How Far Is Too Far?

There has been quite a stir recently about the question of how far is too far?

Northwestern psychology professor Dr. Michael Bailey has gotten into some really hot water recently as a live sex act was performed in an after-class optional lecture for the students in his widely popular Human Sexuality class. About 100 of the 600 students in the class stayed after to witness a naked woman having a dildo (attached to a chainsaw contraption) inserted in and out of her by her male fiance – who often publicly speaks about kinky sex (though obviously not so often in public university settings). You can read the article here; which also has an exclusive video interview with Bailey.

The fall-out from this ordeal has been intense, to say the least, as you can see here. My thoughts? I know Michael Bailey personally. He is a great guy (which for some doesn’t necessarily make what happened right) who is literally concerned with only two things:

1. That his students get a real life education about sex, sexuality and all of the things that 99.9% of the people in a university classroom setting won’t touch with a ten-foot pole (PS – Just because the majority is scared to breach such topics don’t mean they’re not real or happening everyday!)

2. That he researches those things that no other researchers will touch with a ten-foot pole because they think it will cost them all of their precious funding.

Worldview enhancement. He’s all about it. And it’s hard for people to grasp Michael’s work because they are looking at him, his research and his class through their lens … not his. In all of my life I don’t know if I have ever met a more what-you-see-is-exactly-what-you-get person than Michael Bailey. For that, I am truly grateful for the genuineness and authenticity of who he is.

Two things I would like to point out though, just in case you don’t read the full article: 1) Not one student complained after the fact to either him or his Teaching Assistants before during or after the fact; 2) Bailey didn’t know this act was going to be performed before the presentation started. He let it continue because he questioned himself, why was his initial reaction when the act started of nervousness as well? Was it because the act is taboo or because he was scared he would get in trouble? I honestly believe Bailey’s intentions are true.

So what do you think? Was it right of him to allow such a thing to take place at Northwestern University? How far is too far in your mind?

Much love.

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About Andrew Marin

Andrew Marin is President and Founder of The Marin Foundation ( He is the award winning author of two books and a DVD curriculum, and his new book Us Versus Us: The Untold Story of Religion & the LGBT Community, will release June 2016. Since 2010 Andrew has been asked by the United Nations to advise their various agencies on issues of bridging opposing worldviews, civic engagement, and Christian involvement in reconciliation. He is currently based St. Andrews, Scotland where he is researching and teaching at the University of St. Andrews, earning his PhD in Divinity. His research focuses on the theology and praxis of social reconciliation between victims and their perpetrators. Andrew is married to Brenda, and you can find him elsewhere on Twitter (@Andrew_Marin), Facebook (AndrewMarin01), and Instagram (@andrewmarin1).

  • DD

    My question always is, “What’s next?” How about an orgy? Could be very educational, quite intellectually stimulating. It seems to me that bottom line always should be what Jesus said. “Is this treating people the way you would want them to treat you?” I don’t know why the Northwestern president found it so inappropriate. I’m sure he has his reasons, which I may or may not agree with. The reason I find it wrong is because it treated the woman, in a public setting (albeit one entirely voluntarily), in a woman I find sick. It doesn’t matter if Bailey is a good guy. The point is you don’t use power over people in ways like this, whether they agree to it or not. It demeans them, makes them second-class and says “We’ll treat you however we want.” No, friends. No. No one should be treated this way … ever.

    • Andrew Marin

      DD – I think that is the same question that many, both in Northwestern and outside the university, are asking themselves at the moment. To give some context, last year in that class he had a panel of child sex offenders talk about their lives, feelings, etc. Doesn’t mean that it led anyone in the audience to become a child sex offender… But I see what you’re saying regarding that man using his fiance as a “prop”.

  • wackywilliams

    well I know I have many hang ups with any sexule acts due to my past but I personaly have no problem with talking openly about anything becuse like you said it’s out there & needs to be faced & understood, but personaly would be grately offended by ANY live deminstrations of sex acts, I don’t think it is approprite in a class room setting either to present things like that, but that is just my openon for what it’s worth

    • Andrew Marin

      Your opinion is always worth something PD :) !!!

  • adam mclane

    I think the key for me is that it was optional. If he had made it a requirement that students attend, that’d probably be inappropriate.

    His research does sound important. Like Kinsey’s back in the day was important. (Notice I didn’t say appropriate, just important.)

    The other thing that makes me kind of chuckle is this Victorian sensibility we all carry around. In this case, it looks like this:

    We are OK that 80-90% (or more) of the students in our class have seen a porn video depicting something similar or much more graphic. But because it happened live that is somehow worth speaking out about and acting offended.

    By “we are OK” with watching porn… we know it happens and we just cast a blind eye with an understand that this is the world we live in. What makes this “so outlandish” is that it happened in a classroom setting.

    All that to say, I’m pretty sure I would have opted out. It’s March, there’s basketball on TV!

    • Columcille


      Kinsey’s research was a fraud. It is important only in the sense that it has been cited again and again in order to change our laws and debase our culture.

      Kinsey was a sick man, a sexual predator, and a fraudulent scientist,
      who was commissioned by private foundations to help establish a new authority other than the church on sexual morality. It worked and you and I are paying the price.

      Oh, by the way, Kinsey died while trying to circumcise himself at home in his bath tub (very important work!).

      • R. Adams

        As reported in the New York Times in 1956, Alfred Kinsey’s death resulted from “a heart ailment and pneumonia.” Bearing false witness against another doesn’t help your credibility and it certainly isn’t a loving or Christian act.

    • Andrew Marin

      I think the “optional” part to this lecture was key. Anyone could opt out if they wanted and it wouldn’t affect them, their standing or their grade. The class is about human sexuality – and that encompasses all aspects for all humans. The kinky sex world, S&M, bondage, etc, though very undercover, is a part of our broader (dare I say majoirty?) culture’s sexual make-up. One of the discussions happening about this situation was if, instead of having it life, he just showed a video or something. But at that point the viewing of the sex act becomes premeditated…Bailey didn’t know it was going to happen. I think a lot of the administration’s discussion (and I don’t have any insider information – other than knowing Mike personally, but only reading the papers and watching the news) has to do not with talking about this topic, but that he didn’t stop it once the speaker got his fiance naked on the table.

      • Marla Abe

        Maybe the prof didn’t know it would happen, but he did know how to stop it. Intimacy is about two people knowing each other in deep ways that excludes outsiders. Is there a real “need” for people to know how to use sex toys??
        If the fiance loved the woman, he would not let her private self..both her body and her reaction to stimulation, be viewed by others to satisfy their curiosity. Maybe all the watchers were innocent of lust, but I doubt it. Lust is using someone else for their own personal pleasure without making sure the pleasure is mutual.

        • Jon Trouten

          Was she forced to volunteer or participate?

          • Andrew Marin

            Jon – From what I understand, she is the fiance of a “national speaker” of Kinky Sex stuff and she engages in those types of public demonstrations on a regular basis, by her own choosing.

  • Alex

    twas probably a reciprocating saw contraption. just sayin’.

    • Andrew Marin

      My wife actually found a picture of it somewhere online. It literally looks like a chainsaw with a dildo attached at the tip.

  • Kelly

    I have to say, even in the name of education, I find this to be inappropriate. i completely agree that the way we teach/educate/talk about sex is something that needs to be dramatically reshaped.

    But if even the teacher didn’t know it was going to happen, I think it’s a fine line. Pornography (which I would include this, as a public sex act, within the catch-all term) is damaging because it is visual and programs images onto the brain. Though the lecture was optional, it looks like the students didn’t have a heads up of exactly what the lecture would include, so they now have these visual images implanted into their conscious/subconscious and I think not being aware of what was coming beforehand, is where the ethics question comes into play.

    Kinsey and his research turned out to be linked to pedophilia, and his work became the basis for Hugh Hefner’s creation of Playboy magazine, which although it has definitely put sexuality into the mainstream, it is a skewed perception.

    • Andrew Marin

      I agree that there is definitely a fine line (that one way or the other is usually, easily crossed) when it comes to sex [acts] in educational settings. Example: I remember hearing recently that there was a mini-firestorm here in Chicago surrounding some middle school sex-ed materials.

      I wonder, is there any educational (higher-ed or not) standardized or national handbook on what would be appropriate regarding these topics? I don’t know of any…

  • Columcille

    The problem with this, as with all pornography and public sex acts, is that it reveals too little.

    So we see a chain-saw-dildo excite a woman to orgasm. What exactly is the learning objective here? “Worldview enhancement”? That human beings can be split in half? That our sexuality can be treated and viewed apart from our personhood? Good grief Andrew.

    What we don’t see in this act is this woman’s heart, her personhood, and the daily mundane acts of who this person really is.

    This act, and pornography in general, erases the person in its fixation on the titillating and turns them into objects. Objects can be used. Objects can be manipulated. Objects can be discarded and thrown out.

    The natural destination of this “worldview” is Auschwitz or the equivalent, where human persons are treated as less than human, reduced to objects for study, or titillation, or “worldview enhancement” before being discarded like yesterdays trash. The irony is that this act doesn’t enhance anyone’s worldview, rather it cramps and narrows whatever view of the world the students had.

    Extreme? Yeah, but true none the less. If we commit to a culture where it is ok to objectify persons, then we are saying yes to a culture that will eventually objectify us in the most extreme manner.

    The fact that you have such a difficult time framing this issue, and make such an effort at defending the character of Michael Bailey is itself deeply disturbing as it reveals just how far we are down that destructive road.

    What if this act took place after this woman graphically related to us how her father repeatedly raped her as a child? How would the “students” feel about this sex-act within the context of revealing the brokenness of her life? How many would have walked out or complained? The reality is that the more we know about a person the less easy it is for us to objectify the other into a fantasy scene in our fallen imaginations. (Of course I’m assuming a reasonable person standard, not a perverted sex predator standard, which in our day, perhaps I shouldn’t assume.)

    When we objectify another, we objectify ourselves. This is what is at the core of what makes this so reprehensible and intrinsically evil. The context of the class provides the “cover” of legitimacy – academic freedom – to debase and animalize everyone in the room.

    Notice that we don’t even know (or even care) who this woman was. Her name is never mentioned. Her personhood has been erased from the whole story.

    Andrew, where is the orientation to love in all of this? It seems that this act is an orientation towards the opposite of love – indifference.

    This class should be titled “A Worldview of Indifference: some woman orgasming with a chain-saw-dildo, and why we can’t think of any reason not to do this.”

    How sad.

    • Andrew Marin

      Wow…your point is extremely well taken Columcille. Thank you for bringing up those important humanizing issues, that I’ll be honest, I didn’t think about in the depth I should have until you brought them up. When I thought about the woman, because she is a public figure in her world and does this type of thing in public and in private on a regular basis, my thoughts went to her not just concenting, but wanting to be on display. But we know what ‘assuming’ does, don’t we? I didn’t care to think about her potential background. I’m sorry about that. Thanks again.

  • Dan Brennan

    Really loved Columcille’s comments.

    • Columcille

      Thanks Dan.

      I would have liked more of a substantive response from Andrew about the issues I raised.

      The moral content of the act doesn’t rely upon the person’s doing it. The moral content of the act subsists in the act itself. Murder is not ok when committed by a really nice guy. Murder is wrong because it is murder.

      For various reasons (including the role of Kinsey’s fraudulent research) we have a problem with applying moral reasoning to sexual acts.

      Notice how Andrew made reference to the word “consent” as if consent was the moral issue. As a direct result of Kinsey’s research all the common law protections for marriage were removed from the books and replaced with age and consent laws. That opened the flood gates for the 1960’s sexual devolution and led us to where we are today were we have no capacity to evaluate the moral content of a man and woman (unmarried) engaging in a sex act narrated by an occultist at a university.

      Displaying sexual acts in public for any reason is wrong because it necessarily entails the objectification of the person and the audience. Not to mention offenses against purity, chastity and the scandal of enticing others to sin.

      Any act that turns a person into an object is wrong. Period.

      This is why the Church has from the beginning taught that the sexual act should happen only within a covenant relationship – a kind of relationship that is more than a contract, it is a total giving of oneself to another, forever.

      Why? Because only within that kind of total commitment to the person can the gift exchange of a person’s sexuality be fully received as a unified integrated expression of personhood.

      That is not to say that persons within marriage can’t objectify each other, but it is to say that only within this kind of relationship can the fullness of what our sexuality find its expression within the context of one’s personhood.

      • Andrew Marin

        I don’t know how much more “substantive” I could be after apologizing. You should humbly accept it instead of going on more rants of the same point, as you have done in the rest of your comments. Just my thought.

        • Columcille



          That hurt Andrew . . .

          For clarity’s sake . . . substantive has to do with addressing the substance of the comment. In this case, the question of the objective moral content of public sex acts.

          I wasn’t looking for an apology from you then (although one now wouldn’t go amiss), but an engagement with the issue.

          That’s all.

  • Jack Harris

    I am pretty open minded guy, if it was optional not sure what the big deal is. Although, for many reasons, I can assure I would have not stayed to watch lol.

    • Andrew Marin

      I don’t know many of us who would…

  • Debbie Thurman

    Definitely a stretch to say this belongs in any classroom. Outside those walls, it would be called porn. I think Bailey’s initial discomfort was his conscience at play.

    • nathalie a

      i feel you on your statement that bailey’s initial discomfort may have been his conscience at play. its a sticky situation. i think it owuld have been better if he paused. said stop to be on the safe side, had time to think the sex act throug h and then make a decision to let it happen at a later date or not. i’m thinking that some sort of fear possibly propelled him forward to allow the sex act, so that he wouldn’t fee l like he was succombing to society’s anxiety about sex. its ok to have that anxiety too. we’re human beings who are influened by the society in which we are raised
      the issue here is not so much the anxiety he felt about the sex act in general and society’s norm but whether it is appropriate in the university classroom. would he schedule a live sex act again knowingly? why or why not? mayve he would have sought out feedback from university leaders, etc.

      time to reason is important.

  • Mrs D

    Making something optional doesn’t mean a student would feel free to leave if this started happening. There would need to be complete disclosure up front. This was inappropriate beyond belief. I’m not exactly certain why this discussion belongs here? Are you asking us if we would still love the professor, show support for the professor? Or is it the sexual part you’re asking about?

    • Andrew Marin

      Just wondering your thoughts if you think it’s ok for something like this to be in a secular university classroom setting… It’s been THE topic here in Chicago over the last week or so and passionate people from both camps are staking their ground in the debate. Just curious about the thoughts of the audience on this blog…

  • Paul Henry

    I agree that this “public act” was inherently wrong to “put on stage” – I affirm what Columcille has to say on this subject. Any form of pornography (including the one described here) is dehumanizing – treating a person as an object, not as a human being created in the image of God.

  • Columcille

    Some facts about the “performers” . . .

    The guy who narrated the whole thing and was the contact person for the professor, is a practicing occultist and fee-for-service psychic, tarot card reader, etc.

    The guy who held the dildo-saw-thing is a member of a band whose videos are pornographic and explicitly blasphemous (a woman using a crucifix to masturbate, having a naked man on a cross who is the object of sexual desire in an S&M club, etc) which means they are likely involved in satanic activity.

    The woman is 25 yrs old, and is aroused by being sexually “used” in front of others. Her “fiancée” is 20+ yrs her senior (the satanic band member).

    How does this color the analysis?

    Is it any surprise that the woman was brought there by two men; that she is in a relationship with a man who is 20+ years older than her; that occultism, satanism and explicit anti-Christianity is the culture that they propagate?

    Who is the author of this “educational” experience?

    It’s pretty clear don’t you think?

    Satan no longer needs the white lab coat to add cover for his evil as he did with Kinsey.

    • Jon Trouten

      It’s not illegal for someone to read fortunes or do tarot cards. If so, we’d all be burning any newspaper with astrology charts in them. And the woman’s age also doesn’t bother me. By the time I was 25, I was done with college, well into my own career, and engaged to be married. By the time my sister was 25, she was married, well into her own career, and a parent. 25 is hardly a child and unless I’m mistaken, it’s not unheard of for older men and younger women to date and/or marry.

      I’m not that concerned with most of the color that you added. But that’s just me…

      • Columcille


        Within the context of this forum, which is a Christian ministry, these things being “legal” is kind of a moot point.

        Laws are not written for Christians, they are written for people who do not live by the Gospel to help them to know what is right and wrong for their good and the common good. I have no problem with the laws against murder, because I don’t carry a spirit of anger in my heart as a Christian. Forgiveness, peace and joy are my inheritance. However not everyone has encountered the power of the Gospel to liberate them from oppressive spirits and strongholds which tempt persons to very dark patterns of behavior. So we have laws to help people to know that murder is bad. This acts as a guard rail to protect souls and the common good.

        The legality of the occult, satanic videos, fornication and public sex acts is meaningless within a culture that is pagan like ours. However, to a Christian, it should be alarming to say the least as this episode is like a canary in the mine shaft indicating how powerful the spirit of anti-christ has become in our age causing the spirit of God to be snuffed out. The spirit of Christ did not reign in that class room at a university of higher learning (Remember universities are a creation of Christianity and Northwestern’s genesis was as a seminary back in the day). Could you imagine this happening at Wheaton College? If it did happen at Wheaton, wouldn’t that be alarming?

        Satan’s reign is dangerous for us. We are already seeing massive persecutions of Christians on the rise. Within our life time (say 40 years) we will see a bloody martyrdom on our soil and heaps of dead Christian bodies in our country.

        The spirit of this event at Northwestern has the large scale slaughter of Christians (and non-Christians for that matter) as his end game and it is quickly approaching.

        As for the age difference. Have a read of Iceberg Slim’s autobiography “Pimp” to get an idea of the psychological abuse dynamics that occurs between an older man and a younger woman, when that older man turns her out for sex to the public. You will be horrified.

        It is naive to think that this is simply an issue of an adult woman’s free choice and there are no coercive factors at play.

        It is wrong, legal or not.

        • Jon Trouten

          I know nothing of other state’s colleges, their origins, or their present missions.

          Like I wrote before, those pieces of his background mean little to me. And if age differences are terribly evil, then many of this country’s older men with younger wives (including several of our legislative and corporate leaders) are pretty bad folks.

          I’d never heard of this situation before reading of it yesterday on this blog. I find the controversy somewhat interesting, but not the actual subject.

          I will say that we as a country tend to over-victimize women. I am totally unwilling to concede that a 25-year-old woman is so weak that she cannot put her foot down and say “no way”. I also totally reject the idea that women are sexual victims of mankind or that individual women have no kinks or sexual desires separate from what their men want.

        • adam

          Columcille, I find your rhetoric inflammatory and incredibly unhelpful. To condemn this incident by implying that it is linked to the future “large scale slaughter of Christians” in this country is ridiculous and rhetorically irresponsible. The sort of closed-minded vibe I get from you entirely shuts down the possibility of real sharing and learning happening.

          • Columcille


            Current trends lead to future events.

            The incident at NU is a canary in the mine shaft, it is a sign post on the way to something much worse.

            You can disagree with me about what exactly the “much worse” is going to be, but be it will unless there is something akin to another “Great Awakening” in this country.

            By the way, I wasn’t condemning the incident by linking it to some future slaughter, I was condemning it based on objective moral reasoning.

            The fact that no one seems able to express why this is incident was intrinsically evil, is what is so disturbing to me and foreboding.

            Your last comment is an ad hominem attack that has no place in this forum or discussion.

            A word of advice for you. Deal with ideas Adam, don’t attack persons.

            Nothing shuts down real sharing and learning better than turning the focus off of ideas and onto persons through personal insults and attacks.

            That kind of move debases the conversation and invites a lower form of exchange. Speaking of vibes, it issues a lower vibration rather than a higher frequency to harmonize with.

            • adam

              You want ideas? Let me point out that in recent world history, the only violence done around issues of sexuality is by Christians, not against Christians. I am thinking here particularly of Ghana. Frankly, I’d be more worried if conservative Christians were the ones legislating what sexual behaviors are harmful than if liberals were, as liberals don’t want to prevent people from doing certain things. We see more examples of Christians killing others (at least in this country) in the name of righteousness than we do of others killing Christians.

              I also don’t think any of us can presume to use objective moral reasoning, but that leads into the dirty can of worms that is hermeneutics, where I doubt we’d be able to reach any kind of understanding.

              • Columcille


                I’m afraid that I don’t know what happened in Ghana, but I think it is off point anyway. The point is not about violence around sexuality (although the issue is linked. Germany before the Nazi’s was known for its sexual perversity – think Cabaret; the French Revolution was preceded by pornography being deliberately distributed in the streets; note that in Egypt the supposed democratic revolution included gang raping of women in the streets).

                The point is about how we view the human person.

                How can you be so sure that none of us can use objective moral reasoning? Isn’t that statement itself one which presumes an objective moral standard – i.e., that there is none?

                If you rape a child, there is a clear objective moral evil in that act. There are no interpretative gymnastics that can negate that objective reality. If you think that hermeneutics can make this act morally good, then you are on a slippery slope to hell because that is called the rationalization of evil.

                If you got worms, I’ve got hungry fish. . . Besides, I think you mean epistemology (the study of how we know things to be true) and not hermeneutics (the study of interpretation).

                Moral reasoning is an objective discipline that leads to objective results, despite what your Marxist professor might have taught you when you (or your parents or the tax payer) paid him thousands of dollars to dazzle you with the hermeneutics of suspicion, or some other such drivel that convinced you otherwise.

                You can’t build a civilization on lies Adam. Either the ground is solid or it is sand. You can play in the sand box all you want, but don’t expect serious people to think you are building anything solid there.

              • adam

                Ghana made male homosexuality illegal, creating a little firestorm in the news, as men could be jailed, and several gay activists were killed. One could also point out the many gay men killed in the US by lynch mobs through the decades. Your historical examples are on rather shaky foundations, no serious scholar would argue that sexual practices contributed to the rise of National Socialism in Germany, or the French Revolution, or what recently happened in Egypt. There are, however, many very clear examples of those with non-normative sexuality being killed because of their nonconformity.

                I sense a great fear in you of absolute relativism, but the choices are not black and white. We can clearly say that there is absolute truth but that our access to that truth is imperfect. It is entirely consistent to say absolutely that we do not have absolute knowledge of the world as it is, and even if you don’t want to go that far, simply from looking at history we can see innumerable example of humans absolutely certain of something which we later learn was false. If nothing else, this suggests a necessary humbleness given our human situation. Even the Bible requires interpretation.

                You mention the rationalization of evil. First, if we shift the example slightly, so that we are murdering a child instead of raping it, the Bible gives us the example of God commanding Abraham to kill his son. You might argue that God never was going to let Abraham kill him, but the text makes clear that Abraham was correct to proceed as if he had to do this evil. We also have God letting The Accuser kill a bunch of people in Job, which could be harmonized with your views, but at the least indicates that the Bible has many examples that don’t neatly fit into the rather simplistic view of ethics you have. (One could for instance go into thought experiments where killing/raping a child allows one to save many other children from being killed/raped.)

                My use of hermeneutics involves an implicit argument that we don’t really have knowledge of truth; my choice argues for a humbleness, thinking of all our knowledge as involving interpretation. That was a rather subtle point, though.

              • Columcille


                “the freest of people are they who are most friendly to murder.”

                Who do you think said this?

                It was the king of sexual perversity the grand sexual liberator himself, the Marquis de Sade.

                If you are unaware of the link between so called sexual liberation and violence (and not to mention political exploitation and control) then I suggest you spend some time with the greats like Aristotle, Cicero and Augustine. It is upon these minds that we have something of a civilization in the first place (oh, and they were not relativists).

                A people who can not master their sexual impulses, are a people enslaved and awaiting their dictator. Why do you think that sexual liberation eventually leads to a culture where sado-masochism becomes normative?

                If sex is not an expression of covenant love (the only context where the human person can be fully honored and received in the sexual act) then it becomes an act of objectification, and the only destination for that kind of relationship to move is one of power, domination and violence.

                How is the rape, or killing of a child, not a black and white moral issue? Does it change the moral worth of the act to abuse one child to “save” many more? If the act is intrinsically evil, then nothing can justify choosing it.

                This is not about interpretation. Say a man is killing a child. Are you saying we need to humbly interpret this act, but first to look at our method of interpretation to supply the moral content to the question?

                The interpreting doesn’t give moral content. It provides data which is used in applying moral reasoning.

                If you want to discuss biblical theology, then we can, but I see it as a bit outside the current thread which is about objective moral reasoning.

                (By the way, the ad hominem comments reveal your hand. If you have no good arguments, you have to “sense fear” in the other, or some how focus your thoughts on the person rather than the content of the discussion.)

                “as political and economic freedom diminishes, sexual freedom tends compensatingly to increase.” – Aldous Huxley

              • adam

                I find it rather amusing that both your quotes came from the same website, in a description of the book Libido Dominandi, and that you quote de Sade, seeming to assume he is correct, which is intriguing given that in general I’m guessing you would oppose him. I’m glad you quote outdated theorists, but could you please respond to my real-world examples?

                On Aristotle, Cicero and Augustine, I would like to point out many great civilizations arising (India, China, Japan, etc.) without these figures. The way Greek philosophy treated sexuality, it was not that one who could not control his passions was bound to be ruled by a dictator, but that he was already ruled by his passions, and as a result was not fit for rule of others.

                On “covenant love,” how does a sexual act done entirely for fun, that both couples leave feeling empowered and happy, an “act of objectification.” I agree with you that our society deals with sex horribly, but I also think mainstream Christianity is no better. Ultimately, my concerns are more with the actual effects we see in real lives, in examples, than in theory that may or may not correspond to reality, particularly when your theory contradicts reality.

                On interpretation, it is true that interpretation by itself does not give moral content, but the interpretation sets the stage for the way the moral argument can proceed such that certain readings of a given situation will automatically foreclose certain moral conclusions. I just want to show that moral situations are complicated. You mention a man killing a child. I suppose you would agree that if the only way to stop this murder was to kill the man, one should take that regrettable action. What if it is a child killing a man (who, say, is asleep)? What about a child killing a child?

                Oh, and when I said I sensed fear, that was me trying to be nice, to give an explanation for your positions other than you simply being wrong.

    • Andrew Marin

      Columcille – How do you know all of that information about those people’s personal lives? Do you have any links, names, etc that we could all see? Because from what I’ve read their names haven’t been released… But if you know, that would be great information to be better informed.

  • Sheila G

    A nude woman in front of a male audience, it’s pretty much the objectification fo women yet again, with the male as the pimp. Let’s put it more personally– Andrew would you do this with your wife in public at that same event? Any man that does this is a pimp, and I’ve about had it with men doing this to women. Let’s parade the men out nude in public, have a gay man shove a dildo up their private parts, and have a “class” observe this behavior. let’s have men objectify men! See how you like it.

    • Jon Trouten

      Why limit it to men, Sheila? Why not have this guy’s fiance tie him up and use sex toys on him?

      Are people upset by the pornographic demonstration or are they upset because they believe the woman was taken advantage of? Those are two different issues, IMHO.

    • Andrew Marin

      Sheila – You talk like I actually did this act. I just wrote about it to open a discussion.

  • Melinda

    I read the news about this the first day it broke.

    From what I understand, Faith felt in the seminar that there wasn’t a realistic view of the female orgasm portrayed in what I believe was a video they watched. She then offered (as she’d offered to attend, planning to answer questions, but being open to more) to demonstrate with the sex toy, with her fiance’s assistance. So I don’t think female objectification is really the point.

    How far is too far?

    Students were allowed to leave– and many of them did– after being warned the session would be graphic.
    This was neither class nor course requirement. And no one, from the few articles I read, was coerced into anything.

    Would I have stayed? Probably not, but that’s a matter of personal preference.

    Will I defend his reasoning to hold the seminar and allow the act to go on? Absolutely. He broke no law. The students are adults who were making their own choices to stay.

    And.. the media firestorm has been an unfortunate consequence. But the experience these students have been receiving in getting to see consequences and the choices to renounce or stand by one’s decisions have been another level of education.

    I love education. I hate censorship. I think the laws we have in place are good (against child pornography, etc), and as he was acting within those laws, I really do not understand what the issue has been.

    • Columcille


      So if I understand you correctly, the morality of this act hangs entirely upon consent? Is it impossible to be objectified if you consent to it? It there nothing wrong with agreeing to be treated as an object, is there no harm to the persons involved or to you and me?

      If so then moral framework of your post is rather thread bare and reveals an anemic vision of the human person.

      Are we just our consent and choice? Do we not have a soul? Are we not made in the Imago Dei? Do we not bear responsibility for others and to the common good? Are we simply radically individual, or are we essentially relational with duties towards others?

      Are right and wrong, good and bad, just and unjust objective standards that we are all called to account regardless or our position or power? Or are these simply the useful malleable and relative rhetorical tools of the powerful in our society to be used against the weak for advantage?

      The answers to these questions matter. They matter not just for you, but for us all living on this planet.

      If you really do not understand what the issue has been, why not?

      If you think the laws we have are “good” then what does “good” mean?

      I attended Northwestern for two quarters before transferring. One of the reasons why was because they were “teaching” all of this neo-marxist critical theory. The place is full of that garbage.

      We have a generation being taught radical individualism, moral relativism and not-too-thinly-veiled anti-christianity and now we have people who are incapable of identifying what is good and evil, even when it is staring at them in the face.

      That diploma on the wall that cost $100k isn’t worth the paper it is printed on for far too many in our society.

      • Melinda

        Sorry! I accidentally posted in the general response, rather than here.
        I meant it here though!


  • SheilaG

    It is the objectification of women, being aided and abetted by a male teacher. So the man running this class is simply abusing his power as a teacher, and women get put on display. This is not sex education, this is a horror story for women worldwide. It’s just more male authored pornography, and male centered porn at that. One has to wonder about the security and the mental health of the woman being put on display. The whole purpose of that kind of public display is the domination of women, and sex is the means of male domination of women. It’s as simple as that.
    And if people here don’t get that, it means you are essentially agreeing that it is ok to put women in situations like this, it’s ok to make women into porn objects, and it’s ok for universities to condone this. One more reason to not go to a co-ed college in my opinion.

    • Andrew Marin

      SheilaG – Just a thought, if we were to flip the genders, that particular man in the demonstration would most definitely agree to be objectified just the same as that particular woman was exercisizing her right to be objectified as well – because they both do that on a daily basis. Doesn’t make it right. Just makes it a fact. So it’s hard to argue about objectification and subjectification when that is those particular people’s right, and chosen profession. I doubt they consider it objectification. Once again, doesn’t make it right or moral.

  • Melinda

    Hi Columcille

    From what I understand from your comments, you are addressing this question from a worldview that is based on some religious (possibly Christian?) belief… would I be correct to say that?

    I appreciate a forum in which we can interact and explore some questions that come up as we interact in a society composed of people from a variety of theological and moral leanings. What I chose to respond to from Andrew’s prompt was the question of how far is too far in my mind, and the issues i took into consideration while making my decision.

    Northwestern University is not, as I understand it, a university that adheres to explicitly Christian or religious tenets. And as i am a citizen of this country, however temporarily, I will abide by its laws, insofar as I do not find them morally reprehensible (as I believe some laws are). As such, I stand by my enthusiasm to defend the professor’s right to act like he did.

    Do I morally believe pornography is a good idea? No. I think it sucks and can ruin relationships and cause all sorts of damage. And that definitely affected my college choice and course selections.

    It sounds like you similarly made a decision that Northwestern was not fit for you because of a clash in values. I’m glad you were able to figure that out when you did and transfer to a place that fit you more and helped shape your intelligence and ability to articulate your beliefs.

    All of your questions are good and beautifully framed. And I appreciate your insistence that we live thoughtfully. We should all be aware of our worldview and how it shapes the way we interact with ourselves and others in our days, and be constantly questioning the way that we receive and process information, that we may live in a way that reflects the values we’d like to hold… the values that on our better days, we really do hold. That’s wisdom. Thanks for engaging.

    • nathalie a

      thank you for your comment! i appreciate your respect in disagreeing. may you please expoind upon why you defend the professor’s right to let this sex act continue on stage? do you think with such explicit sexual material that the students should have been warned before hand? as many tv prgrams do when discussing sexually explicit material in which our society does not do often in respectful ways discuss

  • SheilaG

    Andrew, I don’t think you have read deeply enough on the porn industry itself, and having a teacher facilitate this. We don’t know how the women who left the classroom felt. And no, women don’t choose a lot of this stuff, they are talked into things, but I think when you say glibly that women completely conscent to this degredation, there is a little more to the story.
    All you have to do is read what porn is about, how males dominate women through sex acts, and how this continues to feed into it all. I’m shocked that you’d even post this nonsense.

  • letjusticerolldown

    What is too far?
    To answer that question might involve a robust ethical context.
    In some elements of the university there is an explicit and significant commitment to exploring the ethical dimensions of the enterprise (e.g. research on human subjects; medical ethics).
    Do you trust the University to deliver an ethical pursuit that is on par with this exploratory pursuit? Is there really such a thing as a “no-limits” pursuit of reality? The scientists on the initial atom-splitting research contemplated whether an atomic split would cause the earth’s atmosphere to explode. They proceeded.
    So in short my answer is if Dr Bailey cannot delineate the boundary I do not grant him my trust to push the limits.