Question for the Moral Absolutists

Why does it need to be true for all people in order for it to be true for you?

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4 Responses to “Question for the Moral Absolutists”

  1. Cindi Knox Says:

    Because it’s not what’s true for me, but what’s True because God says so in the Bible.

    Because if something is true, it’s true. It’s not just true in some places, or just when some people are present, or on Tuesdays.

    And if for no other reason, because it’s not fair if other people don’t have to play by the same rules I do.

    Thats the best I remember from the church of my youth.

  2. Tom Ryberg Says:

    …it’s not fair if other people don’t have to play by the same rules I do.

    whoa…I really think you’re onto something there. No one ever just comes out with it like that, but that seems pretty reasonable, at least before you stop and realize that it’s not applicable to religious rules.

  3. Cindi Knox Says:

    I think most people have felt the jolt of “thy shouldn’t be allowed to do that”. I know I have. When I have felt it, it felt the same as when someone cut in line ahead of me. But, on reflection, the “why” is often elusive.

    This often happens to me when I see people who are in “open” marriages and other relationships – I think I wouldn’t want my spouse to be having sexual relationships with other people, so I don’t think those couples should be allowed to make that choice.

    Someone asked me about whether it was okay for a man to marry his daughter. After considering it (and discounting my own internal “ick” factor), I said “I don’t have a compelling reason to make it illegal, but I would definitely counsel people against it, because of the psychological and reproductive issues involved”.

    At this point, he claimed victory, saying he had set out to prove the slippery slope between same-sex marriage and incest, so I started asking him about why he would always be opposed to a father-daughter marriage.

    He offered the biological problem of increased risk of genetically-linked medical issues. I asked whether he would be in favor of mandatory genetic testing. Surprisingly, he said yes, and at government expense. But he qualified that it should only be used to deny marriage to closely-related couples, not to all couples who had a high risk of having children with genetic issues. He also said that father-daughter marriage should not be allowed in cases where one or both were sterile.

    At this point, he said it was a psychological issue. I offered a hypothetical case: In the 1970’s, a young man (perhaps 15 or 16) has a sexual liaison with a young woman. The young woman gets pregnant, but never tells the young man. She gives the baby up for adoption. In the 2000’s, the young man (in his 40’s) meets a younger woman (in her 30’s) and they fall in love and marry. Later, she discovers he is her biological father. The person with whom I was discussing this said the marriage should be broken up. Again, I pressed for a reason – they had no psychological relationship prior to meeting as adults.

    At this point, he brought out his trump card: it’s disgusting, and has been disgusting to every culture throughout recorded history.

    So even on an issue that should be as clear as this (and one with a Biblical basis as well), it’s difficult to find a harm that always comes from this action. True, in the overwhelming majority of cases such a marriage would create problems, but the admonition isn’t “don’t marry people with whom you’re likely to have children with genetic issues” or “don’t marry people with whom you already have a psychosocial familial relationship”. In the end it comes down to “I don’t like it, I wouldn’t do it, and no one else should.”

  4. Tom Ryberg Says:

    Cindi, this is sooooo good. Thanks for this story; I really like it. I feel like it’d preach too…

    I need to spend some time thinking about this. (More to come…)


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