We believe that life can be a greater pleasure if it is lived with some style and grace and comfort and beauty, but we do not believe that these are the all of it. It is possible to become so caught up in the trappings—both the form and the accoutrements of living—that the real satisfactions become lost. Each man—and woman—should try to know himself, as well as the world around him, and take real pride in that knowledge.
The do-gooder, the prude, the bigot and the censor have no such self-knowledge and their concern is continually with the affairs of others. A concentrated interest in the affairs of others may produce some worthwhile ends, but it can also be the basis for the meddlesome disruption of other people's private lives. We have always been a little suspicious of those too aggressively concerned with the welfare of their fellow man. This is not to say that man should not be willing to aid those less fortunate than himself. He certainly should be—and that willingness to help the rest of humankind should know no boundaries of race, religion or country. But when you help a man, you also rob him of a measure of his self-reliance; if, however, you help him to help himself, you give him the means of establishing his own life in his own way. If we truly respect ourselves, it is impossible not to respect our fellow man as well—we must respect his individuality, the things that make him different from us, that set him apart and make him a person. One of the things that sets man above the lower animals is the distinctly individual nature of each of us; we should be as proud of these differences as we are of the similarities that make us all members of the family of man.
What we believe in, first and foremost, is the individual—and in his right to be an individual.
If a man has a right to find God in his own way, he has a right to go to the devil in his own way, also. It sometimes happens that the man most other men would agree is surely "going to the devil" has, instead, discovered a new truth that is leading him away from established thought and tradition to a better way that, in time, other men will understand and follow. The Bible singles out the meek and the poor in spirit for special blessings. We'd like to add one of our own: Blessed is the rebel—without him there would be no progress.
Religion's Changing Morality
We do not want to suggest that all organized religion is guilty of being antisexual. There is a growing awareness of the true sexual nature of man within the more-liberal elements of both the Christian and Jewish religions. Our quarrel is not, therefore, with the whole of organized religion, but only with that part of it that continues to deny man's sexual nature and pits man's body, mind and soul against one another.
It is, paradoxically enough, the Protestant side of Christendom, originally responsible for Puritanism and the strongest advocate of prudery and antisexualism—that is now forming a new, more liberal religious view of sex. While the official Roman Catholic position still holds that the principal function of sex is procreation and that sex is not to be indulged in for pleasure alone (Beginning Your Marriage, a Catholic handbook, sums up the position of the Roman Church: "The reproductive processes have not been entrusted to man primarily for his pleasure, but rather for the continuation of the species.... Although the immediate result of sexual union is intensely pleasurable physical release and a sense of intimate unity, these are the accompanying effects of the act and not its primary purpose"), a great many members of the Protestant clergy now share the view expressed by fellow theologian Dr. Seward Hiltner, who believes that no conflict exists between the flesh and the spirit of man: Since man is a "whole or total being, sex is good if it serves the fulfillment of man as a total being."
In an article titled "A 20th Century Philosophy of Sex," Joseph Fletcher, teacher of social ethics at the Episcopal Theological School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, recently wrote: "The Christian churches must shoulder much of the blame for the confusion, ignorance and unhealthy guilt associations which surround sex in Western culture.... The Christian church from its earliest, primitive beginnings has been swayed by many puritanical people, both Catholic and Protestant, who have treated sexuality as inherently evil."
In The Bible and the World of Dr. Kinsey, William Graham Cole, professor of religion at Williams College, put it even more strongly: "There can be no quarrel with the secular world at this point. It is right and the church has been wrong. Sex is natural and good.... It is attitudes which are good and evil, never things.... Those who take the Bible seriously must stop apologizing for sex...they must begin with a concession to the secular mind, granting that sex is natural.
"In its efforts to prevent irresponsible procreation, Western civilization has used the device of what Freud called the walls of loathing, guilt and shame. On the whole this method of social control has worked reasonably well, but a price has been paid for its success—the price of sexual perversion, which is the product of fear and anxiety.... The method of moralism has been weighed in the balance and found wanting, partly because it moves in the wrong direction and partly because it has based its case on fear."
In "Religion and Sex: A Changing Church View," David Boroff wrote in the August 1961 issue of the now defunct Coronet, "Much of Protestantism no longer wishes to be identified with repression and Puritanism. 'In fact,' says Professor Roger Shinn, of New York's Union Theological Seminary, 'repression is a Christian heresy.' ...In this country, Puritanism...has been hostile to the expression of sexual feeling. But in recent years, Protestant theologians have re-examined these concepts. They now argue that Puritanism, when it insists that sex is evil, is actually a distortion of Christian doctrine. These thinkers have been influenced not only by recent Biblical scholarship, but also by the findings of psychiatry—especially the revelation of the psychic damage that may be done by sexual repression."
England is undergoing a not-so-quiet sexual revolution of its own, as Time reported in its issue of March 22, 1963: "...the British are deeply concerned with their search for what some call 'a new morality' to fit the hushed-up facts of life. 'The popular morality is now a wasteland,' said Dr. George Morrison Carstairs, 46, professor of psychological medicine at Edinburgh University, in a recent BBC lecture. 'It is littered with the debris of broken convictions. A new concept is emerging, of sexual relations as a source of pleasure, but also as a mutual encountering of personalities, in which each explores the other and at the same time discovers new depths in himself or herself.'
"In a violently controversial report," reported Time, "a group of the Religious Society of Friends attacked the onus attached to 'a great increase in adolescent sexual intimacy' and premarital affairs. 'It is fairly common in both young men and women with high standards of conduct and integrity to have one or two love affairs, involving intercourse, before they find the person they will ultimately marry.' ...This, concluded the report, is not such a sin. 'Where there is genuine tenderness, an openness to responsibility and the seed of commitment, God is surely not shut out.'"
The same month, Associated Press carried a story, datelined London, which reported that a Church of England pastor challenged religious taboos against extramarital sex: "In a sermon delivered from the pulpit of Southwark Cathedral in London, Canon D.A. Rhymes declared the traditional moral code implied that sex is unavoidably tainted. 'Yet there is no trace of this teaching in the attitude of Christ,' he said. 'He does not exalt virginity over marriage, or marriage over virginity—He merely says in one place that some have chosen virginity to leave them free for the work of the kingdom.
"'Nor does Christ ever suggest that sexuality, as such, is undesirable or that marriage is the only possible occasion of any expression of physical relationship.'
"...Canon Rhymes said the moral code of today is being ignored because it is outdated. 'We need to replace the traditional morality based upon a code with a morality which is related to the person and the needs of the person....'" The pastor concluded that if we want to live full and healthful lives, "we must emphasize love," not an inflexible, impersonal and unfeeling morality.
The Ostriches of Sex
In the face of such a tide of reason and research from psychologists, psychotherapists, sociologists, mental-health experts and enlightened theologians, the firing of Biology Professor Leo F. Koch from the University of Illinois, as discussed in our fifth editorial (The Playboy Philosophy, April 1963), seems all the more incredible. For Professor Koch was removed from the faculty of the university for expressing substantially the same ideas, in a letter printed in the student newspaper, that the English pastor stated in a sermon from his pulpit. If anything, the professor was somewhat more conservative in his views, noting that "there is no valid reason" why premarital sex should not be condoned "among those sufficiently mature to engage in it without social consequences and without violating their own codes of morality and ethics." For this he was publicly vilified and fired.
The occurrence prompted Dr. Robert A. Harper, President-elect of the American Association of Marriage Counselors to issue this statement: "As a veteran family life educator, marriage counselor and writer and lecturer on premarital and marital topics, I should like to state flatly that the conventional moral code regarding premarital chastity does a great deal more harm than good in contemporary American society. This code not only leads some young people into firmly fixed pornographic attitudes and prudishly repressive sexual behavior (from which matrimonial ceremonies, alas, cannot free them), but it instills guilt feelings in countless other youth who proceed to violate the stupid premarital taboos.
"Fortunately, however, a growing number of young people have been able to perceive the false, superstitious basis of the outmoded sanctions against premarital coitus and are proceeding maturely, stably, wisely, and happily with wholesome and desirable premarital sexual relations which greatly aid them in their marital sexual adjustments...."
In an article in Esquire titled "Sex: The Quiet Revolution," David Boroff stated: "Attitudes toward sex among those who grew up after World War II...are strikingly different from those of earlier generations. It can be summed up in this way: Sex is one of life's principal goods. The degree of pleasure one derives from it is a measure of one's self-realization. And since the old moral sanctions have lost much of their authority, there is far less reluctance about premarital sex. In fact, Dr. [Albert] Ellis reveals that when he lectures on sex before college students, there is almost invariably a wild cheer when he endorses premarital sex. Before World War II, to be a virgin was good; today, after a certain age, it is bad. The loss of chastity is no longer the fall from innocence; it is the fall upwards, so to speak, to maturity and self-fulfillment.