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Sexual Ethics in Islam and the Western World

 article about sexual ethics
Without knowing my abilities, I selected to write on one of the very hot topics of gay marriages, but just when I was analyzing the scenarios, various other flaws were identified as well. I found a solution to the problems in one of the many religions being followed nowadays. I dont want to endorse the accuracy of this religion on others. It is just my part of the solution to the problem. This series of articles should give you a good introduction to the problem scenarios I would be talking about. Alhough discussing Islam in this topic doesnt serve the purpose, not discussing it would certainly kill my view of different scenarios which is based on the religion I follow, i.e. Islam.

The word 'tradition' is used here because not many religions nowadays are following the original divine books but are being controlled rather centrally by the civil or con-civil authorities.

The concept of marriage in Islam is somehow quite different from other traditions. For Muslims the idea of marriage is based on the following verse of The Holy Quran:

"And one of His signs is that He created mates for you, that you may find rest in them, and He envisaged between you love and compassion . . ." (Quran, 30:21) 

In Islam, marriage is a necessity; no one is allowed exemption from this obligation unless of course the person is not fit for marriage. Celibacy, which is quite a consideration in some religions, is strictly discouraged in Islam and is considered to be an evil deed.

To my amusement some of the religions considered marriage - or to be exact, sexual intercourse - even after marriage to be an evil deed. It is considered a contaminated, needless, and disparaging act of the culpable and strayed.

The same idea some how got very well embraced by the west as Bertrand Russell, a western philosopher, writes in his book Marriage and Morals:

. . . Anti-sexual elements, however, existed side by side with the others from a very early time, and in the end, wherever Christianity and Buddhism prevailed, these elements won a complete victory over their opposites. Westermarck gives many instances of what he calls 'the curious notion that there is something impure and sinful in marriage, as in sexual relations generally . . . In the most diverse parts of the world, quite remote from any Christian or Buddhist influence, there have been orders of priests and priestesses vowed to celibacy. Among the Jews, the sect of the Essenes considered all sexual intercourse impure. This view seems to have gained ground in antiquity . . . There was indeed a generalized tendency towards ascetism in the Roman Empire. Epicureanism nearly died out and stoicism replaced it among cultivated Greeks and Romans . . . The neo-Platonists were almost as ascetic as the Christians. From Persia the doctrine that matter is evil spread to the West, and brought with it the belief that all sexual intercourse is impure. This is, though not in an extreme form, the view of the Church."

The concept continued to prevail in the masses for centuries, affecting the nave-minded in an adversative manner. It would be a good time to analyze the factors which caused such widespread and strong acceptance of this belief. 

In the west we see that the celibacy of the Jesus Christ (PBUH) inspired them so much that marrying of saints and preachers was considered an effluence affront to their piousness. Thus, the Popes were only chosen among the non-married priests and they are bound to take an oath of celibacy for the rest of their lives. As Bertrand Russell says:

Two or three beautiful descriptions of this institution (marriage) have been culled out of the immense mass of the patristic writings; but in general, it would be difficult to conceive anything more coarse or repulsive than the manner in which they regarded it .  .  . The object of the ascetic was to attract men to a life of virginity, and as a necessary consequence, marriage was treated as an inferior state . . . To 'cut down by the axe of Virginity the wood of Marriage' was in the energetic language of St. Jerome, the end of the saint.
The church only allows marriage for two reasons: first, for the reproduction of human kind, and second, to eradicate any chances of fornication between men and women. Again quoting Bertrand Russell: 

Christianity, and more particularly St. Paul, introduced an entirely novel view of marriage that it existed not primarily for the procreation of children, but to prevent the sin of fornication.

I would like to raise the questions here: (1) Why the reproduction of the human kind is allowed by the church as it pertains to sex, and (2)  If it is necessary than why dont the priests marry as they can produce a more pious generation of the human race.

The Catholic Church on the other hand bears a different attitude; marriage is considered to be holy - an endless binding between men and women which only death can break. Divorce is not allowed; probably it has something to do with the original sin, which resulted in the expulsion of Adam and Eve from heaven in an unmarried state.

The ancient people topped every other tradition in irrational thinking towards women. Women were thought of as incomplete human beings; their existence was thought to be something in between that of the Animal and Human. They were also thought of as kind of human not containing the true spirit thus they could never make it to Heaven.

It was good that this idea wasnt accepted globally and was retained to the west only. The same belief in the 'wickedness of sexual intercourse' between men and women caused distress equally among men and women. In addition to that, such a belief has also caused a demoralizing conflict between the urge brought on through natural instinct and the religious or sectarian belief about wickedness of carnal desire and sexual intercourse. It also caused disharmony between genuine natural desires and socially induced aversion towards their fulfillment.

Islam, on the other hand, gives no indication that the natural sexual desire is evil in itself. Yet, to guard against fornication it regulates human sexuality in a humane manner. 

It is a pity that scholars, like Bertrand Russell, who have evaluated the Christian and Buddhist morals, have refrained from specifically commenting on Islamic ethics.  

In his book: Marriage and Morals, Bertrand Russell mentions in passing about Islam. For example, he says:

Great religious leaders, with the exception of Mohammad­ and Confucius - if he can be called religious - have in general been very indifferent to social and political considerations, and have sought rather to perfect the soul by meditation, discipline and self-denial.

At present, the Western world believes in respecting and freeing sexual desires and involvements through lifting of traditional moral restraints. In fact, many Westerners now favour sexual permissiveness. They contend that whatever morality has been inherited by them carries no more than a religious connotation. They claim that today's new morals are based on not only philosphical, but scientific reasons.

Unfortunately, the negative sexuality traditionally and recently evolved in the West has penetrated the moral fabric of our society, too. 

Continued . . . 

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