My Body, My Choice: Why We Have To Stop Making Sex A Moral Discussion

by Lani Seelinger

I'm lactose intolerant. Ice cream made me sick so many times that I hate it now. Even the smell of an ice cream shop is slightly sickening to me. I won't eat it, and if anyone invites me for an ice cream, I politely decline.

I do like cake. I will always accept an invitation to go get cake.

It's my life, my body, and I can make decisions about what I want to put into it without worrying about judgment – well, for the most part. Sometimes people are suspicious when you say you can't eat ice cream.

No matter how much someone does or doesn't like it, though, they are not going to say I am morally wrong for choosing to go with the apple pie without the à la mode.

Which brings me closer to the point. The Public Religion Research Institute recently released poll results showing that for Millennials, homosexuality is more morally acceptable than casual sex.

Great. We're less homophobic than the generations before us, but we're also kind of into slut-shaming.

The results of the poll, though, as less homophobic as they may be, are still immaterial.

The problem is they asked for people to give moral evaluations of sex acts at all, and the grand majority of people surveyed decided to answer.

When can we finally stop talking about sex – in any of its forms – between two consenting adults as a moral issue?

Morality means something different to every human alive – and possibly even some animals. It's an intensely personal construction, something that governs many of our decisions and actions and generally the way we live our lives.

Maybe we get it from our parents, our teachers or our kindergarten experiences. Maybe we're born with it. Maybe we get it from our religion – although, contrary to popular belief, religion is far from the only source of it.

No matter where or what we each choose to base our moral compass on, most societies have the same golden rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Or, as my seventh grade teacher repeated a million times, it's never OK to be mean.

Can we all agree on that? That a fundamental tenant of being a moral person is to treat other people nicely?

Sex, of course, is one way of treating yourself and another person – or people – nicely. And if two or more adults – any two or more adults, in almost any situation – want to have sex with each other, or get married, or have a child, then why does morality have to come into play at all?

I would argue it doesn't. Sex is a fun thing to do. Yes, it can be intimate, it's how we reproduce, it can be deeply connected to emotions, but it doesn't have to be any of those things, and often, it's not.

If two guys like each other, they go out for dinner, one buys the other an ice cream, and then they go home and get it on, who is that hurting? If later they decide they want to get married and spend the rest of their lives together, who is it hurting then?

Certainly not me, despite the issue of the ice cream. It's not hurting you either, even if it offends your personal definition of what the construct of “marriage” is.

If you're trying to stand in the way of these two guys being happy in their personal lives, with their gay sex and their gay marriage, then, according to someone who doesn't have their moral compass shaped by some institution that has decided that homosexuality is wrong, you're actually the immoral one.

That hits on the major problem. Somewhere over the years, much of Western society conflated religion – specifically the Christian religion – with morality. Christianity, if you haven't noticed, has a lot to say about what you do or don't do in the bedroom.

This has wreaked absolute havoc in so many areas for so many centuries – forcing the female libido into suppression and ridiculing (or worse!) women who choose to embrace their sexuality.

It's created a blockade of taboos surrounding the most natural of human urges. And, of course, resulted in a lack of equal rights or recognition to anyone whose sexuality strays from strict heterosexuality.

Clearly, this isn't everyone's version of morality, and it's about time we starting recognizing that.

Two women hooking up doesn't hurt society. A couple of college students having a one-night stand doesn't harm anyone, as long as they use protection. Masturbation, always an enemy of the church, actually has proven health benefits.

I could go on, but you get the point. One person's idea of fun has nothing to do with another's idea of morality, as long as no one gets hurt.

Live and let live. Be nice. Go sleep with whomever you want to, however you want to, and let everyone else do the same.

I would be thrilled if I never saw an ice cream shop ever again. But I wouldn't want to live in a world without ice cream because it would take away so much pleasure, comfort and happiness from so many people. And what kind of moral person would ever want to do that?

Citations: For millennials homosexuality more acceptable than casual sex (The Washington Post), HOW RACE AND RELIGION SHAPE MILLENNIAL ATTITUDES ON SEXUALITY AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH (Public Religion Research Institute ), Science Seat Where morals come from (CNN), Animals Are Moral Creatures Scientist Argues (LiveScience), Do Babies Have a Moral Compass Debate Heats Up (LiveScience), BEYOND RED VS BLUE THE POLITICAL TYPOLOGY Section 5 Views on Religion the Bible Evolution and Social Issues (Pew Research Center), Religion Doesnt Make People More Moral Study Finds (LiveScience), Universalizability and the Golden Rule (Texas A M University Department of Philosophy), Does Religion Oppress Women? (The New York Times ), Masturbation (Planned Parenthood)