October 2015


Empty BedThe predominant sexual ethic today is built on three moral principles: 1) Consent; 2) No harm involved; 3) Whatever feels good.  As long as it feels good, no one is getting hurt, and those involved are consenting to it, it is deemed to be morally acceptable.  Timothy Hsiao has written a great article showing why consent and harmlessness are not sufficient to justify a sexual behavior.

Regarding consent, Hsiao argues that consent ought to be based on what is good for us (not just desired by us), and thus the inherent goodness of the act – not just consent – is required. Furthermore, to give consent is to give someone moral permission to do what they would not be justified in doing absent the consent. Giving consent, then, presumes that one has the moral authority to give that permission to another. But if one lacks the moral authority to grant such permissions, consent is not sufficient to make an act ethical. If the act in question is not morally good, then the consenter lacks the proper authority to give consent.

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Push into GraveLong commutes, domestic responsibilities, teaching, and the need for more sleep (old age) have prevented me from blogging as much as I would like to.  That means I get behind on my cultural commentary. Case in point: the legalization of assisted suicide in California.

On October 5 Governor Brown signed the bill into law after years of failed attempts from the assisted suicide lobby (the CA Senate approved it by a vote of 23 to 14, and the CA House approved it by a vote of 43 to 34).  Assisted suicide is not something I write about too often, but it is a matter of concern to me. Here’s why I think it should be a matter of concern to you as well:

Legalizing suicide sends the message that there are some human lives not worth living. While suicide advocates say the option for suicide gives people dignity, it does anything but. It robs them of their dignity and value. It communicates a message to them that they are better off dead than alive. Indeed, to claim that this is “death with dignity” is a backhanded way of saying those who choose to suffer in life rather than choosing to take their own life lack dignity. The message is loud and clear: death is more noble than life.

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why_did_god_allow_the_possibility_of_evil_and_suffering_tSteven Cowan and Greg Welty argue contra Jerry Walls that compatibilism is consistent with Christianity.[1] What they question is the value of libertarian free will (the freedom to do other than what one, in fact, chooses to do, including evil).  Why would God create human beings with the ability to choose evil?  Libertarians typically argue that such is necessary in order to have genuine freedom, including the freedom to enter into a loving relationship with God.  After all, if one could only choose A the good), and could never choose B (the evil), then their “choice” of A is meaningless.  The possibility of truly and freely choosing A requires at least the possibility of choosing B. The possibility of evil, then, is necessary for a free, loving relationship with God. It is logically impossible for God to create free creatures who are unable to choose anything other than A.

Cowan and Wells ask, however, what would be wrong with God creating us in a way that made it impossible for us to desire or choose evil, and yet our choice would still be free.  All that would be required is the presence of more than one good to choose from (A, C, D, E, F…).  No matter what we choose, we could have chosen some other good, but never evil.  This avoids the logical contradiction and preserves real freedom of choice.  Cowan and Wells argue that such a world would be superior to our world since this possible world preserves libertarian free will, but lacks evil.  In their assessment, there is no reason for the actual world if the value of libertarian free will (relationship with God, gives us freedom to choose the good, gives us the freedom to do otherwise) could be obtained without the possibility of evil.  For the libertarian who wants to maintain that the actual world is superior to this possible world, they must maintain that the greatest value of libertarian freedom is that it gives us the opportunity to do evil.  Why would God value our ability to do evil if He is good and hates evil?  Why would God create a world in which libertarian freedom results in evil if He could have achieved all of the goals of libertarian freedom without evil?

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