Sex and Ethics
Matt Walsh was on a video arguing with someone claiming to be a member of the opposite sex. He succinctly noted that a human being has two legs. If someone did not have two legs, lack of legs would indicate he has a problem, not that he is not human. Not having two legs would not be a reason for him to think he is not human. There simply would be something wrong. However, if a male comes to a doctor and complains that he cannot give birth to a baby — i.e., does not have a uterus — the doctor will not find anything worth being fixed. Walsh said, "The exception proves the rule." It doesn't get any better than this.
Many of the perplexities of our society are like those resolved by Walsh. The stresses faced by a world in turmoil trying to determine what is good are not as difficult to understand as is sometimes suggested.
For the virtue ethicists such as Plato and Aristotle, happiness or well-being is the goal of life, but it is a well-being brought about by different formulae. For Aristotle, happiness follows from contemplating habits of the Mean, which Mean provides balanced goodness in our life decisions. Thus, if someone dived in to rescue a drowning person, but could not himself swim, his behavior would be considered excessive or rash. Or, at the other extreme, if someone is a lifeguard but cannot be bothered saving the drowning man because he is rushing to a job interview, he will be considered deficient or cowardly. The Mean would be taking into account one's capacities and doing what one could in that situation. The non-swimmer at least could be expected to call 911. And the excellent swimmer, instead of rushing to his interview, should dive in and save the drowning person. Then he would be at the Mean, or in this example, would be exemplifying courage.
For Plato, happiness follows from recollection of the forms or eidos of the virtues — courage, justice, piety, courage, love, honesty, etc. — by all people, but especially by philosopher-kings who are able to see virtue that exists outside our limited world, beyond our limited circumstances. These forms are first seen by the soul as it searches for a body into which it will be reincarnated. Then, after entering a body, those forms are recollected by the individuals in varying degrees. Philosophers are those individuals who recollect the forms to the highest degree and thus are the most ethical.
Recollection of the forms defines rationality. Our lives should be based on the preference for rationality over pleasure. This was the governing idea for the ancient, pre-Christian Greek intelligentsia.
For the Stoics, detachment from the stresses produced by tensions in life was the key to happiness. The material world or nature provided negative as well as positive events and circumstances, and we are to live in accord with nature; thus, we are to be accepting of the negative or "bad" as well as the positive or the "good." That would not mean we are indifferent to suffering, but that we experience or observe suffering with detachment and do not give in to despair or undue grief from the suffering we observe or experience.
One former colleague of mine did not attend her granddaughter's funeral when the granddaughter died an untimely death at age nine. Her grief was so great that she did not think she could stand being at graveside or viewing the child her in her casket at the funeral home. Her daughter, the granddaughter's mother, was incensed that her mother would not be present and participate in the collective mourning for the child. The Stoics would say that Grandmom should deeply grieve but have more detachment so she could share in mourning with the family.
This detachment is not the same as Aristotle's Mean. For the Stoics, there would be more of an objectification of grief, which consciously accepts that the province of death is an objective and natural phenomenon that applies to all living things. This principle of nature will be an essential part of accepting the reality of death in a detached manner. For the Stoics, death is a regular reality built into nature, whereas for Aristotle, our response to death does not include an evaluation of nature as much as standing between two extremes: hyper-emotionalism or paralyzing grief and coldness and disinterest.
So, in ethical decisions, there is a spectrum of responses, and philosophers have tried to define that spectrum in varying ways. Judaism and Christianity introduce the idea of eternal life with Almighty God, which was not a crucial part of classical philosophy. To what degree is our faith in God salvific, what ethical behaviors are written in stone, and which ones have a greater degree of flexibility? To what degree is human reason involved in interpreting Scripture or God's will, and to what extent is our individual experience of life to be determinative in making good ethical decisions or even godly decisions? There is a spectrum of answers when it comes to knowing the Good as well as knowing Almighty God and the afterlife.
Yet, despite the sensational claims of the woke theorists of our time, when it comes to sexuality, as Matt Walsh says, there is no spectrum of sexuality. It's a binary structure. It is established by, through, and in nature. The Bible affirms that this natural condition was God-created and God-maintained. Just as "humans have two legs" is an unconditional truth since this is clearly true even if some people do not have two legs (they would be perceived as having a problem, not as non-human), so it would make no sense for a man to go to a doctor and complain he is worried about having a miscarriage. Men and women are the only two sexes.
E. Jeffrey Ludwig teaches philosophy and is a guest preacher in various pulpits. He has been a regular contributor to American Thinker for 13 years and has published four books available here.
Image via Pxfuel.