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A2 Religious Ethics Revision Christian attitudes towards sexuality
The Female Sex In Biblical society, the role of women has provoked some controversy – woman have traditionally been subservient to men.
The Female Sex Woman’s lives have largely been at the mercy of their menstrual cycle, and in particular their fertility.
The Female Sex In primitive society, women stayed at the camp to look after the children, while men went hunting for food.
The Female Sex Sexuality, and in particular pregnancy, placed women in a position where they were rendered powerless by their own biology.
The Female Sex In Judaism, this is reinforced by the Creation story, where God creates Eve to be Adam’s ‘helper and mate’
The Female Sex As society developed, women were able to establish a more ‘matriarchal’ position
The Female Sex They became the power behind the throne
The Female Sex But, they were still subject to their fertility
The Male Sex Men in power found that female sexuality posed a threat to their position of control
The Male Sex The most powerful man would find himself subject to sexual urges that he could not control.
The Male Sex Examples! Think about Helen of Troy Classic Greek literature!
The Male Sex These unsurpressed urges became identified with the women who were believed to inspire them
The Male Sex Partly in an attempt to control these sexual urges, religion promoted marriage as a suitable context for sexual activity
The Male Sex This had two benefits:
The Male Sex This fulfilled the concern that (female) sexuality might be out of control, and
It also met the biological and sociological requirements for child-rearing.
Sex today Current religious teaching combines a regard for the biology of sexuality with a consideration of its psychological dimensions.
Sex today The sexual act is seen as having both reproductive and psychological psychological potential
Reproductive potential Sexual intercourse has obvious reproductive potential! Within a marital relationship, sex and children are seen as an essential part of the couple’s life together
Psychological potential Sex also has the power to unite a couple in mutual love (the Church of England Marriage Service calls it ‘knowing each other in love’)
Obviously, sex also has a very negative potential – it can be used as an instrument of power and degradation. In certain circumstances, sex can be psychologically and biologically damaging.
Much of Christian sexual morality is bound up in the teachings of St Paul & St Augustine of Hippo St Augustine of Hippo
Some Christian moralists have even argued that sexual desires are so damaging that total abstinence is preferable (The Desert Fathers!)
St Paul taught that sexuality was a necessary part of the physical world, but it should not be all consuming
St Paul argued that it was necessary for a man to be married in order to direct his urges in an appropriate way (A necessary evil!)
St Augustine taught that sex was once pure and innocent, but Adam and Eve corrupted the world through the Fall.
St Augustine We experience the ‘fallout’ of this through barely controllable sexual urges
St Augustine this is the stain of original sin passed through sexual intercourse from generation to generation.
St Augustine ‘To many, total abstinence is easier than perfect moderation.’
Celibacy The state of living without sexual intercourse.
Celibacy Often part of vows made in a religious context.
Celibacy The traditional home of the celibate has been either the priesthood or the cloister. Monks, nuns and Roman Catholic Clergy
Celibacy Benedict made celibacy one of the vows taken by those Christians who joined his order.
Celibacy This vow is taken to devote the person’s life completely to the Church and to God.
Celibacy Sexuality is ‘put on hold’ for the benefit of others.
Celibacy This could be from religious conviction For example
The growing movement among American teenagers to take a vow of celibacy – many carry cards stating that they will not have intercourse until they are married
But also Some people take on celibacy within marriage as the relationship deepens and moves beyond the physical needs.
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