MORAL RELATIVISM: The Fundamental Cause of Sex Degeneracy

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The problem of sexual values questions the moral absolutism, which believes in the universality of moral values. Popular views indicate that morality has no firm foundation, that morals are based on individual feelings and social beliefs. Such views on morality naturally arise in a nation and a world as diverse as ours

Taking the common image of Nigeria as a "melting pot", the idea implies that we are a country of many different nationalities, religions and beliefs. Resulting from this fact, our political and social institutions place great emphasis on tolerating and even encouraging diversity among individuals.

This diversity extends to many moral beliefs. Individuals who uphold different religious doctrines or philosophical assumptions, for instance, may well make opposite judgments on a variety of moral questions, from abortion and capital punishment to sexual immorality

It is therefore natural for us to think that moral decisions are simply an issue of personal or group opinion. The logical conclusion that moral judgments are a matter of opinion, attitude or location is strongly being imposed on us by the reality of the diversity in ideals and beliefs among many cultures in our society. This reality becomes clearer to us when we juxtapose two opposing moral values upheld by two different cultures. The Muslims for instance, may not have any problem about a man who has three wives, but Christians will challenge this practice as sexual promiscuity.

This arises from the fact that they differ in their moral beliefs. Moreover, in Nigeria there used to be a culture that was using sex for hospitality. For the people upholding this custom, there was nothing immoral in giving your wife to a friend for hospitality sake. However, there are cultures in Nigeria that would regard this practice as sexual immorality. What about the Nigerian Fulanis who marry their cousins? For other Nigerians, this is incestuous marriage. Well, that is one of those practices that make the Fulani culture unique among other cultures in Nigeria.
Apart from the moral differences found among the groups and societies discussed above, there are differences in moral values among individuals who uphold different philosophical assumptions. For instance, there are individuals who view love as the principle of morality. These individuals do not see anything immoral in sexual intercourse inasmuch as it incorporates love. Invariably, nothing prevents friends from having sex if it is for love.

The English culture considers sex as an _expression of love (making love), and this position strongly supports those who view love as the principle of morality, to go into sex without any sense of immorality. Many young men and women of the contemporary society who have sexual relations do so with this mentality, that is, sex is an _expression of love.

More so, there are those class individuals whose principle of life is based on maximization of economic profits. This category of people is often regarded as materialists. For them, any act that could help one to maximize one's economic profits is good, and therefore ought to be encouraged. The people of this caliber view sex as good insofar as it could help one to maximize one's economic profits. Many prostitutes fall into this category. They do not see sex as immoral because of its positive value, the material benefits accruing to it. People of this sort lose their sense of shame when they have to appear nude on the streets, televisions, in the newspapers or magazines, for financial benefits.

Finally, there are those individuals whose principle of life is pleasure. These are people whom their misinterpretation of Epicurean ethics led them to the necessary conclusion that pleasure, as the human ultimate goal, ought to be pursued by all means. For these people, any type of life that maximizes pleasure is good. They isolate sex as one of those activities of life that maximize pleasure. People are therefore encouraged to engage in sexual relations for the maximization of their pleasure. The sugar mummies and sugar daddies are deeply rooted in this sort of life. They pay hugely to young men and women who would satisfy their sexual pleasure. In Nigeria, they no longer see anything shameful or bad about publishing their names and addresses in the newspapers requesting for people who would satisfy their sexual inclinations. The implication then, is that the "false" Epicurean morality is gradually becoming a morality in Nigeria.

From the foregoing account, it is therefore difficult to deny that moral judgments vary from person to person and from society to society. Louis Lombard was well aware of this fact in the Moral Analysis where he emphasized on the basic need that we understand the nature of the diversity of moral judgments in our societies. As we observed above, when we say that individuals disagree on sexual morality, it means that individuals make different judgments about the permissibility of a particular sexual behaviour. Actually, our moral value-problem arises from the fact that we are handicapped on verification-procedure for a moral judgment where moral views differ. This has naturally led to the conclusion that, when views differ, it makes no sense to ask which judgment is nearer the truth. Mabbott argues that in consequence to this conclusion, men have adopted the position that "moral judgments do not express cognitive states such as knowledge, belief, opinion, for if they did it would make sense to ask about their truth and falsity." [J. D. Mabbott, an Introduction to Ethics (1966), P.92].

It is against the background of this moral relativism that Ayer postulates that moral judgments are just expressions of feelings. For him, moral term has an emotive meaning, that is, they express and create feelings. Morality therefore becomes a matter of taste. Thus, whenever I tell you a behavior, say premarital sex is bad I am only communicating my feeling to you. Ayer's view on morality is similar to Nietzsche's moral nihilism. In his Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche argues that there is no morality. Instead, there is only moral interpretation. This implies that behavior is good or bad depending on the moral interpretation given to it.
Our arguments so far have shown it is difficult designing particular sexual values for everybody. However, this work may seem worthless if we fail in our task of justifying particular sexual values as necessary moral values. The only approach whereby we can establish some sexual values as necessary values is the naturalist approach. The naturalist approach in this context implies the analysis of sex based on its natural function or purpose. Based on this, the basic purpose of sexual union is procreation. It is true that sexual union has the purpose of fostering mutual love, but this love is made unique by the possibility of producing children. Taken in this context, sexual union connotes by its very nature a union that is heterosexual. The demand for the sex drive for procreation is what gives to sex relations in marriage a meaning, which is unique in companions with other sex relations. In marriage husband and wife agree publicly to the consequences of their sex life in a union not transient but enduring. The consequences are the having and raising of children as well as fostering of their mutual love. This justifies the fact that it is only in marriage love is the result of sex relations enduringly and openly accepted. It is on account of this that we posit the sex drive in human beings, demands that sexual intercourse be had in a manner in which no effort is made to interfere with its natural and unique functioning.

The view that sex is a unique human process for a unique natural purpose receives reinforcement from the conviction that life is a product of Nature, Supreme Being or God. Sex and its purpose then is seen in relation to Nature or God. They are not merely a human process albeit a unique natural one. They are related to natural or divine activity.

In conclusion, there is more to sex than when it is viewed from the relativist background. Sex ought to fulfill some natural or divine purposes. All the activities of sex ought to reflect these purposes or functions. Hence, marriage fulfils these purposes best, human sexual activities ought to be tied to married life.


J. D. Mabbott, an Introduction to Ethics (1966), P.92].

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