Religion has been a very dominant influence in marriage, choice of marital partner and cohabitation. The present paper looks at various religions in India and their influence on sexual attitudes and the institution of marriage.
Sikhism, Jainism and the Parsi faith with its influence on sexuality and marriage are reviewed. Christian values and the role they play in shaping sexual notions as well Christian marriage traditions are explored. The paper also looks at the influences Islam has had on marriage and sexuality and ends with a feminist perspective on women and sexual attitudes towards women.
A growing body of research today indicates that religions play an important role in the economic, demographic, marital and sexual behavior of individuals and families, ranging from patterns of employment to fertility and marital stability. In India, there are three major faiths viz. Christianity, Islam and Hinduism. The chapter shall focus on these major faiths while touching upon various other systems of faith that occur in India.
The Old Testament of the Bible speaks poetically of the earth being built upon pillars or foundations, as a way of saying it is stable, with a moral order that will in the end be upheld by its Creator. For example, in Hannah's prayer 1 Samuel 2: We see the same idea in Psalm Again, moral order is upheld. Another way of speaking of this is to say that the world is built according to wisdom.
In the imagery of the Old Testament, this wisdom means something like the architecture of the universe. When God built the universe, like a building, he did so according to the blueprint called wisdom.
Wisdom is the fundamental underlying order according to which the universe is constructed. Sometimes we speak of the architecture of a piece of hardware or software, by which we mean the underlying structure, such that, if we understand it, we shall grasp why it behaves and responds as it does. In the same way, to live wisely in the world we need some understanding of the blueprint or architecture upon which the world is built.
Christians claim that part of this order is the proper guarding of sexual expression within the security of marriage. One argument often heard in debates is that changes in sexual behavior and family life are purely the results of cultural shifts and that there are no absolute standards or benchmarks against which to test culture.
In particular, it is suggested that cultural conservatives are no more than that, indulging in nostalgia for a mythical bygone era of family stability. When Jesus and Paul spoke about marriage, they referred back to Genesis 2: Against this, Christian people argue that we are under no illusions about some supposed magical ideal era of the past be it the s or whenever , but whatever the flows of culture, marriage is a creation ordinance, a way of life rooted in the way the world is and the way human beings are.
This is the claim. Another way in which the Bible speaks of this is by calling marriage a covenant to which God is witness Proverbs 2: When a man and woman marry, God is always watching and listening whether or not it is a church wedding , and he will hold each accountable before him for keeping their wedding promises. In my biblical and theological study of sexuality, I suggest the following working definition of marriage: Marriage is the voluntary sexual and public social union of one man and one woman from different families.
This union is patterned upon the union of God with his people, his bride, the Christ with his church. Intrinsic to this union is God's calling to lifelong exclusive sexual faithfulness.
Any serious discussion of the future of marriage requires a clear understanding of how marriage evolved over the ages, along with the causes of its most-recent transformations. The most problematic word for many 21 st century people is the second word: Surely, we ought rather to consider how marriage is evolving, the cultural and social pressures that have caused the marriage to change and be transformed, to continue changing in the years ahead, and to be different in different cultures.
If marriage is neither the result of a blind historical process nor the outcome of autonomous human construction, it follows that when a couple marry, they enter an institution whose terms are given to them. They neither invent the particular terms of their relationship nor gradually create their relationship as a project over time. Marriage is an institution within which a couple live, not an ideal to which they aspire. The difference between an ideal and an institution is important.
A couple may have in their minds some ideal and strive to move towards that in their relationship. This is deceptively similar to marriage but actually radically different because to get married is to enter a status of relationship within which the growth and maturity are to develop. Marriage needs the security of being an institution with boundaries. Within this given order the relational dynamics can safely flourish. The marriage a couple enter has a moral structure within which the Creator calls them to live. To understand this is a necessary precursor to stability and security within marriage; the alternative is the terrifying possibility that each couple must generate the terms and qualities of their particular relationship as they see fit.
So it is misleading to consider marriage simply or primarily in terms of the process of relational growth embarked upon by the couple, important though this is. To do this is to confuse living up to the calling of marriage with the given institution of marriage within which this divine calling is heard. Essentially it removes the security of entering the institution of marriage, within which we are called to live lives of mutual love and faithfulness, and replaces it with a terrifying concept of marriage as the project of each couple and their precarious process of growth in love.
This is the logical consequence of confusing the status of being married with the quality of the married relationship.
Both status and relationship are important, but if the latter is confused with the former, it removes the stability and the necessary foundation. Procreation-First, they have said that the purpose of sex is to have children. This is, of course, the obvious biological answer — or it has been obvious through most of human history. At one level this does nothing to distinguish human sexual relations from animal or plant sexual relations. Second, sex is for the purpose of deepening relationship, a vehicle for interpersonal intimacy.
The purpose of sex may be seen, it is suggested, in its benefits to the couple. These benefits may include shared pleasure, mutual comfort and companionship, and the psychological benefits of mutual affirmation and unconditional acceptance. This kind of relationship, at its best, can meet deep felt needs. Some have gone further, perhaps taking their cue from Genesis 2: The relational nature of humankind is focused in some way on the man-woman encounter. Although the Bible abhors sex-mysticism of this kind and any incorporation of eros into the divine nature, it does speak of the relationship of husband and wife, or bridegroom and bride, as a significant image of the relationship of God with his people and Christ with his church Ephesians 5: Public order: The third kind of answer is qualitatively different from the first two.
Every stable society has had to say that sex needs to be controlled and contained in some way, and has recognized that this powerful drive in human beings can do great damage if it is allowed to be expressed with no restraint. Every society has some taboos, some regulatory mechanisms, some forms of sexual behavior that are allowed and others that are forbidden. These taboos vary as social scientists and historians show us , but they always exist in some form or another.
So in one form or another, people have said that sex exists in order to be expressed in some ways but not in others. There are safe and healthy contexts for sexual intimacy, and there are dangerous and chaotic contexts. It is a mistake to think that the emancipation of sex in western society since the s has removed the existence of restraint; pedophilia and rape, for example, are still taboo.
What has happened is that the boundaries of restraint have changed. Set in the 7 th century Arab traders did more than just trading of goods. They left behind a little bit of themselves, a culture, a belief, a way of life. Northern India was invaded by Moghul rulers in the 12 th century marking the advent of swiftly spreading religious and cultural-revolution. Fulfilment of basic necessities was a remote and far-fetched dream, the rulers brought about conversion using this as their bait.
A very minscule number were converted by a genuine change of heart enlightened by the saints. Talking of a Muslim woman brings to mind a Burqah clad, plainly dressed followed by an array of children. One also thinks of oppression and lack of rights. One person does not come before the other, one is not superior to the other, and one is not the derivative of the other. A woman is not created for the purpose of a man. Rather, they are both created for the mutual benefit of each other Quran Islam defines a dress code for both men and women.
However, this construction is not universal. It is the system of free, choice by the maiden of a husband Oppenheimer VK. Try us! A woman is not created for the purpose of a man. When she was 24, she joined the app just for fun.
For a woman the dress code is a way of protecting her modesty and privacy-the face and hand being the only uncovered part of her body. Sura A man is expected to keep the portion between his navel to knee covered. Woman has been awarded the liberty to work beyond the confines of her home as long as she does so with modesty, i.
She must also prioritize her role as a wife and daughter and not neglect her primary duties. Her earnings are her personal asset and she need not contribute towards the expenses of the household. Marriage in Islam is endogamous, i. Furthermore, if a Muslim spouse converts to another religion after marriage the marriage is again void.
Polygamy being legalized by Islam is reason for tremendous debate and has raised many eyebrows in the world over. This is a very applauded and celebrated custom which safeguards the maintenance of a woman in the event of an unfortunate incident. Controversy surrounds the issue of contraception; it can be practiced when conception can be a risk to the health of the mother. Whether or not availability of resources to provide is a reason for considering contraception is an illusion. Some believe providing for a child is the responsibilty of the Almighty, and one must produce as many children as possible.
Talaq or divorce is based on a very stringent and rule bound format. Divorce or talaq to be proclaimed by the man on 3 separate occasions. Marriage is not dissolved the 1 st two times. After the 3 rd proclamation there is a waiting period of 3 months during which the maintenance of the wife and children is the responsibility of the husband.
If the differences persist divorce may be finalized after 3 months. At the time of parting he has to give her the promised mehr or dowry and supplementary ways to support herself and children. After the third proclamation if the man wishes to marry the same woman again, it is permissible only after she has consummated a marriage with another man.
Sodomy is strictly prohibited, the gravity of the situation lies in the fact that if a husband insists, woman can demand a talaq on these grounds. Also if a husband creates hindrances in a woman following her religious duties or believing in Allah, she can ask for divorce. Homosexuality is looked down upon and is strictly prohibited.
If a sexual relationship has occurred beyond the set confines of marriage both the ones involved are to be given lashes.