The concept of premarital sex is one of many tensions and contradictions in our society today. Indeed, preliminary research would have one conclude that a dichotomy exists between those liberal minded individuals who advocate promiscuity and those more traditional minds of theology who strongly oppose it. In the context of ethics, we find at the crux of the issue a debate over whether premarital sex is a moral action to be encouraged by society today. Indeed, it would seem that the issue at hand is one of diverse opinions and multifaceted approaches. There are those who advocate that human sexuality is a sacred act, one that requires the unconditional commitment of one individual to another. There are also those more liberal minded individuals who advocate a position of pre-marital sexuality that is both necessary to human development and encouraged. The former approach is one of duty and commitment, where the decision to embark upon sexual activity should not be taken lightly. Such sentiments are aligned with traditional western values and are often rooted in scripture. By contrast, the other side believes that one has a great deal to gain from having no sexual commitments and a host of sexual partners. Needless to say, it would seem that both sides fundamentally differ on what they deem a morally acceptable sexual act. As such, the goal of this paper is essentially twofold. First, to assess the arguments from their respective camps and develop a concrete understanding of the paradigm from which both positions originate. Second, to compare the approaches in light of one another in order to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the issues related to pre-marital sex in the modern era.
[...] In doing so, I will begin by examining the traditional conservative approach to pre-martial sex as it serves as a good point of origin in our discussion of the moral implications of pre-marital sex in contemporary times. In an article entitled Morality and Human Sexuality, renowned philosopher and accomplished theologian Dr. Vincent Punzo, explores the notion that pre-marital sex without commitment is wrong and should not be encouraged in our society today. In doing so, Punzo initially qualifies his position stating that the moral task of man is not perceived in exclusively negative terms. [...]
[...] For Elliston, strict adherence to the Western norm places our sex lives in a straightjacket that curtails body language. To further his point, Elliston examines the parallels between sex and eating as both appetites are apparently socially regulated concepts. In employing this example, Elliston argues that the absurdity of sexual monogamy is similar to the absurdity of only ever eating with one individual. For Elliston, loosening such restrictive Western norms promises to make our sex lives not only more physically satisfying, but also more meaningful. [...]
[...] Indeed, it would seem that for Punzo, the act of pre-marital union's results in a “depersonalization” as a couple attempts to cut off the most intimate physical expression of their respective selves from their very selfhood. While Punzo concedes that no physical or psychological harm may result from such unions, he counters that such partners have failed to existentially incorporate human sexuality into the character of their selfhood. Ultimately, the pursuit of existential integrity is one where the individual must accept their body as a dimension of their total personality. [...]
[...] As one considers Elliston's position, it is apparent that in our discussion of pre-marital sexuality we have a polarization of opinions whereby on the one hand pre-marital sex is an immoral social taboo and on the other hand it is encouraged to a level deemed promiscuous. Much like my criticism of Punzo, I believe that Elliston fails to adequately address the historical context of the issue. While our society has become quite liberal, it has not disposed of the social and cultural values that allocate sexuality as a personal matter. [...]
[...] In this light, acts of pre-marital sex become immoral as one is attempting to eliminate existential integrity, perverting the being of human existence. In analysis of Punzo's argument it is useful to consider the origins of what we have labeled the more traditional approach to issues of pre-martial sex in contemporary society. One particularly noteworthy defect I believe is prevalent in Punzo's argument is his heavy reliance on what I would refer to as a religious argument against pre-marital sex. [...]
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