The point of this post is to add some support for the intelligibility of a crucial notion I have been using in my interpretation of moral thought as based on commands of a moral authority who commands, amongst other things, that some harm ought to be as a consequence of moral infractions. I have heard it said that the notion of harm as mere retribution does not make sense; it does not serve any purpose. Infliction of harm simply for a past violation does not aim at making the future any better.
Let me be clear that the position I am criticizing, is not that there should be no harm after a violation. It is admitted by all that harm should result but that it should be aimed at improving the violator and/or society.
I grant that retributive harm is pointless in the sense of “pointless” which indicates lack of a future better condition at which the occurrence of harm is supposed bring us. However, “pointless” in this sense should not be confused with “senseless” with “senseless” being interpreted as “cannot be understood” as a phrase such as “Days barked all day long.”
The notion of harm which ought to be inflicted is understood if talk of it is frequently used. For this post, the usage cited as evidence that the notion of obligatory harm as pure retribution makes sense is “You ought to be ashamed of yourself.” People with widely divergent views on what is morally wrong, converge on their usage of this phrase. Progressives tell me that I ought to be ashamed of myself for disparaging gay marriage. I tell progressives that they ought to be ashamed of themselves for promoting gay marriage.
Shame is an uncomfortable emotional state. Both progressives and I think that it makes perfectly good sense to allege that the other OUGHT to suffer this uncomfortable state simply from having the morally wrong thoughts and attitudes about same sex marriage.
On June 26, 2015, the US Supreme Court ruled that the states of the United States must issue marriage licenses to same sex couples. This court decision expresses a view of sexual morality which has long been held by many moral philosophers and is now held by a large number, if not a majority, in Western societies. This view is that by themselves no sexual acts are morally forbidden. The morality of a sexual act is determined by asexual features such as whether or not there was proper consent. But apart from these external features there is no morally wrong way to attain a sexual satisfaction and there is no morally wrong way to develop our sexuality. If homosexuality can be celebrated, nothing sexual is, in principle, off limits. I call this “the moral neutrality of sexuality” as well as “sexual nihilism.” Use of “moral neutrality” is self-explanatory. Use of “sexual nihilism” is explained below.
Because of the prominence of the United States and because the court declared same sex marriage to be a constitutional right, we can say that the moral neutrality of sexuality is the standard sexual in Western societies. Acceptance of the moral neutrality of sexuality is not a rejection of all restraints on sexual behavior. Prohibitions against rape, sexual activity with very young children, etc. stay in place because they do non-sexual damage. Nonetheless acceptance of the moral neutrality of sexuality is dangerous because it leads to full nihilism.
I use “nihilism” to mean “everything is permitted” as Ivan Karamazov expressed it. If everything is permitted, nothing matters. Sexual nihilism is a specific form of nihilism: “everything sexual is permitted.” It is not obvious that sexual nihilism leads to the complete despair of nihilism. So, I have written a book to show that sexual nihilism, indeed, leads to full nihilism. So, I am distressed by my highest court’ s ruling that turns my country on the path to the despair and ultimate failure as a civiliation.
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.
There are serious topics related to discussion of same sex marriage. One of these topics is
how to accommodate in our economies the various types of households people form. Another topic is the nature and importance of friendship. However, trying to use the word ‘marriage’ and its cognate terms to characterize homosexual partnerships is frivolous.
Today there are many ways of forming households. There is need for serious
debate over the privileges, rights and duties of the members of the various types of
households. We do not, though, live by bread alone. We guide our lives by words,
symbols , concepts. Words can hurt words. When our valuable words are hurt we are
hurt. ‘Marriage’ is still a valuable word. Thus pro-homosexuals are grasping for it. If
they get it, what the word conveys won’t be worth wanting. (As noted in my Dec. 18
Blog Post classing a gay couples living together as married is unlikely to give positive
moral status to their sexual acts.) All of us will live on with the loss of a valuable ideal for guiding the important and demanding roles of male/female bonding.
The sexual dysfunction of same sex attraction is an affliction. The possibility of
some of the most rewarding of human relations is lost. The loss is not recovered by
stealing the name ‘marriage.’ Friendship is a consolation . Marriage is more and less
than friendship. Married people frequently love one another and sometimes become
friends. But “bottom line” marriage is duty. Friendship between men is rare. It is to be
envied and respected. But to call it marriage is to make both the friendship and marriage
Frequently, opponents of gay marriage are accused of trying to impose their religious outlook on society at large. Fundamentally, the dispute over acceptance of gay marriage is a religious dispute. But the religious stances fundamental in the dispute are not the Judaic, Christian and Islamic religions vs. secularism. The religious dispute is between different visions of the civic religions for Western societies.
In my judgment coming out to endorse “gay marriage” is something like being
converted to a religious doctrine and practicing a ritual to declare the belief. Declaration
of acceptance is like an offering of incense to a god of the Durkheimian religion of
Western societies. (See Mary Douglas’ Purity and Danger (1) for an account of how a
society’s civil religion makes sacred the basic structure of the society.) Anecdotal
evidence indicates that switching to support of gay marriage is similar to having a
conversion experience. My interpretation is that heterosexuals who come out for gay
marriage are switching to a progressive stance on sexuality. A progressive stance
changes significant boundaries between males and females. Endorsing gay marriage
sacralizes this new social structure.
In the Durkheimian sense of religion, a new religious outlook is emerging. This
new religious outlook does not fit well with religions of the Judeo-Christian tradition.
We can be told that nothing much will change if there are same sex marriages. So, why
not accept them? Indeed, offering incense to the emperor did little or nothing except
corrupt early Christians who succumbed to threats. Fidelity and honesty requires holders
of traditional sexual morality to speak against and to vote against same sex marriage if they
have an opportunity to do so.
If same sex marriage is not made a public issue, it is best to
keep silence and hope the silliness passes away. I suggest regarding gay weddings as
outrageous “camp.” The seriousness with which some heterosexuals discuss homosexual
marriage is comic. They include the president of the United States whom I otherwise
take seriously. Why classify gay-weddings as comic or “gay theater?”
To gain some understanding of camp in the gay life style, see David Hailperin’s
How To Be Gay.(2) Participating in camp is a way of compensating for a homosexual’s
sense of being marginalized. Dramatic mockery of structures, practices and institutions
taken seriously in the larger society helps in some way to expose the boundaries of
structures marginalizing homosexuals as ultimately not serious. Basically it is all role-playing
in a tragic comedy.
1. Routledge and Kegan Paul London, 1966
2. Belknap/Harvard U. Press, Cambridge MA, 2012. Reviewed by Edmund White, New
York Review of Books , Oct. 25, 2012
The main sexual behavior and attitude I criticize in my book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional sexual morality as an antidote for nihilism is male adultery and a corresponding attitude that a man may have sexual intercourse with any willing woman regardless of marital status. Condemnation of male homosexuality is only a corollary of a general principle – The Paternal Principle-for condemning adultery. Homosexuality is, of course, wrong in light of the Paternal Principle. However, homosexual acts often seem to be more naughty than deeply evil. Indeed, a greater evil than homosexual acts is having an attitude and making a claim that homosexual acts are morally acceptable. This pro-homo sexual attitude and these claims subvert traditional sexual morality which I support in my book.
Support for gay-marriage is a proclamation that homosexual acts are morally acceptable. Simply decriminalizing homosexual acts suffices to accept homosexual acts as legally tolerable immoralities or to express uncertainty about their morality. So, I devote some sections of my book to making a case against gay-marriage. When I began writing my book around 2006, very few advocated gay-marriage. Now as 2014 begins,received public opinion is heavily in favor of gay-marriage. So, I am not optimistic that arguments against gay-marriage will prevent its legalizaton in almost every state of the USA. However, it is important for keeping alive traditional sexual morality to have voices on record as condemning gay-marriage.
The next three of four posts on this blog site will sketch out some reasons for rejecting the ridiculous but still morally subversive notion of same sex marriage. The first condsideration shows how gay-marriage leads to the moral trivializaton of marriage.
Progressives promoting same-sex marriage have standards for moral evaluation of
homosexual acts. They use standards such as coercion and age of the participants. What
is a likely effect of extending marriage to cover homosexual relations? An effect could
be having marital status for moral evaluation of homosexual acts. In general, pre-marital
and extra-marital sexual acts have been morally condemned. So same-sex marriage
might provide a standard for moral condemnation of most male homosexual behavior.
However, in these times it is unlikely that there will be an increase in moral
condemnation of most homosexual behavior? Would not a more likely result be that use
of marital status as a moral standard for sexual behavior is weakened even more than it is
now. It is not improbable that in our mainline society marital status becomes morally
irrelevant for judging sexual behavior. Of course, being morally irrelevant to evaluation
of sexual behavior does not make marriage totally irrelevant to sexuality. However,
marriage would be far less significant than at present. A slogan promoting same-sex
marriage is “Marriage Equality.” Marriage equality equals marriage trivialization.