Religious Views on Sexual Behaviour and Human Relationships . Old Testament View. Sex for Pro-creation It is good, but should not be used in ‘sinful’ ways. Women had to be virgins to marry, no adultery, etc. New Testament View.
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Views on Sexual Behaviour and Human Relationships
Read through the information on Thomas Aquinas and Sexual Ethics
Q. What is meant by LOVE?
In his book, ‘The Four Loves’, the famous Christian writer, C.S. Lewis, explores the nature of ‘love’ from a Christian perspective. He starts by putting love into what he sees is its true context:
‘Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.’1 John 4:7-8
“Just like Lucifer, the archangel, became corrupt, so too love, the arch-emotion may become corrupt. Love begins to be a demon the moment he begins to be a god.”
For Lewis, all forms of love emanate from God who is the very source of Love itself. Note: not God loves or God is loving, but, God is love.
Lewis, identifies four words for ‘Love’ within the Greek language.
Eros is erotic, passionate, sexual, sensual and romantic.
Ultimately expressed in lovemaking, it seeks wholeness through physical unity.
It is not necessarily virtuous, sometimes considered dangerous, it can focus on the physical whilst ignoring intellectual and unconditional aspects of love.
Monastic traditions are suspicious of such an emphasis on physical gratification
Philial love focuses on the ideal of brotherhood or kindred spirit among likeminded people.
Groups of the same ethnic, religious or cultural backgrounds often share such a strong common attachment.
Philia can be a profoundly moral form of love as it characterises natural bonds that exist in groups and lifelong friends.
However, it can be divisive leading to inter-group tensions. What’s more not all attachments are healthy or moral and so the word is also now associated with some unnatural tendencies.
Storge or ‘affection’ is a fondness through familiarity, especially between family members or people who have otherwise found themselves together by chance.
It is described as natural in that it is present without coercion; emotive because it is the result of fondness due to familiarity and most widely diffused because it pays the least attention to those characteristics deemed "valuable" or worthy of love.
Ironically, its strength, is what makes it vulnerable. Affection has the danger of being taken for granted, and as a result people come to expect, even demand, its presence—irrespective of their behaviour or how reciprocal it may be.
Agape is perhaps the highest of all types of love. Agape love is an unconditional love which expects nothing in return.
This is the kind of love that inspires a person to help a stranger, it is often self-sacrificing, thoughtful it also disregards circumstances or consequences.
It is a determined love rather than one ‘fallen in to’.
Within Christianity it is seen as resolutely setting ones will to love others despite the fears or wants of our self. It is seen as similar to Jesus’ willingness to die on the cross for the benefit of humanity.
Questions for Discussion
What is the difference between love and sex, and when it comes to ethics are there two separate sets of standards?
How true is the saying ‘If it feels good, and it doesn’t harm anyone, I should go ahead and do it.’?
Is religion too patriarchal to be the basis of sexual ethics in the modern world?
Is there a need for stated sexual ethics in society? Should it not be up to the individuals concerned?
Are religious views of sexuality and marriage hampered by traditional ideas of what is natural or by the fixed ideas of the roles of men and women
Should sexual ethics be based on what the majority of people in society think?
Marriage or Cohabitation
‘The legal joining together of two
people as a
‘Living together as a couple
without being married.’
Christianity and Sex Outside of Marriage
Christianity believes these relationships are wrong because:
Pre-marital Sex: ‘Having sex before getting married.’
Promiscuity: ‘Having sex with a number of partners without wanting a relationship with them.’
Adultery: ‘Having sex with someone other than your marriage partner (also called
an extra-marital affair).’
Christianity and Sex Outside of Marriage
Some Christians accept that couples may live together before marriage, but they would say the couple should be committed to each other and marry when they start a family.
All Christians believe adultery is wrong:
Views on Sexual
Human Relationships 2
In 1936King Edward VIII was forced to give up his position as King as he fell in love and wanted to marry an American divorced woman, Mrs Wallace Simpson. Whereas In 2005,Prince Charles, a divorced man, married Mrs Camilla Parker Bowles, a
divorced woman. Charles is in line to become the next King of the UK.
As with many cultures Judaism, as portrayed in the Jewish and Christian text, shows the use of concubines. Women living in a relationship with a man who was already married. In a society where to have many children is seen as a blessing and to have none is a curse, this was common. Abraham slept with his maid-servant, Hagar, to have a son, Ishmael.
Humans should abstain from the physical and live contemplative lives. The physical obstructs the soul’s progress.
The division of the world between physical and spiritual is called dualism. Similarly the ancient Greek Stoics disapproved of the loss of control and ‘animal’ passion encountered through intercourse and the orgasm.
Modern world attitudes to sex and relationships are changing. Sexual pleasure is often seen as the ultimate goal by both male and female and is pursued mostly for its immediate physical satisfaction rather than its unifyingrelational qualities.
In turn this often creates an egotistical attitude where, with mutual consent, any form of sex is morally right. Monogamy
and commitment are not required, indeed they are often shunned, along with religious teaching and absolute moral ideals such as marriage and fidelity. The freedom of the individual is paramount.
Almost as a paradox society today has a rising concern over sexual crimes, teenage pregnancy and the increase of STIs whilst contraception and abortions are free and confidential for children.
Parents demand to know
if known sex offenders are living in or near their community whilst dressing their children in Playboy clothing, and so called ‘soft’ pornography becomes increasingly acceptable. Cohabiting and divorce rise in equal measures as does the number of children
in single parent families.
What do all of these people have in common?
Times have changed
In the UK, the Sexual Offences Act (1967) decriminalised private sexual acts between men 21 years or over in England and Wales. The minimum age of consent at which a person may lawfully consent to buggery and to certain homosexual acts was then reduced to 16 in England and Wales by the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000.
The UK government introduced the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007
The UK Government have proposed Same Sex Marriage Bill to Houses of Parliament (2012)
It still causes much controversy
Why do you think that some people cannot accept homosexuality?
"You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination" [Lev 18.22]