A Tale of Two Boxes: Contrasting Sexual Ethics

Let’s imagine everyone has two boxes, one in which they place all the sexual acts they believe are wrong, and the other in which they place all the sexual acts they believe are okay. Not only do conservatives and progressives divide acts differently between the two boxes, they also label the two boxes differently. (I’ve already discussed this illustration in posts on political rhetoric regarding gay marriage and evangelical views of rape, but I wanted to set it on its own for those who may want to link to it.)

We could add boxes for the Catholic view, which, rather than simply being based on what God directly commands or forbids, is based on “Natural Law” and holds that sex must be both procreative and unitive (thus marital sex using birth control would go in the “not okay” box because it separates sex from its procreative purpose and rape would go in the “not okay” box because it is not unitive). Furthermore, members of progressive religious schools of thought may subdivide the “consensual” box into what is permitted or not permitted by their religious beliefs. In many ways, then, the illustration above serves as a starting point for discussion, not a be-all end-all.

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