Author of Radical Sex Ethics Book Issues Challenge to the Religious Right

Share Article

The author of a newly published book on sexual ethics has gone beyond criticizing the “puritanical moralists” of the religious right. He wants to challenge them to face-to-face debates on college campuses and radio programs.

The author of a newly published book on sexual ethics has gone beyond criticizing the “puritanical moralists” of the religious right. He wants to challenge them to face-to-face debates on college campuses and radio programs.

Desmond Ravenstone wrote “The Principled Libertine: The Ethical Case for Sexual & Erotic Freedom” (published by Lulu Press) as a response to the viewpoint of social conservatives who want to promote a “traditional” morality on sexual matters.

“When I read their writings or hear one of them speak,” Ravenstone says, “it doesn’t sound at all like an ethical discourse. It sounds like a simplistic set of rules to be imposed from above. If we want a real discussion about sexual ethics in this country, then we need to move beyond whether this or that activity is to be permitted, and start talking about the context in which we express our respective sexualities.”

“The Principled Libertine” is admittedly controversial, defending not only same-sex marriage and the decriminalization of prostitution, but even sadomasochism and non-monogamous relationships. Ravenstone advocates that values such as respect, consent and the enjoyment of pleasure should serve as the basis for deciding what is appropriate and when.

Most importantly, Ravenstone insists that one does not need to be sexually adventurous to share his views. He says he would “like to see a society where the voluntary celibate, the monogamous traditionalist, and the kinky polyamorous bisexual can live side by side, just as teetotalers can live with weekend beer drinkers and connoisseurs of fine wine.”

“People should have the freedom to choose whether, when and how they will explore and express their sexuality,” he asserts in the book’s introduction.

So why challenge members of the religious right to debate the issue? “Because they don’t seek to persuade with facts, but impose by force,” he replies. Ravenstone points to both the crusade against gay rights and same-sex marriage, and the spread of “abstinence-only” sexual education programs in schools as examples.

“It’s one thing if you want to promote puritanical codes within your own spiritual community, and even to propose it as an option. But it’s quite another to enshrine such views as law, as the only option for everyone. When you rob people of choice, you make ethics impossible.”

Desmond Ravenstone has written other books, both nonfiction and erotic fiction, and coordinates educational programs for an alternative sexuality group in New England.

###

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Desmond Ravenstone

617-388-0947
Email >
Visit website