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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

Old testament view
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
New Testament View

  • Paul, perhaps influenced by his thoughts on women, valued celibacy.

  • There are references to the ideas of Plato here (Platonic dualism – spiritual is more important than physical)

Read through the information on Thomas Aquinas and Sexual Ethics

Thomas aquinas
Thomas Aquinas

  • Is an ‘unnatural act’ always wrong, even if it is consummated with mutual and informed voluntary consent?

  • Are there some non-procreative sexual acts that might be natural to human beings? Do we, in fact, share a common nature, but might God have created a variety of human beings with different forms of sexual expression?

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.’


  • Living together is an excellent way to

  • see if you are compatible.

  • Marriage is different, much deeper and much more than living with someone.

  • Marriage is merely a piece of paper,

  • it is no guarantee of happiness.

  • There’s something special about

  • making your vows publicly.

  • People cohabit because they are

  • too scared to commit

  • In cohabitation the practical side of breaking up is very straightforward.

  • People who have been hurt in the past may not wish to marry again.

  • An individual is legally better off getting married, they have more rights.

  • Marriage might kill the

  • excitement in a relationship.

  • If you are married you are more likely to try and make the relationship work.

Christianity and Sex Outside of Marriage

Christianity believes these relationships are wrong because:

Pre-marital Sex: ‘Having sex before getting married.’


  • Sex was given by God for procreation

  • within marriage.

  • ‘Creation of Humanity ’ Genesis Ch 1 & 2

Promiscuity: ‘Having sex with a number of partners without wanting a relationship with them.’

  • Jesus says

  • adultery and promiscuity are wrong.

  • ‘Woman at the Well ’

  • John Ch 4

Adultery: ‘Having sex with someone other than your marriage partner (also called

an extra-marital affair).’

Christianity and Sex Outside of Marriage

  • The Church should

  • come to terms with modern life and accept this form of commitment.

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.

  • Jesus taught that love is the most important thing and not fulfilling rituals.

All Christians believe adultery is wrong:

  • It breaks the wedding vows to be faithful.

  • It is in the 10 commandments (the Decalogue).

  • It is condemned by Jesus in the Gospels.

A Level

Religious Studies



Views on Sexual

Behaviour and

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.

Attitudes to homosexuality
Attitudes to Homosexuality changing. Sexual

  • This lesson will be successful if you can evaluate Christian attitudes towards homosexuality.

Times have changed changing. Sexual

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)

Homosexuality is becoming more and more acceptable in our society
Homosexuality is becoming more and more acceptable in our society


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]

Friday s afternoon lesson
Friday’s afternoon lesson homosexuality?

  • Consider different case studies that we could use to answer Sexual ethics questions.

  • Look at TICKET Structure and see how it can help us answer an essay question…

    • ‘Christian ethics is a good way of deciding matters of sexual ethics’.