Sunday, September 2, 2012

Old Post

From the weblog of a young woman:

Why can´t we love as many people as we want in a life time??

Monogamy is really a very unnatural state that's being forced on us for centuries by screwed-up religious leaders who are completely out of touch with their own sexuality.

I would like to suggest that there is no difference in kind between the question above and this question: "Why can't we love as many people as we want in a day or, say, even an hour?" The difference is merely one of degree.

The premise of this question subordinates love to our wants. As any student of marketing demographics will tell you, the wants of people can fluctuate wildly. We've subordinated God's creation to our wants, and now the landscape is littered with the wastes of our ever-changing and insatiable desires. Is it really wise to endorse a concept of love that is as disposable as cola cans? I know that it is practiced all the time, so is gluttonous consumerism. Should we just think of falling in love as eating Lays potato chips: "You can't each just one!" That's the logic of that rhetorical question above, and I don't think such logic repulses only sexually repressed religious wackos.

I wonder how many women would understand their boyfriend's or husband's desire to love as many people as they want in a lifetime. The female author of that weblog post above may well understand, and I would suggest that she is thereby just setting herself up for savage exploitation and very keen pain.

Love is the yearning for permanence. This is why the pain from losing a loved one to death never goes away this side of the eschation. And if it does go away, then you did not really love.

Truly loving someone romantically is different in kind than love of family or friendship for romantic love involves the complete surrender of one's entire person to another. Romantic love culminates in the sacrifice of one to another. This is why the climax of the consummating act is called The Little Death, and like death itself le petit mot is supposed to make your loved one even more dear.

A good friend of mine and I were once debating the morality of pre-marital sex. He conceded to me that the tremendous feeling of self-sacrifice ultimately explains the desirability of the sex act but hastened to add that it is healthier to want that feeling without the actual self-sacrifice, by which he meant an unconditional commitment to monogamous wedlock. This undergraduate pagan understood health in an Epicurean sense as freedom from pain. Genuine self-sacrifice is not healthy because the pain to orgasm ratio is not very conducive to the Epicurean ideal of equanimity. Therefore, it is better not to get too attached to just one person. Too much investment in just one person involves too much pain, but if you "love" many people simply to satisfy your ephemeral wants for a mere simulation of sacrificial passion, then you will learn that love like any other comfort is fleeting and fungible. You will learn not to take it too seriously, hence, it will not obsess you, and you will have sound Epicurean health.

But you will also not take death, the little and the real, seriously. If the self-sacrifice of any person is simply a handmaiden to the health of a self-satisfied materialist, then the human being simply does not have any eternal worth. For the substance of the sacrifice no longer matters, only the accident of pleasure which now becomes the measure of the act's worth. The human being ceases to be a creature with a capacity for eternity but merely a machine that exists for temporal pleasures. Machines are replaceable, and it is just silly to mourn the death of machine. Machines break down, and more can be made. No big deal.


The Catechism of the Catholic Church has this to say about fornication, more commonly known nowadays as pre-marital sex:

"Fornication is carnal union between an unmarried man and an unmarried woman. It is gravely contrary to the dignity of persons and of human sexuality which is naturally ordered to the good of spouses and the generation and education of children. Moreover, it is a grave scandal when there is corruption of the young."

Okay, please, someone, tell me why the Catholic Church is wrong to claim without qualification (i.e. absolutely) that pre-marital sex is wrong? I will not in this post argue (well, not very thoroughly, at least) for the correctness of this claim. I simply wish to invite arguments to the contrary.

My suspicion is that all arguments that justify fornication lead straight to the grotesque banality depicted in The Brave New World. I suggest that one must either argue for the separation between true love and the sex act, in which case the body might as well be just a toy, or one must argue that love is merely another gratification that may last longer than an orgasm but is just as fleeting, in which case human loyality can have nothing to do with love and must find some other foundation such as, say, fear. Both arguments, as best as I can see, lead relentlessly to Huxley's dystopia.

In that world, the body is not an integral part of the human person; it is merely an instrument for a series of ephemeral pleasures. Also, Romantic Love is not a foundation for loyalty. There are no marriages and, of course, no families. The citizens of this carefully engineered hedonism do appear to remain loyal to the "family" of the state but only because they are either engineered to do so or because they are so addicted to soma and feelies that they can't endure the withdrawal involved in leaving. Human engineering and addiction to pleasure are the foundation of the social bond, and love is simply ignored, and when it is mentioned, as it is when John Savage tells the story of Romeo and Juliet, it is simply laughed at as a monstrously ridiculous absurdity.

Now, of course, some may argue that the brave new world is not a dystopia at all and that, therefore, one does not refute the justification of pre-marital sex by a reductio ad bellum saeclum novum. Fine. I will say that if one wants a brave new world, then one cannot have Shakespeare, and a world without Shakespeare is a world not worth living in.

But I could be wrong, and if any reader of this post thinks so, I ask him or her to tell me why.

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