Using Divinity in Divine Command Morality

In a post arguing that male masturbation is a grave matter , I explicitly referred to an argument for God’s existence and justification for interpreting moral commands as coming from God. There I talked about God because I was explicitly trying to interpret a teaching of Catholicism was a grave matter. I had made the point earlier that moral gravity was a religious dimension of morality; not purely a moral question.

My treatment of this issue illustrates how, in general, I use the divinity in divine command morality. For purely moral matters, there is no use of the belief that moral laws and the human goods which are the goals of the moral laws are from God. The moral reasoning of someone who holds divine command morality is accessible to an atheist. Not surprisingly, the divine source of morality is invoked only when one is interested in religious matters, viz., that which is connected with divinity.

It may be surprising, though, that one can hold both that masturbation is a grave matter and, though immoral, a trivial matter. It is a grave matter with respect to how one relates to God. For social and legal control, masturbation is a trivial matter in the sense that it is something about which nothing much needs to be done to protect the public from it. I make a similar judgment about male homosexual acts. They are immoral. But if kept “in the closet,” I think they are socially harmless immoralities.

My judgment about the triviality of the immoralities of masturbation and sodomy are factual judgments; not moral judgments. I could very well be in error about their triviality. I am convinced of their immorality and gravity, viz., they are mortally sinful. I have not started a careful sociological investigation of the connection between male masturbation and the vast destructive pornography industry. Pursuit of stimulation for masturbation satisfications might be on of the most destructive social forces.