Situational Ethics & Sexual Ethics

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  • Situational Ethics & Sexual Ethics
    • Context
      • There are no universal moral rules or rights - each case is unique and deserves a unique solution.
      • It teaches that ethical decisions should follow flexible guidelines rather than absolute rules, and be taken on a case by case basis.
      • Situation ethics was originally devised in a Christian context, but it can easily be applied in a non-religious way.
      • Joseph F. Fletcher was an American 20th Century professor who founded the theory of Situational Ethics.
      • Situational ethics deals with matters of selfless, unconditional love.
      • Decisions are made situationally rather than prescriptively - however, this can lead to the "slippery slope argument" in which one believes that an action could have a chain reaction to bigger problems.
    • Pre/Extra-Marital Sex
      • Pre-Marital Sex is having sexual intercourse before marriage, whereas extra-marital sex is sex with someone who is not your spouse when married.
      • Joseph Fletcher uses the example of sexual ethics to show which ethical rules might be broken for the best outcomes.
      • Examples
        • A prisoner of war has sex with guard to be let out, she becomes impregnated, then gets home and raises child happily with her husband.
        • A female spy seduces and eventually sleeps with an enemy agent in order to find out confidential information that would end a war.
        • The examples are criticised for being too exceptional and hypothetical - however, situational ethics are for making moral decisions in extraordinary circumstances
        • Neither examples involve love or commitment but are morally and situationally correct.
      • Situational ethics seeks a pragmatic (practical way to deal with things) approach to premarital and extramarital sex and same sex unions.
      • Situation Ethics questions the absolute teachings of the Church that sex should only take place in marriage.
        • The only rule is "agape" so a loving relationship does not equate to a marriage relationship.
    • The Bible on Sexual Ethics
      • Prior to The Fall, Adam and Eve had sex because it was good (sex is not dirty but outside of marriage, it is wrong)- not solely because of sexual desire but because God created them to enjoy sex to reproduce.
      • Genesis puts forward positive and negative aspects of sex and relationships.
        • Pain of Childbirth - consequence of sex.
        • Sexual Desire - lust and obsession
        • Husband ruling over Wife - Sexual Domination
      • According to the Principles of Situation Ethics developed by Joseph Fletcher, the Bible is not to treated as a source of commands.
    • Homosexuality
      • The quality or characteristic of being sexually attracted solely to people of one's own sex.
      • Christian teachings say that if no new life is made through sex, then no union should be permitted.
      • Liberal Christians use the conception of "telos" and "eudaimonia" to attack Christian teachings against gay acts.
        • God would want people to be in a loving relationships.
      • As long as the relationship is loving and respectable, then it is acceptable.
      • The growing tolerance of homosexuality within law shows that teachings on homosexuality are not absolute.
    • Criticisms
      • Some people argue that it allows terrible things to happen in an attempt to do the right thing.
      • Christians feel that certain actions simply are wrong, and that our priority should be doing God's will not just making people happy.
      • Others say that Situation Ethics makes morality subjective -this means there is no fact about whether an action is right or wrong, merely different opinions.
      • Outcomes are unpredictable, incalculable and immeasurable because you can't ever know which will work out best.


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