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.

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