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Tim Keller: Talking to the World

May 24, 2010

I discovered that Immanuel Kant made a case for a Christian sexual ethic but without using any appeal to the Bible or theology. In “Duties Toward the Body in Respect of Sexual Impulse” (Kant, Lectures in Ethics) he argued that sex outside of marriage dishonors human dignity. He reasoned that when you ask for sex without giving your whole self to the other person in marriage (“person, body and soul, for good and ill and in every respect”), you turn the sex partner into an object, a mere means to a selfish end, instead of an end in him (or her) self. Kant’s famous “categorical imperative” was that human beings should never be treated as means, but only as ends. Using only this belief, which is intuitive for many modern people, he argued that you should never have sex outside of marriage.

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