How do we decide what is sexually taboo in modern society?

I’m a Christian, so you will know my opinion about homosexuality – the Bible says it is abhorrent to God, pure and simple – but this article from Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald raises issues which our society must now discuss and resolve, not just on a societal level, but legally as well.

The heading to the article is: Judge compares incest and paedophilia to past attitudes towards homosexuality, claiming they might not be taboo anymore.

I completely disagree with the Judge’s comments in this article, but I also completely understand his train of thought: If we no longer apply Christian morality to homosexuality, what morality should we choose to decide how we approach other forms of sexuality?

If society now says it’s OK for adult people to have consenting homosexual sex, what moral code do we apply to other forms of sexual activity, which were previously dumped into the same category as homosexual sex?

How do we separate sexual activity which most of us find clearly abhorrent from sexual activity which is acceptable to society?

The modern arbiter is not the Christian moral code, but in fact the level of popularity of a sexual activity:

  • With the advent of the 1960s and the free love revolution, consenting adult heterosexual activity outside of marriage came out of hiding and society declared it was OK because everyone was doing it anyway.
  • Our current generation is now declaring that consenting adult homosexual activity is OK because everyone is doing it anyway.

Will incest and paedophilia become acceptable when everyone is doing it anyway?

Paedophilia in varying forms has historically been acceptable in some ancient societies, even continuing to modern society in some regions – see this article about Bacha Bazi, culturally accepted paedophilia in Afghanistan – should the law take the taboo away in this situation because everyone is doing it in this region anyway?

Or, if popularity is not going to be our arbiter, then what form of moral code should we choose, since we have now eschewed the Christian moral code?

I assume that any form of religion-based morality is now off the table, so what are we left with?

Philosophical morality based on ancient philosophical ideals?

Or modern philosophical ideals?

Should we enshrine current cultural morality in law today and use that as our guide?

But most of modern morality is based on religious beliefs – is that acceptable? Do we pick and choose what we want in our culture’s moral code, like putting together the toppings of a home-made pizza?

What happens when society has changed so much that we need to re-visit our morality again in the future? Do we just re-enshrine the morality of that future time and go on doing that into eternity?

If we are going to adopt a roaming morality like this, why have morality at all?

At least with Christian morality, we have a boundary that defines in its own terms what is right behaviour and what is wrong behaviour.

How should a post-religious, or indeed a non-religious society, define its social boundaries and moral codes?









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