Archive for the ‘Moral Philosophy’ Category
Posted by Tony Listi on January 31, 2013
Love is neither selfish nor unfair but rather is firmly grounded in the truth and the good. True love has no limits, and our love for one another should have no limits. If “love” were to transgress the truth or the good, it would cease to be love.
What is the truth about human dignity and suffering? What is good for the suffering person? These are the questions that must be answered objectively first before addressing the subjective feelings of the suffering person and others.
The suffering person, like all persons, has human dignity. Suffering does not take away that dignity (nothing can). That dignity commands reverence and love for the suffering person, even if that person himself or herself does not understand and embrace that dignity. What is good for the suffering person is love. The suffering person needs love. Loving a person requires recognizing the dignity of that person and showing the person due reverence because of that dignity rather than violating it.
If people recognized and revered their own dignity, they would not want others to kill them merely because they are suffering.It is not loving to kill someone merely because they suffer; it is loving to comfort, console, and ease their pain and suffering. The dignity of the human person requires us to refrain from killing others except in self-defense. To “remove their suffering” by killing them, removing them from the world, is a violation of their human dignity, whether they want to be killed or not. The dignity of the human person has a higher value than the absence of suffering. Just because someone wants others to violate his or her own dignity does not make that violation any less of a violation; it is still wrong and harmful.It is much more loving and compasionate to serve and comfort those who suffer rather than to kill them. Killing is merely easier (in a material sense) for those who do not suffer in certain ways (yet); loving another person is harder (in a material sense). In this sense, euthanasia is a kind of cruel sloth and laziness. But killing an innocent human being should be hard psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually for the decent and upright person. The suffering person should not want to impose this guilt on others, whether intentionally or not.Life is always worth living because of love. If we stopped killing people who suffer and started loving and comforting them, many of them would no longer want to be killed. Love gives life purpose, despite suffering. Love gives purpose to suffering. And we all suffer in common ways and in our own individual ways. No one is immune from suffering.
Posted in Government and Politics, Moral Philosophy, Written by Me | Tagged: assisted suicide, dignified, dignity, ethical, euthanasia, excruciating, good, harm, harmful, immoral, intense, life, love, moral, pain, Right, suffering, unbearable, unethical, wrong | 1 Comment »
Posted by Tony Listi on December 4, 2012
They warred against Midian, as the LORD commanded Moses, and slew every male…. Moses said to them, “Have you let all the women live? Behold, these [women] caused the people of Israel, by the counsel of Balaam, to act treacherously against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and so the plague came among the congregation of the
LORD. Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man by lying with him. But all the young girls who have
not known man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves. (Numbers 31:7, 15-18, RSV)
If God exists and is the source, author, and creator of human life, then the relationship between God and man is not on the same moral level as relationships among human beings. God is then well within His rights to take away human life, put those lives under a bond of marriage or servitude, and command others to do these things on His behalf. God can no more “murder” a human being than a human being can “murder” a clay pot. If one takes the premise of God’s existence seriously, then these accusations against God are really absurd. If one doesn’t take it seriously, then that’s a whole other discussion.
The case of the Midianites in Numbers 31 is a special historical case of God exercising such rights, not a promulgation of general law and morality for relationships among human beings. God gave the Israelites a special command with regard to the Midianites and gave the Israelites the 5th commandment “Thou shalt not murder” as a precept of general morality for human beings.
Why did God give this special command to the Israelites against the Midianites (and other similar peoples)? God judged the Midianites for their idolatry, sexual immorality, opposition to Israel, and dire threat to Israel’s culture and messianic mission (read chapters 22 and 25 of Numbers). He gave the Midianites the death penalty and commanded the Israelites to execute that penalty (“Arm men from among you for the war, that they may go against Midian, to execute the LORD’s vengeance on Midian.” Num 31:3). If we can assume these things in the mind of God, we can understand better how God was right to do and command what He did.
God gives no such special commands in our day and time.
And as for the captive Midianite virgins, God apparently permitted the Israelites to take them as wives or servants, but both wives and servants had particular rights under Mosaic law, including prohibitions against mistreatment (Ex 21:26-27, Dt 23:15-16, Dt 21:10-14). Numbers 31 does not describe God establishing any moral precepts regarding marriage, sex, or servitude. Strictly speaking though, as one can read, Numbers does not say that the Midianite virgins were forced into marriage. Most of them were almost certainly too young for marriage anyway (pre-pubescent).
It’s important to understand that there’s a difference between command and permission. Just because God permitted or allowed certain things under Moses (e.g. divorce, polygamy, servitude, arranged marriages) does not mean that He commanded or approved of those things in themselves or intended for those permissions or allowances to last forever, for all times and people. (“[Jesus] said to them, ‘For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you….’” Mt 19:8-9)
The Israelites were a rough, barbaric, and stiff-necked people (as were all other ancient peoples of that time). They were little children in civilizational terms and could not handle the fullness of moral truth at that time with regard to human dignity and sexuality. God gave laws and allowances that met the Israelites where they were civilizationally as a people at that time. With the coming of Jesus, God fulfills the law and commands the fullness of truth, as well as giving us the grace to obey and live it out and to receive mercy when we disobey it. (Of course, considering how few are the people who actually accept and cooperate with this grace to live out this fullness, we cannot necessarily say that modern people today are more civilized. Modern barbarism cloaks itself in “civility” and “compassion.”)
God was right to make these allowances for Israel for a time, just as a parent is right to make certain allowances for children until it’s time for them to grow up. “[W]hen the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways” (1 Cor 13:10-11).
Posted in Christian Apologetics, Moral Philosophy, Religion and Theology, Written by Me | Tagged: Bible, command, genocide, God, kill, Midian, Midianites, Moses, murder, Numbers, Old Testament, rape, slavery, virgins, war, women children, Yahweh | 6 Comments »
Posted by Tony Listi on August 27, 2012
Conservatives seem to be ignoring or dismissing the fundamental and apparently somewhat persuasive “pleasure argument” made by sexual egoists to women about sex and contraception.
The egoists tell women that vanity, independence from men, and sensual pleasure and self-indulgence are the sources of happiness rather than love, sexual joy, commitment, and lifelong marriage to a truly loving husband at their service. Therefore, they celebrate and worship contraception, which “empowers” women to get a lot more sex and a lot more physical sexual pleasure than ever before without the “burdens” of men, marriage, and/or children. The egoists want women to have the same qualities as the worst kind of lustful men.
Conservatives often seem to assume that women don’t fall for this, assuming that women are less attracted to sexual self-indulgence than men. But many women, including many young liberal and libertarian women, have accepted that logic and those values. Increased pornography use among women is also indicative of this problem.
At the very extreme, some conservatives seem to forget that women can get just as much physical and emotional pleasure from sexual activity as men, if not more so.
The image of very lustful and vain women is indeed very repulsive to the conservative mind (as is lustful and prideful men), but it’s an image of reality in a great many women and needs to be recognized and confronted. (Though of course, it is more important to recognize and confront it in men, who typically initiate sexual behavior.)
So today, conservatives unfortunately have to re-establish the fundamentals, especially those about happiness. They have to argue the case that love brings real, lasting happiness and is better than use, than mere self-indulgence in vanity and pleasure. We should not assume that women today understand this truth better than men and embrace it more often and more strongly than men.
As a whole, women’s values and demands regarding sex have changed over time. Many women are not demanding marriage, commitment, and love anymore; they are satisfied with vanity, pleasure, and independence and reject commitment and responsibility.
If one wants to be harsh and cynical, one could say that women’s values (like men’s) haven’t changed at all, that women (in their fallen nature) have always desired vanity, pleasure, and independence rather than commitment and responsibility, and that contraception has merely lowered the personal cost to women of pursuing those egoist values. Before contraception, the costs were just too high. A woman may have wanted to indulge in sexual pleasure and vanity (in or outside of marriage), but she knew the consequences were more children and the sacrifices necessary to care for them.
Contraception in itself, like all technology, is not the source of hedonistic, self-centered values. It merely allows people to act on pre-existing values or tendencies (good and bad) at a lower cost.
Posted in American Culture, Moral Philosophy, Sex, Written by Me | Tagged: argument, birth control, children, contraception, ego, enjoy, enjoyment, freedom, happiness, liberation, orgasm, pleasure, pregnancy, pregnant, pride, sexual pleasure, the pill, vain, vanity, women | 7 Comments »
Posted by Tony Listi on December 9, 2011
Many colleges and universities offer art classes which necessarily involve the viewing of the nude male or female human body. There are two extreme and wrong-headed responses or approaches to this kind of situation:
- It is always and absolutely wrong to look at the naked human body merely for artistic reproduction or training. It is also always and absolutely wrong to publicly display such artistic reproductions of the nude body. Anybody who engages in such things is engaging in the deadly sin of lust.
- Looking at the naked human body, whether in person or through art, is no big deal and shouldn’t be taken seriously at all. Anybody who wants limits upon or has any concerns about the morality of looking at the naked human body are prudes who hate the human body or don’t sufficiently value its beauty and dignity.
The correct, prudent, and temperant approach is the Catholic Christian approach outlined by Blessed Pope John Paul II (JP2) in his Theology of the Body. Artistic representation of nude forms is a very complex issue because it combines very objective truths with very subjective experiences.
Let’s look at JP2′s own words: Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in American Culture, Art and Creativity, Catholicism, Moral Philosophy, Religion and Theology, Sex, The Papacy, Written by Me | Tagged: aesthetic, appropriate, art, artistic, beautiful, beauty, Bible, Catholic, chastity, Christian, Church, concupiscience, culture, ethical, ethics, looking at, lust, moral, morality, naked, no clothes, norm, normative, nude, nudity, porn, pornography, propriety, purity, Scripture, Sex, sexuality, viewing | 14 Comments »
Posted by Tony Listi on November 21, 2011
I’m getting really tired of seeing debates over same-sex “marriage” (SSM) that ignore, dismiss, or downplay children and their rights and that talk about marriage as if it were primarily an adult-centered civil institution. It is so sad that leftists, most libertarians, and many so-called “conservatives” treat children this way. The real debate over marriage as a public, civil institution should not be about adults but about children and children’s rights.
The essential public purpose of marriage is to attach mothers and fathers to their children and to each other for the sake of their children and their children’s rights. Marriage as a civil institution is about children; the law should recognize it as children-centered institution. Children and their rights are the reason why marriage is a public, civil institution (not merely a religious institution) and why it should have special legal status.
While not every marriage can or does bear fruit in the procreation of children, every child has a mother and father, and the well being of that child depends significantly upon the relationship between his or her mother and father, which marriage, as a civil and social institution, is designed to strengthen and stabilize.
The law should recognize these basic facts of biology, social science, and human nature and should protect the child’s rights by protecting marriage. Legal protection of marriage is necessary because children are unable to defend and protect their own rights, and the violation of those rights and consequent harm and damage done is extremely difficult to remedy satisfactorily after the fact.
SSM tries to change marriage from a children-centered civil institution to an adult-centered civil institution, necessarily perverting and destroying the essential public purpose of marriage and harming children, who depend upon marriage for their well being.
Many people often say that same-sex “marriage” (SSM) does “no harm to anyone.” While it might have little to no direct and immediate effect on adults and current marriages, SSM would certainly, directly, and immediately harm future children by:
- Undermining, if not removing entirely, the children-centered nature of civil marriage, which children depend upon for their well being,
- Turn children into commodities to be manufactured and possessed that unrelated adults have a “right” to have, separating children from at least one parent as a matter of routine procedure,
- Empowering the state to routinely and arbitrarily assign parentage and custody of children without any regard for biology or genetics.
Marriage should not be about self-centered adults who want recognition and approval from the State for their private relationships which serve no public purpose. As a civil institution, marriage is not about the “happiness” or “rights” of adults but the happiness and rights of children.
SSM strips away the essential public purpose of marriage (children and their rights) and leaves only the inessential private purposes of marriage. Under the new definition(s) of “marriage,” a whole host of private relationships having nothing to do with the procreation and proper raising of children could be considered a “marriage.” By the time the logic of these new definitions reaches its full implications, there will be nothing left of marriage except an absurd and dangerous government registry of roomates and friendships.
A relationship based on homosexual affection or behavior is no more deserving of legal recognition and approval than a relationship based on the activities of living together, golf, chess, dancing, or studying. Homosexual behavior, living together, golfing, playing chess, dancing, and studying are all private behaviors that serve no essential public purpose. If these individuals want to formalize their private relationship and create reciprocal rights and responsibilities amongst themselves, they are free to do that under the law using contracts. But of course, no private individual or corporation outside of that contractual relationship should be forced by government to recognize that contractual relationship and to perform some specific action because of the existence of that contractual relationship.
But marriage, a relationship based on procreating children and securing their positive rights, deserves special legal status that transcends contract law because it serves the very essential public purpose of procreating children and securing their positive rights. Marriage is more than a contract because it intends to create and care for an entirely new human being, an entirely new third party to the “contract” who has special positive rights that depend upon the marriage relationship itself to be secured.
Perhaps some people will argue that SSM and the creation and proper raising of children can go together…. But SSM inherently promotes and encourages the outrageous, immoral, and harmful notion that children are commodities or things which adults have a “right” to have, regardless of whether they are the biological parents of the children or not. On the contrary, children should be loved into existence and are persons with a positive right to a relationship with both biological parents, to know and be known by both biological parents.
Creating a child with the intention of preventing the child from having a relationship with one or both of his or her biological parents is cruel and unjust to the child. Artificial reproduction technology merely makes this injustice and cruelty more possible and likely than before. SSM thus tries to change marriage into an institution that separates children from at least one of their parents as a matter of routine procedure.
Most dangerously, SSM would lead to changes in parentage laws entailing the empowering of the State to assign the parentage of children to adults based on inherently arbitrary criteria rather than on biology. Currently, unless scientific testing shows otherwise, family law assumes that the father of a child is the husband of the mother of the child (i.e. presumption of paternity
), if the mother is married. But by changing the legal definition of marriage from one man and one woman, the State is empowered to ignore human nature and biology and arbitarily assign children to the custody certain adults.
Such changes create legal precedent for the State having complete and arbitrary control over children and to whom they belong. If you think this sounds far-fetched, it has already happened in Washington State
This blog post draws heavily from the Ruth Institute’s pamphlet ”77 Non-Religious Reasons to Support Man/Woman Marriage.” Click here to get your copy!
Posted in American Culture, Government and Politics, Marriage, Moral Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Science and Politics, Written by Me | Tagged: bigot, Child, children, civil, definition, equal, equality, father, gay, government, harm, homophobe, homophobic, homosexual, injustice, institution, justice, law, legal, lesbian, marriage, moral, morality, mother, public, relationship, religion, Right, rights, same-sex, state, unjust | 4 Comments »
Posted by Tony Listi on May 4, 2011
Say to them, As I live, says the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel? (Ezk 33:11)
God takes no pleasure in the death of those created in His image and likeness, whether they turn from their evil ways or not. When an evildoer is justly killed, are we going to imitate our heavenly Father or not?
This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Tim 2:3-4)
God never gives up on anyone, even someone like Osama bin Laden. God wants everyone to be saved, not just Americans, not just those who call themselves Christians, not just “good people.” And as the parable of the Good Shepherd and Ezk 33:11 reveal, God rejoices when the lost are found, when the evildoer abandons evil.
Jesus was praying for His enemies while on the cross and told us to love our enemies. How can this example and command be reconciled with joy over the death of of Bin Laden?
As always, this is really a matter of Christians (and everyone) needing to separate the sin from the sinner, the evil from the evildoer. We absolutely should celebrate the downfall of evil and increased peace and security that comes as a result of Bin Laden’s death. But taking pleasure in the death itself is not Godly and Christ-like.
Of course, loving our enemies doesn’t mean we can’t or shouldn’t kill them, for our love of them and others may require using potentially lethal means to prevent or end their evildoing and defend others from harm.
Don’t take me for a pacifist. As a concealed handgun license holder, I wouldn’t hesitate to “love” my enemy and others by using potentially lethal force. I would rejoice in the fact that evil had been prevented or stopped, that I had protected myself, my girlfriend, my family, or my friends. But it would be un-Christian to rejoice in the death itself of a criminal or sinner rather than in what the death resulted in.
Lethal self-defense has a double effect: self-defense and the death of the evildoer. The Christian should rejoice in the former and lament the latter, for these are the demands of Love Himself.
Are you unaware of how the earliest Christians cared for their Roman persecutors in the earliest proto-hospitals? Yet another example of Christian love of the enemy.
How many enemies of the faith have come to embrace the faith because of the transcendent Christian love of one’s enemies? We should never doubt the power of God to turn His most vicious enemies into His greatest saints. Just ask St. Paul….
Posted in American Culture, Christianity and Politics, Moral Philosophy, Politics and Religion, Written by Me | Tagged: capital, celebrate, celebration, Christian, death, death penalty, enemies, enemy, evil, glad, God, happy, Hell, joy, justice, kill, killed, lethal, love, Osama bin Laden, pleasure, rejoice, rot, shot, Vatican | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Tony Listi on February 3, 2011
I hate the phrase “sex life” and all the modern assumptions that lie behind it. Such a phrase elevates sex and sexual urges to a higher dignity than they deserves; the phrase reflects sexolatry. Some people act as if sexual urges were like hunger or thirst and thus need to be satisfied ASAP or else they will die or be miserable.
A person who overvalues sex will never be a truly happy person. Sex is an activity, not a “life,” and an activity that is not essential to human happiness and fulfillment. Happiness and fulfillment come from love, not regularly indulging sexual urges. Only to the extent that sex is loving does it contribute to true happiness and fulfillment. And sex is absolutely not the only form and manifestation of love.
A person may have a spiritual life, a work life, a social life, a married life (if called to marriage), and even a political life perhaps. For religion, work, society, marriage, and politics are no mere activities but very important elements of human life in general. It is natural and right that these aspects of life should require most of our personal time, attention, energy, and resources.
But for a person to have a “sex life” seems necessarily to imply lust and disorder. For sexual activity should be engaged in only within marriage, and sex, though an essential and the climactic element of married life, is still only one element of married life. For I would say that a marriage in which sex is the most dominant concern and feature of the relationship, to the point where the couple has a “sex life,” could not be a truly loving Christian marriage. It seems impossible to love your spouse when virtually your only or primary concern is when and how the next occasion for sex will be. I would also suspect that any such “sex life” would be short-lived, for an absence of love in a marriage will only lead to very painful suffering and heartache and thus to a situation in which neither wants to have sex with the other again.
Moreover, while sex within marriage can be loving, it isn’t necessarily loving just because the man and woman are married. Though sex is the ultimate act of marital love, it cannot be loving if the rest of married life, the non-sexual majority of married life, is unloving.
Thus, the phrase “sex life” is rarely used within the context of marriage for a variety of reasons. Rather, it is commonly used among young singles who have no moral qualms about premarital sex and some of whom will even engage in sexual activity on a weekly basis if not more often, whether casually or with a regular partner(s).
But to treat sex in this way, rather than as the fruit of married love, is actually to harm and degrade oneself and the other person. Paradoxically to some perhaps, the chaste who abstain from sex know the true value of sex and achieve the value it offers in only married life. For outside of marriage, sex is inherently unloving. Outside of the permanent commitment and union of marriage, sex is inherently an act of using the other person rather than an act of sacrifice, of truly giving oneself to the other person.
The purpose of the sexual act is to be an expression of Christ-like love toward one’s spouse. The love of Christ is fruitful, sacrificial, and joyful. That means the sexual act must be open to procreation, to the creation of a new human life, the primary fruit of marriage. And to deliberarely bring a child into the world is indeed to make a sacrifice of future time, attention, energy, and resources for the sake of the child and the spouse. Lastly, the sexual act should be one of joyful celebration. It should celebrate (and consummate) the love that should already exist between husband and wife. Yes, sex should be pleasurable (otherwise, you’re doing something wrong, haha). But love is a cause for joy, not mere pleasure. The natural physical pleasure of sex should complement the joyful celebration of marital love. But to have pleasure without joy is worse than pain itself. And to take joy in the wrong things is to be a miserable creature.
The truth that sex has specific divinely-sanctioned purposes and yet at the same time is completely unessential to human fulfillment is a truly Christian insight, one that is most firmly upheld and defended in Catholicism with its strict doctrines with regard to sex. Virginity and celibacy are given their due honor only in the Catholic Church, which alone has eunuchs who purposefully embrace celibacy for the sake of the kingdom of God. Sex too is given its due honor only in the Catholic Church because of its steadfast prohibition of contraception.
Posted in American Culture, Moral Philosophy, Sex, Written by Me | Tagged: chastity, fun, God, lust, marriage, pleasure, prude, puritan, purpose, religion, Sex, sex life | 26 Comments »
Posted by Tony Listi on December 5, 2010
To be a good parent is to love as God loves. There is a reason we call Him Father.
A good parent is married before having children. He or she enters into a faithful, life-long, and loving commitment with an apt partner, laying a foundation of stability and love for future children. The three persons of the Trinity cannot help but be faithful and loving to each other, for they are the same One Being. The Father was ever faithful to the Son. But God too entered into a faithful commitment, a covenant, which would lay the foundation for His children’s well-being, their salvation, the climax of His love in mercy. God was ever faithful even though His children were not. So too should parents be to disobedient and wayward children.
The Father created us generously out of love, loved us before we could love Him, and enables us to love Him. So too do good parents procreate children out of love, love their children before their children can love them, and teach their children how to love. To be married without children is to lack this divine love, the primary purpose for which God ordained marriage.
To love is to suffer and to offer that suffering as a generous sacrifice. Good parents necessarily suffer for the sake of their children. They suffer through the mistakes they must allow their children to make. So too did God suffer for us on the cross for our sins that God allowed us to freely choose. Parents suffer the toils of caring for a totally dependent, self-centered human being who will not truly be able to love them or care for them until a certain age or level of maturity and not without the parents’ help and guidance. We too are totally dependent on God and are self-centered. Parental love, at least for the beginning of the child’s life, is a one-way relationship from parent to child. So is it also between God and man in the beginning. Despite all the suffering, God and good parents remain faithful, generous, and loving.
God’s love is tough love sometimes. So too must a parent’s love be sometimes. Only those with an intimate knowledge of a child and of his or her unique character and needs can know when to show mercy and when to show wrath. God knows us better than we know ourselves. Parents should know their children better than anyone else, well enough to know when to show mercy and when to show wrath. But both the mercy and wrath should spring from love, as with God, not from weakness, indulgence, intemperance, or other vices.
Despite the suffering and wrath, God’s love is also joyful when His children grow and mature in love, obey His commands and teachings, accomplish great things in His name, and share His love with others. So too do good parents take joy and pride in their children when they grow, mature, obey, achieve, and love.
A child will never be able to “repay” the love of his parents in full. Neither will any of us be able to come close to “repaying” the love and generosity God has shown us. God and good parents give generously with this fact in mind, expecting their children to pay it forward to their own children (if called to marriage), their spiritual children (if called to the religious life), and everyone they meet and interact with. For love is meant to be shared and thus expand.
“And yet it is not an equal return, first to be loved, afterwards to love. For even if one were to contribute that which is equal in amount, he is inferior in that he comes to it second.” -St. John Chrysostom
Posted in Moral Philosophy, Religion and Theology, Written by Me | Tagged: anger, Child, children, daughter, divine, father, first, God, God-like, Godly, love, marriage, married, mercy, parent, parenthood, son, tough, wrath | Leave a Comment »