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The Forum > Article Comments > The metaphysics of the one-night stand > Comments

The metaphysics of the one-night stand : Comments

By Peter Sellick, published 25/1/2005

Peter Sellick argues that cannot be dissociated from either the future or from love.

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Feeling guilty about something?
Posted by cornonacob, Tuesday, 25 January 2005 8:09:41 PM
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There is the question of the degree of acceptance by society of “one night stands”, or frequent sexual encounters. Privately someone might belief that these types of sexual encounters are non-acceptable, and none should take place at all. Someone else might believe the more the better.

However if society as a whole begins to believe the latter, then individuals might feel compelled to meet societies norm or expectations.

From my understanding, this is a big problem in the control of the spread of AIDS and STD’s in certain countries, where it has become acceptable to have numerous sexual encounters.

Tragically, in some African countries, western media (which often portrays regular sexual encounters between strangers as being a symbol of some type of advanced living) is not helping the control of sexually transmitted disease. Western TV programs, magazines, movies etc that are now being marketed in these countries, basically promote frequent sexual encounters, and are indirectly causeing the spread of sexually transmitted disease.
Posted by Timkins, Wednesday, 26 January 2005 4:49:48 PM
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All jibes and digs about guilt and members of the clergy aside.

As a vacillator between atheism and agnosticism, I suspect that the morality espoused by Christian churches is an expression of what makes a society successful. The churches have taken a comparatively successful strategy for organising a society and condensed it into a set of rules with the overall covering of morality applied on top. God is then used as the ultimate arbiter, a sort of appeal to authority.

Stable monogamous relationships are presumably a strategy for raising children to be successful adults. As we have moved away from hunter-gathering, the need for education has increased, so childhood is prolonged, making monogamy as relevant now as it has been in the past. I remember a friend of my teenage daughter, who complained to her mother, who was several-times-married-and-divorced, about their financial insecurity compared to others. The mother’s response was along the lines of “none of your friends’ parents have been divorced, so of course they are better off than we are”. The fracturing of families comes with serious financial penalties, which detracts from the economic efficiency of the family unit, the opportunities available to and the potential productivity of the children, and the overall economic wellbeing of the society.

Now this doesn’t mean relationships made in hell should be tolerated and we all have to thread our own way through this balance between the personal freedom to screw whatever we like on one hand and the commitment to a stable family unit on the other. At this momentarily period of time that we occupy, our society is experimenting with more liberal sexual behaviour compared to the recent past, and this pendulum has swung throughout the history of our civilisation. The current strategy, which approaches the laissez faire model, may well be, personally and collectively, economically a backward step. Morality aside, if our western civilisation is economically less efficient than another civilisation, then we will be pushed aside, overrun, or in some other way lose our dominance in the world. Whether this matters or not is not a moral issue, it’s a simple case of self-interest. We make it a moral issue, and then squabble about whose morals are appropriate, modern, fashionable or whatever. The real point is that economic success leads to military strength and collective wealth, which in turn gives us the resources to chatter about topics like this, and try to make our society more just, humane and many other good things.

The point about African societies by Timithy is a concise tangible example that can demonstrate a direct link between cause and effect. The consequences for our civilisation may be similar, but it may take a lot longer to come to pass. Failure is failure, whether it be due to catastrophic plagues of STD’s or a decline in the ability of a society to successfully raise its young in the presence of unprecendented wealth.

To resort again to fiction, go and see the movie “Closer”. Superficially successful, personally dysfunctional people make good theatre and they demonstrate the potential impact of an obsession with oneself.
Posted by Rick, Thursday, 27 January 2005 9:31:22 PM
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Pardon the prosaic but on the issue of Famous One-Night Stands in The Bible, the story of Judah and his daughter-in-law, Tamar, fits some of the criteria. It's also arguably one of scripture's most significant sexual encounters, producing part of the lineage Matthew offers for Jesus ...

Apart from that, I'm amazed at the breadth and depth of your knowledge about ONS's!
Posted by BA3, Friday, 28 January 2005 1:35:58 PM
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Timithy, I accept your point about disease and promiscuity but the orientation of my article was not primarily medical but theological. A true theology will, of course, be connected to the earth as we are and promote a healthy ethic and we could even speculate about how that ethic could have evolved from the experience of a people. That does not rid us of the necessity to talk of theology, or metaphysics in the case of the article, because we need an overarching understanding of our natures and their relation to the truth. This is why Christian theology has been developed over the years to its present sophistication. Theological language is the best language we have when we discuss the nature and destiny of human beings. To reduce everything to the medical reduces the argument too much.

Holdenute. You make a similar point to Timithy as you have observed. If the gospel is really about how the grain of the universe runs for human beings it will produce competitive societies. It may be argued that this is why Israel is still among the nations while Babylon and Rome disappeared long ago. I know that the English aristocracy has paid lip service to the church with and understanding that it kept the lower classes on the straight and narrow and the church cannot be let off from this also. But the church in its best moments has responded not to the urge to control but to an event in which it finds the grain of the universe revealed. It thus acts not out of cause and effect but out of a hope that is not seen and walks into a history that cannot be predicted. In this way it is free from the ideology of the times, or should be. This is why the teachings of the church may not be reduced to morality because the biblical stories subvert most moral propositions as BA3 has observed and as I have pointed out in “Lot and his daughters…” and “The company of Mary”.
Posted by Sells, Friday, 28 January 2005 5:19:29 PM
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