A2 Religious Ethics Revision The Ethics of Sex & Ethical Theories
Ethics & sexuality n Natural Law Theory The application of the Natural Law theory to the field of sexual ethics is the best- known ethical issue confronting Christianity.
Natural Law Theory n The Roman Catholic Church has traditionally applied this principle in its ethical teaching.
Natural Law Theory n Any sexual activity that does not include the potential for conception is seen as un-natural.
Natural Law Theory Views sexual activity as for the purpose of having children only. Aristotelian Final Cause or Telos.
Natural Law Theory n Any activity that does not carry the potential for conception is considered wrong n Includes masturbation and the use of artificial contraception.
Natural Law Theory Activities that still carry the possibility of conception, such as sexual intercourse during the womans safe period, are nominally permissible or acceptable. Activities that still carry the possibility of conception, such as sexual intercourse during the womans safe period, are nominally permissible or acceptable.WHY?
Natural Law Theory n Because there is still the possibility of conception (however small).
Natural Law Theory n Sex therefore is entirely associated with conception, pregnancy and childbirth.
Natural Law Theory And absolutely nothing else!
n All other acts are intrinsically evil (evil in themselves) because they prevent the final telos or purpose being realised. n They are against the divine purpose. n They are against nature.
n There is some disagreement over the scope of the Final Cause of sexual intercourse.
Natural Law Theory n Arguments that limit the purpose of sexual intercourse to the purely biological deny the various other aspects of sexuality found in human relationships and needs.
Natural Law Theory n Sex within a permanent relationship (e.g. marriage) brings the couple closer together and strengthens their relationship (the unitive factor). n Pleasure and tenderness for each other. n A physical expression of each others love?
Utilitarianism n Utilitarianism sees itself as essentially practical. n It argues for appropriate direction for each individual or group. n As long as no-one is left injured, offended or psychologically damaged by a sexual encounter, there is nothing that utilitarianism can find to condemn the activity.
Utilitarianism n On the issue of sexuality, the emphasis is minimising potential harm. n Utilitarian teaching about promiscuity and safe sex has been an effort to limit potential harm.
Utilitarianism n Utilitarianism therefore argues for responsible behaviour, rather than condemning certain types of behaviour as being sinful, wrong or evil.
Utilitarianism n Even masochism is acceptable in Utilitarianism, as long as the pleasure they endure in their pain is greater than the pain itself!
Utilitarianism n Bentham stated that as long as individuals gained pleasure or happiness from what they were doing in private, then nobody had the right to interfere.
Utilitarianism n And if their partner(s) also gained more pleasure then pain, then anything was acceptable!
Sexual relationships as contracts n The emphasis of this approach to sexual ethics is that of the promotion of consensual sex.
Sexual relationships as contracts n Sexual intercourse should be in the context of mutual and informed consent, and should not involve physical or mental force.
Sexual relationships as contracts n This would exclude any sexual activity that is conducted where one or other of the parties involved was incapable of understanding or preventing anything that was to take place.
Sexual relationships as contracts n Therefore rape, underage sex, sexual relationships while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, as a means of blackmail or coercion are all OUT. n But prostitution is OK!
Sexual relationships as contracts n Consensual sex cannot take place unless both parties are fully aware of the significance of what is to happen, and are both in a position to stop it from going any further.
Sexual relationships as contracts n This appears to be an almost legal or financial approach to sex. While it may protect people from mental or physical harm, it denies the emotional and spiritual dimension.
Sexual relationships as contracts n The Kantian principle that no- one should become a means to an end would condemn any sexual activity that was conducted in a context of coercion or manipulation.
Love n Christian teaching about love in the context of relationships and sexual ethics focuses on the interaction between the four loves of n friendship, n family love, n erotic love and n compassion.
Love n A relationship based purely on erotic love will tend to be hedonistic (i.e. for pleasure alone.)
Love companionship mutual respect sexual attraction n The Anglican Marriage Service emphasises the need for companionship and mutual respect, as well as the need for sexual attraction.
Love n The Christian ethic is compassion. A relationship that involves agape as well as companionship and erotic love will evolve beyond the physical into a relationship of selfless mutual concern and service.