Because some of our discussions of questions of sexual morality were becoming rather too detailed and explicit for so open a forum, we have closed them temporarily while we figure out how to continue them without crossing lines that shouldn’t be crossed.
Just what those lines are is open for discussion. On the one hand, the Christian personalists of this forum recognize and wish to defend and cultivate in ourselves and others a sense of the essential mysteriousness and intimacy of the sexual sphere. On the other hand, there is a growing feeling, at least in many of us, that much more and much more open discussion is called for as part of the ethical task of Christian philosophers in our day.
It may be seen as a valuable and necessary service to those who have honest questions, to those who are burdened by false or inadequate teachings, to those who are infected (perhaps without realizing it) by an inhibiting prudishness, to those who are in vocations (like priesthood, medicine, psychology) where sound and detailed ethical information is urgently needed…
The internet, while it has the “problem” (in this case) of being highly public, also has at least three distinct advantages for our situation.
1) It allows like-minded thinkers and questioners who are geographically far apart to “meet” each other in one place.
2) It allows for genuine dialogue, which is an especially fruitful way of approaching difficult ethical questions. Thinkers can offer tentative opinions, raise questions, and challenge each other’s reasoning without having to dedicate months or years to research toward a fully-developed idea. Ideas are worked out in communion with other minds. “Onlookers” naturally imbibe a sense of how philosophy works and of how not open-and-shut many questions are. Everyone learns.
3) The “virtuality” factor can be seen as a kind of protection. Readers can enter the discussion and bring their experience to the table anonymously. I know if I had a “sex issue” in my marriage, I certainly would rather go online for information from Christian ethicists whose basic vision and moral seriousness I trust than go to my parish priest and discuss it with him!