****Stephen Hopewell of the Heritage American blog mentioned my post ‘Philips, Pompeii and human sexuality‘ in his article ‘The Sex Problem, Past and Present‘, saying:

As many of my readers probably know, excavations of Pompeii revealed an extraordinary quantity of erotic art, particularly in the form of wall paintings. The society was apparently swimming in eros.

Libertarian John Wright’s take on the Pompeii art is to see ancient Roman society as superior to ours in the area of sexual liberation, while admitting that “politically…it was no paradise.” He celebrates the sexual liberation demonstrated in the marketing of adult toys by mainstream companies like Philips, and hopes that we will soon be able to enjoy the “best of both worlds,” presumably Roman sexual liberation and American political freedom.

That’s a good, honest summary of my opinion, and I certainly appreciate his accurately representing it. Of course, Stephen goes on to disagree with me on the basis that sexual liberation has brought its share of problems compared with the “attitudes and practices that were the norm a century or so ago.” So, he goes looking for a “healthy conservative account of traditional sexual morality” to shore up his position on the issue, and comes up short almost everywhere he looks. I think it’s worth pausing to consider why this may be the case, and whether this is a prudent way to go about drawing conclusions on a topic.

I would think that someone wanting to come to a correct conclusion on human sexual morality would study all the research available and base their position upon the conclusion of that research. But Stephen has already decided – on some other basis entirely – what he believes, and subsequently goes looking for research that agrees with the position he’s already taken. Actually, the most logical reason that he had such a hard time finding that research is that the “traditional conservative” view on human sexuality is wrong! It’s wrong about the gender roles, and the idea that women should always or usually stay at home and raise children. It’s wrong about its expectations of monogamy: most species on earth are not monogamous and never have been, and it’s often futile to expect it of human beings. It’s wrong about marriage, the role of the nice ceremony and certificate. It’s wrong about sexual orientation, and its attempt to invalidate an entire section of society who don’t identify as heterosexual.

Stephen Hopewell will disagree; primarily, I assume, for religious reasons. But he should recognize that the reason traditional conservatism has declined is that many Americans no longer believe the same things as they did a century ago. I’m happily married, the first and only woman I’ve slept with is my wife, I have a son, we’re big on family and we were married by my father, who is a Presbyterian minister. But I don’t think everybody needs to – or should necessarily want to – live like me. My approach to human sexuality is open-minded: a huge variety of types of sexual relationships exist and should exist. Thus, any model of sexual morality I subscribe to needs to represent those myriad of valid arrangements. Moreover, I’d suggest that the problems that come with sexual liberation aren’t reason to shut down sexual freedom. We should deal with the problems, certainly, but that doesn’t invalidate the sexual desires of people in a free society.

Stephen says:

To be surrounded by erotic art in one’s daily life, as were the people of Pompeii, is not necessarily a wholesome thing.

What could be more wholesome than embracing one’s humanity wholeheartedly, sexuality and all? The denying of his sexuality is one of man’s greatest faux pas, if you ask me.