Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Silly Love Songs

We have been getting back into secular music at our house. My wife and I never listened to any of it so until recently that meant it was not a part our lives. But our kids have recently reached an age where they are starting to bring their own music into the home. It makes me start to reflect on how many love songs there are. It is encouraging and discouraging. There is the lack of modesty and morality. It is constant. But there are signs of hope as well. People seem quite comfortable with love as a gift of self. There is such a contradiction. On the one hand they want to treat sex as a simple stimulation of certain glands resulting in a certain change in brain chemistry that produces pleasure. Many species mate so why is there anything remarkable about  humans doing it? But then there are songs that talk about deep and eternal spiritual bonds. Describing the idea that tow people were made for each other and want to promise to be together for the rest of their lives.

The odd thing is that people don't see the contradiction. The same song can glory in cheap sexual thrills and also use very grand language about how great and pure their love is. Like I can be focused on the other person and focused on myself as well and somehow it will work. That I can celebrate one lifelong love and also celebrate many casual relationships. That using and abusing people can co-exists with a total gift of self.

What is really missing is reflection. To try and determine the truth about things and then live according to that truth. That is hard even when we have internalized that truth. But when it comes to sex all you hear is not to worry about right and wrong. Truth is relative. Nobody says that about stealing or lying. Just sexual morality is somehow impossible to know.

If they think about it for any length of time the evidence that sex can be solely a matter of physical biological realities is pretty hard to see. The impulse to the transcendent keeps coming back. Why would that happen if there is no reality there? Previously it has been argued that the culture pushes people in that direction. Often people assert that the church has big influence over people to make them imagine such things. But the culture does not put forward any shred of moral decency. Quite the opposite.People who talk about any form of self control are mocked by the culture. Not just the youth sub-culture but even the so-called respected cultural elites. Even when you look at teachers and families it is hard to find a lot of strong moral influences. When kids make good choices it seems the culture can take no credit at all. It can only be that they actually perceive something the older generation does not dare tell them. That chastity can lead you to understand the great dignity of the human person. Young people don't understand this fully but to me it is just amazing that they haven't completely lost this truth. It means they can find it in their hearts because they sure don't find it anywhere else.

As I write this I am reminded of The Loser Letters. Here is a quote:
Looking back to my own years at the university, I'd say that if the place had had to choose a motto in English, likely the fittest would have been "Let copulation thrive!" if You know what I mean (and I bet You do!). And the connection between all this furtive fun behind doors and the absence of any public religiosity was quite obvious, at least to this former Christian. It wasn't just the deity who'd taken a hike off the quad, of course; authority in practically any form had disappeared along with Loser. But there's no doubt that "God" above all just wasn't done. In four years, I met one student who openly attended church, and the subsequent number I have uncovered were doing so more or less samizdat. That's what I'm trying to explain about this. The place was as pure as any Atheist's dream, as deity-free as the Bravo channel on Sunday morn (or any other time!).

Now why is any of this a problem for the Atheist side? Doy. First, the fact of what's been happening on campus all these years means that we Brights can't very well go around like the Communists always tried to, and say that the problem with our vision is that it "hasn't really been tried". No, Secularism/Atheism, when it comes to sexual mores anyway, has been tried, is being tried, and the empirical fact is that what's happening on campuses is what sex and "romance" look like when we Brights get our way and dispose of all those silly religious rules — two, three, many Charlotte Simmonses.
The point she makes is similar.  When the culture embraces a complete lack of sexual morals it does not simply leave Christianity behind like we now invented the car and no longer need horses and buggies. People discover atheist sexuality has a huge emptiness. They don't all go to the extremes she talks about before they find this out. Still it is when this is pushed to it's logical conclusion that the problem becomes clear. The hope is we can do that with a thought experiment rather than actually traveling that road.

When we take a relativist view and say there is no absolute truth about sexual morality we actually cut reason off at the knees. Reason seeks truth so the denial of truth destroys reason. Atheists are worshipers of reason so it is ironic that it is the Christians who are the ones suggesting more reflection and moral reasoning. If secular people have one doctrine they dare not question it is that there is no sexual morality. So reason gets shut down.

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