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Human sexuality

Comparison of teachings by seven faith
groups on aspects of human sexuality

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Beliefs:

The San Francisco Chronicle compiled a checklist of sexual ethics "based on official reports and expert advice." 1 They included four Christian denominations (Baptists, Roman Catholicism, Methodism and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons), and three non-Christian religions (Buddhism, Islam and Judaism). By "Baptists" they seem to be referring to fundamentalist Baptists, like the Southern Baptist Convention. By "Judaism" they may be referring to Reform or Conservative faith groups.

The checklist should not be considered precise, for a number of reasons:

bullet Each column does not represent a homogeneous denomination or religion. In reality, there are often many denominations or traditions within each category. They may range from conservative to mainline and liberal.

bullet In some denominations, like the Roman Catholic church, there is a major gap between the teachings of the clergy and of the membership. It is the formal teachings of the church which are included in the table below. However, there is little difference between Protestants and Catholics in terms of the use of birth control.

bullet Some denominations allow exceptions. For example, the Roman Catholic church in the U.S. has a few married priests who transferred from the Episcopal Church.

bullet It is impossible to put a single rating on some items. The term "abortion" might be considered by some as referring to only first trimester abortion (when 90% of pregnancy terminations occur); others might consider the term as including 1st, 2nd or 3rd trimester abortions. Some abortions are performed because the woman simply does not want to be pregnant; others are after the pregnancy is triggered by rape and incest; some -- particularly later abortions -- are triggered by learning of a devastating genetic problem in the fetus.

The term "homosexual sex acts" might occur within a committed, monogamous same-sex relationship, or, at the other extreme, might refer to casual, consensual sexual activities.

bullet No single rating will reflect the beliefs of all believers within a faith group, or the beliefs of all of the leadership within the denomination.

bullet Some faith groups ordain only celibate homosexuals; others ordain homosexuals who are celibate or in a committed relationship

In the list below:

  1. means "condemned"
  2. means "morally unacceptable in most cases"
  3. means "neutral" or "no clear position"
  4. means "morally acceptable in most cases"
  5. means "blessed" or "totally acceptable"
Factor

Baptist

Methodist

Mormon

Roman Catholic

Buddhist

Islam

Judaism

Teen Sex

1

2

1

1

2

2

2

Premarital Sex

1

2

1

1

4

1

4

Extramarital Sex

1

2

1

1

2

1

1

Divorce

2

4

2

1

4

3

4

Masturbation

3

3

2

2

5

4

3

Abortion

1

3

2

1

3

3

2

Birth Control

3

5

2

1

5

5

4

Married Clergy

5

5

5

1

3

5

5

Female Clergy

2

5

2

1

3

2

5

Homosexual Orientation

2

4

2

3

5

1

4

Homosexual Sex Acts

1

1

1

1

4

1

1

Homosexual Marriage *

1

2

1

1

5

1

2

Homosexual Ordination

2

2

1

3

5

1

2

* or civil union, or domestic partnership, or registered partnership ceremony.

The "2" (morally unacceptable in most cases) rating for masturbation by the Catholic Church seems out of order. The church considers it a serious sin.

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This discussion continues on another essay

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Reference used:

  1. Jef Poskanzer's website: "Jef's Page" is at: http://www.acme.com/

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Copyright © 1997 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2011-FEB-18
Author: B.A. Robinson with data from Jef Poskanzer

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