A recent Slate Magazine article titled “I (Robot) Thee Wed” tells us that the day is coming when humans and robots may become sexually intimate and relational with each other.
For my friends who want to become pastors someday–in fact for anyone who is a Christian concerned about how our sexual ethics relate to social norms–let me introduce you to a new quandary: a future wherein humans may have partners that are robots.
We know of people who act sexually with non-humans (e.g. so-called “blow-up dolls”), but this article presents readers with robots that are human-like:
Realistic skin, the ability to make eye contact, faux breathing (to avoid that “walking human corpse” feel), convincing conversational skills, dexterous manipulation of objects, and the ability to not walk through sliding glass doors—we can assume that these things will be attainable within the next few decades.
Let me ask you what you would say to a parishioner who says, “Pastor, I love Sally and she is more human to me than anyone I have known.” What if you are a Christian who works as a counselor in an institution that doesn’t allow you to be outright about your religious beliefs (i.e. no explicit appeals to humans being imago Dei), what would you say?
I know this sounds extreme, but be careful, Christian ethics have been challenged in many ways in recent years. In the last one hundred years Christians have had to address lust over pictures in magazine, pictures online, “relationship” via virtual worlds like Second Life, and so forth.
So it 2030 and your child, friend, counseling client, parishioner tell you that they love a robot, what do you say?!