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Author Topic:   Are sexual prohibitions mixing religion and the law?
randman 
Suspended Member (Idle past 3009 days)
Posts: 6367
Joined: 05-26-2005


Message 1 of 206 (261337)
11-19-2005 6:25 PM


Not sure how to express this, but I believe sexual taboos, such as multiple wives, homosexuality, multiple partners, even sex with minors, etc,...(but not rape), are more the result of moral judgments, and that a large part of morality is founded in religious beliefs though that's not the only source.

In other words, I don't think there is a very good scientific explanation why a man should remain monogamous, or why willing people, should not engage in sex. Keep in mind that I disgree with fornication, adultery, homosexuality, pedophilia and the whole she-bang. I am married and enjoy a healthy sex life, but it doesn't seem that there are but so many scientific reasons to limit willing sexual involvement, except perhaps they lead to sexual addictions.

So, for example, when we prosecute a 30 year old teacher for having sex with teen-age boys, are we imposing our religion on them?

How about if a 30 year old man sleeps with a 15 year old girl?

When we personally disdain a man for cheating on his wife, are we imposing our religious attitude in the situation? Even if we say the man has covenant with his wife, perhaps she and he would not mind it if they based their beliefs on science?

And here is the kicker. If so, does science inherently lead to amorality in terms of sexual behaviour that is non-violent?

This message has been edited by randman, 11-19-2005 06:26 PM


Replies to this message:
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mick
Member (Idle past 3096 days)
Posts: 913
Joined: 02-17-2005


Message 2 of 206 (261349)
11-19-2005 7:01 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by randman
11-19-2005 6:25 PM


Hi randman,

I'm not aware of any scientific finding that tell me whether we should deride a man for cheating on his wife.

randman writes:

I don't think there is a very good scientific explanation why a man should remain monogamous, or why willing people, should not engage in sex

That's right. There is no scientific reason, and frankly if everybody involved is willing and capable of making a judgement for themselves, there's no moral or ethical reason either.

randman writes:

Keep in mind that I disgree with fornication, adultery, homosexuality, pedophilia and the whole she-bang

Hmmmn. That's a strange list.

Fornication is, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, "Voluntary sexual intercourse between a man (in restricted use, an unmarried man) and an unmarried woman". Well, you already said there's no reason to think there's anything wrong with that. Certainly no scientific reason, and I would argue no moral or ethical reason either.

Adultery is, according to the OED, "the voluntary sexual intercourse of a married person with one of the opposite sex, whether unmarried, or married to another". Same thing applies, to the extent that the wedding vows are considered important by the "cheated" partner. I can certainly imagine a situation (i.e. wife-swapping, orgies, or what have you) where adultery would have no reason to be considered a problem according to your views.

Homosexuality is, according to the OED, "a sexual propensity for one's own sex; of or involving sexual activity with a member of one's own sex, or between individuals of the same sex." Same thing applies. There is no scientific, ethical or moral reason why it should be considered a bad thing.

Pedophilia???? It's pretty strange to include that along with homosexuality and the rest. Pedophilia is in my understanding sexual intercourse with somebody too young to give their consent. The age at which somebody can give consent is decided by law. There is no reason to think that homosexuality, adultery or fornication involves a lack of consent of one party. All of those proclivities involve consenting adults, whereas pedophilia is strictly the same as rape (because no consent was or can be given, by law).

randman writes:

when we prosecute a 30 year old teacher for having sex with teen-age boys, are we imposing our religion on them?

Well, we aren't imposing our religion on them. We're imposing a consensus view of when people are old enough to give consent. We're also imposing a view of the teacher-child relationship that was developed for centuries. There are certainly people who disagree with the idea that teachers can't sleep with their students. But I guess teachers have to work within the consensus view.

randman writes:

How about if a 30 year old man sleeps with a 15 year old girl?

Same thing applies. Did the 15 year old give consent?

randman writes:

does science inherently lead to amorality in terms of sexual behaviour that is non-violent?

What has science got to do with this? The age of consent, and the legal idea of consent, is not scientific, it's a social norm, a consensus view.

Mick

in edit: the only question worth talking about is: a) when is consent given? and b) when are people capable of giving consent? These questions are easily resolved in certain extreme situations. If you are a doctor and you have sex with a patient who is in a coma, then you've done a pretty serious crime. If you are a teacher and you have sex with a student who is ten years old, then you've done a pretty serious crime. The moral dilemma comes in the intermediate stages, what philosophers call the problem of vagueness.

As far as pedophilia is concerned, there are plenty of fifteen year-olds who are willing to give consent to sex, but there are plenty of fifteen year-olds who can be taken advantage of. The law, however, has to draw a single line for everybody. Some people fall on one side of the law, and some on the other side. In Spain, the age of consent is 13. In Saudi Arabia it is any age as long as you are married. In Tunisia it is 20.

I'm betting that there are Tunisians who have sex between the ages of 13 and 20 - and that's the problem of vagueness.

This message has been edited by mick, 11-19-2005 07:03 PM

This message has been edited by mick, 11-19-2005 07:19 PM


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 3 of 206 (261350)
11-19-2005 7:04 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by randman
11-19-2005 6:25 PM


In other words, I don't think there is a very good scientific explanation why a man should remain monogamous, or why willing people, should not engage in sex.

I think science has provided pretty clear reasons for why we both fail to practice monogamy and why we expect it from our partners.

We're the decendants, all of us, of people for whom there was nothing to prevent them from having sex. Some were "allowed", by society, tradition, or mores; some were not and did it anyway. People for whom something as flimsy as religion was enough to prevent mating simply didn't pass on any genes. Therefore it should not surprise us to discover that religious morality, or any other kind, presents little impediment to what you describe as "taboo" behavior.

So, for example, when we prosecute a 30 year old teacher for having sex with teen-age boys, are we imposing our religion on them?

How about if a 30 year old man sleeps with a 15 year old girl?

Yeah, we're mostly imposing religion on them. Holmes has put forward a pretty strong case that these relationships are not inherently damaging or harmful for any of the participants.

But there is an element of coercion involved whenever there's a disparity in power or authority. I don't think it's an imposition of religion or moral judgement to have laws or policy against a teacher having sex with their students or a parent having sex with their child. And even an age difference can represent a disparity in authority, under some situations.

When we personally disdain a man for cheating on his wife, are we imposing our religious attitude in the situation?

Certainly. We're imposing our own attitudes about what marriage means and the obligations of a spouse. We're free to do that, of course; but we should also defer to the judgement of that man's wife, don't you think? After all it is to her that he is obligated, so it is her who makes the judgement of to what degree, if any, he's violated their relationship.

If so, does science inherently lead to amorality in terms of sexual behaviour that is non-violent?

I guess I don't see what science has to do with it. Religion never stopped anybody from cheating on their spouse - science is merely the tool we used to discern truths about human conduct. Religion tells us what we're supposed to do, if you believe it - science informs us of what we actually do.

Religion tries to put a stranglehold on human sexuality, but it doesn't much matter. Humans have been having the sex that they were told not to have for the scope of human history. Science not only explains why they do, but why we told them not to, as well.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by randman, posted 11-19-2005 6:25 PM randman has responded

Replies to this message:
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Chiroptera
Member
Posts: 6532
From: Oklahoma
Joined: 09-28-2003


Message 4 of 206 (261352)
11-19-2005 7:08 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by randman
11-19-2005 6:25 PM


randman, I have to echo mick's question.

I agree that there is no scientific reason for people not to engage in various sexual behaviors, but how does this lead to the implication that science leads to such behavior?

Further, if science did lead to such behavior (which it doesn't, but let's suppose), what is the problem?


"Intellectually, scientifically, even artistically, fundamentalism -- biblical literalism -- is a road to nowhere, because it insists on fidelity to revealed truths that are not true." -- Katha Pollitt
This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 5 of 206 (261354)
11-19-2005 7:14 PM
Reply to: Message 2 by mick
11-19-2005 7:01 PM


Look for the embarassing admission down at the end
All of those proclivities involve consenting adults, whereas pedophilia is strictly the same as rape (because no consent was or can be given, by law).

I think there's a vast chasm of difference between consent as a legal construct and as a mental one. It's ridiculous to assert that somehow, you gain the mental ability to take responsibility for your own actions at the stroke of 12:01 on your birthday, where a minute before you had no such power.

In my country, we've determined that some minors had such mental maturity during the commission of a crime that they're able to stand trial for that crime as though they were adults. It's ridiculous that, with sex crimes being in essence a life sentence for the perpetrator, we cannot extend the same reasoning to mentally mature minors who made a choice that the law asserts they could not have made.

The legal construct of "age of consent" is a legal compromise, but I don't think that it should be looked at as indicative of some kind of fundamental truth about when a human is "mentally" ready for sex. To be honest with you, I'm not sure that any human is ready for the responsibilities of intercourse until after they've had it. I wasn't, and I was 20.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 2 by mick, posted 11-19-2005 7:01 PM mick has responded

Replies to this message:
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nwr
Member
Posts: 5585
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005


Message 6 of 206 (261356)
11-19-2005 7:24 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by randman
11-19-2005 6:25 PM


Don't blame science
In other words, I don't think there is a very good scientific explanation why a man should remain monogamous, or why willing people, should not engage in sex.

Science is the wrong place to look to address these questions. Politicians don't consult scientists when they legislate on these kinds of issues.

I would say that these are matters that develop in the culture. Scientists have relatively little influence on cultural trends. The entertainment industry is far more influential than is science.

So, for example, when we prosecute a 30 year old teacher for having sex with teen-age boys, are we imposing our religion on them?

No, we are enforcing our laws when we prosecute.

As for the basis of those laws - that goes back to moral and ethical questions.

If a faculty member at my university were to date a student, that might cause a few eyebrows to be raised. But it probably wouldn't cause serious concerns. If, however, the faculty member were to date a student enrolled in a class he is teaching, that would be looked at a serious problem. The difference here is that a faculty member is in a position to coerce a student enrolled in his class. The 30 year old teach having sex with a schoolboy would likewise be considered coercive. Statutory rape laws are there because of questions of coercion.

How about if a 30 year old man sleeps with a 15 year old girl?

This is statutory rape in most states, and the concerns are with coercion.

And here is the kicker. If so, does science inherently lead to amorality in terms of sexual behaviour that is non-violent?

No. Such moral positions don't come from science.

If you want to find someone to blame for current sexual behavior, I would suggest that you look at the political right. For they emphasize market forces as the correct forms of control. If you can get rich selling porn, that's okay with the right wing free marketeers.

Don't look to science as a cause.


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mick
Member (Idle past 3096 days)
Posts: 913
Joined: 02-17-2005


Message 7 of 206 (261357)
11-19-2005 7:26 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by crashfrog
11-19-2005 7:14 PM


Re: Look for the embarassing admission down at the end
Hi,

crashfrog writes:

In my country, we've determined that some minors had such mental maturity during the commission of a crime that they're able to stand trial for that crime as though they were adults. It's ridiculous that, with sex crimes being in essence a life sentence for the perpetrator, we cannot extend the same reasoning to mentally mature minors who made a choice that the law asserts they could not have made.

But that is why a fourteen year old boy who has sex with a fourteen year old girl is not put in prison, while a 50-year old man who has sex with a 14-year old boy is considered the worst of society.

God, that sounds terrible. I hereby state that I'm not a 50 year-old man and I've never had sex with a 14-year old boy.

Mick


This message is a reply to:
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randman 
Suspended Member (Idle past 3009 days)
Posts: 6367
Joined: 05-26-2005


Message 8 of 206 (261362)
11-19-2005 7:51 PM
Reply to: Message 2 by mick
11-19-2005 7:01 PM


ethical?
Hmmmn. That's a strange list.

Fornication is, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, "Voluntary sexual intercourse between a man (in restricted use, an unmarried man) and an unmarried woman". Well, you already said there's no reason to think there's anything wrong with that. Certainly no scientific reason, and I would argue no moral or ethical reason either.

Just for your clarity, I create the list to make it clear where I am coming from relative to biblical morality and ethics versus amorality or other ethics. It's meant only to make sure people know where I am coming from, not as the subject of the OP.


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randman 
Suspended Member (Idle past 3009 days)
Posts: 6367
Joined: 05-26-2005


Message 9 of 206 (261363)
11-19-2005 7:56 PM
Reply to: Message 2 by mick
11-19-2005 7:01 PM


so science is irrevalent
We're also imposing a view of the teacher-child relationship that was developed for centuries. There are certainly people who disagree with the idea that teachers can't sleep with their students. But I guess teachers have to work within the consensus view.

Now we're getting somewhere. You seem here to be admitting that the law should reflect the consensus view, and that our ethics then are very much dependant on subjective beliefs and values not determined by science.

Correct?

Considering a great deal of those ethics stem from religion, are we not imposing religious values into the law and on everyone else?

In Spain, the age of consent is 13. In Saudi Arabia it is any age as long as you are married. In Tunisia it is 20.

So this would argue that we are only speaking of cultural norms, right?


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crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 10 of 206 (261364)
11-19-2005 7:59 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by mick
11-19-2005 7:26 PM


Re: Look for the embarassing admission down at the end
But that is why a fourteen year old boy who has sex with a fourteen year old girl is not put in prison, while a 50-year old man who has sex with a 14-year old boy is considered the worst of society.

Well, so what? I mean, what about the two kids in your example? Did they just rape each other? I mean, don't you find it somewhat significant that they were able to accomplish a sexual act that, according to the law, it would have been impossible for them to decide to have?

Some people want to rape children, and these people need to be treated (read: sequestered) for the mental illness that they have. Some people, however, have entirely consensual, completely positive sex experiences with each other that the laws says that they could not possibly have. I don't see that imprisonment, and a life spent in society branded with the scarlet letter of the sex offender, is appropriate for either case. Rapist pedophiles should never be released; Romeo and Juliet shouldn't be punished at all. The fact that we treat both of these cases the same forces us to make the compromises that we do, but we're compromising between two positions that are fundamentally incompatible.


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randman 
Suspended Member (Idle past 3009 days)
Posts: 6367
Joined: 05-26-2005


Message 11 of 206 (261365)
11-19-2005 8:00 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by crashfrog
11-19-2005 7:04 PM


Holmes argues from science, right?
Yeah, we're mostly imposing religion on them. Holmes has put forward a pretty strong case that these relationships are not inherently damaging or harmful for any of the participants.

OK. But then you say you have trouble seeing how science can lead to sexual amorality. Holmes, if I remember, argued based on science, and you admit we are mostly imposing religion on people.

So, in fact, isn't reasonable to claim that science leads to amorality from your perspective at least. I think there are those that argue science indicates monogamous marriage is best for children, people, etc....so maybe science does not.'

But that's the point of the thread, and also to illustrate that perhaps some here have beliefs they are willing to impose on people based on the influence of religion.


This message is a reply to:
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randman 
Suspended Member (Idle past 3009 days)
Posts: 6367
Joined: 05-26-2005


Message 12 of 206 (261366)
11-19-2005 8:02 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by Chiroptera
11-19-2005 7:08 PM


religion vs science
I think I answered this in response to crash. let me know if you think otherwise.
This message is a reply to:
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jar
Member
Posts: 30936
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004


Message 13 of 206 (261370)
11-19-2005 8:24 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by randman
11-19-2005 6:25 PM


It appears to me that there are two entirely separate and unrelated issues here.

There are sexual issues that society has said are subject to exploitation, those involving minors and an adult. Whether or not that's a resonable position is open to question and debate, but it is not an issue related to religion.

Then there is a laundry list of items that are a problem only if religion is brought into play. There is no reason other than religion for anyone being bothered or concerned about homosexuality, multiple partners (as long as they are informed participants), multiple wives, adultery, fornication.


Aslan is not a Tame Lion
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RAZD
Member
Posts: 19819
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 10.0


Message 14 of 206 (261371)
11-19-2005 8:25 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by randman
11-19-2005 7:56 PM


Science is a non-sequitur, but ethics and philosophy apply.
You seem here to be admitting that the law should reflect the consensus view, and that our ethics then are very much dependant on subjective beliefs and values not determined by science.

I don't think anyone would argue against that, except to add a small caveat that minority {subcultures\groups\individuals} should be protected from the tyranny of the majority. Science is not about what is good or bad, that is the field of ethics with some philosophy thrown in for good measure.

Considering a great deal of those ethics stem from religion, ...

This is where you run into problems. There are a number of quite different religions in the world, so if this were the case then you would see drastically different laws and cultural ethics comparing them to ones that are all from a similar religious background. In point of fact you see a variety of laws and cultural ethics within each religious system that varies more than the differences between the religions. Across cultures there are remarkable similarities in the intents of the laws and morals and ethics. This would argue that such values can be derived through logic and rational thinking.

So this would argue that we are only speaking of cultural norms, right?

Right. And ignoring religious ones, because the culture norms are the basis for the morals and ethics, and the religious values that are adapted are ones that match the morals and ethics of the cultures. Thus we see that the religious values evolve over time to keep pace with the cultures.

Enjoy,


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand

RebelAAmerican.Zen[Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


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berberry
Inactive Member


Message 15 of 206 (261372)
11-19-2005 8:28 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by randman
11-19-2005 6:25 PM


randman writes:

quote:
Keep in mind that I disgree with fornication, adultery, homosexuality, pedophilia and the whole she-bang.

How do you do that? For instance, how do you "disagree" with homosexuality? What is there to disagree with? Do you mean that you don't want to engage in homosexuality yourself or that you want to stop other people from engaging in it?


"We look forward to hearing your vision, so we can more better do our job. That's what I'm telling you."-George W. Bush, Gulfport, Miss.,
Sept. 20, 2005.
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