What is dichotomy? Contrast. Contradiction. Irreconcilable Difference. It’s like something having two completely opposing facades on two sides of a barrier, wall, or separation.
In western way of doing things, now being widely accepted worldwide, a person’s age is often (meaning standard) used as such a cut-off measure to decide on things.
Unfortunately, this rule applies to both mundane and major choices. This has become possible, one might say, because relativism inherent to secularism is now the overlord. Yes, despite all the churches, synagogues and temples everywhere, this is how it is.
As an example of how even some of the faith-based institutions are complicit in this reduction, consider the facilitation of co-educational dorms in their colleges. They have adopted the standard of public universities as the norm. Thus, absolute segregation of living quarters of male and female students has fallen victim to evolving relative standards of an increasingly secularized larger environment.
Now, age is used as a marker for many useful distinctions. At 18 years of age, one can vote, join the military, drive a car by oneself, get married, be able to drink or gamble, etc. At 35 years of age, one may seek to become the President of the US, or at 65 (say) choose to retire.
We also see that at 14 years of age one may start dating, and at 16 years one may have consensual sex with one’s peer, with little or no prohibition or punishment.
This is then the dichotomy with respect to moral matters – one can be one way before 14, 16, 18 or 35 years of age and another way afterwards.
One relatively recently adopted man-made cut-off point that punctured hole in an age-old, nature-contrived dichotomy is the legal age of marriage. There was a time when age of marriage coincided with the age of onset of puberty. No longer is that the case. This modernization was argued ostensibly on the back of two strong, proven claims: improved physical and economic health of women and fewer children. However, what has gone unreported is that it has not been an unmitigated success. The dichotomy of being married or not at an older age, along with permissiveness, has unleashed an endemic downside: teenage youth promiscuity, massive illegitimate pregnancy and abortion, and a general breakdown of marriage for certain segments of world’s population, to name a few.
The problem is with allowance to pursue vices: Drinking, Gambling, and Unmarried Sex. For the long run health of the individual and the society, the sanctioning of these choices using an age marker is an ill-advised institution and promotion of a dichotomy. What is bad and what is wrong is bad and wrong for both genders, for all ages, for all races and ethnicities, for all level of education and wealth, and for all times.
These behavioral choices, playing and preying on human weaknesses, have been endorsed and/or accommodated by those lacking appreciation of the disaster about to unfold.
That’s why life in rich, modern societies can be and mostly is a mixed bag of outcomes. Newer hardships have substituted older hardships in return for which some economic and health rewards have been provided. That is why the move toward modernization has not been an unmitigated success. Incredible material success has extracted massive cost from our souls and our lives.
Finally and interestingly, with regard to juvenile delinquency, such dichotomy will continue to exacerbate it, an illness that has for generations stumped social service agencies. How does that happen? Well, teenagers acting up beyond their age by putting themselves and others in harm’s way has several underlying causes – inadequate parenting, socialization (accelerated adult life style exposure), being preyed upon by adults, media access, etc. Such children in contact with other older children (siblings, cousins, neighbors, etc.), who are on the other side of the dichotomy cut-off, become avid audience to tell-all stories. They can begin to live vicariously. For some, this becomes the spark that got the engine started, prematurely.
So, in employing the TPTC Way, and in making it an inter-generational achievement, one has to decide for oneself and one’s family to confront and remove the damaging dichotomies that may have taken over one’s lives. Wrong and bad choices will forever be wrong and bad for anyone regardless of what the social norm is! While social norm is an easy standard, it is neither wise nor beneficial. [BTW, the delayed age of marriage may not be one of the dichotomies demanding rectification. However, it could be selectively relaxed as it is sometimes.]
Regarding gambling and drinking, some people know and accept: “There is great harm in both, although there is some benefit for men, but their sin (i.e., the consequence of ignoring warning about their downside – a moral failure; a crime in God’s language) is greater than their benefit.”
By extension, the same could be said about lately vigorous players in the world of vice: drugs, pornography, voyeurism, etc.
Why modern western societies have adopted a dichotomous framework in allowing access to such vices may be explained in several ways: i. There is a lack of seriousness in actually labelling a vice as a vice. ii. Protection of the income of vendors of vice goods. iii. Disbelief that any one, any community, society or nation could possibly, in a sustained and comprehensive manner, pull off being separated from such vices. iv. Distance from faith resulting in a loss of authoritative language, as well as a loss of willingness to listen to it when it is there. v. People in authority are themselves attached to one or other type of vice, frozen – unable and unwilling to think outside the box.
Where do you see yourself in a morally dichotomous world as you forge a future afresh? Isn’t it a dilemma man has contrived himself?