Is morality absolute?

There is an interesting blog post at Romancing the Blog today about morality and sex suggesting that sexual desire within a monogamous, loving relationship is “an expression of moral character, and one way of achieving the best kind of human life.”

While I can’t disagree entirely – I do deeply believe in monogamy – I am hesitant to talk about ethics and morality in relation to it.

And I suppose, in thinking about it as deeply as I can when I’m in a hurry and have only a few minutes to spare (isn’t that the way of the world… deep thoughts of morality have to be fit in among work duties and between washing the dishes and running out to get groceries) it comes down to my musings about morality as a whole: is morality an absolute? Is there some rock bottom morality that must cover all human life if we are to consider ourselves evolved beings? I’m troubled by both extremes of thought… “No, there is no moral bedrock because morality is a part of human culture and that inevitably implies differences based on that culture”, or “Yes, there is one morality for us all.”

The first allows atrocities like the subjection of women in some countries, while the second would say that the differences between, say, Canada’s having ended the death penalty while the United States allows it means that one of us is moral and the other is not. I don’t know what to think about that.

If morality is a sliding scale, then we have no business interfering in another country’s treatment of its people according to their own morality, but that would mean, then, that we must not interfere in cases where a woman could be sentenced to death for adultery. Wrong!

But if we say morality is absolute, while it gives us the right to interfere in a case like that, it also implies that we would be morally bankrupt if we don’t, and what then of a country’s right to govern itself according to its own moral laws?

I’m no ethicist, nor am I a philosopher, and so I struggle with these ideas. No answers, just questions… lots and lots of questions.


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