Question about decency

OK, I have a question about what decency is. Well, that’s not exactly correct, but read the question and you’ll know what I mean. Part of what I’m going to say has to do with me being Catholic.
OK, unlike other types of morality, like steeling for reasons other than self preservation, or killing for reasons other than self defense, decency seems to be subjective. For example, the Catholic church partially defines decency by social norms. For example, in Africa, for tribes where women going around topless is commonplace the church has no objections. But here in America the church frowns upon it. No obviously, partial or total nudity in and of itself is not wrong, I mean, society doesn’t frown on doctors of the opposite sex seeing you nude, married people can get nude together and so on. So obviously there’s nothing wrong with the human body. I know it partial has to do with arousal. I mean, if woman started walking around topless, it obviously would be a big turn on to us guys. But then again, guys are allowed to go topless and there are some women who find that a turn on, so what’s the difference.
Anyway, this post is getting to long, so I’ll end it now.
Oh, and I’m not just addressing this question to fellow Catholics. Replies from Protestants, Jews, Hindus, Atheists, blah, blah, blah are welcome too. Thanks.

General Questions is for questions with factual answers. As you have pointed out decency is not the same thing universally.

This is more of a debate. So, I’ll move it to Great Debates for you.

DrMatrix - General Questions Moderator

Sorry about that.

I think you came close to the point where you said it’s about others and the reactions your level of nakedness will cause. It’s a little like manners, which are as much about ensuring that the people around you are comfortable being around you.

In particular, I think the church talks about decency from the perspective of the level of arousal that it will cause in those around you. In an organisation that frowns on sex outside of marriage, it’s easy to see that anything that entices someone who you are not married to is a bit of a no-no.

But decency is subjective, and it depends on the company. For example if I needed to iron my skirt and there was only the girl I share my house with around, I might pop out in my undies and there’s no problem. If her boyfriend was over, however, I put on my trackies first. She however, might have no problem ironing in her undies if my bf was over (if I had one) or she might be horrified to have me see her in undies - even if I have no problem (or might be horrified by me in mine…)

I hope that kind of makes sense.

I think the rule has to do with more than just sexual topics.

It means that. out of charity, you take steps to avoid offending other people in the society you currently occupy, and to otherwise not hurt their feelings. So in a society where women commonly go topless, if they would be offended by your T-shirt, you doff and go bouncy. In a society where no one uses the F-word, you don’t sprinkle your dinner conversation with the effenheimer. In a society where no one eats with their left hand (don’t ask), you keep your left hand under the table.

It is a way of demonstrating that the feelings of others are of concern to you. Charity, as I said.

I am ELCA Lutheran rather than Roman Catholic. FWIW - YMMV.


Cultural relativism-you mean?

I dunno, it depends. Clothing is one thing. However, if say, the other culture’s norm is to kick puppies and spit on old ladies, I’d say that’s never decent…

robinc308, you make a very good point about decency being like manners and about the feelings of people around you. It makes a lot of sence. Thanks.

Shodan, good points also. And I don’t mind that you’re Lutheran because, like I said, I wasn’t looking for Catholic opinions. I just wrote that I’m Catholic so that the readers would understand where I’m comming from.

Guinastasia, I’m confining this topic to things that can only be juged in terms of decency. When you have things like kicking puppies and spitting on old ladies, then you get into cruelty, which is wrong no matter which culture you live in.