What a breath of fresh air as far as a conversation, Both parties displayed abundant respect, intelligence, curiosity.. I was also struck by the civil, nuanced, and meaningful conversation, usually in very short supply when there are disputes on this kind of magnitude. With these kinds of seemingly unresolvable differences, with people firmly entrenched on their respective polarized sides, the best that can be hoped for may be this type of compassionate dialog, where people really try to listen to and hear each other, and try to empathize with each other's perspectives. And to acknowledge there may be some validity to what the other side is saying. It's an interesting mental exercise to pose a hypothetical thought problem, as if your life depended on you standing up and defending one aspect of the other side, which you respect and admire
If some kind of creator exists, I imagine that he/she/it created men and women so that they could procreate. I believe in the biological imperative. However, I feel it also takes an extraordinary act of courage, to bring a measure of thought and free will into the picture and recognize that one may be an exception to the rule. Perhaps one does not feel that one has the instincts or the capacity to be a good nurturing mother, or perhaps one has not met the person one feels would be a good father and husband. Or perhaps the whole world is just such a rotten place that one wonders why anyone in their right mind would want to subject a new being to the torture that is life on this earth, filled with so much pain and suffering. It then is a act of responsibility and courage, even kindness, on a woman's part, to recognize and accept that the biological imperative is not destined to be her experience. I respect a person's decision to choose not to procreate if they choose not to. In this dialogue, I was really struck by Ms. Kissling's life story, and her pointing out that the other side would seem to want and expect her be a virgin all her life, if indeed the sex act is, or should be, so intrinsically linked to the act of procreation. Dr. Gushee totally avoided answering this one, as if it really was too hot to field. There is no answer that I see as workable here, coming from his perspective. But on the other extreme, one can see all around us in this society promiscuity raised to an art form, people indulging their physical urges with no self-restraint or self-control, like dogs, just for pure physical pleasure and fleeting gratification, with no thought to the possible consequences of creating a life, bringing a baby into the world, and having to care for it long-term. It is the loss of personal responsibility in all this that I bemoan and find most dreadful. Actions have consequences - period. Any such simple and natural cause-and-effect relationship like this should offer up teaching moments. To engineer, manipulate and alter this with contraception and other modern technology may be doing a grave disservice to the long-term common decency and integrity of human beings. It's almost like some universal of fundamental law may be being tampered with and broken. Sex just feels so good. If there is a creator I imagine he/she/it would have wanted us to feel such soaring heights of pleasure in physical intercourse, uniting as one in love-making, and making babies as the ultimately beautiful result of this expression of combined passion. But looking at the animal kingdom and extrapolating to man from that, if men's and women's physical needs would really be met, it seems like women would be popping out a baby every year they are fertile. The big question is, what is the "morality" of contraception? If having sex is what some creator intended to combine pleasure with making babies happen, can one simply undo this by some creative means, to eliminate the "danger" of making a baby, so that the sex act can be used ONLY for pleasure when one wants, without fear of any such "grave consequences", i.e. exactly those same consequences as some all-knowing creator had intended. Sound a bit similar to pick-and-choose cafeteria Catholicism. I'm generally more sympathetically "pro-choice" if we are talking about an individual who is basically a fairly responsible person and puts sex in some greater context, where there is some greater emotional depth to the relationship. I get increasingly less sympathetic with people who have no sense of the risk they are taking, have no respect for the sanctity of the potential life they are creating, who don't recognize any "sacredness" in the fundamental linkage of sex with making babies, and who use abortion merely as a routine procedure to reverse any unintended and unwanted "accidents". It seems that what separates us from the other "beasts" in the animal kingdom is that only we humans have the "higher" consciousness to understand the emotional component of the sex act, whether or not you specifically call it "love".
All this completely changes after menopause, which is a creator's natural contraceptive technique, which neatly resolves all these nasty and tricky dilemmas. Then people can be free to have ecstatic glorious carnal pleasure all the time with no risk of any "bad" consequences. Hoorah.
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