Maybe I am getting less patient as I get older but I do begin to tire of the way that so often people tend to measure morality purely in terms of sex and forget about everything else. How often have you heard people being described as immoral or amoral because of their sex life without the accuser knowing anything else about the person? (Or even worse, knowing that the person does a lot of good, kind or helpful things but ignoring that fact as an irrelevance).
Do a person’s sexual activities, tastes, experience or preferences have anything to do with morality at all? Well morality can be described as the differentiation of intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are considered good and those that are considered bad. The problem is there is no universally accepted moral code. I have often debated with people about whether there are any universal fixed moral absolutes. I think perhaps there are, but they are not codified in any particular place that everybody can agree on. So at best we are left with common consensus; issues on which a fair sized majority would agree. In that category I think most people would agree that things like rape and murder are usually wrong and things such as honesty and kindness are generally desirable. But even there there would be a certain amount of disagreement over some of the finer details, and as for everything else there is likely to be a wide divergence of opinion. Perhaps there will come a time when we are socially and spiritually mature enough to come to a genuine consensus about a wider variety of moral issues, but until then most things are relative and up for debate.
Of course for some people their morals are dictated by their religious beliefs. In western society our moral and legal framework is still largely based on Judao-Christian principles stemming largely from the Ten Commandments. But a lot of us no longer subscribe to those religions, and even among those who are Jews, Christians and Muslims there is much disagreement about how to interpret various scriptures and the morals they speak of.
More and more of us are having to make our own moral judgments, based on our own reason, intelligence and experience. I think this is a good thing and is a sign that we are maturing as a species. One of the first things we must do though is claim our right to make our own moral judgments and deny the right of any particular religion to force it’s moral codes on us. (This does not rule out the possibility of accepting various aspects of religious moral codes if they still make sense to us).
My own moral code is based on what has become known as The Golden Rule; treat others as you would like to be treated yourself and don’t treat others in any way that you would not like to be treated. To me that is rather simple and elegant, and if we ever do stumble upon a universal moral code I suspect it will be something quite similar to that.
Knowing how I would like to be treated makes it very clear how I should treat others and where my moral priorities should be. If I should get ill, fall into poverty or live in an area of the world where there is famine I know what kind of help I would like and hope for; and this motivates me to do what I can for people who are already in such situations.
When it comes to sex I try not to be influenced by outdated religious morals, taboos or prejudices. My sexual morality is still based on the Golden Rule and manifests in a simple code I live by. Informed, meaningful consent is the main key (any sexual activity which does not involve informed meaningful consent is very wrong in my book). Honesty is also important. I try to be honest with my lovers (particularly about what the nature of our relationship is or isn’t) and I always hope they will be honest with me. However when it comes to things like sexuality, sexual preferences, sexual identity and amount of sexual activity I don’t really see these things as moral questions at all. I happen to be bisexual, some people are gay, some are straight, some are transgendered or transvestite; I don’t think there is a moral element to such facts. I like tenderness, hearts and flowers but I also enjoy elements of BDSM… In what sense can any of that be labeled as moral or immoral?
To me the areas where morality is important are topics like politics which seriously impact many people. I think for example that how we manage the world’s resources is a moral issue. I think how we deal with the sick and impoverished in our communities and further afield is a moral issue. I don’t think prostitution is a moral issue, but how we treat sex workers and react to sex trafficking is.
What right do various people and religions have to set themselves up as judges of my behavior (or anyone else’s)? The simple answer is they have no right. If we each paid more attention to our own morality and less attention to other people’s, we might learn something.
And judging a person’s moral character by how they conduct their sex lives is puerile. Once again I find myself wishing that some people would just grow up.