What is sexual ethics?
- Sex covers a wide range of things, e.g. homosexuality, marriage, prostitution etc.
- Sex is so natural to us, that we need rules.
- ^ Richard Holloway: 'Human sexuality is like a runaway car' - it can be destructive or creative, but we are never quite in control of it.
Historical views of sex
- Greek philosophers saw sex as something weakening to the mind.
- ^ The pythagoreans (influenced Plato) believed humans should refrain from physical activities. In this way the soul, that's imprisoned in the body, is freed to move to a new form.
- This dualism can be seen in Plato's analogy of the chariot: beautiful white horse represents self control, and the ugly black horse that needs controlling with a whip. This could be seen as the desire needs controlling, but it allowed to exist - the charioteer needs his horses.
- The Cynics however saw no point in controlling pleasure and saw no shame in the sexual act, even going as far as performing it in public.
- ^ The Stoics reacted against this and linked sex only to reproduction and the continuing of the human race.
- For the Greeks sexuality is naturally excessive, so the problem is how to control it. This involved self-discipline, not laws.
The Old Testament approach
- Doesn't have a particular view - reflects its times.
- It includes love stories (Ruth and Boaz) and accounts of incest (two daughters that have incestuous relationships with their father to ensure the continuation of the line); and there are many tales of seduction and sexual revenge.
- ^ Many of these are recounted factually without judging. Sex is even celebrated in the Song of Songs.
- In Genesis 1 and 2 there's an understanding that sex is created by God for procreation, however, sex is seen as good, not wrong.
- But there contradictions as sometimes it shouldn't be practiced in sinful ways.
- Sexual involvement with non-Israelites was forbidden as it would lead you away from God, and adultery was forbidden (punishable by stoning).
- In this society women weren't equal to men, but had to be part of their household.
- Women had to be virgins on marriage so he could be assured the children were his.
The New Testament approach
- Said little about sex - gave very few rules.
- Jesus left sex and relationships open - even his teachings about marriage and divorce aren't clear.
- He said 'whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her'. However this is hard to translate and could mean a variety of things.
- ^ In this it is clear that Jesus is challenging the idea of wife as a mans property and bringing in equality.
- Jesus sets and ideal and divorce falls short of it.
- Much of his writing is based on the expectation of the return of Christ and the end of the world.
- There wasn't much point in talking about sex and relationships as all was soon to end.
- He attempted to move…