Morality and Sex

In the 21st century it still surprises me to have people state that having sex is a moral issue. The moralists state that you are only allowed sex if you are married. Every other occasion is immoral. If you live with a partner, you are not allowed to have sex because you are not married. If you are only dating, heaven forbid you have sex. And you are definitely on the dammed list if you enjoy a one night stand. Then there is also an age limit. Having sex when you are in your late teens is listed on the criminal activity list.

Where does this come from? Abstaining from sex, or chastity, is such a middle ages concept. The purpose of chastity was to keep a man’s wife faithful while he galavanted around taking part in a myriad of wars and jousting tournaments etc. He of course did not have to abide by the same rules.

It was also meant to ensure that young girls would not be ‘soiled’ before marriage. All of the above having one purpose. The man’s possession, the wife present or future, was truly his and untouched by anybody else. On the other hand it could also have started when Christianity first came onto the scene. The Romans and Greeks certainly didn’t seem to have the same moral issues about sex.

So far this same principle has continued to this day. Young men are allowed and even encouraged in some societies to ‘sow their oats’ before marriage. It is often a matter of great pride as to how many women a young man has had sex with. For a woman, being sexually active with more than one partner is often frowned on as a shameful activity. Amongst the more orthodox Muslims a woman’s infidelity, whether actual or even just suspected, can lead to a kangaroo type court and a death by stoning penalty.

If the idea of morality and sex is so ancient, why are people still believing in it? Actually for the same reason as before. Men want their woman to belong to them, and only them. The Christian churches support this principle and the orthodox Muslims even have a death penalty to discourage a woman from leaving her husband or being unfaithful. And guess what, the churches and mosques are run by men. And they look after their turf. The disputes rage in many of the Christian faiths as to whether women ministers are allowed. And as for orthodox Muslims, they would roll around laughing at the idea of a woman taking office in their faith.

I was reading a story of an unmarried priest who has quit a top job in the church because she is pregnant. She had a senior position in the Church of England. It is bizarre that such a natural thing as having a baby is such a sin, that she cannot continue to work in the church. She might not even have had sex to fall pregnant. I suppose if the church believes its a sin, they can’t be seen to condone it with one of their senior staff members. Pregnancy is fairly obvious and not that easy to hide. Not like molesting young boys, which can be buried.

This issue of morality and sex then brings its weight to bear on one of the consequences and that would be pregnancy. If it is immoral to have sex before marriage, then one can obviously not admit to the fact that one is having or considering having sex. This means that no birth control may be used, as using birth control would automatically confirm the intent of having sex.

For young people especially, this can be very confusing. They are unable to understand the moral issue behind it. Young women do not perceive themselves to be owned by men and don’t buy into the ‘keeping yourself for your husband’ idea. The reason for sex being immoral is therefore not a logical one for them.

For young men to abstain is even more ludicrous. They have grown up being told by their fathers or older brothers, friends etc that it is a manly thing to do, do ‘score’ with girls. They spend their adolescent years constantly discussing this topic amongst each other. Some stats even go as far as saying that the average young man thinks of sex every few minutes.

Furthermore the media in the western world is full of stories on sex in the form of photographs, films, TV, the internet, you name it. Reality TV often shows fairly detailed sexual encounters. Films portray sex, often in full detail, and not many films show that the couple in question need to have been married first. The moral issue of sex is not discussed often. It is shown as being part of life. Moral issues are left to the discussion of being faithful to ones partner.

The question of abortion elicits a heated discussion amongst pro-lifers and those in support of allowing women the choice whether to continue with a pregnancy or not. If one were to take away the moral issue, and put all girls onto birth control, the issue of abortion would not ever need to come up. Would birth control make any difference in the levels of sexual activity? If it’s not immoral would it matter? Besides the moral issue, probably not more than is happening already.

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