Long term fornicationships versus hookups

May 29, 2013 § 34 Comments

Fornication is fornication is fornication, so from a moral standpoint an ummarried person constantly hooking up with different partners is on roughly equivalent ground with an unmarried person in a long-term “monogamous” fornicationship.

But long-term fornicationships do far more damage to individuals and society precisely because people tend to treat them as, if not outright morally acceptable, morally superior to hookups.

§ 34 Responses to Long term fornicationships versus hookups

  • sunshinemary says:

    B-b-b-but they are in love, Zippy. Love is all you need! I think Jesus said that. Or maybe it was the Beatles, I forget.

  • Elspeth says:

    I agree, but good luck getting anyone in the larger culture to agree to it.

    Where do you stand on the issue of “common law marriages”?Or do you believe there is no such thing?

  • Sis says:

    what about common law marriage, what about how in biblical times sex was considered marriage? Just being contrary…I hate them too, they hurt women.

  • Zippy says:

    In Catholic moral theology, consent to the essentials of marriage, absent an impediment (e.g. previous marriage, consanguinity, etc) or defect of form, is what makes a marriage. Consummation (sex following consent) renders a marriage indissoluble.

    So marriage isn’t something that can “just happen” without explicit consent of husband and wife to marriage.

  • Zippy says:

    (N.b., whenever I use the phrase “in Catholic moral theology” one should always append “as I understand it”. I don’t claim any authority on the subject).

  • c matt says:

    Most states, you cannot be “common law” married without consent to be so, and holding yourselves out as married (the holding out is often used as evidence of the consent). You can’t be common law married by accident.

  • vetdoctor says:

    So my (theoretical) son in a long term relationship announces he is dumping his live in girl friend so that he can lead a life of Hugh Hefner type debauchery. I say, “Thank God, at least that’s a move in the right direction”.

  • Zippy says:

    vetdoctor:
    I say, “Thank God, at least that’s a move in the right direction”.

    Yes, exactly. Morally he hasn’t improved himself, but he has become less of a scourge on society.

  • vetdoctor says:

    Morally, he has degraded himself from someone with an idea of loyalty and commitment to a simple cad. Nor am I convinced society is benefited. Already, so I read, the college hookup society has dropped from a pretense at relationships and some sort of acknowledgement that a broken relationship is, in fact, something broken to “I have no idea what your complaint is.” A man and a woman in a stable relationship have some grounds for gaining understanding what a real marriage is and seeking that. A society with adults that understand permanence has some hope however confused it is. A society of Hugh Hefner’s. . . time for the bulldozers.

  • Zippy says:

    The only reason cads are relevant rather than utterly marginalized is because of the space cleared for them by the serial monogamists.

  • William Luse says:

    Or we might say that both are relevant because of the space cleared for them by the corruption (via Griswold) of sex among married monogamists. The latter made respectable the long-term fornicationship, which in turn allows the cad to walk among us without reproach.

    But I’m afraid I can’t go with you on this one. My moral revulsion would be considerably greater should my daughter decide to hook up with a different guy every week than should she live with and remain faithful to one man outside of marriage. Both states are sinful, but the latter at least tips its hat to the monogamous ideal, while the former sneers at it. Sin comes in degrees, and the promiscuity of the cad or the slut really does matter.

  • […] a couple of provocative (as usual) posts up here and here. One compares what he calls ‘fornicationships’ with hookups, and the other […]

  • Zippy says:

    Visceral reactions are irrelevant though.

    I know that cads do far less damage to society than fornicationships-treated-as-respectable because we’ve always had cads.

    On the individual level, a one-off encounter in which one objectively treats another like a sexual toilet is less damaging than treating the same person as a sexual toilet for years while pretending you love her.

  • William Luse says:

    Visceral reactions are irrelevant though.

    No they’re not. They speak from our depths, in the same way that you would be more horrified to find that a girl’s manner of hooking up was to willingly engage in a weekly gangbang than to fornicate with one man at a time. Your last paragraph oversimplifies long-term fornicationships, as though love never exists in them and that none ever end in marriage. But some of them do, while hook-ups never do. Maybe the difference is that you’re thinking of the long-term damage to society, while I’m thinking of the damage to individuals.

  • Zippy says:

    Bill:
    But some of them do, while hook-ups never do.

    I’m quite positive that isn’t true. There are doubtless couples out there, married right now, who had their first encounter as a hookup. But maybe you meant to make a statistical contention — to which I would have to respond that I just don’t know, statistically. On an anecdotal level the fornicationships-to-marriage I’ve seen have more often than not ended in divorce.

    The most ground I could give here in good faith is to say that hookups and fornicationships are incommensurable evils on the individual level. The hookup is like punching a random acquiantance in the face once; the fornicationship is like punching someone you ostensibly love not once but repeatedly over a period of years. They are both hateful, but the one is much more intimately and repeatedly hateful toward a particular person. A hookup is a base and wicked act; and a series of hookups is a series of base and wicked acts. A fornicationship adds to that a lengthy and habitual blasphemy of marriage.

    Fornicationships are “stickier”: they hold participants in vile sin for years, and foster endless depths of rationalization and excuse making. Hookups on the other hand can be repented of at any time, and none of the cads I have known personally have ever pretended that what they were doing was good.

    On the societal level there is no contest, it seems to me. Fornicationships have been and continue to be vastly more destructive.

  • katmandutu says:

    “Fornication is fornication is fornication, so from a moral standpoint an ummarried person constantly hooking up with different partners is on roughly equivalent ground with an unmarried person in a long-term “monogamous” fornicationship.”

    I disagree Zippy.

    Whilst both are sinful situations, there may be mitigating circumstances as to why a couple in a long term relationship do not marry. The fact that they are faithful to one person and seek no other, suggests that.

    Hooking up constantly, on the other hand suggests nothing but selfish carnal gratification.

    Think of all the other partners involved in these acts of fornication.. If a man( or woman) instigated these many hook-ups then they have compounded their own sins, because they have caused others to sin, too.

    There are varying degrees of sinfulness.

    It’s like saying that a man who is a serial killer is on the same footing as a man who murdered just once.

    That’s just not the case..

  • Zippy says:

    katmandutu:
    Part of what makes long term fornicationships worse is the pervasive idea that they are the “good” kind of fornication.

    …there may be mitigating circumstances as to why a couple in a long term relationship do not marry.

    Indeed … in which case they shouldn’t be fornicating. Fornication is not a loving act, it is a selfish and hateful act.

    Think of all the other partners involved in these acts of fornication.

    You may be making a common error here, treating the long term fornicationship as if it were a single wrong act. But it isn’t. Every single act is a wrong and hateful act.

    There is nothing inherently better about doing a wrong and hateful act against one person many times versus doing the same wrong and hateful act the same number of times[*] against different people.

    [*] I suspect that the frequency of wrong and hateful acts is greater in fornicationships, generally speaking, since the work involved in finding and seducing a new partner slows the process down. So I strongly suspect that long term fornicationships are more ‘productive’ of wicked acts, that is, produce a larger number of selfish and hateful acts per unit of time.

  • […] idea that fornicating with the same person over and over again is morally superior to fornicating the same num… is pervasive.  I suspect that is because the relationship many are in right now began as a […]

  • katmandutu says:

    Of course every act of fornication is a sin, irrespective of how many partners are involved.

    You are missing the point, however.

    I’ll use myself as an example.

    Whilst waiting for my annulment to be come through, I met and fell in love with a lapsed Catholic man. I was at the time, as I am now, a practising Catholic. We were married in the Catholic church exactly 12 months after we first met.

    I am sorry to say that I was extremely weak and gave in to overwhelming temptation to have sex with my future husband. I am a human being, and like any other, imperfect. I was a virgin when at my first marriage at the age of 19. There had been no other men.

    Now, I take full responsibility for my actions. My husband in no way coerced me or put pressure on me.. He was lapsed, I was practising, I should have known better.. Had I said that we must wait until marriage , he would have waited.. I really believe that. One day, it just happened. There was no going back after that. My husband did not see any wrong in it back then. .As for myself, I felt guilt. I kept this from my parents, staunch Catholics, because deep down I was ashamed of my actions .I could not receive Holy Communion because I was in a state of mortal sin, though I still attended mass every Sunday. And to receive Our Lord in a state of mortal sin would further compound my sins and be a sacrilege.

    Of course I took this seriously. However, I just could not stop being intimate with my future husband because I loved him deeply. Still no excuse for my sins, and I am not seeking sympathy or exoneration for them here. Had I dropped dead, back then, I would have gone to hell!.. I shoved this all to the back of my mind. Had I prayed more. (I had at that stage stopped praying the Rosary) I would have been given the strength, I believe, to resist temptation. I thank Our Lady, whose scapular I have worn since a small child, and to whom I have always had recourse, for saving me.

    I know that because of all those acts of sex before marriage, that I will have much to atone for. I will have to expiate my sins either here on this earth or in purgatory. Make no mistake, I am certainly not under any misapprehension about this.

    The priest who married us was aware of the situation. I was honest with him. The night before we married I went to confession. I felt a huge weight had been lifted from my soul.

    I fell pregnant on our honeymoon, and later gave birth to a baby girl. My husband was so moved at the moment he cradled his newborn baby daughter that tears fell from his eyes, as he gazed in wonder at the little miracle that God had given us. From that day, he returned to the church. He went to confession after more than 10 years, and has never missed Mass on Sunday since.

    Sorry for being so long winded here, Zippy, but there is a point to my story.. In the the end good triumphed. My husband was reconciled to God. Something he himself thought would never ever happen.

    As I mentioned previously, a person who fornicates with many people compounds the sin by drawing others into sin.

    Sin is sin. No getting away from that. But there are varying degrees of sinfulness. A person who fornicates for sexual gratification alone, is certainly committing a grave sin. Intent is paramount.

    I don’t believe it is as cut and dried as you say Zippy.

    And, I do not believe for example my acts of love prior to marriage with my husband were hateful. Sinful, yes. Selfish, yes.. But not hateful. I believe God took pity on me through his Blessed mother, who also reclaimed a prodigal son as well. 🙂

    A priest once said ” God can bring good out of the worst of circumstances and the most rotten of human prospects.

  • Cane Caldo says:

    “However, I just could not stop being intimate with my future husband because I loved him deeply.”

    Impossible, else God is a liar; as He has said that loving God and others is the summation of the law, and not the root of sin.

    “And, I do not believe for example my acts of love prior to marriage with my husband were hateful. Sinful, yes. Selfish, yes.. But not hateful. I believe God took pity on me through his Blessed mother, who also reclaimed a prodigal son as well.”

    I hope GKC and William Luse see this.

  • katmandutu says:

    You are nit picking Cane. I am describing how I felt at the time, and how it lead up to my sin. And yes, I felt I really loved my husband.. As I do now. I am as I said an imperfect human being. I still should not have engaged in sex before marriage. I succumbed to temptation, because I was weak.( I had plenty of opportunities to have sex with men before I met my husband. . Even a marriage proposal, but I never fell in love, so was never tempted. )

    I also thought (smugly) that I had stamina and would not yield to temptation (pride on my part,)So, I was knocked down a peg or two, when I fell for my husband.

    I am not an intellectual, like you, just a simple woman. I don’t really understand what you are getting at here. It was my weakness and lack of prayer that caused me to sin. As I said prior, had I not stopped praying the Rosary I believe I would have been given the strength to resist temptation. Perhaps I was clumsy in my explanation. Love was NOT the root of my sin, but weakness and lack of trust in God. (ceasing to pray)

    If we could have married sooner, we would have. We had to wait for the annulment to come through. As we were older and had our own places (no chaperones) the temptation was far greater, I think. I underestimated this.

    And no I do not believe those acts were hateful. We loved one another and intended to marry once the annulment came through. We have been married faithfully for nearly 18 years now. I have never wanted or desired any other man in all that time.

  • Zippy says:

    katmamdutu:
    And no I do not believe those acts were hateful.

    Every sin is hateful; mortal sins gravely so. You’ve been conditioned by your own experiences to be in denial about how hateful each and every act of fornication is. That’s a significant part of why, act for act, fornicationships are far more destructive in their own way than hookups. If you had repented from hookups you wouldn’t be conflicted about calling them what they are: hateful acts.

  • katmandutu says:

    You are splitting hairs, here, Zippy. I admitted to sin. I confessed it and was forgiven. I did not set out to offend God, but that is what happened, through my weakness.. I know that my sins will still have to be expiated.

    I pointed out that there were varying degrees of mortal sin.
    You never really addressed that point.
    Nor the fact that God can turn bad into good.

    Of course a man and woman who wish to marry and fornicate beforehand are committing a mortal sin.. A far graver mortal sin would be that of a person who deliberately sets out to have sex with different people for self gratification and no intention of marrying.. And, they are compounding their sins by encouraging more people to sin.

    “If you had repented from hookups you wouldn’t be conflicted about calling them what they are: hateful acts.”

    I was engaged to my husband and these were not hook-ups. I was awaiting an annulment. Intent matters! You completely ignore this as well.

    You do not have the right to stand in judgement and call me unrepentant. Particularly as I confessed my sins to my priest, who accepted that I was genuinely contrite and absolved me of my sins. God knows what is in my heart.

    You are coming across as angry and self righteous, and I have no interest in engaging with you any further.

    Brick walls and all that. 😉

    Ciao!
    .

  • Zippy says:

    katmandutu:
    You do not have the right to stand in judgement and call me unrepentant.

    You are the one who shared TMI and made it personally about you, rather than speaking about acts and attitudes more abstractly. I actually considered deleting your comment for that reason.

    I have addressed the fact that sins differ in gravity. I’ve explained why fornicationships are especially destructive, compared to hookups. Then you came along and demonstrated one of my points with your comments: you obviously don’t detest the sin of fornication and see it as the hateful act that it is, precisely because of a personal history of it.

    I didn’t characterize you as unrepentant. Imperfect contrition (fear of punishment) is, after all, sufficient for a valid confession. Although I would conjecture that expiation involves in part a process of coming to really detest one’s sins as the hateful things they are.

  • Dystopia Max says:

    As much as I admire Zippy’s foray into Formalism on Fornication, and wish him good luck in understanding and applying that same mindset to other Dark Enlightenment issues, I suggest that you use more well-studied, easily-understood, useful, descriptive, and Dalrockian terms, like serial monogamy or The Female Imperative.

    A true formalist does not fear a TMI assault! You are weak to katmandutu’s attacks precisely because you’re trying to start at the law, and not at the God-given visceral responses behind the law. So, let me tell you what a real reaction to such might have sounded like:

    “Katmandutu, you have just shown, at minimum, that you have no respect for the laws made by men, and that you consider them exactly as important as your first husband, who seems to disappear completely from memory and your public record once you meet your truly true love!

    Did he disappear from reality? Was your sin against him the less? Did you have him killed? What were the circumstances of the annulment anyway? Are you now the chronicler of The True History of Divine Love, with your life the only chapter and verse, for others to elaborate on but never to question? Will his name or his presence never cause awkward moments at which you grasp blindly for any man to ‘man up’ and ‘deal with’ him?

    And if you can’t follow simple instructions concerning your annulment, why should we expect you to follow any instructions, Divine or human? Should we give you any fellowship at all, knowing that your description of us to others will follow exactly the same self-serving and truth-free narrative, interspersed with a few nominally Christian handwaves?

    The honest Christian man, growing up, wishes only to have, hold, and live with the wife of his youth, and the honest Christian woman should feel the same about her husband. The woman who spreads stories of how she met the man of her dreams after a succession of unnamed husbands is exactly the enemy of Christianity, lawful male authority, and the good civilization that it produced. Honest Christian men always find such stories tiresome at best and hateful at worst, and rightfully avoid such women, and even when marrying treat them with the proper distance and coldness they deserve, as no forgiving words have any effect on the unrepentant, but rather inspire them to continue in their sin.”

  • Cane Caldo says:

    @Katmandu

    “You are nit picking Cane. I am describing how I felt at the time, and how it lead up to my sin. And yes, I felt I really loved my husband.. As I do now.”

    Love never creates sin. This is how we know if our acts are loving or not; because loving acts don’t produce sin. Period.

    If God is love, as Christians say, then–by your own words–God leads to sin. Since Christians know that God does not lead to sin, then we must deduce that you are not referring to the Christian God when you speak of “love”, but some other god. So, who is your actual god that you are misnaming as Christ?

    As your “love” is sticking the shiv of sin into others, I have to express my sincere sorrow for your husband.

  • Zippy says:

    Dystopia Max:
    A true formalist does not fear a TMI assault!

    I don’t avoid playing Dr Phil for everyone who tries to jump on my couch out of fear.

    I avoid it out of self respect.

    I appreciate the “Dark Enlightenment” (catchy term) youngsters trying to help me out with their various challenges and bits of advice. But I do things my own way – I’ve had my own approach to things for a long time now – and I really don’t play that well with others. Or perhaps others don’t play that well with me; probably a moot distinction. Jim Kalb taught me the word “reactionary” before the Web existed, close to a decade before I became “VFR’s brilliant commenter” (in the late Lawrence Auster’s words); and the latter was more than ten years before this day.

    So I’m not really a pure noob to, well, much of anything the Dark-E’s are discussing. Of course there is always more to learn; but anyone who thinks I’m likely to jump on a bandwagon has misplaced expectations.

  • A Lady says:

    What the Dark-E’s are discussing is insufficiently decolonized to effect meaningful social or political reform.

  • sunshinemary says:

    In the the end good triumphed. My husband was reconciled to God.

    Holy Rationalization Hamsters, she is saying that she !%#*ed her boyfriend into the Kingdom of God!

    Kat. Do not feel attacked, but I want to tell you that a Holy God hates all sin. That doesn’t mean He won’t forgive us in Christ; He will, but He won’t forgive us the parts of the sin that we hold on to. Holding on to sin takes different forms, but in your case, you are holding on by rationalizing your sin as being not so bad, just kinda bad because there were extenuating circumstances, and it all worked out in the end. The part of the sin that you don’t see as being absolutely filthy and hateful is the part that is unforgiven.

  • Elspeth says:

    “However, I just could not stop being intimate with my future husband because I loved him deeply.”

    Uh-uh, Kat. You assert that because it is simply not true. Of course the commentators here were going to jump all over it.

    I know that it felt like love. Been there, done that, and married my guy also. It is all consuming, and that alone reveals it as something other than real love because you were so consumed you couldn’t even see God enough to stop yourself. In other words, it wasn’t love. It was obsession, and lust, and a whole bunch of other things that felt like love.

    But it wasn’t longsuffering (you didn’t suffer the longing of waiting), it sought it’s own when love doesn’t, it rejoiced in iniquity (which fornication certainly is).

    I could go on, but you get the picture. I’m not judging your rightness before God (how could I?), but I am judging your actions as sinful and your emotions in light of Scripture’s definition of love.

    I know how hard it is when you try to reconcile where you are today with what you did then. It’s a conundrum to be sure. I get it, but our feelings are one thing, and God’s graciousness to allow beauty to emerge from the ashes of our sin is another, and transcendent Truth is something else.

  • Elspeth says:

    Holding on to sin takes different forms, but in your case, you are holding on by rationalizing your sin as being not so bad, just kinda bad because there were extenuating circumstances, and it all worked out in the end.

    You’re right Sunshine. I’ve struggled mightily with this part. Sometimes I still do. Objectively I know that the entire first year of my relationship with my husband was a sin-filled mess and I have done my share of crying and praying and begging for forgiveness.

    The tough part is reconciling that truth with fond memories of times together and even the question of “Would be here now if we were not there then?”

    That’s why you have to take your feelings out of it, which is something that women are particularly bad at. My husband has a much easier time of distinguishing how screwed up and sinful we were then from what we have now.

  • vetdoctor says:

    Only slightly off topic, a post on one of my favorite sites that happens to be about sexing your way into heaven.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/getreligion/2013/06/the-theology-in-all-those-greeley-sex-scenes/

  • Karl says:

    As a husband and father who was abandoned and is facing the nullity gauntlet of the Catholic Church for the second time(and refusing to participate for this round), I agree with Zippy AND say THANK YOU!

    The damage of long term adultery is devastating beyond any description. It is disgusting, ruthless…….

    The Church should spend its resources working to heal wounded marriages. Instead it turns a blind eye to the horrors we and our children face and it works to find ever more slimy ways to avoid responsibility, accountability and justice.

    God bless you, Zippy!

  • donalgraeme says:

    Good catch Elspeth. That wasn’t love driving Kat, it was lust. And lust is a sin, last I checked. Arguing that “good” came out of it somehow is perverting God’s teaching.

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