Friendship and love are fundamental in life. One way of showing real love is in the form of sexual activity, and that is why it is often referred to as the act of “making love.
” However, when sex is used as a means to an end, it may lead to disillusion and despair as it has expectations that it cannot satisfy. Nowadays, we are being shown sex all the time, and it seems to be morally acceptable to have casual sex with anyone. From the TV and media telling us about sordid tales, to popular sitcoms such as Friends and Sex and the City, having sex outside of wedlock is commonplace.For example, in a survey of 16-18 year olds, 84% of those asked thought that pre-marital sex was acceptable if the partners love each other, and 58% approved of recreational sex. However, close friendships do not have to be physically expressed, and celibacy can enable an individual to love more widely and have a greater range of close and intimate friends which might otherwise be relinquished. Indeed, families can tend toward preferential love rather than the Gospels’ notion of non-preferential love. Catholicism, especially Thomists, disapprove of pre-marital sex for two main reasons.Firstly, it is outside the bounds of wedlock and therefore wrong.
Secondly, young people tend to use contraception, which contravenes the Natural Law teaching of procreation. Situation Ethics is also unhelpful, as it is difficult to say whether love in sexual intercourse and relationships can be considered along the lines of agapaic love, which is what Situation Ethics promotes. Furthermore, the Bible does not offer much help either, as Jesus never condemns pre-marital sex, so it is difficult to know where one ought to look for guidance.
Sexuality is an essential part of human nature (despite Augustine and his followers thinking that procreation was unnecessary, as if humans became extinct, the Messiah would return). Sex should be an intimate, deep and mysterious process, and it is not just about enjoying oneself, but also about bringing two people together in a closer, special relationship. However, as sex is now so acceptable, people tend to abuse the special nature of intercourse, instead concentrating on maximising pleasure (i.
e. the emergence of one-night stand cultures).Vardy in The Puzzle of Sex thinks that “to trivialise sex is to demean ourselves and the other person,” and this is the problem with sexual intercourse in the modern world.
Nevertheless, is it too much to confine sex to marriage? Jesus called people to an exceptionally high level of personal responsibility for their own humanity and their willingness to be accountable to God for decisions made. This does not outline a legalistic framework, in the same way that sexual intercourse has no set of rules merely confining it to marriage.However, Augustine thought, “the sexual act perpetuates original sin. ” According to him, desire is dangerous (especially lust), and that even marital sex is bad, as we desire to possess someone else’s body.
However, in marriage, the husband and wife are unified. If this is the case then a husband does not lust after another body, as his wife is part of him. Therefore Augustine’s logic of lusting over someone else’s body being wrong does not work, as sexual intercourse is among unified partners, who return to the state which God created us (woman being taken from man).
Marriage is a risky endeavour: 40% of marriages end in divorce in the Western world, and more marriages are unhappy, but stay together for “the sake of the children. ” The Catholic Church has accepted sex as a unitive means since 1965, but still holds the belief that pre-marital sex and extra-marital sex are wrong. Jesus supported marriage emphasising its importance as the fulfilment of man who becomes reunited with his wife and they are joined as one. Furthermore, if two people enter into a close and intimate relationship involving trust, adultery abuses what trust existed beforehand.In Deuteronomy 22:22, “if a man is found lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die,” which suggests that it is a mortal sin.
Adultery is often the reason given for divorce, however if a woman commits adultery, her sin is seen to be greater than a man committing adultery. This is because if a woman commits adultery, a child conceived in such a relationship is distanced from the woman’s husband, and the husband’s property rights of descent are infringed. It is argued that adultery is a ground for divorce because it undermines the main purpose of marriage when this is seen as procreation.However, today it may alternatively be argued that if marriage has failed due to adultery, it has done so because of a lack of love, intimacy or communication and therefore has failed for not fulfilling the role of sex serving as a unitive purpose. Therefore, like Aquinas, one might say that the sexual act is not bad as it is natural; rather it is the circumstances of sex.
For Aquinas, this entailed marriage, but if sex in a loving relationship may hold more value than merely for a procreative means in marriage.The first order from God in the Hebrew Bible are “go forth and multiply,” therefore there is a definitive order for humans to have sex. Indeed, the sexual organs are there for reproduction, and marriage is the relationship intended for both reproduction and fellowship. In the Hebrew Bible, polygamy is accepted practice, as are concubines (e. g. Abraham having a child with Sarah’s slave Hagar). Furthermore, there is the idea a levirate marriage is a necessary condition of continuing one’s brothers love (Deuteronomy 12), and the Sadducees challenge Jesus on this point.Although the Mosaic covenant has provisions for divorce, Jesus condemned it.
However, there was a prohibition of bestiality, homosexuality and nakedness. Therefore, if we do accept that sexual relations do not have to be confined, then how far can we allow extra-marital behaviour? Homosexuality contravenes Natural Law. However, it is natural as many people are homosexuals (4% of males, i. e. about 120 million people in the world), rarely choosing to be so, it just happens that some people are attracted to the same sex.Therefore, we can hardly condemn if it so many males in the world are gay.
I think that whilst it may not be as natural as heterosexuality, it cannot be dismissed on unnatural grounds, as even some animals are gay. If one is concerned with loving and intimate relationships, then homosexuality offers this to people who are attracted to the same sex, as there is a distinct difference between close friendships and close friendships where there is attraction involved. Just because people cannot understand how others can be attracted to the same sex, does not mean that it is wrong.
I therefore think that whilst it may seem alien, it should be accepted, as due to either nature or nurture, some people are that way inclined. Likewise, if we look at pre-marital sex, then what age should be a minimum? Many of my friends had sex before the age of 16, but do not feel as though they broke the law. The first of my friends to have sex was 14, but 15 a week or so later. However, he looked about 18 at that age. In other words, if someone is biologically advanced, i. e. went through puberty at an early age, surely they have more of a right than others to have sex, as they are more mature.
In hindsight, it seems terrible to have sex at that age, but at the time one is fine with it. Why then do our weltangschauung’s change as we age? It is not that we suddenly see the action as wrong as the people involved our immature (as I am not significantly more mature now), but rather it is the thought that when we become parents, we want our children to be innocent. Unfortunately, sex is not construed as particularly innocent, but we look back thinking that children are less mature at that age, when in reality they are not.
Therefore, I would say that sex is acceptable at an early age if someone has already gone through puberty. However, it is so much better for people to be in a loving relationship as sex is then more treasured. In spite of this, sex for people at the age of 15 or so is wrong if it is with someone far older (i. e. in their twenties, thirties or older). The older person exploits the child into doing something which they realistically should not be pushed into doing. It is unlikely that the older person really loves the younger one, and is instead looking to exploit the fact that the younger person is likely to be besotted with them.
Likewise, I think that paedophilia is wrong, as it exploits children before they reach puberty and therefore before they really know what is happening. Puberty should be the cut off point for sex, but this should be delayed as late as possible to preserve its mysteriousness. However, the current youth culture is one of trying to prove oneself to one’s friends by having sex as often as possible, and I cite the influence of television programmes and films for this liberal approach to sex. As far animals go, I think that it is completely inexcusable.For starters it is not a “consenting sexual relation,” as a dog or sheep cannot turn round to complain.
Unfortunately, animals just like to have sex irrespective (e. g. dogs “humping” everything). But to go one step further and allow a human, who is aware of his or her actions, to go and perform like this is outrageous.
I find it disgusting personally, but that is imposing a subjective view. If one were to look at it in the same light of homosexuality, it may not be natural, but some people do have a natural inclination that way.One may say that the application of Natural Law is too strong for this question. If we look at pre-marital sex and say that it still has the eventuality of procreation, then we may say that is an infringement. In this instance though, there is no such chance of procreative means, and therefore it is wrong, as it is an extreme version of breaking Natural Law.
Moreover, to encourage such behaviour is surely wrong though, as it seems so repulsive a thing to so many people. I personally would therefore condemn this as a sexual relation unconfined to marriage.Incestuous relations are also wrong, as they contravene Natural Law in an extreme way, as there is no chance of a healthy baby. However, it is difficult to determine what constitutes incestuous, as the law permits cousins to marry. Therefore, I think that incest is not entirely wrong, rather it is how closely related two people are.
As long as sober consent is given when both parties are in a clear state of mind (i. e. not mentally ill or depressed etc. ), there should be no reason why cousins should not be sexual partners. However, with parents or siblings, sex is wrong, as too many of the genes are common.Furthermore, when two people have been brought up together, they have a different kind of loving relationship which should not emerge into sexual relationship. Biologically speaking, during puberty, boys are meant to hate their fathers, wanting to kill them to have sex with their mothers. I have never met anyone who has admitted these feelings, but I do not quite see how this happens.
Nevertheless, that is a reason sometimes cited for incestuous relationships. Therefore, in conclusion, I think that consenting sexual relationships can extend beyond marriage, but one has to be careful of the circumstances.Homosexuality is permissible (although an extreme infringement of Natural Law), but close incest, paedophilia and bestiality are fundamentally wrong and should therefore not be practised. One could take a utilitarian standpoint, but although these actions may be fine with the two consenting parties who will be happy, society as a whole is likely to be appalled and therefore the greatest happiness for the greatest number is not achieved. One may say that what is done in private is fine, as society does not know about it, but that is a poor justification for succumbing to temptation.
Merely because one thinks about something, does not justify the action. If someone thinks about having sex with a young girl, that is up to them. It could be attributed to natural human curiosity. However, to go one-step further and act on these thoughts is one-step too far. It may confirm to people that this is what they want, and therefore they are more likely to act in this way again, exploiting children.
It is therefore easier to say that as a benchmark, sex is acceptable if both parties actually feel real intangible love for each other. This not only maintains sex as special and mysterious, but also permits homosexuality.