Marriage is recognized as one of the social institutions. Just like sex, different cultures and societies have different opinions on the same. The relationship between sex and marriage is an important and interesting one. Philosophers have widely described this relationship in relation to morality. The moral theory is established as an important part of understanding the relationship between sex and marriage. Therefore, this research paper looks at sex and marriage in the context of moral theory. Besides, it provides some of views on the matter as documented in the literature.
Views on Marriage
Several views exist on the use of marriage and the reason behind its existence, with the fields of philosophy and religion being vocal on the matter. Researchers have defined the role of marriage as an institution for the normal life of human beings. Vaughn (12) is one of these researchers1. The researcher emphasizes the value of marriage in the society and to individuals, with the contemporary laws recognizing it as a key pillar of the society (Vaughn 12).
Many authorities develop the laws governing marriage2. The state is currently a powerful player in the development of this authority. Other institutions that are important in dictating issues in marriage include religious and cultural institutions, which often have conflicting views from different individuals and institutions. Examples of views on marriage include the relationship between partners, the number of partners allowed in marriage, and the rights of each partner in this institution (Choe, Lin, Podhisita, and Raymundo 15).
Some of these views are in constant conflict, with an example being the number of partners that a man can have for marriage. For example, the United States may have the opinion that only one wife is enough while some of the religions in the same nation are of the view that it is possible and legal to marry more than one wife (Stewart 24)3.
Contemporary issues that affect marriage include the emergence of same-sex marriage (Vaughn 20). According to Stewart, the number of people that are openly living as homosexuals and gays is constantly increasing in different parts of the world, especially in the westernized nations. Therefore, the number of same-sex marriages has been on the rise. This situation is proving to be a challenge for policymakers and religious leaders. According to Stewart, the main reason for the existence of the institution of marriage is to ensure that the human race is propagated. The presence of same-sex marriages means that this function is not fulfilled. Hence, there is a challenge in defining the relationship existing in same-sex marriage and the function it serves.
As an institution, marriage has been consummated through sex with reference to traditional, religious, and legal perspectives (Stewart 34). Sex outside of marriage is mostly considered an immoral issue4, with religion and culture having the biggest influence on the same. However, people are judged differently in marriage, with the male sex receiving more favor (Stewart 34). In societies that have a moral definition for sex outside marriage, the definition targets unilateral punishment for the female as compared to the male individuals. The punishment for the offence is thorough for the female offenders as compared to their male counterparts.
Views on Sex
Sex is a form of procreation that has been in existence since the creation of the earth. Sex does not require commitment (Goldman 272). It can be carried out in a casual manner. However, some individuals take a traditional stand on sex by believing that it should be within the confines of marriage. These authors include Punzo (88) who states that it should be between two people in a commitment. The moral theory and other theories discussing human morality have sex as their central pillar5. Many researchers have discussed the role of sex in the society. All of the studies agree that sex is an important part of life, and that it has shaped human behavior for a long period. The contemporary view of sex is between two individuals who have to have given consent. From this belief, moral issues that relate to sex emerge (Vaughn 22).
One of the moral issues relating to sex is the boundaries within which it should occur. Most people are of the belief that sex is a preserve of marriage, and that it is legally and religiously moral if it occurs within these limits. However, the challenge is the large number of unmarried people who still practice sex before marriage. Societies also have different views on sex. However, the views differ in terms of issues such as the time that sex should occur, the place that it should occur, and the relationship between people that choose to have it.
The traditional view of sex is also being challenged by the emergence of same-sex relationships, just like the marriage institution. The legal system has few limitations for sex among individuals, with some of them being the age at which it may occur and the places that it may take place (Rauch 196). Different legal systems also have different views on sex and morality, although some countries legalize the sale of sex while others limit it. These are some of the issues affecting moral issues related to sex.
Same-sex marriage is a contemporary issue that has attracted a lot of debate on many platforms. The topic has also attracted criticism and acceptance in equal measure. Levin is opposed to the idea of homosexuality by claiming it is abnormal and unnatural (252).The existence of same-sex marriage poses a threat to the traditional marriage institution because there is little evidence of procreation and propagation of human species. Marriage was originally intended to be an avenue of propagation, with the species increasing in size because of the same issue6. However, the emergence of same-sex marriage means that the original purpose is inexistent and difficult to achieve (Levin 252).
According to Johnston, the opposition to same sex marriage in most parts of the world is mainly because of the sequentialist assertions where the opponents cite the effects that this move may have on the heterosexual marriages, children, religion, and society. Most people are also fearful of the consequences that same sex marriage would bring to the society, including the already-stated parties (Levin 252).Researchers state that same-sex marriage is not essentially a form of marriage since the created union is not able to fulfill the mandate of the conventional marriage between a man and a woman (Johnston 288).
Most societies in the world consider same-sex marriages immoral (Murphy 196; Schulman 234). People who propagate the practice are often excluded from the decision-making process in the society. In societies that tolerate same-sex marriages, the legal authorities are responsible for the rituals, with the practice being grounded in the law (Johnston 288; Schulman 101). Murphy (197) states that homosexuality is universal since most parts of the world have greater prevalence of the practice7.However, it is important to note that such authorities are in the developed nations, with religion and cultural changes being highly evident. Therefore, people have stated that the tolerance to same-sex marriages is because of erosion of the social and religious values in these parts of the world.
The other view about same-sex relationships that has been used to disallow them in some parts of the world is that they are not sexually fulfilling as compared to the heterosexual relationships (Johnston 288; Schulman 102). Individuals who hold the belief also state that the same-sex relationships are not as fulfilling as the heterosexual marriages and hence inferior to them. Johnston believes that one of the bases for the belief is the protection of children and young individuals where the researchers claim that same-sex marriages may erode the beliefs about marriage and sex that the society is planning to protect. The researchers also claim that there is no need to protect these beliefs as they are also acquired as any other beliefs.
Johnston believes that the society is opposed to the same-sex marriage because of the creation of unnecessary notions in the young population. She states that the society claims that by disallowing same-sex marriage, it does not want to give the young and vulnerable individuals the idea that the practice is a matter of personal or moral indifference (Johnston 289; Rauch 165). The societies also claim that the creation of bodily union is one of the main reasons for the existence of marriage. Since same-sex marriages do not propagate this occurrence, they are unlawful.
The union of New Natural Lawyers (NNL) is one of the bodies that oppose the existence of same-sex unions as marriages (Johnston 289). They state that the original intended meaning of marriage is a union where participants can engage in sexual fulfillment, support, and procreation. Therefore, the declaration of same-sex marriage would be unlawful according to NNL. It requires the meaning of marriage to be revised first (Johnston 289)8. Proponents of same-sex unions have differed from the NNL’s definition of marriage as a bodily union9. Instead, they have stated that the main reason for the existence of marriage is to serve as an emotional union between individuals (Johnston 288). However, this claim is not the traditional view of marriage in most cultures and societies, and hence the opposition of same-sex marriages. According to Johnston, the change in the perception of marriage as a bodily union into an emotional union causes a change in the marriage debate in terms of who is fit for marriage.
As a personal opinion, same-sex marriage serves little of the intended purpose of marriage. Although individuals may claim to have fulfillment in the emotional life, there is still more that this union is not able to achieve in the end. It is interesting to note that few of these marriages have lasted for more than a decade, thus indicating that the emotional union that may exist at the beginning usually wanes. Same-sex unions also introduce the moral values that the society has been protecting. These unions are a moral concern in many parts of the world. It goes against the laws of nature. Individuals who make these unions are unable to propagate through the natural ways, hence a problem for the population if same sex marriages increase in a population. This practice should be discouraged, although the methods used should respect the rights of the involved individuals.
Sex Practice outside Marriage
Marriage is considered the only legal institutions where sex may take place in most societies10. The laws of most countries permit the union of a man and woman in marriage by agreeing that marriage is the institution within which sex should be practiced. Religion and the society consider sex outside marriage as a moral issue, and there are punishments for the practice. The practice of sex outside marriage is prevalent in most parts of the world, with the blame mostly lying on the feminine side. The traditional views on women and their rights in institutions such as marriage have affected the consequences of sex outside marriage.
The main reason behind the definition of sex outside of marriage as being a moral issue is the traditional view that cultures and religion have on the same. Religion recognizes the marriage institution as the only one where sex is allowed since it (marriage) is meant to serve the purpose of sexual fulfillment (LeBlanc 56). People engaging in sex outside marriage, therefore, break the covenant that exists between them, and as a result break the partnership. Different cultures have different punishments for this “immorality”, although this issue is mostly informed by religion and beliefs of these cultures, with the example being the Chinese culture.
In countries with established marriage laws, the main consequence of the moral issue is the termination of the marriage institution, with the couple sharing the wealth accumulated through the institution and other responsibilities such as children. As an opinion, sex outside the marriage institution is a moral issue that requires more attention. The behavior creates unprecedented problems within the marriage institution, thus resulting in the collapse of the institution.
Sex before Marriage
The previous sections define sex as an institution where sex may be practiced freely to fulfill the intended purpose of procreation and continuation of the species. The issue of sex before marriage is also a moral subject in most parts of the world. In addition, religion plays a significant part in the definition of what is right or wrong on the matter11. Sexual intercourse before marriage, especially during adolescence, has a number of consequences. The consequences include the acquisition of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unwanted pregnancies in the teenage population. Although people cite these reasons as being behind their opposition towards sex before marriage, the underlying reason is the culture and religious values that do not tolerate the same with reference to the practice. Many of the young individuals are engaging in sex before marriage in many parts of the world, despite the campaigns to discourage the practice on the religious and social platforms.
Sex before marriage is associated with both positive and negative effects. However, these effects are dependent on the developmental levels of the individual and the chronological age. Many societies are more lenient on sex before marriage as a moral issue in relation to other sex and marriage issues such as infidelity. The reasons for the leniency in different parts of the world are also different (LeBlanc 56). However, the reasons are dictated by the culture and religious values being practiced.
The opinion is that sex before marriage is dependent on the age of the individual and the relationship between the partners. However, the practice is a threat to the marriage institution, and hence an explanation to the high incidences of collapsing of marriage institutions. Societies and religious institutions that are vocal on marriage issues should play a bigger part in the prevention of sexual practices before marriage since this strategy will eventually have a positive effect on the institution. The practice of sex before marriage is prevalent in learning institutions. The media is responsible for the popularization of the moral issue. For changes to be observed, it is important that the institutions participate in changing the developing culture.
In conclusion, there is an intimate relationship between sex and marriage. This relationship leads to the development of moral issues. The research paper has looked at the moral issues associated with sex and marriage, including same-sex marriage, sex outside of marriage, and the practice of sex before marriage. The paper has stated that same-sex marriages prompt the revision of the meaning of marriage as an institution of sexual fulfillment into that of emotional fulfillment. Sex outside marriage is also established to be an important moral issue in the society, with views of different people being discussed. On the other hand, sex before marriage is considered a moral issue that leads to the erosion of values associated with marriage. This issue is established as one of the reasons behind the increased divorces and separation.
Choe, Minja, Hui-Sheng Lin, Chai Podhisita, and Corazon Raymundo. “Sex and Marriage: How closely are they related in the Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand?” Population Series 108.14(2001): 1-23. Print.
Goldman, Alan. “Plain Sex.” Philosophy and Public Affairs 6.3(1977): 267-287. Print.
Johnston, Rebecca. “Marriage and the Metaphysics of Bodily Union: Framing the Same-Sex Marriage Debate.” Social Theory and Practice 39.2(2013): 288-312. Print.
LeBlanc, Jill. Thinking Clearly: A Guide to Critical Reasoning. New York: W. W. Norton, 1998. Print.
Levin, Michael. “Why Homosexuality Is Abnormal.” 67.2(1984): 251-283. Print.
Murphy, Timothy. “Homosexuality and Nature: Happiness and the Law at Stake.” Journal of applied philosophy 4.2(1987): 195-204. Print.
Punzo, Vincent. “Morality and Human Sexuality.” Taking Sides 1.5(2008): 88-93. Print.
Rauch, Jonathan. For Better or Worse? Same-Sex marriage: Pro and Con, A Reader. New York: Vintage Books, 1997. Print.
Schulman, Sam. “Should Same-Sex Marriages be Legally Recognized? No: Gay Marriage and Marriage.” Taking Sides: Social Issues 1.6(2006): 100-105. Print.
Stewart, Neil. “Marriage Facts.”Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy 31.1(2007): 23-135. Print.
Vaughn, Lewis. Contemporary Moral Arguments: Readings in Ethical Issues. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010. Print.
- In this article, Vaughan emphasizes that the society is likely to adopt different views on marriage depending on the changes in culture. He cites the example of same-sex marriage as a product of the global changes in culture.
- This power to make decisions on marriage has changes over time. Culture and religion were traditionally the main actors, but the laws made by authorities such as governments have largely replaced these factors.
- Stewarts cites this as being the result of many cultures coexisting together and changing their collective beliefs to suit the resulting culture.
- The basis of consideration of sex as an immoral issue is largely cultural and religious, and the state has little say on this issue. For more explanations, see the recommendations made by Stewart 131-132.
- These theories are clearly stated in Lewis Vaughn’s book, Contemporary Moral Arguments: Readings in Ethical Issues, and especially in the second chapter 25-56. This chapter discusses some of the results of application of the theories.
- The pairing of different sexes of animals, as is evident in marriage, is also common to several other species of animals, with most mammals engaging in sex as a reproduction process. Marriage is, however, unique to the human species, and there is scanty evidence on the origin of the practice. For more on this, see Stewart 27-32.
- In this article, the universality of homosexuality is further explained as not just the practice of sex between two individuals of the same sexes, but also the idea of emotional attachment for these individuals. Another researcher with the same view Is Johnston 289-290
- Johnston does not agree with the definition of marriage according to the NNL. In the last pages of her article, she states that the relationship between a man and a woman is the basis of the existence of marriage. See LeBlanc 22-24, Johnston 289-291.
- The central belief in the NNL’s definition of marriage is the practice of sex between individuals, with this acting as evidence of marriage. See Johnston 288-289.
- This belief has largely been criticized by institutions, which are non-religious, with individuals claiming that the rampant practice of sec before marriage negates the belief that marriage is the only institution where sex may take place. See Johnston 289-291, LeBlanc 21-24.
- Johnston (2013) provides some of the different views of sex and marriage, especially in the same-sex marriage that is widely practices in the developed nations.