Last night on CNN I watched a special with Roland S. Martin entitled "God, Sex and Greed" which featured, among others,"America's Rabbi," Rabbi Shmuley Boteach (he has his own bobble-head, which is pretty cool) and Dr. Albert Mohler (he really needs a bobblehead). Both these men were asked about what some feel to be the over-sexed nature of American culture, what their opions of it were, and what they thought could be done. Honestly, I thought both their answers were very interesting.

Rabbi Boteach began by suggesting that rather than being "over-sexed," American culture is actually suffering from a lack of genuine, intimate sexuality that is the ideal of human relatedness. The sex crisis in America, according to Boteach, is not sexual, but pornographic. To Boteach, the perversion in American sexuality stems from the fact that like all other areas of American society, sexuality and human relationships in general have become one more commodity to be bought and sold between individuals. In such a scenario, human persons become objectified and commoditized and sexuality loses any meaning as it lacks the vulnerability and celebration that marks the nature of healthy, non-objectified human relationships.

Mohler, on the other hand, objectified the problem of sexuality in America, not by thinking of it as a commodity to be bartered between persons, but rather by casting it as an abstracted object of moral law. To Mohler, the problem of the perversity of American sexuality stems from violation of penal statutes of divine moral law. Persons feel guilt about these violations because, in his words, their consciences reflect–albeit obscurely–the moral law inherent to human existence. Simillary, the destruction of human relationship as the result of unlawful sexual activity derives from judicial consquences of said violations, the fitting and necessary result of an existing which is askance in relation to divine moral law.

On the whole, I am not a big fan of Rabbi Boteach. However, in the context of this conversation, I think he is dead on. His line of thinking basically begins from the consideration of the human person as the imago dei, the image of God. Upon this foundation, Boteach argues–I think rightly–that distoritions and perversions in sexual relationships accrue to disorientation and destruction to the person not primarily because of penal retribution doled out by an offended deity, but more appropriately because such actions and ways of relating undermine the fundamental nature of the human person created in the image of God. That is, when human persons treat one another–in their sexuality or otherwise–as objectified commodities, disaster can be the only result because the primal way of relating to one another has been destroyed. When one person no longer relates to another as created in the image of God, but rather appropriates their existence on the base level of commodification, oppression, violence and annihilation of personhood can be the only outcome.

This is why I think Mohler's suggestion is untenable, for while it does, perhaps, attempt to maintain the viability of the personhood of the individuals involved, on a collective level it fundamentally invalidates the imago dei of both by positing that the primary way of relating between God and humanity operates on the level of moral law, rather than the intereleatedness of person-al communion. By tracing the perversion and corruption of sexuality (as exhibited in American culture) to mere violations of abstracted standards of ethical life, Mohler's system of moralizing does not present a solution to the violence and oppression engendered by perversions of sexual relationships. Quite to the contrary, it creates yet another system of oppression, violence and dehumanization, one which is not rooted in the over-power of one person over another, but rather (and more terrifyingly) in a fundamental objectifying of human persons as objects of law and not persons which image the nature and personhood of God.