“50 Shades” of Confederate grey: Why the Christian right is losing power over Southern morality

February 20, 2015 11:51 AM

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Traditional morality, which maintained that sex was only moral if it served the higher purposes of procreation (thus condemning homosexuality and abortion) and social stability (thus condemning divorce and female promiscuity), is crumbling throughout the Western world. Cultural conservatives are quick to see this process as evidence of an overall moral decline. But that is not what is occurring. Rather, the old morality of higher purposes is being replaced by a new morality, centered on human self-fulfillment. According to this rapidly advancing worldview, the purpose of sex is pleasure, and fulfilling sex is an important element of most people’s general life experience.

Self-fulfillment is a real moral system. It has as many prohibitions as the morality it is replacing, but they are different prohibitions. This system maintains that any sort of sexual relationship between (or among) adults is acceptable, but the relationship must be entirely consensual. According t...

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