Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Sad State of Affairs

An AP article in today's Daily Herald points out that one in four teenaged girls (14-19) have an STD. According to the article, the rate is one out of two amongst black teens, and twenty percent for white girls. Doesn't matter, neither deserves any credit. Two "experts" were cited who both looked to abstinence only policies as being a big part of the reason for the sorry numbers. This is a patently lazy analysis of the situation. They immediately take the abdication route, stating that "they're going to do it anyway, so..." and they increase the handout of rubbers. If they really cared about these kids, they'd take their heads from their own posteriors and face the obvious facts. The following are the standouts:

1. The removal of God from schools has had a negative impact on childhood development. I don't much care to discuss freedom of religion here, that's a topic for another time. My point in mentioning this is that in lieu of God in schools we have, what exactly? We have no replacement for God with as compelling an influence. Kids develop the respect for the fact that there is always someone watching and taking notes. Without God in schools, there's only ambiguous subjectivity regarding behaviors and their consequences.

And having God in schools was an extention of most families. There was the natural continuity of God throughout one's daily life, and the knowledge that He is always to be considered. The closest replacements we have without God in schools is man-made and usually man himself, and a more sorry replacement for God one can't find. So there is a void in the public life of kids that allows for self-directed morality, rather than God directed, which has no equivalent. The results are in the lax restraints that would normally be felt by the kid, at a time when firm guidance is a must.

2. The removal of God from the public arena. This further serves to harm the kid's moral development as the wrong kind of continuity seeks to establish itself by adding to the time a child can experience, and be influenced by, a God-less society. The public arena includes media, both print and broadcast, movies, music and political or social discussions or events. God restricted to religious buildings or events only allows for all sorts of subjective notions of what it means to live a righteous and holy life, adding more confusion into the developing logic centers of the kids' brains. All this blurs the decision making processes as kids struggle to absorb the varied and goofy data that assumes that human harmony is enhanced by moral relativism and its infinite possibilities.

I note here that points 1 & 2 affect kids of other faiths as well, since they exist in the same culture.

3. Parental abdication. The aforementioned, "they gonna do it anyway..." drivel. Kids thrive under expectations. When parents are involved with their kids, laying down ABSOLUTES, kids form positive habits and opinions. Face the fact: kids will form habits and opinions no matter what. It is a result of their adapting minds as they journey toward adulthood. Might as well spend time influencing the best into them and they will respond by being the best they can be. Kids love to impress the authority figures in their lives, particularly the ultimate such figure, their parents. And this is something for which parents don't need a lot of experience because everybody knows right from wrong, or knows someone who does.

4. Adult abdication. This is the influence that every adult has upon the kids that might somehow be paying attention to them. Parents were mentioned, but all adults are responsible for setting good examples of how to live life. When kids begin to notice the stories in the news, like Spitzer of New York, for example, it alters how they look at life and ultimately it affects their perception of just how much effort needed to live a righteous life, and why they oughta try.

All of the above points work together to impact the moral development of our youth. The more modest and puritan influences of 50-75 years ago did indeed have an impact on the behavior of youth, as well as on society in general. Something is having an impact now, just not a good one with 1 in 4 teen girls infected with an STD.

29 comments:

Neil said...

Good points, Marshall. This tragic situation is based on a foundation of lies repeated over and over the last 50 years.

Marshall Art said...

Thanks, Neil. To some of us it's pretty obvious. To far too many, generally those who took the "Peace/Love" drivel of the 60's to heart and then had children, they are finding answers to irrelevant questions in trying to fathom the meaning of such statistics. Thus, acting on those answers yields futility, and kids suffer.

Dan Trabue said...

God's been banned from schools??? Does God know?

I was just at my kids' school this morning and I'm pretty sure that God was there.

I'd hate for God to get in any kind of trouble (it might go on God's permanent record!)...

Dan Trabue said...

Kids love to impress the authority figures in their lives, particularly the ultimate such figure, their parents.

You're obviously not the parent of a teen...

Les said...

The presence of God isn't required to facilitate safe sexual practices, Art. You're talking about a code of ethics and way of life that finds a moral base in theology and leads to disease-free sexual practices, and that's fine. No problem with that. Thing is, that moral base doesn't necessarily have to have anything to do with God. It's more about monogamy, and that holds true both for those who believe in God AND for atheists. I'd argue the problem stems more from a cultural escalation in egocentrism and self-involvement. Having personal moral character and practicing socially responsible behavior doesn't require a belief in God, and it's more a loss of parentally-reinforced value sets in general that's contributed to the rise in STD's in our youth. Yes, our country has deep religious roots that have been with us since our inception, and those roots have obviously constituted a crucial ingredient in the moral compasses of our citizenry for generations. Therefore, it makes sense that when the presence of that ingredient begins to diminish, there will be an increase in behaviors that normally wouldn't take place because the previously held moral code forbade them. It's my belief that we've simply allowed ourselves to push our moral consciences further into the back of our heads, and that has translated into a riskier way of life.

As much as I believe in our ABSOLUTE RIGHT to sleep around as much as we want, it's impossible to ignore the mathmatical reality that lies in the obvious safety of having only one sexual partner. Duh. Again, however, that realization doesn't stem from some religious belief or someone else's notion of holiness. It's just common sense.

At least that's my opinion.

Dan Trabue said...

Yes, our country has deep religious roots that have been with us since our inception, and those roots have obviously constituted a crucial ingredient in the moral compasses of our citizenry for generations.

This makes me wonder how a nation that isn't especially religious fares on teen STDs (and by the way, I know this is a CDC report and not a WND hack job, but that number is so high - 1 out of 4! - as to border on the unbelievable...)? What sort of numbers would a Denmark, Japan or Sweden have? And, if that number is lower (and it almost has to be), how would the religious out there explain that a NON-religious country would have a lower rate of STDs?

Marshall Art said...

The report focusses upon two specific STDs, but of course there are much more. Some are more subtle than others. But I've heard this kind of statistic before, and that was several years ago. Frankly, I'm not too concerned about the situation in other countries. I'm not so sure they'd use the same criteria anyway, thus to make comparisons could get tricky.

God may be in your kid's school, Dan. But if His Word isn't the driving force of the school, as one would see in a parochial school, then He is pushed to the side and there is no replacement for Him. If you disagree, what would that replacement be that could have the same eternal hold on the conscience of anyone, much less a child?

And this is the part that is missing from "non-God" situations. There is little to impress a kid these days without a tangible relationship with the Almighty. Les denies that His influence is required for morality, yet he admits that there is that void I mentioned earlier without Him. Those who truly believe understand life in eternal terms, that is, that there is more beyond this life. An accounting is forthcoming and our actions impact Judgement. Without a relationship with God, that is, a more tangible one beyond the mere lip service that is empty, what compelling influence can overcome the desires of a teen when life puts said teen in a situation of having to choose one path against another? There is none. There is only the teen's belief or hope that they can indulge without negative consequences. Yet with God as a real Being, always knowing, there is never, "No one will ever know." THAT is what is missing now that God is not allowed in schools. THAT is what is missing now that God is not welcome in the public square. THAT is what is missing from those who worship only their own selves and desires.

BTW, Dan, two daughters passed through their teen years working to insure that they were never a disappointment to us. A third enters the teen years in less than a year. Same bottom line for her so far.

Les said...

"Yet with God as a real Being, always knowing, there is never, 'No one will ever know.'"

Aha! So it IS all about the fear factor for you then, eh? This way of thinking is a fundamental difference between how you and I think, Art. You wonder where we can find a "compelling influence" to do right without divine inspiration, while I tend to believe in a basic human desire to do good. It's called conscience, and it's not something that requires divinity to be achieved. Your theory inherently contains the notion that people will inevitably do evil if there's no threat of being judged for it, and I COMPLETELY disagree with that.

Marshall Art said...

Not all people, Les. But most Christians have, at some point in their lives, pushed the envelope of good behavior to include things they know are unChristian. They justify and reason their way out of trouble, as it were. This is rather common place in fact, or we wouldn't have the debate within Christian circles over issues such as homosexuality.

But take God out of the equation completely, and one is free to decide for one's self what is right and what is wrong. You like to think that people will find a level to which they will always rise. More than likely, people find a level to which they then sink. Justification for improper behaviors becomes a rule and from there we run into the debates regarding who can determine right and wrong for another. It is a basic human desire to do good, but good is defined by either God or one's self. For an individual to determine for himself what is right or wrong, he will likely base such decisions on personal comfort first, rather than on how such decisions impact the greater society. People are, by and large, self-centered first. Any charity is after consideration, not as a first move. We are charitable to any degree by cultural influence, once moved by Christian teaching. The longer God is kept out of the equation, the more likely charity will fade as well. And when it comes to sexuality, especially amongst the young, a God-less society means that what ranks as good behavior is totally dependent upon the people in question. It is not likely that such things will be considerate of every ramification. When the poop hits the fan, more justification will take place as the self-directed will now have to figure out how to avoid the troubles associated with their decision.

As to any "fear factor" involved within a society devoted to God, where's your problem? Don't you think that God's wrath or judgement is something that should be considered, ever? Just as children seek positive feedback from their earthly fathers, we seek to please God if we are truly people of faith. You call it a fear and I suppose that's not entirely inaccurate. But it's really a desire to please. With such a desire, it is natural to be fearful of failure.

But if we consider the consquences, such a fear is truly justified as the sentence lasts for all of eternity. All in all, your concern supports my position as their is nothing short of God Himself that elicits such concerns about our actions and behaviors. Removing God from schools and public life has removed the ultimate consequences of our actions. How "good" can you expect a teenager to be without such "fear" about to consider?

Dan Trabue said...

I think Les is exactly correct when he suggests that Fear is one huge difference between the modern religious right and most other people. Fear and loathing.

Nearly every "conservative" blog I go to these days has many if not most of their posts based on either fear or loathing.

Fear of terrorists. Fear of Obama's election. Fear of Clinton's election. Fear of gays.

Fear is what drives them to want a military that is larger than nearly the rest of the world's military combined.

That and the notion that most people (ie, those who aren't conservative) are scum. Stupid. Detestable. Living lives full of detestable actions.

Now it's not that these religious right HATE anyone in particular. No sir. They generally want to truly love specific people, in my experience. It's the whole of humanity - "the American voters," "parents," "Muslims," "gays," etc - people in general that they find depraved.

Such fear and loathing naturally forms their worldview. To their detriment, seems to me.

Marshall asks:

How "good" can you expect a teenager to be without such "fear" about to consider?

The problem with this approach is that it relies upon extrinsic source for behavior. As opposed to being good because it's the right thing for me to do, because it's healthy for me and my community, because it works best for all involved.

It's one reason why some kids raised in these environments bolt and "go bad" the minute they get a chance. They've been good for fear of "fire and brimstone" not because it's right.

Seems to me.

Dan Trabue said...

God may be in your kid's school, Dan. But if His Word isn't the driving force of the school, as one would see in a parochial school, then He is pushed to the side and there is no replacement for Him.

Well, now, that would be up to me, wouldn't it?

I mean, I don't WANT a teacher trying to teach my kids their take on the Bible. They're not trained in Bible Study, they're trained in teaching their particular subject.

Tell me this: I was a teacher ever so briefly, would you have wanted ME teaching your kids the Bible? I have a hunch that your answer would be no. How about a Mormon teacher - you want that teacher teaching your kids the Bible? How about a Muslim, Jewish or atheist teacher?

God's Word is alive and not stopped by school walls. All we're asking is that teachers not give their particular take on the Bible during school hours as part of a lesson. It's just not in their job description. They have WAYYY too much work as it is without adding to it the responsibility to teach kids what the Bible does and doesn't say.

This is one Christian (amidst a whole slew of other Christians) who does NOT want the Bible to be the "driving force" in my kids' public school experience. For the teacher's sake and for our kids' sake.

We teach that at home.

I find it interesting that the same group (roughly) that doesn't trust teachers to teach their kids basic procreative biological facts (ie, sex ed) DO trust teachers to teach the Bible and make it the "driving force" of public school.

Weird, that.

And congratulations on your daughters. That was mostly a joke. My kids strive mightily to please my wife and me.

Les said...

"You call it a fear and I suppose that's not entirely inaccurate. But it's really a desire to please."

You're talking in circles again. If you recognize the existence of a "desire to please" in the human psyche, then why the following?

"People are, by and large, self-centered first."

Apparently you're unwilling to acknowledge that people can find just as must fulfillment by "desiring to please" their fellow man as opposed to God. I get the impression you feel those who live piously have some sort of elevated, enlightened conscience from which they can look down upon the lost souls that surround them, confident in the notion that the truth begins and ends with their personal belief structure. Sorry pal. I find such ideological arrogance a condescension of the highest order. It's one thing to have beliefs and fight for them - it's quite another to take the position that one's ideology is indisputable. Millions of people make the choice between a "self-centered first" lifestyle and a "desire to please" lifestyle every single day without any consideration of the God issue. My best friend in high school came from an atheist family. His father is a scientist, his mother is active in local politics, his sister is an educator, and he got an engineering degree from Marquette University. They're some of the best people I've ever met in my life, and they spend their lives making positive contributions to the human community. Are you really going to try and convince me that holy living had anything to do with the direction their lives have taken? Please. Spare me the sermon.

Les said...

"I think Les is exactly correct when he suggests that Fear is one huge difference between the modern religious right and most other people."

Please don't put words in my mouth, Dan. It wasn't the intention of my point to single out the so-called "modern religious right". Fear is a tool that has been used to dictate behavior since time immemorial, and neither religion nor contemporary political ideology has a monopoly on the tactic.

Dan Trabue said...

My apologies, Les. I didn't intend to put words in your mouth.

Then let me say that these are two thing that I think separates many on the religious right from many others out there. Fear and loathing.

Marshall Art said...

"Fear and loathing." That's merely your usual incomplete analysis of reality there Dan. But I will concede a degree of each when considering the view of the world by conservative Christians. We loathe the direction of our culture and fear it may be impossible to turn it around. That much may be true.

But I submit to you both that fear can be rational and sensible and logical and reviewing the list that Dan offered, I can pretty much rest my case. But one clarification would be "fear of gays".

In my lifetime, it's plain to see a rise in both the commission, as well as the acceptance of a lower standard of morality. The case of homosexuality is merely another manifestation of that decline. 1 in 4 girls aged 14-19 infected with some version of STD is still another. There has been no slowdown in this trend save any interference by conservative Christians and others of like mind. It's logical to fear the future when the present has been so tragically impacted by events of the past. In terms of the American sense of standards of behavior, the trend has been downward.

Les mentioned monogamy. We're talking about teenagers here. There's no such thing as monogomous relationships with unmarried teens. They should not be engaged in sexual activity. Bringing monogamy provides a sense of being "less bad" if done within such a scenario. The same holds true for "birth control". It's like they'll always have something to plead on, "Hey, at least I used a rubber!" to which the lefty parent responds, "My kid's so mature." The only message regarding such relationships is that they are inappropriate for single people, and especially teens. That's the only correct message and it needs to be repeated so it's clear.

As to God in the schools, I don't believe public schools ever taught religion while I've been alive. Certainly quite a time before that, too. But Christian Christmas decorations could be found. Christian hymns could be sung. And in a general sense, religious discussion wouldn't bring about the ACLU. Nor would the expression of one's beliefs. These things aren't much true anymore, as no religious references are allowed so as to avoid litigation. But religion was not directly taught. This is how God was still in the schools in a more tangible way than what can be said of the present.

For Les, who wrote:

"You're talking in circles again. If you recognize the existence of a "desire to please" in the human psyche, then why the following?

"People are, by and large, self-centered first."


First, what the hell ya mean "again"??!!!

Secondly, the desire to please God comes first with the education that there IS a God one should desire to please. How could it possibly happen otherwise? Why would an atheist seek to please God? Of course he wouldn't. So those who might not believe would seek to please based on their own standards and their own stamina for pleasing when it isn't convenient. Self-directed morality has no impetus beyond the tolerance for discomfort. God as impetus, however, is fixed and certain. There's no denying what's what. And if one has a sense of the eternal, their choices are altered accordingly. We already see this in the proliferation of porn, sex in mainstream movies and TV shows, music, fashion, with those saying, "Hey, wait a minute" are dismissed as goofy, Jesus freak, prude, fascist, etc.

So, of what might the young be getting a gutfull? They are pretty much told just the opposite of God's Will by the world around them. And it's balanced by nothing.

Getting to your atheist friends (and Dan knows homosexuals who are just dandy), by what measure of goodness are you judging these people? If you might say that they act very "Christian", or simply that they do nothing wrong based on Christianity, you have to remember where they live. As you have yourself stated, our religios roots run deep, it is impossible not to be influenced by the general view of morality, which in this country, is Christian based. But without God in one's life, it's all subject to change according to whim. There simply would not be this level of infection were God still a real part of the lives of our people.

Mark said...

Don't forget the fact that Bill Clinton re-defined what the meaning of "sex" is.

Thousands of kids now see nothing wrong with oral sex, because Clinton announced it isn't really sex.

blamin said...

Ah, puberty, a time in ones life when you’re naturally more rebellious, when your hormones are in overdrive, and you’re convinced you’ve got “it all” figured out.

It’s no wonder when a child (and a teenager is a child) has the media telling him or her it’s ok to do their thing, contrary to what their lame parents say, the teens are going to use that as justification to satisfy their base urges.

Some claim, and rightly so, that it’s the parent’s ultimate job to guide their children. But with today’s society, “liberal” as it is, the percentage of well-adjusted children becoming well-adjusted adults is bound to be much smaller.

Kids want boundaries, no matter how much they may fight those boundaries. When we as parents have to fight the media, or an unresponsive bureaucratic school system, it makes our job harder, and statistically less successful.

Erudite Redneck said...

Re, "Kids develop the respect for the fact that there is always someone watching and taking notes."

And it sets them up to be butt-kissers for the rest of their lives. If THAT's what you mean by God-has-been-kicked-out-of-school, then, well, good.

Erudite Redneck said...

Mark, you keep thinkin' that. Bubba confirmed what lots of guys thought, and think. He didn't come up with it himself.

Marshall Art said...

So, ER. You believe that devotion to God and His Will, a belief that He knows all and will hold us accountable at judgement, is aking to butt-kissing? Then I ask you: why do you believe? Is it not to someday be with Him? If so, then it would stand to reason that you also would see a downside to NOT being with Him someday. When we act to please Him, are we not also acting in a manner that we trust won't piss Him off? Seems to me it goes hand in hand. You like to believe we on this side of the debate want all to conform to our beliefs. The fact is, as has been stated before all too often, is that we wish all to conform to God's Will, just as He does. The desire to please Him and be with Him, as well as the desire to avoid His wrath, are equally appropriate. Christ thought avoiding His wrath was a worthy endeavor and His sacrifice was to avert His wrath from all who believe in Jesus.

Regarding your response to Mark:

Slick Willie, by his position as president, has the potential to influence far more than the braggart's tale will ever do. The president is the ultimate role model and his actions regarding his philandering was a shameful example of bad role modelling. And frankly, I don't think much ot the character of those who think that oral sex isn't sex. It's such a bold and obvious lie to any with any sense whatsoever.

Les said...

"There's no such thing as monogomous relationships with unmarried teens. They should not be engaged in sexual activity."

Fair enough. I'll concede the first statement and agree with the second. That, however, has nothing to do with God. Which leads to...

"Getting to your atheist friends (and Dan knows homosexuals who are just dandy), by what measure of goodness are you judging these people?"

The measure by which I'm "judging" the family in question is the very measure, or topic, of this thread - teenage sexual activity. Neither my friend nor his younger sister were sleepin' around in high school, and from what I can tell, both of them are responsible adults as well. Couple that with their aforementioned contributions to their respective communities, and you've one helluva couple of role models.

Finally...

"...the desire to please God comes first with the education that there IS a God..."

And I wanted to point out the equally as powerful desire to please my fellow man. You're background has apparently convinced you that your desire is more powerful than mine. Prove it, big guy.

Les said...

By the way...

"First, what the hell ya mean 'again'??!!!"

I could tell you, but then I'd be breaking my promise to never again talk about gay marriage with you. Go back and look if you're genuinely curious.

Marshall Art said...

"And I wanted to point out the equally as powerful desire to please my fellow man. You're background has apparently convinced you that your desire is more powerful than mine."

For the first sentence, I would ask what motivates such a desire? How can you be assured that your pleasing anyone and to what purpose would one spend any time pleasing one's fellow man? Which comes first, pleasing one's self, or one's fellow man? Where is the line drawn between pleasing one's fellow man and detracting from one's own life by doing so, and where is the benefit of doing so? What if two or three fellow men desire or require pleasing by disparate means at the same time, what then? How can one tell that one is pleasing one's fellow man and not really only pleasing one's self and is it the same? On who's terms does one measure whether pleasing is complete?

As to the second sentence, how could I possibly measure whether my desire to please God is stronger than your desire to please your fellow man? Why would I attempt to try?

"That, however, has nothing to do with God."

Of course it does. Without God, sex between teens is subjective. There's a host of reasons why it is a bad idea for teens to engage in sexual activity, but few of them matter when one is horny. Fewer still after the fact should things turn badly. Right and wrong, particularly in the arena of sex, becomes totally subjective without God. All "sin" becomes subjective without God.

Your atheist friends might be great people. But they are still influenced by Christian ideas of right/wrong. It's part of the culture in which they live and darn hard to shake. It's true that a Christian life can be led by atheists, but their own individual code of ethics is only as strong as their ability to withstand the consequences of that code. God's code remains whether I'm tough enough to abide or not. When kids, as well as people in general, believe in God as a real entity as tangible as anything else, they are then affected by that knowledge in a manner that transcends their own desires or opinions regarding right/wrong. Atheists have no such prohibitions or motivations that override their own notions.

I would submit that the desire to please others is more a desire to be seen as one who desires to please others. I don't think in terms of pleasing others, beyond my desire to please the missus. There are times when pleasing another is required and there are times when it just feels good to do. I treat others well, or try to, because it pleases God that I do.

Les said...

"Of course it does."

Oh, really? The decision of whether or not to have sex is determined by whether or not one is being influenced by God? The danger of STD's has nothing to do with it? The volatile chemistry of the adolescent human body has nothing to do with it? The irrational and not-yet-mature delusions of "love" have nothing to do with it? Curiosity has nothing to do with it? The fact that - hello - they're essentially immature children has nothing to do with it? Good parenting has nothing to do with it? Please. How about you give people a LITTLE credit here, Art. You are, after all, one of them.

"I would submit that the desire to please others is more a desire to be seen as one who desires to please others."

I'm sorry you have so little confidence in people. You know, you're beginning to change my opinion of you in this thread. You're painting a picture of someone who needs validation from an outside source in order to do good, whether it be from God or from someone who happens to notice you donating to charity or something. If that's true, that's a pretty sad insight into the mind of Marshall Art. You should look into that.

"Why would I attempt to try?"

Because this whole argument is based on the necessity of God in moral or responsible decisions. If you're going to push your own dogma as truth, then prove it.

"I treat others well, or try to, because it pleases God that I do."

And I treat others well because it pleases THEM. More specifically - and this point needs to be addressed right now because your argument focuses waaaaay too much on the specific act of "pleasing" people - I treat others well because I have a conscience and have no desire to see my fellow man suffer. According to you, without Christian ideals such a conscience had no foundation from which to begin. If that were true, then how did people make it through the day without killing each other off before 32 AD? I think you're misunderstanding my critique of your argument, Art. I'm not saying Christian ideals have NO impact on the moral fabric of society. On the contrary, I've argued that very point many times in the past. The difference, however, lies in the belief that Christianity - or God, for that matter - is REQUIRED to maintain a moral lifestyle. That's hogwash, and the idea that human beings are incapable of conscience without God is merely an article of YOUR faith. When I get choked up over seeing some tragic story on the news, it's not because I want to "please God", Art. It's because I'm thinking to myself, "How awful. My heart goes out to these people." Empathy is a powerful human emotion, and I defy you to tell ME that my motivation to lend a helping hand when needed stems from anything other than my own personal code of ethics. We are creatures of free will, Art, and just because Christianity may in some capacity be woven into the fabric of American history, it's up to each individual man or woman to choose to do good - regardless of its source.

Marshall Art said...

"Oh, really?"

Yes. Really. Of all those things you listed after that, most of them have no bearing on the decision of whether or not to have sex, be the subject a teen or an adult, for that manner. Of all those things, only the urge dictates without some intense belief in something other than one's self. One could even feel guilty for having so indulged, but what good is the feeling if it is only a personal code that was breeched as opposed to the Will of God? More than likely the subject will justify the action to assuage the guilt (should there be any), whereas under God, one is still guilty of doing that which is forbidden.

You think I have a low opinion of my fellow man. In some ways that is true, I suppose, but I prefer to look at as having a realistic opinion of my fellow man. For someone I know personally as being of good character, obviously my opinion of him is high. Should he be an atheist, I would still regard him in that manner, though I might wonder and hope it is solid no matter what.

So obviously I can only speak in general terms and in general terms, no, I don't have an especially high opinion of people because of the fact that we are all born of sin and basically sinful, selfish creatures in need of redemption.

As to having pre-marital sex, without God, all the negatives surrounding the decision to engage in it are intangible to the average person who is hot to trot. This is so very obvious to anyone who understands that 45 million abortions, all the "unwanted" pregnancies, all the divorces are not just fairy tales, but reality. A strong belief in God circumvents all these negatives and more. That the occasional anecdote regarding an atheist who will arrive at the same decision is good to hear, but not an indication that it is common place among them or in any way a natural phenomenon.

But take away all the downsides of the decision. Imagine that they would never happen in a given situation. Now what prevents a couple of kids, or a couple who are kids at brain, from going ahead and engaging in the act? There is nothing beyond their own code of ethics. But whether or not a pregnancy will occur, whether or not a disease will be passed on, the act is forbidden by God. Without God, one only needs to prevent the downsides and indulging in the act is a go. The sinfulness of the act is now a matter of preference.

The previous is relevant because of the fact that in the minds of most teens, the sinfulness of the act is a wonderment. Why should it be bad if it feels good, pleases the partner, is "an act of love", yada yada yada? Without God, there is no answer? The only possible answer is because of the downsides of the decision, downsides to which no card-carrying teen believes himself susceptable.

Now, I don't need validation to do good. As I stated, I do good because it pleases God. Does it please me as well? Of course. I, too, like to see the smiling faces of those for whom I've done some service. Do I need it? Not for myself. For though I enjoy pleasing others, you know what I like more? Pleasing myself. I could spend days, weeks, years engaged in the worthy pursuit of my own happiness. And without God, there is no motivation for doing otherwise, beyond reputation. Anonymous charity would have no benefit beyond my own little secret with myself. That might be enough at times. But if I'm not seen as a charitable person, then I'm seen as a selfish person. So anonymous charity would be a stupid strategy. I would HAVE to give publicly because there would be no pleasing anyone without God being pleased. People would benefit, and pleasure would be felt by them, but you'd not know unless you were a witness to it and that could give you away.

But here's an opinion that might really snap your head around: Living as a Christian is beneficial to society. Not living as a Christian isn't. No matter what other faith one holds, or even if one has none, the more one lives in a Christian manner, the better for society. It's a matter of degrees of course, because even some Christians don't act Christian, or don't act Christian all the time. I submit that most people agree with this position as evidenced by the use of such phrases as, "he acts more Christian than any Christian I've ever met and he's a Druid". Thus, those who make such statements concur with the notion.

Finally, on the point of empathy. I concede that empathy drives many. But whence comes empathy? I believe it comes from our Christian culture indoctrinating the bulk of us to see some things as tragic and other things as pleasing. Empathy can also be a response similar to laughter, which is really a fight/flight response as humor is generally the result of someone's misfortune. In the same manner, empathy can be the placement of one's self into the observed situation and understanding the discomfort. We actually feel what the other is going through and thus view it as unfortunate. And empathy can play a part in our secular morality, but one must first have the ability to empathize and not everyone has it. Yet morality still exists and one need not be empathetic to every misfortune to adhere to moral law.

But here's the bottom line: After all we've both said here, the fact of the matter is that in the last 60 years or so, our culture has become more decadent in direct inverse proportion to how much God has been pushed out of the public consciousness. Kids are now paying the price for this due to the lack of suitable replacement for God's presence in the minds of everyone all the time. There IS no replacement and the kids suffer.

Les said...

"Living as a Christian is beneficial to society. Not living as a Christian isn't."

Why would this snap my head around? I've stated on numerous occasions that there are tenets of Christianity that are absolutely wonderful. Thing is, those tenets aren't necessarily exclusive to Christianity, an idea that seems to make YOUR head snap around.

"Of all those things you listed after that, most of them have no bearing on the decision of whether or not to have sex..."

Huh? Explain please.

"But whence comes empathy? I believe it comes from our Christian culture..."

And once again, you're telling me empathy didn't exist before 32 AD?

Marshall Art said...

"Thing is, those tenets aren't necessarily exclusive to Christianity, an idea that seems to make YOUR head snap around."

Not anymore. That is, that the tenets aren't exclusive to Christianity. Such ideas have no impact on my head whatsoever, snap-around-wise. But, these tenets have been exhalted by the Christian tradition and as far as people growing up in THIS country, they still, even as secular humanism seeks to replace it, the influence of those tenets are almost passed down like hair color.

"Huh? Explain please."

What kid looking to dip his wick thinks of any of those things? Indeed, even some from deeply devout parents will also ignore what they know of God's Will when Lil' Elvis takes control. But generally, those with good upbringing won't find themselves in the position where their nether regions decide their next move.

"And once again, you're telling me empathy didn't exist before 32 AD?"

No. But before that point there was Jewish religious tradition that set parameters for human interaction not seen anywhere else.

Marshall Art said...

Besides, empathy doesn't necessarily determine what the empathetic person will do. It doesn't automatically mean the person will respond to what it is that provokes his empathy. Empathy only means that the empathetic person understands the feelings or situation of another, that he can imagine what it must be like. Doesn't mean he'll be sympathetic to the plight of the other.

Erudite Redneck said...

Yeah, whatever.