularly brings about. Let us focus on three. Of course, one function is to lead men and women through courtship to mate for procreation and bond monogamously for care of the children and mutual support. In my book, I take the moral stance that this parental function is the purpose of human sexuality. I pay little attention to it here.

Another function of sexuality typically leads men and women, but not necessarily men and women, to form those intense relatively long-lived bonding relations we call ‘being in love.’ I cannot add anything to that complicated and incomplete answer to “what is this thing called love?” except to say that a fundamental moral stance about sexuality is to hold that the purpose of sexuality is to produce, promote and protect romantic love. Let us here note romantic love as a possible purpose of sexuality as a reminder that there are alternatives to procreation and parenting vs. genital sexual pleasure as the purpose of sexuality.

A third function of sexuality is to produce those unforced hot, sexy,viz., voluptuous matings, but not necessarily heterosexual, extolled in Ohio State’s “Consent is Sexy” posters.

To regard a function F of a system S as the purpose P of S is to hold that S and other systems are to be used to promote P and that no systems, especially not S, are to be used to inhibit P.

What would it mean to regard procreation and parenting as the purpose of sexuality? It would mean that we should control our sexuality to promote them and should not use our sexuality, especially in its functions of producing pleasure and love, to work against procreation and parenting. Of course, when pursuit of pleasure and romance promote procreation and parenting, they are to be encouraged. The progressive stance regards voluptuous matings as the purpose of sexuality. What principle follows from the progressive stance?

Fomulation of the progressive principle: we ought to promote voluptuous matings and not let any other function of sexuality such as love or marriage stand in their way. Of course, when love or marriage happen to go along with voluptuous sex, that is good fortune.

Why did the awareness that these peak sexual experiences were being promoted as the purpose of sexuality make me sad? There are costs associated with promotion of these hot sexy matings. There is need for contraceptives and education in their use along with backup abortion services. Constant vigilance needs to be exercised so that opportunities for these matings do not slide into occasions for less than consensual sex. Most of all, though, it was because a person’s sexuality is inseparable from who and what that person is. These posters, with their underlying sexual morality, are telling students that the best in their lives are short lived periods of intense sexual pleasure and that is not much. Girls are boy toys and boys are studs.

In my book, I argue that this trivialization of sexuality for young people when generalized to hold for all people leads to nihilism. See below how to purchase my book.

My book arguing that sexual neutrality leads to nihilism is Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. The publisher’s listed price is $26.99. Printed copies can be purchased here by credit card for $12.99, plus $3.71 for shipping and handling.





To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $16.70 per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.
Columbus, Ohio 43214
Include your shipping address.

A Subtle Maxim of Infidelity

In my book Confronting Sexual Nihilism, I suggest that there could be six fundamental principles for sexual morality. Sexuality has three components: courting, mating and bonding. I propose that men and women might have different fundamental principles for each component of sexuality. I focus on the fundamental principle of male mating. The basic male mating principle held that a man should not intentionally seek to have an orgasm, viz., disperse sperm, except in the vagina of a woman to he whom is bound in a lifetime commitment to care for her and any children resulting from that discharge. I really think that women need to formulate a fundamental principle concerning what a woman may intend to accomplish and what she ought never intend to accomplish through an act of sexual intercourse.However, I am not so convinced that men and women need separate principles for their sexual bonding.
In this post, I assume that men and women share a common bonding principle which is well expressed in traditional Catholic marriage vows. After stating the bonding principle by transforming the wedding promises into moral commands, I will apply the principle to a moral issue in a marriage.

In the principle the female terms can replace the male terms as appropriate.

She is your lawful wife, you will be true to her in good times and bad, in sickness and in health, you will love her and honor her until death parts you.

Obviously the principle condemns acts of marital infidelity and the personal policies or maxims in accordance with which the person chooses to commit the infidelity. Frequently, these maxims are rationalizations such as when my wife is sick I am entitled to some sexual relief. In sexual infidelity, both the act and the maxim are clearly wrong.

But let us consider a more subtle case. Suppose that a couple have been married twenty seven years and have been sexually faithful all those years. They have three children: Two daughters in their twenties and one son still in high school. The high school student received a speeding ticket, told his father and his father paid the $160.00 fine. The father and son agreed not to tell his mother. The mother would display much anger and demand that the boy have his driving privileges taken away for at three months. The husband desiring “peace and quiet” in the house which would result from his wife scolding and his son sulking. Also he does not want to arrange for alternative transportation to his son’s high school to which the boy drives.

Now the act of not telling his wife is no violation of his wedding vows. I do not think the act of not telling even violates fundamental principles about truth telling as long as he would be prepared to say what happened if directly asked by his wife. He would not say what is not true although he hopes not to say everything which is true.

But we look at his maxim and character we find dangerous moral flaws. His maxim is something such as: I may let my wife be deceived about something she would want to know about because her knowledge would be inconvenient for me. This maxim is inconsistent with his wedding promise. He is open to being untrue to her and letting her be deceived by being in ignorance is not honoring her. His marital fidelity is morally flawed without ever having “cheated on his wife”.

I hope this example shows the value of the moral theory I develop in my book in which moral judgment involves judging the acts we choose as well as the personal policies on the basis of which we choose them.
My book arguing that sexual neutrality leads to nihilism is Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. The publisher’s listed price is $26.99. Printed copies can be purchased here by credit card for $12.99, plus $3.71 for shipping and handling.





To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $16.70 per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.
Columbus, Ohio 43214
Include your shipping address.

Penance : Fulfillment of Our Obligation to Express Moral Wrath

This post is a criticism and development of my previous two posts on penance.
February 16, 2015: Penance: Pain as a Scapegoat Which Carries Away Moral Evil
February 24, 2015:Penance: Guilt, Shame, Self-Loathing as Penitential Pain

In those posts, I interpreted penance as self inflicted pain to make up for and restore oneself after commission of a moral wrong. An act of masturbation was the example of an immoral act so that there would be no issues of compensating other people. Four dimensions of making up for and restoring were noted. Restitution was inflicting a pain to pay for an immorally attained satisfaction. This could be a simple fast of skipping a meal. Rehabilitation was inflicting pain so that by becoming accustomed to enduring dissatisfaction aesonould be less likely to subcumb to temptations to seek immoral satisfactions.Again a simple fast could be an example of penance. Deterrence was inflicting pain with a threat to inflict it again if we pursued the immoral satisfaction. Taking a cold shower with threats of subsequent cold showers is an example of a deterring penance. My focus was on the retributive dimension of penance. Retribution is the most difficult dimension for which to articulate a motivation even if in some people the need for it is strongly felt.

In retribution we inflict a pain to represent to ourselves our moral evil, i.e., breaking a moral law, as physical or mental damage. This physical or mental damage intentionally connected with the moral damage can be called punishment. Punishment is always a physical or mental pain. Punishment is imposed for moral reasons but the punishment itself is factual (empirical) not moral. Penance is self-inflicted punishment.With recovery from the connected factual damage the moral damage is cleansed or healed. The factual damage becomes a “scapegoat” which carries away the moral damage.

Perhaps my account of retributive penance accounts for why some, or even many, people do punish themselves for immoral behavior with a hard to articulate sense that it makes them clean or healthy again. But an account of why some people punish themselves does not justify their doing so and certainly does not give support to a claim that this type of retributive punishment is what we ought to do.. Now my goal is to make a case that we ought to perform retributive penance.

Why ought connect factual damage with moral damage by inflicting factual damage on an offender because of his moral damage? If we do not accept a prescription for conduct as a command coming from ourselves in which we both think and feel that factual damage be imposed on violators we do not accept it as a moral law. Thinking and feeling that factual damage be imposed on violators simply because they violated a moral law is moral wrath. Genuine acceptance of what we think ought to be requires internalizing the prescription. Internalizing a prescription requires feeling that it ought to be followed because what it commands is right. This feeling that it ought to be followed because it is right has as a complementary feeling a sense that a violator ought to be damaged in some factual way simply because he did not act as he ought. Acting on this moral wrath is retribution. In retribution we do not seek to accomplish anything by imposition of the damage beyond striking back after violation of the law. To be sure, as noted above, in inflicting damage after a violation, we may hope to accomplish restitution, rehabilitation and deterrence. But retribution is simply to express the obligation to react negatively to violations of a moral law we have internalized, viz., genuinely accepted.

Penance, then, is retribution inflicted on ourselves for our own violations of morality. As the wounds from our self-inflicted moral wrath heal, we often have a sense of being healed or cleansed.

My thoughts about penance, forgiveness etc., come from my emphasis on sexual immorality as producing moral harm in my book Confronting Sexual Nihilism .
My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. The publisher’s listed price is $26.99. Printed copies can be purchased here by credit card for $12.99, plus $3.71 for shipping and handling.





To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $16.70 per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.
Columbus, Ohio 43214
Include your shipping address.

Duty is Compatible with Love

This Post interrupts my series of posts on gradualism of the law. However, it clarifies the moral theory I use in my book. This moral theory, which I call character morality, underlies what I say about gradualism.

The “Kantian” character morality which I use in my book Confronting Sexual Nihilism distinguishes between being the right kind of person and doing what is right. Being the right kind of person is being a person with good moral character. Doing what is right requires choosing the act in a situation required by the moral law specifying what ought to be done in that situation. Right action, then, requires at least implicit recognition of moral rules. The right kind of person develops maxims, or personal policies for acting, of the form of choosing the act in situations required by the rules of morality. Becoming the right kind of person requires choosing to develop maxims in accordance with the moral laws because having such maxims is the right way to be. Character, and maxims constituting good character, need to be chosen because they are right, viz., the morally right character and maxims to have. Good moral character has to be chosen for its own sake. If you choose having a good moral character for some other goal such as reputation, happiness or even heaven, you do not really have good moral character but a system of habits you would set aside if you discovered that they did not lead to that other goal.

Rather than trying further to clearly define my terms, here I hope to clarify this distinction between doing what is right and being the right kind of person by confronting a challenge that is often brought against this type of character morality. This challenge focuses on the phrase “choosing what is right because it is right.” Often the right act to perform needs to be done with some motive different from a sense of duty, i.e., choosing it because it is right.

For instance, the right act may be for me to show and share, to some extent, my wife’s interest in shopping. This moral law of sharing an interest in my wife’s interest could be traced back to some more fundamental moral principle about a spouse’s duty. But going back to first principles is not my concern here. So, I am obliged to do two kinds of acts. One kind is choosing to accompany her on particular trips with a show of interest. A second kind is to choose to do various things to develop a genuine inclination to make such trips. My duty to share her interest in shopping cannot be accomplished while having even in the back of my mind that I am doing my duty by becoming interested in the shopping trip. My duty is to become interested in the shopping directly; not to perform my duty.

These choices to go on shopping trips and develop an interest in that kind of activity rest on a policy I have adopted of trying to be a husband who does not neglect his wife. My maxim is to share innocent interests with my wife. If I am building moral character by choosing to have this maxim I can do so because it is morally right. It is a morally right maxim because it is consistent with a general moral requirement that I am to love my wife. Love requires wishing for her welfare and this includes enjoyment of innocent activities.

Contrast this shopping situation with one where a man has a wife who loves malicious gossip. (My wife does NOT have this vice.) A maxim of sharing this interest with his wife would not be consistent with more general moral rules. A man could not choose this maxim because it is right.

In review: In character morality acts are to be chosen with the motivation morally proper for those acts. However, maxims for choosing acts are to be chosen because they are the morally right maxims. I should choose the maxim of trying to be a proper husband simply because it is the right maxim to have. Once I have chosen that maxim, the acts I choose to implement that maxim, or personal policy, are to be motivated by inclinations needed for them to be sincere actions, if the actions are of the kind which require both external behavior and inner feelings.

A last note about a good man being a better lover:
Some might think that I should choose to be a good husband because I love my wife. I do not slight my wife by choosing to be a good husband because that is morally right. Indeed, being a good husband because of love for my wife makes me less than a reliable husband. Love is so hard so separate from feelings. With the lessening of feelings of love my sense of duty towards my wife may well diminish. Once I accept the duty to be a good husband because that is the kind of man I ought to be, I have all the particular duties of maintaining, cultivating feelings of love and showing love.
My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. The publisher’s listed price is $26.99. Printed copies can be purchased here by credit card for $12.99, plus $3.71 for shipping and handling.





To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $16.70 per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.
Columbus, Ohio 43214
Include your shipping address.

Gradualism of the Law in Sexual Morality

For sexual morality a well-known example of practicing gradualism of the law comes from Augustine when he prays in his Confessions. “Lord, make me chaste, but not yet.”

“Gradualism of the law” is a practice of gradually bringing oneself to a decision to obey a law which one is now violating. Some non-moral examples show the reality of this practice. Suppose a law of personal health requires a person to exercise regularly. A man who needs to exercise more but rarely exercises hopes to start a plan of regular exercise sometime. He has it on his “agenda” to start such a program sometime. He goes along for several months thinking that he should start. He lets himself feel guilty about not having an exercise program. He is practicing gradualism of the law.

Finally, he decides to start exercising regularly. Because he has had a long history of not exercising, he occasionally fails to follow his program. He feels guilty about his failures to follow his program. However, his friends tell him that it will take time for him to become a regular exerciser. His friends are assuming a law of gradualism when they advise him not to lose heart because it takes time to overcome bad habits.

I leave it as an exercise for the reader to specify how someone who should go on diet first practices gradualism of the law and then keeps his morale up by reflecting on the law of gradualism.

In my book, I described a homosexual who hoped to somehow, sometime, stop engaging in homosexual acts. However, he had not yet made a firm decision to stop. I characterized him as a good man but not yet good enough. In respect to sexual acts, he was good by recognizing the correct moral principles. But was not good enough because he had not decided to try to conform to the correct moral law and, of course, was violating the sexual moral law for men. He would become a better man by resolving to conform to the law. Unfortunately, a resolve to conform to the law, which here means being celibate, does not guarantee conformity. Even if he fails from time-to-time he can hope that he will gradually build character to move completely beyond homosexual acts.

There are situations involving sexual behavior for which we should tolerate gradualism of the law as a first step towards developing a morally proper sexual character. We are not likely to set aside immoral behavior until we admit that it is wrong. Gradualism of the law starts by admiting, or at least conceding that perhaps, a moral law is being violated. Some guilt is felt. Unfortunately, admitting that a type of act violates a moral law and a bit of guilt is not sufficient for forming a firm purpose of amendment to stop violations. Indeed, a law of gradualism may be operating here. It takes time for guilt about violating a moral law to lead us to resolving to stop violations. It may take time for guilt to have its effect and to build up courage to stop. In ourselves, and for others, we may need tolerance to foster this build up. I use “tolerance” because wrong is being done with each violation of the law and the violator is not as he ought to be. With gradualism of the law we are tolerating evil! And it must be clear that evil is being done so that guilt can lead to resolve to stop.

In my next post I will discuss application of gradualism of the law for situations in Catholic sexual morality. These are situations of practicing artificial birth control and living in a marriage not sanction by the Catholic Church.

I discussed the birth control situation in my book.

My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. The publisher’s listed price is $26.99. Printed copies can be purchased here by credit card for $12.99, plus $3.71 for shipping and handling.





To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $16.70 per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.
Columbus, Ohio 43214
Include your shipping address.

Law of Gradualism vs. Gradualism of the Law

I. Some background on “The Law of Gradualism”

A. Gradualism in a report from the 2014 extraordinary synod on the family

On October 13, 2014 there was publication of an unofficial translation of opinions expressed at the Catholic Church’s extraordinary synod on the family. This preliminary report is titled in Latin Relatio post disceptationem and can be read as:”report after discussion.”This extraordinary synod ran from October 4 through October 19, 2014 in the Vatican. These published opinions were expressed in the first few days of the synod and are to be discussed in the remaining days. The extraordinary synod is, in effect, a preliminary meeting for the ordinary synod. A final statement of opinions will be published and form a basis for an ordinary or regular synod of Catholic bishops in the Vatican October 4 to October 25, 2015. This preliminary report has been regarded as radical by both progressives and conservatives and has not been well received by conservatives including me. Here, though, I do not want to criticize the preliminary report because it will be revised. It’s transitory. Also careful critique of it would require theological expertise which I lack. My goal is to elaborate on a concept used in this preliminary report since it connects with themes in my philosophy book on sexual morality. This concept is “the law of gradualism.”

See a Jimmy Akin Blog Post for a useful overview of the Law of Gradualness in the discussions about the bishop’s synod.

B. Gradualism in two Vatican documents,

1] From section 34 of John Paul II’s 1981 exhoration Familiaris Consortio in which amongst many other topics, he reaffirmed the condemnation of artificial birth control.

Married people too are called upon to progress unceasingly in their moral life, with the support of a sincere and active desire to gain ever better knowledge of the values enshrined in and fostered by the law of God. They must also be supported by an upright and generous willingness to embody these values in their concrete decisions. They cannot however look on the law as merely an ideal to be achieved in the future: they must consider it as a command of Christ the Lord to overcome difficulties with constancy. And so what is known as ‘the law of gradualness’ or step-by-step advance cannot be identified with ‘gradualness of the law,’ as if there were different degrees or forms of precept in God’s law for different individuals and situations.

2] From section 3,9 of the 1997 Handbook for Confessors on Conjugal Morality in which confessors are advised not to let penitents delay stopping a practice of artifical birth control as they gradually prepare themselves to stop it sometime or other.

The pastoral “law of gradualness”, not to be confused with the “gradualness of the law” which would tend to diminish the demands it places on us, consists of requiring a decisive break with sin together with a progressive path towards total union with the will of God and with his loving demands

B. My preliminary thoughts on the law of gradualism vs. gradualism of the law,

1. When should we use a law of gradualism? When a moral law requires us to bring about good state of affairs for which there are degrees of goodness for these states of affairs it is permissible and, indeed may be necessary to bring about the lesser goods as we develop attitudes and skills for bringing about the higher goods. For instance, a father has a duty to spend time with his children. However, because of focus on his job and low apptitude for interacting with children, he may have to start with just spending a few minutes each day with his children. However, he should gradually bring himself to spend more time with his children in more significant activities. This example suggests many areas of life in which we are wise to accept that we only grow gradually producing better and better situations.

2. What would it be like to practice gradualism of the law? The example of a father’s duty to spend time with his children can be used here. Suppose a young father thought that while the children were quite young and he was busy with his career, he would spend no time with them at all. He would completely neglect them with the mother or other caregivers having contact with the children. He would tell himself that when he grew older and had more inclination to spend time with his children he would do so. He plans to gradually start following the law. Well, as long as he totally neglects the law to spend time with his children, he is in the wrong and living, in that respect, immorally – not as he ought to live.

So, my interpretation of “gradualism of the law” is an intention, or hope, to stop violating a moral law sometime in the future when one feels ready to set aside present motives for violating the moral law in question. On this characterization of “gradualism of the law” a person who practices it does do what is morally wrong each time the person violates the law.

A significant question is whether or not practicing gradualism of the law has any place in moral life or moral development. Especially does it have any place in sexual morality.

My next post will address this question.

I dealt with this question in my book on sexual morality.

My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. The publisher’s listed price is $26.99. Printed copies can be purchased here by credit card for $12.99, plus $3.71 for shipping and handling.





To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $16.70 per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.
Columbus, Ohio 43214
Include your shipping address.