(Redirected from Premarital sex
- This article is primarily about religious attitudes to sexual morality. For an overview of cultural attitudes to sex, see Sexual norm.
Sexual morality refers to the beliefs and practices by which a culture, group, faith, etc. regulates their members' behaviour in matter of sexual activities.
Many cultures and religions have rules regarding sexual behavior which they consider moral and it is said by persons in those cultures and religions that those acting outside of those rules are immoral or wrong. These rules sometimes distinguish between sexual activities that are practiced for biological reproduction (sometimes allowed only when in formal marital status and in fertile age) and other activities practiced for the pleasure of sex only (or mainly).
In this sense, a concept of sexual morality can be expressed in any of the possible directions, and groups exist that recommend restrictive behaviours as well as groups that recommend totally free self-determination, as well as a variety of intermediate positions.
The respective efficacy of these rules depends on the social position of the group that develops them, on its eventual political representativity, on its relationships with the laws of the related country.
Views on sexual morality have varied greatly over time and from culture to culture. Usually, they derive from religious beliefs, but some writers have pointed out that social and environmental conditions play a part in the development of a given society's views on sexual morality.
In Western pluralistic societies of the 20th and 21st centuries, there often exists debate on not only whether there is a common morality, but on whether it is right to expect such a common view. In most western societies, laws allowing a wide range of sexual relationships between consenting adults are the norm, although that legal range varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The debate thus often includes a sub-argument of what is legal vs. what is moral.
In previous centuries and in many non-western cultures of the 20th and 21st centuries, there has been less room for debate. This does not mean, however, that views on sexual morality have ever been homogenous.
For example, in Hellenic society, homosexual behavior was often encouraged and accepted as part of the socialization and upbringing of young men, especially those in the military. These relationships were in addition to heterosexual relationships entered into for the establishment of families and the production of progeny so that property would be inherited and kept within a larger kinship group. The importance of the kin-group and the maintenance of its property was such that, under certain circumstances, Athenian law allowed an uncle to marry his niece in order to keep family property together. It could be therefore argued that the needs of the family constituted a higher morality that helped to define the sexual mores of the society as a whole.
In Roman society, sexual morality concentrated more on the social status of those involved, and their taboos concentrated on high-status men committing any kind of sexual act that was thought of as passive or submissive. Providing that the sexual act was dominant in nature, and the man had a high social status Roman society made little distinction between the type of sexual partner and type of sexual act.
Another example is the contrast between traditional European and traditional Asian or African views of permitted familial relationships. British law and custom, for example, frequently forbade intermarriage between those related by marriage. However, in rural regions of India, Nepal, and surrounding nations, fraternal polyandry, in which two (or more) brothers marry the same woman, is culturally accepted. Likewise, European mores generally advocate monogamy strongly. Polygyny is widely practiced by many societies throughout Asia and Africa, and polyandry is the accepted norm in a few Indian and African societies.
Spreading sexual morality to non-adherents
Many cultures intend to develop a regulation of individual behaviours, in the sense that if non-members too could be forced (or however convinced) to respect its "code", in many cases the culture-group-etc would have achieved its goal. The proposed regulation is usually declared in a universal form, as an absolute "law".
Like other types of behaviour, various religious and cultural groups attempt to persuade or force others to behave according to their view of sexual morality. Various groups amongst followers of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism all do so. Most of the Islamic world has strict rules enforced with sometimes violent punishments to enforce their views on morality, including sexual morality on their citizens, and often attempt to impose it on non-Muslims living within their societies. The same was true of various European Christian kingdoms at some stages in history, and still many Christians attempt to resist laws guaranteeing sexual freedom (for instance, many US states retain laws against homosexuality despite the impossibility of prosecution), mostly unsuccessfully. Haredi Jews in Israel use words (newspapers, books, radio shows, websites, etc.) to try to encourage other Jews to follow the Jewish laws of sexuality.
Jewish views of sex and morality
In "A Guide to Jewish Religious Practice", Conservative Rabbi Isaac Klein writes a summation of Jewish views towards sex. "Modern man is heir to two conflicting traditions neither of which is Jewish: On the one hand, the rebirth of the old paganism which found its extreme expression in the sacred prostitutes of Canaan...and on the other hand, the Christian reaction to the excesses of paganism...sex became identified with original sin, and celibacy was regarded as the ideal form of life. Modern man, while opting for pagan libertinism, also suffers a guilty conscience because of his Christian heritage....Judaism is free of both extremes. It rejects the espousal of uncontrolled sexual expression that paganism preaches, and also Christianity's claim that all sexual activity is inherently evil. Jewish marriage is based on a healthy sexual viewpoint that rejects the two extremist principles, and so are the regulations governing the conjugal relations between husband and wife, taharat hamishpacha, the purity of family life."
The Rabbinical Assembly (Conservative Judaism) has published a pastoral letter on human sexuality, "This Is My Beloved, This Is My Friend: A Rabbinic Letter on Intimate Relations". Topics include sex within marriage; having children; infertility; divorce; adultery; incest; single parenthood; non-marital sex; contraception; homosexuality; and the laws of family purity (taharat hamishpacha).
Perhaps the most misunderstood aspect of Jewish law is the laws related to toharat ha'mishpach (Hebrew: literally "family purity"). These rules inform us that a woman becomes "tameh" when she is menstruating. During this time a couple must refrain from all physical contact, especially sexual relations. After the cessation of her menstrual flow, the women counts seven days before immersing herself in a mikva, at which time sexual relations between man and wife can resume. The words "tahor" and "tameh" are often, but erroneously, translated as physically clean and unclean. However, these terms actually describe a state of ritual applicability in regards to fulfilling biblical commandments, such as those associated with the Temple in Jerusalem, the cultic function of Kohanim (priests), and sexual relations within in a Jewish marriage. Modern Jewish authors often translate tahor and tameh as "ritually pure" and "ritually impure".
Judaism has historically viewed homosexuality as a grave sin; in recent years some of the more liberal Jewish denominations have begun rethinking this understanding for various reasons; this topic is discussed separately in the entry on Jewish views of homosexuality.
For more details, see Rabbi Michael Gold's "Does God Belong in the Bedroom?" and Rabbi Shmuel Boteach's "Kosher Sex".
Christian views of sex and morality
The New Testament holds forth a number of discussions on sex and sexuality; these discussions are mainly by Paul. In these parts of the New Testament Paul informs Christians that celibacy is more desirable than entering into a sexual relationship - "It is good for a man not to touch a woman. But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband." (Corinthians I, 7:1) The later Church Fathers took this teaching to heart and taught that celibacy is a better state than marriage. At the same time, St. Augustine emphasized that marriage was a good state, arguing that if it were not good, then praising virginity as better than celibacy would not be saying much in favor of virginity.
Granting a concession to human weakness, Paul states that if a person is unable to maintain chastity, he or she should marry rather than fall into sin. "I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I. But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion." (Corinthians I, 7:8-9) Further, he states that husbands and wives should "Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control."
Paul holds marriage not to be the best situation, but rather a potential cause of distress and distraction from God. "Now concerning virgins I have no command of the Lord, but I give an opinion as one who by the mercy of the Lord is trustworthy. I think then that this is good in view of the present distress, that it is good for a man to remain as he is. Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released. Are you released from a wife? Do not seek a wife. But if you marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Yet such will have trouble in this life, and I am trying to spare you." (Corinthians I, 7:25-28) "I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord, but the married man is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please his wife and his interest is divided...The unmarried woman cares for the affairs of the Lord, that she may be holy in body and spirit; but a married woman cares for worldly affairs, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord." (Corinthians I, 7:32,35)
In summary, Paul's teaching to the early Christian church includes encouragement to "...abide even as I"--unmarried. (Corinthians I, 7:8) However, this is spoken of as a preference Paul had--one which he notes as not being for every man (Corinthians I, 7:7)--in order that Christians "...may attend upon the Lord without distraction." (Corinthians I, 7:35) But, if the temptation of the flesh be too great, one should marry, "...and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned." (Corinthians I, 7:28)
It is worth noting that the early patriarchs of the Old Testament were not without wives. In fact the first book of the Bible reveals God noting that "...It is not good that man should be alone" (Genesis 2:18). Out of this God created Eve, a helper for Adam. The marriage relationship was created by God. But, perhaps the result from this union was what Paul was referring to when he wrote, "But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife." (Corinthians I, 7:33) Was Adam not pleasing Eve when he bit into the apple?--quite certainly the ultimate division between Adam and God.
(Sections need to be written on the modern day views of Catholic Christians, Orthodox Christians, Protestant Christians. It would be useful to trace how their views evolved.)
Muslim views of sex and morality
Islam forbids celibacy as a form of religious practice, and considers the natural state for humans to be married.
All forms of sex outside of a marriage are considered a grave sin, the worst being adultery, with severe punishment in this world as well in the hereafter. All the laws on sex apply to both men and women equally, apart from those concerning menstruation (see below).
Within marriage, sex is an enjoyable, pleasurable activity, a duty, and a necessity for procreation. It is even considered an activity that -- with the right intention -- can be considered an act liked by God. Islamic law allows all forms of sexual relations between husband and wife, except when the wife is menstruating, and forbids anal sex as well. This implies that oral sex, and other forms are not explicitly prohibited, and therefore permissible.
While the wife is menstruating, sexual contact is allowed, but not sexual intercourse, until end of mensturating period and a ritual purification is performed (taking a shower).
After intercourse, both husband and wife must take a ritual shower before they can perform prayers, or touch the Quran.
Marriage of cousins is permitted, whether paternal or maternal. Several relatives are considered forbidden (and therefore, such a relation would be incest), such as a man cannot marry his mother, grandmother (and above), daughter, granddaughter (and below), sister, niece, aunt, step mother, step daughter, or women who are already married to someone else.
Milk kinship is considered equivalent to blood kinship, that is, if a mother or wet nurse breast feeds both babies, they are considered siblings, and the above rules apply.
Temporary marriage (Mut'a , marriage designated for a preset period of time) is not allowed by the majority Sunni school, but is allowed by Shia, although it is rarely practiced.
Polygyny is allowed in Islam under condition to act justly among wives. It is a religious act that is practiced by muslims from all walks of life.
A man having sex with his concubines is also permitted, and the children from such a relationship are recognized as legitimate and equal to ones from a marriage. The concubine gains freedom by bearing children to her master. Of course, this point is now only theoretical after slavery was abolished.
Masturbation is considered unlawful and thus prohibited according to the Islamic Doctrine. The general consensus of Islamic scholars is that masturbation is inherently a devious and indecent act, rendering it a sin and therefore punishable. One particular Qu'ranic verse explicitly forbids the practice. "They keep their chastity. They have relations only with their spouses, or what is legally theirs... anyone who transgresses these limits is a sinner." (70:29 - 70:31). In addition, abudant sources of prophetic hadith also reinforce the Islamic prohibition of masturbation. A primary reason scholars project in their opinion regarding the outlaw of masturbation is that it is generally deemed unethical and disrespectable.
Divorce is allowed in Islam if there is a good reason for it. It is considered an act that is not very agreeable to God though.
Homosexuality is strictly forbidden in Islam. All muslim scholars and Islamic law forbid this what is considered as devious and indecent act. The punishment for this according to hadith of the Prophet Muhammad is to be pushed off the highest cliff and stoning to death.