Political Compass #56: Sex outside of marriage is usually immoral.

Many political debates here have included references to The Political Compass, which uses a set of 61 questions to assess one’s political orientation in terms of economic left/right and social libertarianism/authoritarianism (rather like the “Libertarian diamond” popular in the US).

And so, every so often I will begin a thread in which the premise for debate is one of the 61 questions. I will give which answer I chose and provide my justification and reasoning. Others are, of course, invited to do the same including those who wish to “question the question”, as it were.

It would also be useful when posting in these threads to give your own “compass reading” in your first post, by convention giving the Economic value first. My own is
SentientMeat: Economic: -5.12, Social: -7.28, and so by the above convention my co-ordinates are (-5.12, -7.28). Please also indicate which option you ticked. I might suggest what I think is the “weighting” given to the various answers in terms of calculating the final orientation, but seeing for yourself what kind of answers are given by those with a certain score might be more useful than second-guessing the test’s scoring system.

Now, I appreciate that there is often dissent regarding whether the assessment the test provides is valid, notably by US conservative posters, either because it is “left-biased” (??) or because some propositions are clearly slanted, ambiguous or self-contradictory. The site itself provides answers to these and other Frequently Asked Questions, and there is also a separate thread: Does The Political Compass give an accurate reading? [size=2]Read these first and then, if you have an objection to the test in general, please post it there. If your objection is solely to the proposition in hand, post here. If your objection is to other propositions, please wait until I open a thread on them. (And for heaven’s sake, please don’t quote this entire Opening Post when replying like this sufferer of bandwidth diarrhea.)

The above will be pasted in every new thread in order to introduce it properly, and I’ll try to let each one exhaust itself of useful input before starting the next. Without wanting to “hog the idea”, I would be grateful if others could refrain from starting similar threads. Finally, I advise you to read the full proposition below, not just the thread title (which is necessarily abbreviated), and request that you debate my entire OP rather than simply respond, “IMHO”-like, to the proposition itself.

To date, the threads are:

Does The Political Compass give an accurate reading?
Political Compass #1: Globalisation, Humanity and OmniCorp.
#2: My country, right or wrong
#3: Pride in one’s country is foolish.
#4: Superior racial qualities.
#5: My enemy’s enemy is my friend.
#6: Justifying illegal military action.
#7: “Info-tainment” is a worrying trend.
#8: Class division vs. international division. (+ SentientMeat’s economic worldview)
#9: Inflation vs. unemployment.
#10: Corporate respect of the environment.
#11: From each according to his ability, to each according to need.
#12: Sad reflections in branded drinking water.
#13: Land should not be bought and sold.
#14: Many personal fortunes contribute nothing to society.
#15: Protectionism is sometimes necessary in trade.
#16: Shareholder profit is a company’s only responsibility.
#17: The rich are too highly taxed.
#18: Better healthcare for those who can pay for it.
#19: Penalising businesses which mislead the public.
#20: The freer the market, the freer the people.
#21: Abortion should be illegal.
#22: All authority must be questioned.
#23: An eye for an eye.
#24: Taxpayers should not prop up theatres or museums.
#25: Schools shouldn’t make attendance compulsory.
#26: Different kinds of people should keep to their own.
#27: Good parents sometimes have to spank their children.
#28: It’s natural for children to keep secrets.
#29: Marijuana should be legalised.
#30: School’s prime function is equipping kids to find jobs.
#31: Seriously disabled people should not reproduce.
#32: Learning discipline is the most important thing.
#33: ‘Savage peoples’ vs. ‘different culture’
#34: Society should not support those who refuse to work.
#35: Keep cheerfully busy when troubled.
#36: First generation immigrants can never be fully integrated.
#37: What’s good for corporations is always good for everyone.
#38: No broadcasting institution should receive public funding.
#39: Our civil rights are being excessively curbed re. terrorism.
#40: One party states avoid delays to progress.
#41: Only wrongdoers need worry about official surveillance.
#42: The death penalty should be an option for serious crimes.
#43: Society must have people above to be obeyed.
#44: Abstract art that doesn’t represent anything isn’t art at all.
#45: Punishment is more important than rehabilitation.
#46: It is a waste of time to try to rehabilitate some criminals.
#47: Businessmen are more important than writers and artists.
#48: A mother’s first duty is to be a homemaker.
#49: Companies exploit the Third World’s plant genetic resources.
#50: Mature people make peace with the establishment.
#51: Astrology accurately explains many things.
#52: You cannot be moral without being religious.
#53: Charity is better than social secuity.
#54: Some people are naturally unlucky
#55: Schools and religious values.


**Proposition #56: Sex outside of marriage is usually immoral.

SentientMeat** (-5.12, -7.28) ticks Strongly Disagree.
The last few questions in the Compass relate to one’s view of sex (again, presumably a solely vertical-axis issue IMO).

I’m afraid I can only laugh at the absurdity inherent in the proposition that human beings should, having spent millions of years evolving to the point where they were amongst the only animals with the ability to enjoy sex, suddenly forego doing so because it is a “sin”. I imagine our ancestors, scraping to meet the high energy requirements of their complex brains, taking one look at what some of their progeny do with their wondrous legacy and sloping off muttering about what a bunch of hairless little ingrates we are.

And “usually immoral” - what a phrase that is! It’s not immoral for me, oh no. I’m a responsible adult who knows what I’m doing: it’s those other people who are sinning so badly.

Where did this Luddite and intellectually immature position come from? Throughout history, it seems that the release of serotonin in one’s neurotransmitters upon orgasm was considered too powerful and pleasant for common people to be allowed to experience: the extant power structures had to control that pleasure by associating guilt with it, which could only be lifted from the act by their explicit say so, just as a gullible peasant might ask a witch to remove the imaginary curse which he blames for his joyless and luckless year. State-sanctioned sex, with horrific retribution for violation thereof, was how those power structures kept us in our place.

“But the children!” comes the plea. “Sex causes children. Sex outside marriage causes unwanted children. Therefore sex outside marriage should be minimised.” Thankfully, progress has bestowed upon us the gift of contraception, and abstinence is thus no more necessary than castration. Even when that contraception is imperfect, there are contraceptive measures available after that utterly arbitrary point of initiation of cellular meiosis and mitosis. The removal of a blastocyst, embryo or early foetus is “contraception” in terms of functional equivalence if not in name.

The status of consensual sex outside of explicit state/church sanction is one of the clearest indicators of whether a state is authoritarian or socially liberal, and speaks volumes about who has the power. If the people are to have power, then having sex without explicit state or church sanction is no more immoral than democracy itself.

Instant smartass reply:
“Only if it’s done right.”

Gah. I wanted to say that, Alessan.

+7/-3 Strongly disagree.

You might be able to make an argument for this one if you said “oustide a mutually committed monogamous relationship”, but even then it would be a stretch.

I guess this one is meant to ferret out the religious folks.

Priceguy (-8.50/-5.33) ticks Strongly Disagree. Daft question.

“Do I have to disagree if I object to the word usually?” says Smiling Bandit the virgin Catholic male who objects to the idea of premarital sexual congress in toto.

No, if sex outside of marriage is always immoral, then it is usually immoral, isn’t it?

Some elaboration wouldn’t hurt, though.

-5.62, -5.49

Stongly disagree. To whose moral code are we referring? Each culture, and to some extent, each person, has their own.

Responsible, consenesual sexual activity between two adults harms no one.

Shodan - (5.00, 0.77, IIRC) -

Agree. :eek:

Sex is for pair-bonding, reinforcing a permanent relationship. Sex that is not in furtherance of such a relationship is usually immoral.

Contraception sometimes fails. Children raised in a single-parent household often do not do as well as those raised by two responsible parents. And contraception does not change the emotional needs of living in a stable, committed relationship.

Please note that I said “was usually immoral”, not “should be illegal”.


(-5, -6.41) Strongly Agree.

This is probably one of the questions that kept me from flying off the bottom of the chart. But as I also see “Is x immoral?” and “Should x be illegal?” as two entirely different questions that require two entirely different sets of analysis and therefore often have two entirely different answers.

Not to be a bitch, but… says who? If you ask me, sex is “for” pleasure, if it is “for” anything at all. While it does do pair-bonding and some other things as well, the pleasure is why I do it.

Would you say that sex that couldn’t possibly result in an unwanted pregnancy (oral, for example) is not immoral outside of marriage?

Hey, if doing it standing up is your thing, that’s your business.

Which makes gay sex the most moral sex of all!

Says me, obviously.

And you’re not being a bitch. We are discussing our political and moral positions, and it is perfectly appropriate to find out the basis of someone’s position.

Especially one as shocking as the notion that sex could ever be wrong. :smiley:

And you will get more pleasure, in the long run, if you confine your sexual experiences to marriage. This applies both to sexual pleasures, as well as happiness in general. You, your spouse, your children (if any), and the rest of us will tend to be happier overall if sex is expressed mostly in the context of a permanent, committed relationship.

John Mace (hi, John! I enjoy your posts) mentioned that this is likely to be meant to find out the religious folks. Probably quite true, and my belief is indeed based mostly on my religion.

You can see it as a directive from the Almighty, or you can see it as the collected experience of thousands of years. All three major Abrahamic faiths, Buddhism, Confucianism, traditionally forbid adultery.

No, it is still immoral, because of the violation of the bond.

Ohmygosh - I think I just channeled Hilary Clinton.


In bonding a permanent relationship? Hmmm…


Well, yes, but do they traditionally forbid fornication? My understanding is that there’s nowhere in the Bible where fornication is forbidden: swinging singles get a pass from the Almighty.


Economic Left/Right: 0.25
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian 0.92

Strongly Agree

Sadly, it’s an unobtainable goal. But one that I do my part to acheive. Just think, as fun as unlimited sex may appear, if it only occurred within marriage, there would be hardly any STD’s, rapes, molestations, abortions and broken hearts. Pie-in-the-sky I know. But for those of us who try and live by the 10 commandments it’s a serious issue.

Well said, Shodan.

I agree with the proposition. I think society has a vested interest in keeping the number of sex partners to a minimum so that the numbers of children of questionable paternity might be minimized. In addition, reducing numbers of sex partners reduces the spread of STDs. It’s somewhat analogous to insest. Why is it immoral for siblings to procreate? Because of the threats to society’s gene pool. So a moral position need not have religious foundation, in my view non-monogamous sex is immoral strictly for the risks that it exposes society to.

I’d agree with it more if it was phrased “in a committed relationship.” Couples in long term monogamous but unmarried relationships certainly pose less of a threat to society than do those that marry and divorce multiple times. Homosexual couples who practice safe sex and are in long term relationships do not bother me as much as do heterosexuals that frequently change partners.

Which commandment is relevant?

When I mentioned that a case could be made for the proposition if it had said “in a commtted monogamous relationship”, I wasn’t thinking about the benefits to society. If you make a committment to someone and break that committment, it’s usually an immoral act. No need to drag society into it at all.