Here is a snippet from Living In a Post-Moral World Sermon for Parshat Noach delivered by Rabbi Haskel Lookstein
October 29, 2011
And lest you think that this phenomenon is out there and has nothing to do with your world and my world, I actually found this problem this September in my sex ethics class in the 10th Grade at Ramaz. I gave the students an assignment to read an article about something quite grotesque: it described a group of Jewish married couples who gather periodically and engage in what is popularly called swinging, that is, spouse swapping. A sort of round robin sexual orgy. I asked them how many of you think that this is wrong? And only a few students raised their hands. Astonished, I asked them how could they not think that this was wrong. I got answers like: “well, since it is all out in the open and everybody knows that everybody is doing it, there is nothing fundamentally wrong. No one is cheating on a spouse because the spouse was also swinging.”
I said to them: “what about the seventh commandment – do not commit adultery.” One student answered that these people are really not religious. What the students didn’t seem to understand was that whether they were religious or not, there is a moral code that is rooted in the Bible which defines for us what is right and what is wrong. The problem is that when pressed, many of the students simply said that if it feels good and if it feels right then who am I to judge? I told them I wasn’t suggesting that they go over to somebody who is engaged in swinging and chastise them, but that they had to
have an opinion on this practice. They looked at me with some disbelief. Now, please understand, these are good kids. I don’t for one minute believe that they will engage in this kind of debauchery when they are married adults. This is not related to what they are doing or will do; this is simply an indication that these children are not thinking in moral categories and that they feel that it is somehow politically incorrect to judge another’s behavioral choices. They are picking up from society in general a reluctance to judge.
I confess that I was so disturbed about their reaction that I spent much of the course, which is actually ending next week, coming back to this subject again and again in order to show them how far they have wandered intellectually from the religious sources in which they believe. These are children who follow the Torah which tells them to keep Shabbat, Kashrut and Yom Tov and to pray. They all do these things. But they don’t seem to understand that the same Torah is the source of our moral values, and morality is not simply a matter of opinion. God gave the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai not the Ten Suggestions ! Morality is not personal; it is ultimately ordained by a higher authority. Read the Rest Here
Just a reminder to send me sermons notable for social history or theology.