Sexual Morality

Sexual Morality

Sexuality is an arguable topic among individuals and can be perceived
differently from person to person. How ought we view, or sex for the want of a
better expression, put it into perspective in our lives? Is it a force whose end
is the production of physical pleasure? Is it the procreation of life? Or is it
inextricably linked to cultural expressions of love and affection? All of these
are valid conceptions of the significance of sex in our everyday lives. However,
each value is contingent on the degree to which we value other things. This will
eventually mold our sexual perspective and define the bounds of sexual

“The catholic tradition on sexuality has always defined its moral
parameters in the terms of marriage. More than a union of two individuals,
marriage is set in the context of family, and especially procreation.”
(Cahill, 209) In the Humanae Vitae, (1968) love and procreation hold a higher
status equally in terms of marriage. According to the Trinitarian vision, “no
one exists by oneself, but only in relationship to others. To be is to be in
relationship. The deeper one’s participation in relationships is, the more
human one becomes.” (Gula, 65) Marriage is the legal contract of the physical
and spiritual union between a man and a woman. This union is predicated on the
commitment of the two parties to each other and their mutual attachment of mind
and heart.

Lisa Cahill mentions that there are three dimensions present in sexuality:
sex as a physical drive, sex as intimacy or love, and lastly sex as procreative.
(Cahill, 210) All these dimensions are interdependent of each other; however,
the one that is given the highest value is sex as procreative. Every person
holds different standards as to their opinion of the topic at hand. “Moral
actions are judged wrong not because of harms they cause to self or others, or
because they violate rational rules of conduct. Actions are wrong because they
are not properly responsive to what God enables and requires.” (Gula, 45) How
men and women view sex, what they think sex is, affects the nature and stability
of their relationships. It matters whether they view sex as something that
essentially has to do with love, marriage and children or as a feature their
bodies happen to have that they can do with as they will. Furthermore, “basic
human relationships come together through our sexuality and link us not only to
our partners but to the wider community.” (Cahill, 212)

The first point is sex as a physical drive for pleasure. There have been
advocates who have argued premarital sex has legitimacy on the grounds that it
conforms to the law of nature (i.e. it is the natural thing to do). Although
these natural actions end in the satisfaction of a physiological or
psychological need, they are not always morally right; torture and rape are
natural acts but are deemed as being morally wrong. There are laws made
primarily to preserve what we as a society value. Values reflect our morals, the
principles that we stand by. When “making a moral decision” we sometimes
look towards God for guidance which “is qualified by faith.” (Gula, 53) God
wanted all of us (his children) to love one another and support each other.
Physical enjoyment and pleasure are not strong enough drives to be in a
relationship where there is no commitment.

This leads to the second dimension, sex as love. Marriage is a contract
binding two people together. This generates a feeling of security for both
parties that their feelings of love and affection will be reciprocated. The love
relationship between two individuals should be long term with a strong sense of
commitment. Contrary to this are people who engage in premarital sex. Premarital
sex often causes one of the partners to be lulled into false sense of security,
even if they express their love for one another. Imagine if two consenting
adults engage in premarital sex, to express their mutual love for one another;
and after some time one of them (for whatever reason) falls out of love with the
other and decides to pursue other relationships. This person, regardless of the
other’s feelings toward them, is not obligated to stay in that relationship as
together they have no such commitment.

Final point at hand is sex as procreation. Procreation is a divine
partnership with God. In the bible, “God created man in his image; in the
divine image he created him; male and female he created them.” God blessed
them, saying to them: “Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue