Sexual ethics encompasses a wide variety of issues including, abortion, contraception, homosexuality, bisexuality, transexuality, marriage, cohabitation, masturbation, sexual acts, rape, prostitution, sex with animals and pornography.
A modern perspective on sexual ethics is that mutual consent of any form of sex is morally acceptable. It is seen as a positive, pleasurable and physical experience. Negotiated between the relevant parties, it falls outside religious teachings; marriage is also viewed as not being prerequisite. The freedom of the individual is valued as the most important aspect; therefore there is an increasing idea that any form of sex with mutual consent is morally acceptable.
A major sexual revolution took place in the second half of the twentieth century. Our society has become saturated with sexual stimulation, in films, television, advertising and magazines. Sex has become the idol of our times. This attitude has allowed sex to be enjoyed by everyone, irrespective of the consequences. It is the person's freedom and their viewpoint regarding sexual ethics which is the most important; making any viewpoint acceptable.
Sex has become a commodity for everyone and for everyone to enjoy. There is a separation of personal emotions and attachments, and it has become almost like a game for some people. For example, one could argue that it is all about getting to the highest level, to gain better, greater sex, to achieve more satisfaction, and to experiment with something different. This can therefore lead to an addiction which can become destructive. There is no thought for the extreme emotions, which sex can induce, therefore no regard for any relationship or a relationship breakdown. For example, it's okay to commit adultery. Sexual ethics is all for the individual and satisfying a need, as long as there is mutual consent and this is neither right or wrong however acceptable.
To what extent if any is it permissible to claim that sexual ethics should be linked to religion.
Any human behaviour taken to access without boundaries has the potential to become very destructive in an individuals life.
Alongside the sexual revolution, a more alarming revolution has also taken place. Marriage and family life is starting to break down; the impact on emotional mental health is starting to become a problem, it is seen especially among children involved in parental break-ups.
These changes in attitudes to marriage and sex involve hidden dangers. Many people find themselves trapped in a promiscuity which destroys their self esteem, exposes them to sexually transmitted disease and often ruins their ability to form a lasting relationship. From the optimistic embrace of sexual liberation in the sixties, most people have started to see that there is something fundamentally wrong with this so called sexual liberation.
It is permissible to claim that we need to have a framework, or a set of boundaries, which promotes healthy sexual behaviour for the individual; whereby it enriches the person, rather that becoming a destructive tool in that persons life.
Sex, can nurture an individual to grow in all aspects of their life. For example, in a sexual marital relationship, commitment, respect, love, security and care are provided. The individual therefore feels emotionally happy and secure; religion provides such marriage.
The Holy Bible talks about Christian marriage; if both individuals are committed to God's Laws and the subsequent way of life then a marriage is blessed by God. Furthermore, in this example, the Bible celebrates sexual intimacy as a profound form of communication. In the Song of Solomon we see the delight, tenderness, contentment and satisfaction that can be derived from sexual intimacy.
Sex in its right context is good and beautiful. God has a high view of sexual relationships. Marriage is a reflection of Christ's relationship with the church and there can be nothing higher than that. That is why Christian married couples, should be encouraged to delight in one another and enjoy sexual intimacy to the full. There is great freedom within marriage and sex should never become mundane or boring. This contrasts sharply with the attitude of defenders of sexual liberation.
The biblical context of sexual intercourse is the lifelong commitment in marriage between one man and one woman. When Jesus spoke of marriage he went back to the creation account: 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh'.
Here, we can see the key to the biblical understanding of marriage. The sexual union between a man and a woman in marriage is not just physical and biological, but emotional, psychological, spiritual and social. Our whole beings are united in marriage and sexual intercourse is not just a physical response to a physical desire. The physical union both expresses the other unions and also brings them about. We express ourselves with our bodies and the act of intercourse expresses our unity. 'The total physical self- giving would be a lie if it were not the sign and fruit of a total personal self giving... The only "place" in which self giving in its whole truth is made possible is marriage.'
God has designed our bodies and our sexuality so that we can go on exploring and enjoying one another for a lifetime. 'An actor, well known for his romantic roles, was once asked on a TV programme, "What makes a great lover?" He answered, "A great lover is someone who can satisfy one woman all her life long; and who can be satisfied by one woman all his life long. A great lover is not someone who goes from woman to woman. Any dog could do that." This applies to men and women alike.
To confirm, a framework to abide by is necessary for the consideration of individuals and therefore the good of our society.
With sex becoming an 'idol' today, there is no thought for marriage. It says that sex is okay, porn is okay, adultery is okay and sex before marriage is okay. However, the family unit has always been the stronghold of our society, without it individuals become isolated and impoverished emotionally - children. Mental health problems, depression and suicide are on the increase; one of the main factors leading to these is because there is no commitment. Some see that the decay in Christian values, has led to the undermining of the family, creating social disaster; more abortions than ever before and more children living in poverty as a result of marital breakdown.