Who Decided What the Code of Sexual Morality Should Be?

A January 25th blog by Dr. J (The Western Tradition) regarding Abstinence Gets Some “Scientific” Support brought back some old issues for me. Not so much about the scientific or philosophical views concerning the abstinence of sex before marriage, but about the moral implications that those with a behavioral conduct toward sexual relations before or outside of marriage are considered immoral.

In my opinion, that line of reasoning continues to show a very closed-minded lack of tolerance. History has taught us that each era had its own social customs of convenience and control, where the views of one individual or authoritative group took precedent over a population, who either conformed or faced the consequences.

If, for the sake of argument, we concede that all consenting adults need to use birth control, unless trying to conceive, and practice safe sex always, we are left with only the current cultural values that establish a code of conduct, in this case, sexual right and wrong. But who or what governing body decides what is right and what was wrong?

In general, religion throughout the centuries has always found it expedient to venerate power, wealth, and position over anyone’s spirituality. Doctrine was established to control the population and to keep revenues coming in. It was surprising to learn, although I guess it shouldn’t have been, that priests were not always celibate. That the vow of celibacy was something devised by the church to avoid the responsibility of housing and financial upkeep for spouses and families.

Do we take the word of one of the most holist books that there is only one moral code for sexuality and all other ways are damned to hell? Doesn’t the fact that each book in the Bible, written by men, human beings, give one pause to the unquestionable validity of content and sentiment? Even if it were a proven fact that all religious teachings came from the mind and heart of God, by whatever name, founding religious books were still edited and interpreted by men with their own agendas, fears, and conjectures.

As societies have evolved, wriggling free of the church’s often brutal, hard pressed thumb, new influences, such as kings, queens, dictators, and modern leaders, have taken up the moral two-edged sword of deciding what was, and is, best for the people. Historical guidelines have been handed down generation after generation, taught at home, in schools, and churches because that’s what our parents were taught, what their parents grew up with, and so on with all our ancestors down through time.

In this day of enlightenment and technology I don’t think it’s naive to want to teach our children that all people are created equal, that life is full of choices and consequences, experiences, and that freedom means taking responsibility for your actions while not encroaching on the freedoms of others.

The stigma of sexual moral codes toward premarital sex, sex outside of marriage, sex between homosexuals is not going to change until we start accepting, and teaching those that follow, that everyone has the right to their own choices and that what happens between consenting adults is nobody else’s business.


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