Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Mechanics of Morality

When we look at Christians with their passionate promulgation of moral edicts, hardly a day goes by without some Christian leader caught in flagrante delicto committing some sin against which they strenuously preached, even with the greatest desire to do good, they fail. Like the Apostle Paul, "The good that I would do, that I do not do; that which I would not do, that I do." Two millennia of exhortations not to commit adultery, not to steal, not to murder, etc. And still, there seems to be an even greater prevalence of immoral behavior. If the preachers of morality are to be believed, not only has immoral not decreased, immorality has become even more common. Their cure for this complete failure of Teaching Morality? The promulgation of even more vehement moral edicts. The medicine has not worked, therefore we must try even stronger doses. The cure for this failure of morality? More morality!  Like an addicts, they all swear that just a little more of their preferred poison will set them right.

Occasionally, the local morality fits with someone's character and way of life. Such a lucky soul is called "good." Those poor souls whose character and way of life are not so suited to the local morality are called evil and bad.

Proscribing desires and "immoral" behavior does little to change an individual's inclinations or behaviors. The desires proscribed by the local morality do not go away because they get called bad names. They find other ways to achieve release and expression. Any one who has seen church politics firsthand will tell you that egoism, selfishness, the lust for power, petty vindictiveness do not go away merely by uttering a few prayers and phrasing the decision-making process as finding God's Will or some other such silliness. No, morality is largely ineffective as means of regulating individual behavior and psychology.

Morality does, however, declare some parts of human life as not fit for public discussion. These "immoral" parts of human life when mentioned, if at all, are spoken of in whispers as something shameful. As something "good" people don't have, don't do and probably don't even know about.

The easiest and clearest example of this is teenage sexual behavior and "abstinence-based sex education." As if, telling teenagers not to have sex will prevent teenagers from having sex and stop teen pregnancy. Oh, if only someone had only thought of this before! The long sought after solution! And it is so simple. The people who advocate abstinence-only sex education don't remember what it was like to be a teenager.

No. In school districts in which abstinence-only education has been abandoned STD rates decline along with the rate for teen pregnancies. Morality creates problems. It increases human suffering and misery. Morality allows adults to avoid their own discomfort at the cost of the well-being their children. Morality encourages hiding one's "immoral qualities" so as to appear respectable to one's peers. In practice "immoral qualities" means anything that would set one apart from one's peers. Morality encourages cowardly, sanctimonious conformity. What is the weapon to enforce conformity? Ostracism, slut-shaming.

Morality doesn't change human motivations, not does it lead to behavioral changes. It smears filth on parts of human life. For those of us not playing on Jesus' team, necessary parts of human social, emotional and bodily life. We will do what we would absent moral disapproval, only now we get to feel bad about it all. Morality, and Christian morality in particular, tells that human beings are all failures, whether we admit it or not. "No one is good, no not one" (from one of the Apostle Paul's Epistles, I forget which).

If everyone is a moral failure, it follows that every one is in need of Baptism in the Blood of the Lamb. No exceptions.

However, human beings are uncanny amalgations of weakness and strength, good and evil, divinity coming led with the most abject filth, all mixed inseperably together, so that to do human nature justice we would have to invent new gods and demi-gods as well as demons and devils.

Any more, when I think about morality with its weary some cycle of failure and redemption followed by failure followed by redemption (sometimes called forgiveness of one's trespasses) followed by failure ad nauseum, I can't help but think that it's a scam for the benefit of the Preacher Class and anyone else claiming to traffic with higher powers. They tell us what to feel bad about, and they tell us what to do so as to stop feeling bad, for a little while at least. Curiously, none of these preacher-types don't have a cure for sin that doesn't require repeat donations to their church.

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