Sexual Ethics



Christian teaching on premarital sex

  • Sex before marriage is commonly classed as a sin in Christian teaching

  • The community dimension of marriage is undermined by the lack of commitment inherent in cohabitation.

  • Christian views are informed by biblical references to marriage.

  • The Catholic church treats any sexual intercourse outside marriage as a ‘free union’, in which a couple have refused ‘to give juridical and public form to a liaison involving sexual intimacy.

  • Premarital sex does not express fidelity, exclusivity and commitment and, consequently, does not tolerate sex before marriage.

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Christian teaching on extramarital sex

  • The Church of England is more divided on the matter, but in theory forbids divorce.

  • The New testament warns Christians away from adultery but allow remarriage after a spouse has been adulterous.

  • The Catholic Church came to view marriage as a sacrament, and Protestant thinkers came to see it as a holy estate.

  • Lisa Sowle Cahill argues that Christianity’s stance against divorce originated in an attempt to limit men's ability to manipulate marriage, women and children in the interests of power and wealth.

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Christian teaching on homosexuality

Catholic teaching

  • Pope Francis - should apologise to homosexuals and that homosexuals should not be discriminated against.

  • Whereas he also stated that homosexual unions should not be on the same level as straights and there are no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.

  • Penitence is appropriate for some of the treatment received by gay and lesbian people

  • Can't conduct same sex marriage

  • Can pray with them Later

  • Remain undecided on whether or not Homosexuality is good.

  • Genesis 19:4-11 - Sodom
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Natural Law

  • The popular Catholic response to masturbation using natural law is that it is blunting God’s purpose and is using the penis or vagina in a way that God did not intend.

  • The popular Catholic response to masturbation using natural law is that it is blunting God’s purpose and is using the penis or vagina in a way that God did not intend.

  • Burton M. Leiser argues that sexual acts may have multiple purposes and he questions why every sexual act should be required to fulfill every purpose.

  • As sexual organs are suited for reproduction, Leinster argues that marriage between elderly people is unnatural.

  • Extramarital sex could be moral, as a way of resolving infertility.

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Situation ethics on Sexual ethics

Under Situation Ethics it would be wrong to deny the right for a gay men to marry and have sex. Personalism tells us we should put people first. Positivism means to do the most loving thing. Therefore, being gay is not frowned upon by Situation Ethics.

Situation Ethics disregards the traditionalistic viewpoint of only heterosexual relationships. If a same-sex couple can only find a meaningful relationship with one another then that would be the end that justifies breaking rules.

In other words whilst rules can be broken in certain circumstances to do the most loving thing, the will to do the most loving thing cannot be. Premarital and extramarital sex may be seen as good in certain circumstances.

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Kantian ethics on sex

  • Sex that objectifies a person and does not express the utmost consideration for them would be unethical because sexual relationships must be based on equality.
  • Traditional rules prohibited sex outside of marriage and homosexuality.

  • Additional rules based on Kantian ethics, might focus on the importance of mutuality, freely given consent, commitment and exclusivity.

  • These principles must be applied to all relationships irrespective of the gender of the participants or whether the couple were married or not.

  • Homosexuality reduces us down to a level below animals
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