Sexual Ethics

  • Created by: Rebekah
  • Created on: 14-04-14 17:05

History of sex

First ideas: sex links back to animal instinct = unholy
Philosopher Pythagoras, - ideal human life was to refrain from physical pleasure and live off quiet contemplation
Dualism: the world divided into spritual and physical - Pythagoras saw the spiritual.
^^ Our soul is imprisoned and needs to be free to the spiritual side - sex is inhibited - makes a person lose control - animal instinct ^^

Old Testament: Ancient Hebrews: as long as its confined within certain rules and regulations - between marriage

Today: attitudes are widely diverse
Some people - sex is acceptable - encouraged as immediate pleasure - freedom as long as consent
^^ led to conflicting views within morality
Adultery and promiscuity - no longer illegal - still immoral
Pre-marital - immoral or moral?

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The Bible and Sexual Teachings

> Only within marriage is it acceptable
'You shall not commit adultery'
'There must not be a hint of sexual immorality... These are improper for God's holy people'.

The Song of Songs: raises sex to a spiritual height, is not something for pleasure but is something between love.

'United to his wife and they become one flesh': against homosexuality and can be interpreted to be against divorce
In the Bible (Old) nothing is linked DIRECTLY to divorce - suggests we created it not God - immoral

'The Lord God made a woman...brought her to a man'
'Men committed shameful acts with other men'
^^ against homesexuality ^^

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Absolutist approach (Roman Catholics)

Roman Catholics: maintain sex should happen exclusively within marriage - it is in the Bible and so nothing should deviate from this - God's will
^^ Implied in the Story of Adam and Eve - 'United to his wife...they become one flesh'
Shouldn't divorce - need to maintain children requirements of a stable family environment
Homosexuality is incompatible with Bible scriptures
Monks and nuns remain celibate

Holds sexuality serves a purpose of reproduction - pleasure & emotion = by-product
Thomas Aquinas: pre-marital, extra-marital and homosexuality is wrong

Holy books are seen as the will of God = legalative code
Adulterous woman and 'you shall not commit adultery': adultery is immoral, punishment can be given

'But if they cannot control themselves, they must marry, for it is better to marry than burn with passion': sinful thoughts defile you - sexuality serves purpose of reproduction

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Absolutist approach - evaluation

> Universal
> Loyal
> No confusion between people's morals - bound by natural laws
> Following the word of God means you will achieve afterlife in heaven

> Restrictive - doesn't allow freewill and isn't freewill part of God's will because he gave it us to encourage us to make our own decisions
> ^^ No freedom in decision making - the person has to submit to God's rules

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Relativist approach (Church of England)

Argue the traditional view is too legalistic - importance is that sex is in the context of a loving relationship, not necessarily a married one.
Bible is for guidance.

Libertarian view
As long as its consential and law abiding sex there is no problem.
Whether a relationship is good or bad it is no influenced by relgion.
J.S. Mill Harm Principle:
---> People are free to do as they please as long as they don't cause any harm or take anyone's freedom --> harming somebody would be to commit adultery so they are against extra-marital sex

Pre-marital sex helps to see if you and your partner are physically and emotionally compatible and can reduce the number of divorces

Adulterous woman/Pre-marital: if the person is deprived of life's basic needs and is living in poverty, then maybe prostitution is acceptable if its their only way of making a survival
'You shall not commit adultery': may be justified if in an abusive relationship of which you're scared to leave
Divorce: acceptable if unhappy/abuse/unstable relationship

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Relativist approach - evaluation

> Science has proven religion to be false and outdated and therefore we need an approach to ethics that is both personal and individualistic that can work successfully with modern ethical issues.
> Many people following this are followers of situation ethics which is a strength as its main focus is what best serves as love
> Not influenced strongly by religion so morals can fit into modern society and therefore resolves matters of sexual ethics
> Combines Biblical teachings with modern views = attempts to solve the dilemma of sexual ethics by developing approach which is 'best of both worlds' and tries to serve everybody
> Doesn't pass judgement on people's social situations or lifestyle choices


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'Religious beliefs about sexual ethics are still v

> absolutist approach - may be more successful - follows DCT - Bible is the will of good - is the norm and if you follow = good eschalogical consequences = heaven
> people still oppose extra-marital sex - religious beliefs &absolutist approach = valuable

> secularisation - ignoring religion - religious views are not valuable - media - celebrities influencing younger generations who began secularisation and changed the views on sex - changes purpose from reproduction to pleasure

> relativist approach - may be more successful - flexible - avoids different interpretations of God's will - example:
'Be fruitful and increase in number':
absolutist: sex serves a purpose of reproduction - highlights issues such as extra-marital/pre-marital if they are still 'increasing in number'
> relativist approach - valuable - secularisation influence = modern - allows decision making

Claim that 'religious beliefs about sexual ethics are still valuable' = unsuccessful:
relativist approach more valuable today as we're experiencing secularisation = need more modern approaches towards ethical dilemmas = remain more valuable in future  due to its flexibility
Absolutist approach = fixed laws - restrictive - continuously being proven as false and outdated by science

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Premarital sex - Fletcher Vs Barclay

Fletcher (situation ethics):
sex performed responsibly can be condoned
Understands people are maturing sexually younger - as long as Christians are mature enough (he doesn't elaborate the measure of mature), responsible and love enough (doesn't elaborate these either) = sex is acceptable
Book: moral responsibility 1967

Book: ethics in a permissive society (1971)
Christian ethics should not be adapted to suit a secual moral code
Should reflect the absolute nature of God's morals - secular moral code should change instead
Increased permissiveness and relaxed teachings = encourages sexual promiscuity = encourages dangers of STD's, respect for virginity and lowers purity and chastity, increases divorce
Fornication condemned in New Testament: even though in adulterous woman Jesus didn't punish her he still told her she should leave her life of sinning = therefore immoral teaching

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Ethicist views

J.S. Mill: Libertarian view: consential - harm principle

Joseph Fletcher: situation ethics &as long as mature, responsible and loving enough

William Barclay: secular moral codes should adapt not religious moral codes reflecting God's will

Thomas Aquinas: sexual organs have primary function of reproduction

St Augustine: Conservative view: sex = prima facie (overriden) - morally wrong

Matthew Fox: religion has dymystified sex and devalued true meaning and purpose - refers to Song of Songs - human sexuality is a gift

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