Sexual Ethics


Premarital Sex 

  • Refers to sex before marriage
  • Increasingly common in modern society some people believe that this is due to an increase in availbility of reliable contraception 
  • Cohabitation refers to couples who live together before they are married, again in the modern day many couples cohabit and many have children without the need for marriage. 
  • Traditionally it hass been tought that sex before marriage is wrong, this is based on the christian belief that sex before marriage is sinful. 
  • Some christians argue that sex before marriage undermines the central doctrine of marriage. They argue that it instead demonstrates a lack of moral discipline. 

'a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.' 

  • Catechism of the Catholic church argues that premarital sex doesn't support the christian stance of fidelity, exclusivity and commitment. It is seen as a sin 
  • Some CofE leaders accept that living together before marriage can be 'a step along the way,' to marriage commitment. Others oppose this and insist that marriage is the proper context within which to have a sexual relationship 
  • Adrian Thatcher:
    • Points out the long tradition of 'betrothal,' as the key point of commitment rather than the marriage ceremony. 
    • Traditionally sexual relationships were permitted after betrothal but betrothal was considered to be seriously binding this differs from modern cohabitation. 
  • Some christians believe that cohabiting couples should be excluded from the church and others believe that all forms of commited loving relationships should be encouraged. 

Extramarital Sex 

  • Refers to sexual relationships where one of both of the partners involved is married to someone else 
  • Christian teachings stand firmly against all forms of extramarital sex
  • Adultery is forbidden in the ten commandments- some people argue that this is only due to the social norms at the time when adulterous women could be stoned to death. 
  • Catholic church teaches that sex is exclusively for married couples, they also do not recognise diverse and therefore see anyone who enters in a new sexual relationship, after separating or divorce, as having extramarital sex.
  • Christianity's stance against divorxce developed as a way of protecting women against being used as bargaining tools by their husbands or by their fathers. 
  • Consent is seen as a key issue in sexual relationships within the modern world. 

Ethical Approaches to Premarital and Extramarital Sex

Natural Law

  • Natural LAw followers take an absolutist stance on ethics 
  • It is linked to an understanding of human nature as having a purpose. People should do thoose things that allow them to flourish and reach their potential. 
  • Catholic teaching heavily relies on Natural Law
  • Reproduction is one of the primary precepts and it is interpreted to mean that reproduction should be considered the main aim of sexual activity. 
  • Premarital and extramarital sex are wrong according to Natural Law this is because they aren't consistent with the flourishing of human society in bringing up children and families 
  • The use of artificial methods of contraception is prohibited by Catholic Church but not…


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