Friday, March 23, 2007

“If God created everything who created God?”

I want to take a brief detour to answer the classic metaphysical question by a dorm room smarty pants in response to Christian apologetics, “If God created everything who created God?” The question is a clever play on the word “everything” in response to a Christian apologist who says that “God created everything”. Of course, when the Christian apologist says “God created everything”, he is assuming that God is the root, the uncreated thing. Here, dorm room smarty pants is pretending to ignore this assumption and is extracting the idea “everything is created” to turn it back against the premise of God. In this way, smarty pants is challenging the intellectual and philosophical integrity of the Christian apologist.

But does smarty pants have any integrity himself? Is there any intellectual integrity to the possibility that God could, hypothetically be created? Here’s what’s at stake. If there is no intellectual and philosophical integrity to the possibility that God could be created, then smarty pants can’t use that possibility to attack the integrity of the Christian apologist. To begin to even approach the question “who created God?” requires that two major adjustments are made in the definition of God: A) that the God of Israel is not created; he simply is who he is and B) that the God of Israel is Lord above of all: that for him to be created would mean that he was subservient to someone, and was not, therefore, Lord of all.

In other words, if God is created then God must have a God. If one carries the logic of this smarty pants premise through, there are yet more adjustments to the definition of God that are required that deviate from the God of Israel that is being advanced by the Christian apologist. To begin to unravel why this is, let's give smarty pants some leeway and examine a hypothetical alternate universe where God was created by a God who was created by a God who was created by a God who was created by a God, etc… into infinity. Gods creating Gods into infinity cannot result in one God having ultimate executive authority. Each created God will be subservient in authority to the one above him. Either there is an ultimate God where the creation ends, as an un-created God from whom all directives originate to all the created Gods beneath him, or there is a diminishing thread of executive authority extending up from each created God to that God who created him, wherein the thread of original executive authority vanishes into infinity.

Let’s say that smarty pants tries to solve this problem by admitting that, in this alternate universe, there must be an ultimate, uncreated God wherein the creation of lesser Gods creation stops and where the “buck” of executive authority in the universe stops. So let’s say we have an alternate universe where there is a “great grandfather God” and series of “in between Gods” and a “bottom-most God” who would be a sort of “representative God” who would interact directly with the created universe.

So the question is thrown back in the lap of smarty pants? If there is a “great grandfather God” why would he need to create a God to create a God to create the “bottom-most God" in the pecking order to be the “representative God” to create and interact with the created universe? For there to be an unbroken line of executive authority and intent extending from the great grandfather God to all the other Gods ending with the “bottom-most” God requires that each created God was created as a complete clone of the one immediately above, operating with complete determinism in relation to the God immediately above in the pecking order. In this case, each created God is not actually a God but is more of a robotic agent, ultimately, of the great grandfather God. Or, each God in the pecking order is an independently operating volitional Person, thus resulting in a tiered polytheistic universe, where the original executive intent is ever more remote and removed from the great grandfather God with each successive level of God.

Putting the problem of pantheism aside, the smarty pants is in conflict with another attribute of the God of Israel in question that is being presented by the Christian apologist: God is love, and God loves what is good, and it is God’s joy and desire to interact directly with his creation. Yet another definition of the God of Israel is that God acts according to his nature and his character. If we grant as a definition that God only acts according to his nature, the alternate universe of staggered Gods would require that each God have a different nature that the one above and below, and that only the God at the bottom would have the nature and character to directly enjoy relating with creation. The Gods who created the Gods to create creation for them would not have the attributes to love that creation quite like the “representative God” at the bottom of the pecking order who got to interact directly with the created universe. Here, the God immediately above the God who created creation would need to create a God who had a different nature than himself.

To look at it from a different point of view, if the God who created the God of Israel actually had the same character as the God of Israel, we are left with this problem: based on the degree to which the God of Israel demonstrates his love and jealousy for his creation, for such a God to create another God to create creation and relate with that creation for him and on his behalf would be the equivalent of a husband giving his wedding ring to another man to be husband to his wife.

If smarty pants were to try to solve this problem by saying that each God above the God of the universe could have his own creation to love in a parallel universe according to his nature to love, then why would the God above the God in the alternate universe need to create the God of that universe to be God for him in that universe? What would be the investment of that grandfather God in the universe if he had his own created parallel universe to love? For a God to create a God to create a universe would place a God between him and that universe that it was in his nature to love directly.

And so it goes that the question “who created God?” requires moving the goalposts. It requires adjusting the definition of the God that is being presented by the Christian apologist such that the idea of God that is required to take the smarty pants seriously is a concept of God that is utterly un-reconcilable with the God of Israel. As such the question, “who created God?” is far more often used as a ploy to confuse the Christian apologist than it is used as the basis of a serious inquiry.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Revelation, Geography and the Bible Canon

A couple of weeks ago, a couple of Mormon guys in their white shirts and black ties came to my door. I just shooed them away by saying that was not interested in LDS. I have tried to debate people of other faiths before, and though it is often interesting, it ultimately gets nowhere in terms of persuading anyone. Even as that is so, it is useful for me to better clarify my differences with such groups, so I’ve continually asked myself how I can better explain that the New Testament has no room for the sort of extra revelation that the Latter Day Saints are offering.

And it’s not just the follower of LDS. Followers of Bahai and Islam, to name a couple of major groups, also claim to complete the teachings of NT and/or correct severe and drastic failures of the NT to get the message right. LDS, Bahai, Islam and other groups like them all claim that their beliefs operate with some essential connective tissue to the Bible and the NT. For them, Jesus is an important teacher en route to the real goods, which are provided by this person or that who followed after Jesus and who completed Jesus and/or who corrected the serious mistakes of the apostles/bible writers/translators.

It seems clear enough to me from my read of the Bible and the NT and all that Jesus plainly said and didn't say that there is no room for a prophet to follow the NT whose importance is co-equal to Jesus and/or the apostles. If Jesus was who he said he was, then there would be no need for anyone to follow. Jesus affirmed that he was the Messiah, and he said that he fulfilled the Law and the Prophets. Jesus did not say that another prophet of equal authority to him or to his apostles would follow. When there was, in fact, something of salvific importance that was to come in the future that the apostles and/or any and all of Jesus’ future followers would need to know (ie. the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Second Coming) Jesus plainly informed his apostles. This understanding is in conflict with the idea that Jesus and the apostles of the Bible got everything right and that everything has been passed down intact and correct – except that there was more crucial canonical information that needed to be revealed to the world long after Jesus and his apostles.

Due to the conflict that is presented by claiming to add to the words of Jesus while recognizing that his words are intact and correct as presented to us in the New Testament, many canon-adding groups claim that the New Testament is, in fact, not correct or is incomplete due to lost information. Now, if one accepts any idea that Jesus was the messiah and Lord according to words and actions attributed to him, then one must place some degree of trust in those whom Jesus entrusted with his words. If one can't trust Jesus’ apostles to get the New Testament right, one can't trust Jesus to be a Lord who was wise enough to have picked and guided the right disciples. If one accepts the idea that the apostles got it right, but that later translators severely altered the Bible, then one is still left with a Lord who wasn’t wise enough and powerful enough to ensure that his message made it intact to the world. For this one must claim that Jesus’ promises of ongoing guidance by the Holy Spirit were mere fabrications and/or empty promises. If the combined effort of Jesus and the Holy Spirit wasn’t enough to ensure the intact presentation of his message to the world, then Jesus is less than the Lord that he said that he was.

If one were to argue that Jesus of Nazareth was an important teacher/prophet, but that it was merely the Bible writers who got him wrong by conflating him into one co-equal with God, then one is left with the burden of constructing a completely different Jesus that the one in the New Testament, and not merely an altered one.

The bottom line to all of this is that one can't claim to add or correct the Bible with extra canonical revelation without diminishing Jesus' lordship, and one can't diminish Jesus lordship without making him and his apostles to be liars/frauds to one degree or another. Here, Jesus ends up being less than Lord if one is either A) out and out denying Jesus’ Lordship (like the Muslims) or B) claiming to complete Jesus' original mission to communicate new information about the Gospel to the world with extra revelation long after Jesus and the apostles (Like the LDS). It seems clear enough to me that there is no way around it, but it is obviously not clear enough to those who claim to have added/corrected canonical information in regard to the New Testament.

Before I go any further, I want to acknowledge the cessationist/continuationist debate. In regard to revelation, as a continuationist, I don't believe that experiences encountering God, words of knowledge, miracles, gifts have ceased, though they may not be manifested equally among all Christians at all times. A cessationist might ask, "So what then is the nature of the revelation that has ceased if you, the continuationist, believe that these manifestations of the Spirit continue?" I want to simultaneously deal with the non-Christian (or quasi-Christian) groups who are Bible adder/correctors and the Christian cessationist brothers by dealing with arc redemptive history in regard to the nature and purpose of revelation and God's use of geography. I want to construct an argument that deals with the Bible as an indivisible whole and that sews up an answer to the question, "Where does canonical revelation begin and end and why?” in such a way that contextualizes the ministry of Jesus and the apostles within redemptive history.

Redemptive history in the context of the Israelites/Jews is the process of God unfolding pieces that, put together, comprise the complete body of God’s globally necessary salvific knowledge for the world. The Bible contains this in ways that are stated both directly and via example, both as narrative and as precept. When Paul says in Romans 5:20

"The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more"

in the context of explaining the role of Christ in regard to redemptive history, Paul is explaining a metaphysical reality that is rooted in the real blood, sweat and breath of human history through time. When he discusses the Law in regard to the Jews in Romans 2:23-24

"You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? As it is written: "God's name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,"

Paul is in the process of explaining a principle that it took the arc of history through the real blood sweat and breath of the Jews operating in history to be able to explain. These examples in Romans are just two examples of the many ways that the New Testament contains both a narrative and the complete metaphysical and creedal understanding of that narrative and all of the narrative that proceeded it. As such, the New Testament canon is a complete package of teaching that can be presented to the whole world along with the rest of Scripture as that which consummates the rest of Scripture and explains it plainly. In this way, Old and New Testaments combined as the Bible contain both the demonstration and the explanation of the demonstration of this: the salvific truth that is necessary for our foundational understanding of the God who has operated in history and our relationship to Him.

While the Bible represents the completion of globally necessary salvific knowledge, it does not mean those who lived before its completion were incapable of being saved. Rather, it means that there were key pieces of the salvific knowledge of God that were needed to be completed through the story of the Jewish people before the revelation could be complete as a Gospel to the whole world. Before the completion of this globally necessary salvific knowledge, salvation still required an orientation to the Jewish people and, during the era of the temple, to the temple via the outer court. Before the completion of the globally necessary salvific knowledge, the temple is still at the center of the terra firma of the word of God in Zion as both spirit and geography.

It is with the ministry of Jesus and then the apostles that this ends, and something important happens: the revelation is taken out of the bounds of Jewish people and the geography of Jerusalem. The globally necessary salvific revelation is now portable to the ends of the earth: it is now a Gospel. This altered relationship with geography is confirmed by three particular events that happen to the temple after the cross and the resurrection. The ripping of the temple curtain, Pentecost and the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 AD were sequential earthquakes that signaled this altered relationship with geography and the Word of God. It is the dissemination of globally necessary salvific knowledge via direct revelation to a particular man or group of men that has ended, which is why the relationship between the word of God and earthly geography has been altered and the dissemination of God’s word is now no longer within the boundaries of the Jewish people and land.

To use big fancy words, the portability of the Gospel beyond the terra firma of the temple mount has particular pheumotological, cristological and ecclesiastical ramifications. Having a different relationship with land, the church now also has a different relationship with human mediators. It is now Jesus, the king and high priest who communicates directly with all believers, as lesser priests, via his Spirit to all ends of the earth to accomplish the goal of establishing his Kingdom in the transformation of believers. It is in the administration of this that Christ betows gifts and fruits to advance it. The church, as an ecclesiastical institution, is merely a container and shell of loosely held, locally operating and very conditionally held institutional authority that is placed by God to guide the establishment of God's Kingdom. As Jesus has commissioned the Gospel to be spread to the whole world, it is the province of the church, as the collective, organic body of individual Christians each operating as individual agents whose job it is to disseminate the body of completed salvific revelation presented in the Bible as it is understood in the context of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

So, to answer the cessationists, the revelation that has ceased is any new revelation of globally necessary salvific knowledge of God which must be disseminated via one man to the whole earth. If a cessationist insisted that I was I partial "cessationist" and therefore not a pure continuationist, I would concede that I was a "cessationist" for that particular nature and purpose of revelation. As a continuationist (in the meaning of the term in the cessationist/continuationist debate), God's low-level revelation aka illumination (a word that is used to keep "revelation" distinct) is ad hoc, supplemental or is individually necessary or locally necessary or temporarily necessary or useful to advance God's kingdom across the globe.

As I have attempted to explain in my posts on "house building" and "will teach you all things" part 1, part 2 and part 3, Jesus and the apostles claimed their role as completing the dissemination of the “truth” of revelation/ aka. the Foundation, but also explained that there was to be an ongoing dissemination of ad hoc wisdom from the Holy Spirit to believers. It is in the space of this ongoing illumination that Jesus interacts directly with believers, affecting their transformation with the intervention of the Holy Spirit, and thereby guiding them to complete the work of the Gospel.

Jesus did not say that this process of illumination via the Holy Spirit would end, and I don’t believe that it will end for the reason that I stated in paragraph 3 of this post – I believe that which Jesus plainly opened is open, that which Jesus plainly closed is closed, and that which Jesus plainly says will come in the future will come in the future. Believing that the illumination of the Spirit has ended would require having extra-biblical knowledge that the promise of ongoing illumination has closed when Scripture has not plainly said so and has said many things plainly to the contrary.

Another way to think metaphorically of the divide that separates the revelation of the Bible canon from the low-level ad-hoc revelation/illumination that follows is to think of a tree. One can understand that canonic revelation is contained within a "trunk building" dispensation of God's revelation and what is now the branch building dispensation of God's illumination. (I don't normally like to use the word dispensation because "dispensationalists" too often emphasize divisions in history and not continuity of God's truth and word). The NT written by the apostles represents the authoritative writing connected to the final "trunk" revelation of God. The NT ministry of the apostles is just where the trunk is becoming branches. It is Bahai, Islam and LDS who all claim some sort of "trunk" quality revelation, some new canon for some new globally necessary salvific knowledge coming though one prophet requiring a new commissioning of missionaries to spread it to the ends of the earth.

In regard to the cessationist who might say that any modern believer’s claim to a special, conscious experience of having special communion with God puts him at risk of being seen as co-equal with the Prophets and Apostles. It is my assertion that we believers can experience the existential faith of God’s leading as an experience of God’s illumination with the same intensity and claim to God's direction and call on our lives that Abraham experienced as God’s revelation, and that we modern believers can use Abraham as an example for our journey in God’s illumination without being accused of making ourselves co-equal as prophets to Abraham. This is because Abrahams place in history makes him part of the "trunk" narrative, as Abraham's faith was necessary to advance the nation of Israel. This, so that Paul and the author of Hebrews could later look back on Abraham’s example as a way to communicate the reality of faith for the benefit of the all in the context of God's revelation in history. Only if I were to claim new, foundational, globally necessary salvific knowledge as a result of my journey with God in 2007, then I would be in problematic territory in regard to the prophets and the apostles and I would be in danger of adding to the canon as the cessationists so often fear.

I will say that I have an affinity with Catholics as brothers in Christ in a way that I do not feel with LDS or with Bahia or Islam (though some Catholics would consider me a heretic). However, the problem I have with these aforementioned groups is a similar problem that I have with the idea of "apostolic succession" of the Catholic church (and to some extent in the Anglican church). While the Catholic church leadership does not claim any new salvific knowledge after the Bible canon, they do claim a centralized illuminatory authority that emanates from God to one man and/or group of men in one corner of the world. It is the tendency of LDS, Islam and to a lesser extent the Catholic Church to try to re-orient the Word of God as something that is oriented toward a particular man at on a particular piece of terra firma. While God can certainly use the institution of the Catholic church for good and to spread the Gospel, it is its centralizing tendency in regard to geography that makes it regressive in their relationship to revelation and the geography of the Gospel. This tendency toward valuing a particular piece of terra firma is also found to one degree or another in all of the Bible canon-adding sects and religions.

In sum, it is my assertion that God's altered use of geography away from needing to by tied to the land ended any formal centralized revelatory/illuminatory ecclesiology. That the church, now free to go to the ends of the earth with the Gospel, is no longer ecclesiastically bound to the globally necessary teachings of one man or group of men. Instead, Christians operate as the "priesthood of all believers" relating directly with Christ and operating within their local church as they complete the mission of His kingdom to the ends of the earth.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Hook-up Positive Feminists


This blog part of a series where I am going out on a limb to confront certain destructive aspects of feminism and of the dessicated sexual values that are out there in our culture. While I am critical of the phalanx style culture war techniques that rely on politics, I do think that there is a role to play for Christians to confront destructive ideas that lie beyond the jurisdiction of explicitly Christian dialogue, wherein Biblical authority is agreed upon as a point of reference. I am still letting my thoughts gel on the ground rules for this sort of dialogue and how it fits in with Christian evangelism and the role of Christians in the world at large. So allow me to bracket that for a bit, while I examine some things.

These past couple of weeks have had many zeitgeist moments in regard to the sexual culture at large that I see as interconnected.

1) The American Psychological Association study on the ill effects of over-sexualization of young girls

2) Britney shaved her head and demanded that people stopped touching her.

3) The Delta Zeta sorority at DePauw University blatantly kicked out some “un-hot” women.

4) a new book called Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love, and Lose At Both by Laura Sessions Stepp came out that follows in the footsteps of Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the rise of Raunch Culture by Ariel Levy, and

5) An Independent lens documentary called HIP-HOP: Beyond Beats and Rhymes by Byron Hurt on PBS explored the reality of misogyny in gangsta hip-hop.

Confronting Katie Dobie of the Washington Post

I always like to read the Week magazine to get the pulse of the current zeitgeist. I read their review of Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love, and Lose At Both, which is a summary of several reviewers from periodicals from around the country. I have yet to actually read the book. Nonetheless, I have a take on what the issues are that one reviewer Katie Dobie of the Washington Post is reacting to. Katie Dobie is but one of many of the “hook-up positive” crowd now criticizing Stepp. Here is Dobie’s review of “Unhooked”. Please read it and then you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Read Katie Dobie’s article here

Now that you’ve read it, I want to deal with two of her points up front:

1) Sex in teens and 20’s, unlike sex for adults, is a path to understanding humanity not a path to true intimacy with another

2) The quality of one’s sexuality is not diminished by too much use

At the end of her article we get a glimpse how of a one night stand might increase one’s understanding of one’s humanity.

Why bring someone into your bed? Maybe because she is brilliant and has a whimsical sense of humor, or he is both sarcastic and vulnerable, and has beautiful eyes.

Is the sheer act of “going all the way” without any strings attached is somehow a path to humanity as Katie Dobie believes? Is sex intimate or isn’t it? If sex is intimate, how is treating is as though it were not intimate a path to some sort of enlightenment about one’s humanity? In truth, sex is the highest transcendent experience that many secular people have, and so having lots of sex is the closest thing that many people get to a religious experience, whereby they then turn fornication and adultery into a religion of self realization.

In truth, sex without love is not enlightenment. It is an act of seeking its pleasure and avoiding its gravity. In the realm of sex, a disposable sexual experience leaves one with the subconscious scars that the most intimate part of one’s self has been treated with less than the honor that it requires. Those scars are not felt consciously, but are sublimated because to recognize them would be too painful. Instead, one feels lust, which is the desire for sexual pleasure extruded through pain and numbness. It is a sadomasochistic impulse to conquer another sexually to validate oneself as a result of latent pain and rejection. Where is the humanity involved in this?

“The girls adopt the crude talk of crude boys: They speak of hitting it, of boy toys and filler boys, "my plaything" and "my bitch."

It is girls aping and trying to one-up the culture of sexual conquest established by cad boys and men.

The powerful pleasure of sex is powerful because it is connected to the core of our being. One cannot experience the power of sex without the core of one’s self being affected either for good or for bad. One cannot experience the high of a sugar rush without either being nourished with good sugars or being overloaded with bad sugars.

A jolt of serotonin in the brain can either be the result of an accomplishment or it can be the result of the drug ecstasy. The former experience of the high is constructive and the latter is destructive. The former experience of the high will bond one to the act of seeking more accomplishments and the latter will bond one to the act of seeking pseudo-wonderful hits of ecstasy. This is the nature of powerful emotions – they bond us to their source. That is why the beauty of sex happens when the pleasure bonds one to the best and highest expression of one’s self for another person in committed love, or else the pleasure will bond one to the quest for disposable sexual highs.

3) Love and sex do not necessarily co-exist

In Katie’s world, there is nothing lost if you have all sorts of sex and then decide that you want to have it with love. Here, the physical act means nothing in and of its self – it only has the meaning/consequences that people choose to subjectively apply to it if and when they are ready. If sex has no inherent gravity, why should a wife not be perfectly comfortable when her husband discusses with her the process of his exploration of his humanity through sex with other girls/women in his youth? Why should she be offended if he continues to have sex to explore his humanity with other women but he insists that he loves his wife. Or the porn star who says that she has sex for her job but makes love to her husband. This attempt to divorce sex from love is a wishful sense of mastery over sexuality that actually helps people to avoid the gravity of sex and the potency and symbolism that is encoded into the profound physical and emotional danger of sexuality. It is the danger of sex that is connected to its pleasure, as the pleasure of sex is the adrenaline rush of being placed in proximity to all of its risks.

As for the married couple who don’t have sex very frequently, this does not negate the special role that sex has as part of the bond of marriage, as people who profoundly trust each other. So it is with the appetite of food, that the pleasure of food is part of the drive to nurture our bodies that we consummate with out knowledge of nutrition so that we seek nutritious food that tastes good. Having nutritious food that tastes good and that we enjoy in the company of others is the highest expression of food that is rooted in all of the biological and primal realities of food. To only seek good tasting food without regard to nutrition is self-destruction through food. As with food, sex is an appetite, wherein the pleasure of sex has a primal and biological dimension that is connected to our needs to bond and to trust and to procreate. The highest expression of sex brings all of these needs together in an experience that encompasses both the pleasure and the gravity of our sexual appetite.

Hook-up sex is banal, reality porn that no one gets paid for. A hook-up is an attempt to have sex without vulnerability and trust, which can only be established in commitment. It is un-examined pleasure stripped of beauty and extruded though the accressions of latent pain and numbness that increase as people continue in it. Hook-up sex is a drug, an opiate among many others, and it is sexual narcissism in its purest form. It is no coincidence that the hook-up generation is the most self-centered and narcissistic (see the recent study on this) because our sexuality cuts to the core of our being and our sexual choices cut to the core of how we shape our character. Dobie is concerned that if such shaming statements are made concerning hook-ups, then girls will just rebel, but that’s not excuse not to call a spade a spade.

Hook-up sex and hook-up fashion is devoid of the mystery and allure that defined sexiness according to older secular-consistent ideas of sexiness. It is a disposable experience to be forgotten en route to the next disposable sexual experience, or it is merely remembered as a notch in the belt of sexual conquest and vapid sexual validation. The highest expression of sex treats it as an appetite, uniting together the pleasure and gravity into a beautiful relationship. Hook-up sex is the cynical abandonment of that beauty. It is the junk-food, fast-food version sex and is just as unhealthy, if not more, as its food counterpart.

As for marriage, there are indeed conditional elements for a marriage to work that require the ongoing mutual commitment of both parties, which Katie Dobie is right to recognize.

However hook-up culture has an idea of marriage that marriage is a pleasure that one can indulge in among other forms of sexual expression. This version of marriage is more like an extended conditional hook-up that can end at any time within an idea of commitment that is ever more vulnerable and flimsy and subject to the whim of narcissistic people as our music and cinema celebrities so often demonstrate.

4) Hook-ups are a Darwinian response to a broken culture or a path to something new.

The Darwinian culture bit is the closest to the truth that Dobie gets, and if true, supports what I have been saying and helps negates her points that I have been summarizing in this post as points 1, 2 and 3. Hook-up is the fast food version of sex for people who cannot or will not stop to commit. In the Darwinian world, the preciousness of sex is diminished not due to exploration but for crasser reasons (why cook a meal at home with your family when you can stop by Jack-In-The-Box). Dobie insists that hook-ups are not a cause of the Darwinian world but merely an effect. In actuality, the same reasons that people hook-up are the same reasons that people have home-wrecking the affairs.

Exploring our humanity and our sexuality, when taken as an intellectually honest endeavor, is a life long process, and there are not neat divisions between youth and older adulthood. As a man gains power and status in his life he will be exposed to the availability of women who were unavailable in his youth. As he gets old and gray he may feel the need to validate his sexuality with a PYT. All this to say that if one does not establish a pattern of honestly and deeply exploring one’s humanity without using other people sexually before one is married, one won’t be in a position to do it after one is married. The higher the position of authority that a person has, the more the consequences will extend beyond the marriage (just as Bill Clinton). Shallowly exploring one’s humanity because of another’s nice eyes before one is married will set one up to do it, eventually, when one is married. To fail to recognize this is to treat sexuality as a toy and not as the potent, gravity laden thing that it is.

5) Hook-ups make sex less a commodity, while being worried about what you can offer a guy by saving your body makes sex a commodity.

Nice try Dobie. Hook-up sex does indeed make sex a commodity. It is reflected in the marketplace that both mirrors and encourages the social marketplace. Here, the realm of business makes “hook-up” fashion, advertising, and sexual products that accessorize the “hook-up” social realm where disposable sex is a “coin of the realm”.

On the topic of guys, I included hip-hop documentary in my zeitgeist list in the Intro. I recognize that there is much, much more to say on the larger topic of hip-hop. The documentary explored where the sexual culture of hip-hop where hooking-up and the mutual objectification of men and women as sex objects goes hand in hand. The documentary featured women in both hip-hop music videos and at a hop-hop spring break where flashing and groping were de rigueur. In these environments, women were shown willingly or self-deceivingly participating in a culture that is based on men validating their masculinity by scoring hook-ups. This vision of hip-hop Gomorrah is one snap shot of a culture mutual sexual conquest run amok. It is one of the more obvious caricatures of the hook-up zeitgeist as a male playground of pleasure that has been extruded through neurosis, latent rage and tough pose that has been reinforced in part by the adversarial environment of the ghetto, corporate America, and black male ghetto culture.

The hook-up apologists might like to believe that this hip-hop groping is an aberration on the beautiful possibilities that lie in the youth hook-up culture. In fact, when one does not pursue commitment with another person, one will not pursue respect. It is the difference between being a lover and a player, and hook-up culture is the culture of players. The hook-up realm of sexual conquest is as antithetical to men being encouraged to unite pleasure and gravity in commitment to and respect of women as it is for women to do so for men. This is true, even, as Unhooked and other studies have explored, there may be some unique emotional consequences for women.

The sorority kicking out the un-hot women is the compliment to the hip-hop gropers. More specifically it is a compliment to the culture of male sexual conquest and disposable sexual experience of the fraternities that that sorority was trying to impress. The culture of wealthy/middle male sexual conquest is, by the way, intimately connected to that of the hip-hop realm. As the documentary explained, the purchasers of gangsta hip-hop are largely white middle class young people.

6) The hook-up generation might find its way to intimacy is no less probable that that they will be relationally stunted

While it is possible that certain individuals will stumble into lasting love from having hook-ups, I think that these will be the exceptions more than the rule.


To believe that the advancement hook-up sex in our society is “progress” is to subscribe to a belief system that I call “continuous revolution”, which is an aspect of a belief that I have discussed called Primalism. “Continuous revolution” is the triumphalism that says that anything that is new is better than anything that is old. As part of Primalism, continuous revolution says that more and more diverse forms of latent and primally existent human expressions must be always continually brought into the fold of social acceptance. In the realm of sexuality, continuous revolution says that marriage is but one form among many equally wonderful sexual expressions.

For Dobie and those who think like her, there are no amount of studies that will ever convince her otherwise. It’s one thing when the Heritage Institute funded study concluded a couple of years ago that a large fraction of sexual active teen girls have contemplated suicide. The Heritage Institute study was dismissed by the hook-up positive crowd as being partisan. It’s another thing when the American Psychological Association says something along the same lines about the effect of over-sexualization of young girls. As it is true of the recent Unhooked, any study that confirms an old fashioned idea of sex and commitment will always be old-fashioned even if the study is fresh and recent. In regard to sexual values, “hook-up positive” feminists will assert continuous revolution ethics even in the face of a plethora of contrary scientific and empirical data and over anecdotal cultural data. Here is the NY Times book review of Unhooked by Stephanie Rosenbloom who, discussing Stepp’s critics says,

But no studies draw a line between the hookup culture and either clinical depression or a lifetime of remaining single, the critics point out.

They will look to any other external existing failure of society as alternative to looking at neurotic sexual expression that has gone off the rails. They will assert continuous revolution sexual ethics even as a sorority does less to hide its shallowness, even as the hip-hop groping continues, and even as the poster girl for hook-up goes off the deep end and shaves her head.