- Published on Tuesday, 09 April 2013 06:39
- Written by John Draper
- Hits: 4376
Religions profess to be expert in morality and often the first set of acts to be declared immoral are sexual. But what they declare to be immoral is often simply wrong, or if you want to be kind, outdated. They will use as justification things that their holy books say or that something is unnatural. In the case of the Bible and Qur’an, they pick the section that supports what they want to say – conveniently ignoring places where their god or prophet does or says contradictory things. But the “faithful” will accept a prohibition if it’s separately described as being unnatural, or hurtful. One contentious act is the result of sex but it’s not really sexual – I’m referring to abortion. The morality of abortion depends on whether you think it’s an independent life while it’s in the mother’s body. But I want to focus here on just sexual acts.
Let me list the main ones:
- Rape – sexual assault
- Fornication – sex between unmarried people
- Homosexual acts
- Sex with children – pedophilia
- Indecent exposure and exhibitionism
Rape – sexual assault
Basically sex without consent. This is a form of assault, harm to another human and clearly immoral by any standard. It seems that for Muslims, since the woman’s testimony does not count the same as a man, if he says it was consensual, it doesn’t matter what she says. So for Muslims adhering to a literal version of their faith, this would only be immoral if the man says it was. They are clearly wrong. Rape (sexual assault) is always immoral.
Fornication – sex between unmarried people.
This was originally declared immoral because it was not good to have a fatherless child when the man was the only hunter or bread-winner. Today, the only problem with this is if a child should result. Perhaps fornication should only be wrong if birth control is not used or if the woman does not consent, in advance, to be a single mother. With the support systems in place in today’s western world, it’s hard to justify this as immoral. Is the sin one of unnecessary use of taxpayer’s money?
The Catholic Church declares homosexual acts to be “intrinsically disordered” (Catechism) and therefore immoral. Other Churches agree with this and some get very excited about it. Their argument is essentially that it can’t produce babies so is not why sex was invented. God intended sex to be used for making babies – period. But it is certainly not unnatural or disordered; if people do it, then it’s not unnatural – period. Even other animals can be gay! The other possible criterion is if it hurt others. But it doesn’t (of itself). A rule against homosexuality would have made sense when the survival of the human race depended on a maximum number of children – but not today with the world getting close to an overload.
Catholics say that masturbation is “essentially contrary to its (the sexual faculty) purpose”. Basically the same argument as used against homosexuality and has the same answers.
There are two kinds: consensual and forced although some are in-between. Forced is obviously wrong but consensual, that is the person selling sex wants to do that, is OK. The only remaining argument is that participants are demeaning themselves – but is that immoral or just poor judgement?
Sex with children – pedophilia
Children are too young to consent or to have babies. They are also impressionable and easily forced so any sexual activity with children is immoral. Even sex between children of similar ages is wrong because neither can truly understand the implications of what they are doing.
This is similar to masturbation and homosexuality. A common therefore not disordered activity. Child pornography is wrong in a similar way to pedophilia is wrong. Similarly, children should not have access to pornography.
This is sex between consenting adults who are married to someone else. The only immorality here is the breaking of trust and a promise. Not really a sexual sin although sex makes it more emotional. Immoral but not as bad as rape or pedophilia.
There are others but I’ve made my point. A large number of the guilt trips that the Catholic Church and others put on their faithful are simply wrong. Many of the prohibitions on sex are no longer appropriate. There should not be a prohibition of homosexuality, masturbation and pornography while fornication, consensual prostitution and adultery are relatively minor infractions. Rape and pedophilia are major breaches of immorality by anyone’s standards – or should be. It’s interesting to note that the laws of most western countries are in line with this conclusion. It’s the Churches who are out of step and have it wrong.
Originally published December 2011