The Necessary Framework for an Ethical Analysis of Homosexual Marriage
In our modern age with such diverse customs and cultures discussion of controversial ethical issues is frequently hindered. Often religious, prejudicial and ideological beliefs become so engrained in individuals that they taint our conceptions of moral behavior. For the individual these beliefs can grow to constitute morality itself and can become the individual’s framework for viewing the world and issues within it. When this occurs, intelligent discussion of ethical issues is hindered because religiously-, prejudicially-, and/or ideologically-motivated beliefs prevent the individual from assessing the validity of such viewpoints and looking beyond the wall that he/she has put up. Therefore issues like gay marriage and premarital sex – which without religious and prejudicial slants would actually be considered amoral (neither moral nor immoral) – become the spotlights of morality and divert attention away from actual moral issues which have implications for all humans. A discussion of these perceived moral issues then becomes an emotionally charged discussion of personal beliefs which, in actuality, have no moral connotation beyond those that the individual has attached to them, and fruitful and enlightening debate is unachievable.
To prevent this scenario from occurring and to foster intelligent and purposeful discussion of ethical issues we must learn to look beyond our self-imposed biases regarding moral conduct. Bearing this in mind, it is apparent that in order for fruitful discussion of ethical issues to occur it is essential that individuals first evaluate personal beliefs, recognize the religious, prejudicial and cultural influences that have led to such beliefs, and finally attempt to detach themselves from and not let such beliefs cloud any discussion of moral issues.
Yet, not all persons are capable of assessing personal beliefs that carry strong emotional convictions. Likewise, many people may not even be aware that a certain prejudice is present in their viewpoint or may not be aware that a certain belief will hinder a discussion. Because this is often the case it is important to define that which is ethical and moral and only extend a discussion to issues which directly fit under this category. Similarly, one needs to understand the difference and distinguish between ethical/moral issues and cultural/social taboos. Subsequently one must recognize the biases within one’s culturally-shaped perceptions of the world and of morality. In order to accurately achieve this distinction it is necessary to have a working definition of morality applicable to all humanity. For the purposes of this paper I will regard moral and ethical (and all of the derivatives thereof) as interchangeable terms. I define morality as a code of conduct that can be put forward and recognized by all rational persons and which can be applied unbiased and non-discriminatorily to all human begins, regardless of race, orientation, and religious or cultural creed. Given this definition, we see that many morally-tainted issues like homosexuality and premarital sex are not, in fact, true moral issues. It would be absurd to propose that all homosexuals and all persons engaging in sex prior to marriage – which when combined constitute a significant portion of the population – are non-rational humans. We see that the stigma of immorality attached to such actions is actually culturally and socially driven by religious and/or prejudicial beliefs, which then become confused with morality. Subsequently, an intelligent discussion of ethical issues would not concern itself with judging the rightness or wrongness of such actions. Such issues can only be fruitfully discussed when religious and prejudice beliefs are set aside. For example, a productive discussion of a controversial issue like same-sex marriage or homosexuality - which carries emotional and/or...
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