“Hobby Lobby and Sex: Private and Public”
Dr. Mark S. Latkovic
July 13, 2014
Here’s blogger Megan McArdle, as quoted in Mark Movsesian (http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2014/07/what-explains-the-reaction-to-hobby-lobby?utm_source=First+Things+Subscribers&utm_campaign=7193fcbf39-7_11_147_11_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_28bf775c26-7193fcbf39-172551041), talking about the recently-decided Hobby Lobby case (which both authors support): “In this context [where negative rights are restricted to a reduced private sphere], it’s possible to believe that Hobby Lobby’s founders are imposing their beliefs on others, because they’re bringing private beliefs into the government sphere – and religion is not supposed to be in the government sphere. It belongs over there with whatever it was you and your significant other chose to do on date night last Wednesday. In that sphere, my positive right to birth control obviously trumps your negative right to free exercise of religion, because religion isn’t supposed to be out here at all. It’s certainly not supposed to be poking around in what’s happening between me and my doctor, which is private, and therefore ought to operate with negative-right reciprocity: I can’t tell you what birth control to take, and you can’t tell me.”
Of course, I would add, when you and your significant other have a child out-of-wedlock, and need to go on welfare, your “private” sex life now becomes the public’s business (and that includes the business of religiously-minded persons). As well, sex is never really fully private. Its potential consequences – both good (e.g., children) and bad (e.g., disease) – are all too “out there” to keep fully behind closed doors.
But we have largely lost the social dimension of sex, as we have largely lost the social dimension of the person. Liberals will remind you of the importance of community when it comes to economics, but as for sex, it’s portrayed as so private that you should be surprised to find out that you’re “doing it” with another person.