Sexual ethics or sex ethics also sexual morality — for closer distinction see section below is the study of ethics in relation to human sexuality , and sexual behavior. Sexual ethics seeks to understand, evaluate, and critique the conduct of interpersonal relationships and sexual activities from social, cultural, and philosophical perspectives. Sexual ethics involve issues such as gender identification , sexual orientation , consent , sexual relations , and procreation. Sex has historically been an issue of great importance to people in cultures all over the world, and as such is a pertinent topic of discussion and study. As sex is a social practice that varies widely in the ways that it is understood, performed, and discussed, there is much to be said for a critical and comprehensive study of sexual ethics and norms.
Kant, Immanuel. Mappes and James S. Princeton, N. Many sexual activities can be physically or psychologically risky, dangerous, or harmful. See also: Homosexuality and Sodomy. Is it always true that Mexican milf braces blowjob presence of any kind of pressure put on one person by another amounts to coercion that negates the voluntary nature of consent, so that subsequent seduality activity is morally wrong? Issuws International Journal of Ethics. We can also evaluate sexual activity again, either a particular occurrence of a sexual act Moral issues on sexuality a specific type of sexual activity nonmorally : nonmorally "good" sex is sexual activity that provides pleasure to the Moral issues on sexuality or is physically or emotionally satisfying, while nonmorally "bad" sex is unexciting, tedious, boring, unenjoyable, or even unpleasant.
Women in wicked weasel bikinis. An encyclopedia of philosophy articles written by professional philosophers.
They might claim the moral right to have sex with anyone they want or have the "right" to marry a person of the same sex, but on what are their morals and rights based? Maybe that's why God says:. Get the Spiritual Adventure Moral issues on sexuality. Are homosexuality and homosexual marriage moral issues? Latex table span, this is stated in an attempt to distance themselves from ethics and sisues on the social and political agenda to promote homosexuality. Marriage commitment and sexual conduct are both laced with moral issues such as 1 What ought marriage be defined as? While some believe that sex should Amoxicillin gonorrhea practiced only in order to procreate or only in accordance with the mandates issuea their religions, Objectivism holds that sex is morally important because it can promote one's life and happiness. Issufs factors such as genetics and prenatal development play substantial roles in determining sexual orientation. While many conservatives believe that homosexuality should sexualiyy outlawed and many liberals believe that homosexuals should be given special rights, Objectivism holds that as long as no force is involved, people have the right to do as they please in sexual matters, whether or not their behavior is considered by others to be or is in fact moral. Second, if a society determines what is right morally, then why did the homosexuals work against society to get the moral standards changed to agree with their moral preferences? When we enter a relationship with Him, He produces these qualities in our lives. The few times Ayn Rand spoke publicly about homosexuality, her remarks were disparaging. Objectivism holds that issuee is morally important, but zexuality for the Moral issues on sexuality cited reasons.
- The morality of homosexuality is not a philosophical issue per se, but one can use Objectivist principles to evaluate the morality of homosexuality in any given situation.
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Sexual ethics or sex ethics also sexual morality — for closer distinction see section below is the study of ethics in relation to human sexuality , and sexual behavior. Sexual ethics seeks to understand, evaluate, and critique the conduct of interpersonal relationships and sexual activities from social, cultural, and philosophical perspectives.
Sexual ethics involve issues such as gender identification , sexual orientation , consent , sexual relations , and procreation. Sex has historically been an issue of great importance to people in cultures all over the world, and as such is a pertinent topic of discussion and study.
As sex is a social practice that varies widely in the ways that it is understood, performed, and discussed, there is much to be said for a critical and comprehensive study of sexual ethics and norms.
Historically, the prevailing notions of what was deemed as sexually ethical have been tied to religious values. The terms ethics and morality are often used interchangeably, but sometimes ethics is reserved for interpersonal interactions and morality is used to cover both interpersonal and inherent questions. In philosophic terminology, hedonism is the idea that the only intrinsic good is pleasure , making selfish pleasures their primary goal.
This may be combined with nihilism in a selfish morality, or with utilitarianism to seek maximization of happiness for everyone. Many practical questions arise regarding human sexuality , such as whether sexual norms should be enforced by law, given social approval, or changed.
Answers to these questions can be considered on a scale from social liberalism to social conservatism. Considerable controversy continues over which system of ethics or morality best promotes human happiness, and which, if any, is inherently right. Many cultures consider ethics to be intertwined with religious faith. Some acts that might be considered ethical or unethical from a religious standpoint include:.
From a human rights and international law perspective, consent is a key issue in sexual ethics. Nevertheless, historically, this has not necessarily been the case. The criminalization of marital rape is very recent, having occurred during the past few decades, and the act is still legal in many places around the world.
In the UK, marital rape was made illegal as recently as For instance, adultery and homosexual acts remain illegal in many countries; and in five countries and in parts of two others, homosexual acts carry the death penalty. Sexual ethics also considers whether a person is capable of giving consent and the sort of acts they can consent to.
In western countries, the legal concept of " informed consent " often sets the public standards on this issue. Children, the mentally handicapped, the mentally ill, animals, prisoners, and people under the influence of drugs like alcohol might be considered in certain situations as lacking an ability to give informed consent. In the United States, Maouloud Baby v. State is a state court case ruling that a person can withdraw sexual consent and that continuing sexual activity in the absence of consent may constitute rape.
Sexual acts which are illegal, and often considered unethical, because of the absence of consent include rape and molestation. Enthusiastic consent, as expressed in the slogan "Yes means yes," rather than marriage, is typically the focus of liberal sexual ethics. Feminists aim to redefine feminine sexuality in this world.
The primary concern of feminists is that a woman should have the right to control her own sexuality. The woman's freedom of choice, regarding her sexuality, takes precedence over family, community, state, and church. Based on historical and cultural context, feminist views on sexuality has widely varied. Sexual representation in the media, the sex industry, and related topics pertaining to sexual consent are all questions which feminist theory attempts to address.
The debate resulting from the divergence of feminist attitudes culminated in the late s and the s. The resulting discursive dualism was one which contrasted those feminists who believed that patriarchal structure made consent impossible under certain conditions, whereas sex-positive feminists attempted to redefine and regain control of what it means to be a woman.
Questions of sexual ethics remain relevant to feminist theory. Early feminists were accused of being 'wanton' as a consequence of stating that just as for men, women did not necessarily have to have sex with the intention of reproducing. Setting a standard for reciprocity in relationships fundamentally changed notions of sexuality from one of duty to one of intimacy.
Age of consent is also a key issue in sexual ethics. It is a controversial question of whether or not minors should be allowed to have sex for recreation or engage in sexual activities such as sexting.
The debate includes whether or not minors can meaningfully consent to have sex with each other, and whether they can meaningfully consent to have sex with adults. In many places in the world, people are not legally allowed to have sex until they reach a set age. In all cultures, consensual sexual intercourse is acceptable within marriage. In some cultures sexual intercourse outside marriage is controversial, if not totally unacceptable, or even illegal.
In some countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan,  Afghanistan,   Iran,  Kuwait,  Maldives,  Morocco,  Oman,  Mauritania,  United Arab Emirates,   Sudan,  Yemen,  any form of sexual activity outside marriage is illegal. As the philosopher Michel Foucault has noted, such societies often create spaces or heterotopias outside themselves where sex outside marriage can be practiced.
According to his theory, this was the reason for the often unusual sexual ethics displayed by persons living in brothels, asylums, onboard ships, or in prisons. Sexual expression was freed of social controls in such places whereas, within society, sexuality has been controlled through the institution of marriage which socially sanctions the sex act.
When one member of a marital union has sexual intercourse with another person without the consent of their spouse, it may be considered to be infidelity. In some cultures, this act may be considered ethical if the spouse consents, or acceptable as long as the partner is not married while other cultures might view any sexual intercourse outside marriage as unethical, with or without consent. Various cultures have different attitudes about the ethics of such behavior, some condemning it while others view it to be normal and acceptable.
Premarital sex is sexual activity between two people who are not married to each other. Usually, both parties are unmarried. This might be objected to on religious or moral grounds , while individual views within a given society can vary greatly.
Extramarital sex is sex occurring outside marriage, usually referring to when a married person engages in sexual activity with someone other than their marriage partner. Commonly there are moral as well as religious objections to sexual relationships by a married person outside the marriage, and such activity is often referred to in law or religion as adultery.
Others call it infidelity or "cheating". In contrast, there are some cultures, groups or individual relationships in which extramarital sex is an accepted norm.
In today's western cultures some people practice " polyamory ", otherwise known as responsible non-monogamy, or " open marriage ". The ethical practice of this necessitates honest dialogue and consent of all those involved.
This is often considered unethical simply as a breach of trust. Child-parent incest is also seen as an abuse of a position of trust and power, in addition to the inability of a child to give consent. Many professional organizations have rules forbidding sexual relations between members and their clients.
Examples in many countries include psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, doctors, and lawyers. In addition, laws exist against this kind of abuse of power by priests, preachers, teachers, religious counselors, and coaches. In countries where public health is considered a public concern, there is also the issue of how sex impacts the health of individuals.
In such circumstances, where there are health impacts resulting from certain sexual activities, there is the question of whether individuals have an ethical responsibility to the public at large for their behavior. Such concerns might involve the regular periodic testing for sexually transmitted diseases , disclosure of infection with sexually transmitted diseases , responsibility for taking safer sex precautions, ethics of sex without using contraception, leading to an increased level of unplanned pregnancies and unwanted children, and just what amount of personal care an individual needs to take in order to meet his or her requisite contribution to the general health of a nation's citizens.
Legal and social dress codes are often related to sexuality. In the United States, there are many rules against nudity. An individual cannot be naked even on their own property if the public can see them. These laws are often considered a violation to the constitution regarding freedom of expression. It is said that common sense needs to be used when deciding whether or not nudity is appropriate. However, in Hawaii, Texas, New York, Maine, and Ohio allow all women to go topless at all locations that let men be shirtless.
In California it is not illegal to hike in the nude, however it is frowned upon. Also in state parks it is legal to sunbathe in the nude unless a private citizen complains then you are to be removed from the premise by force if the individual doesn't comply.
Breastfeeding in public is considered wrong and mothers are encouraged to either cover themselves in a blanket or go to the restroom to breastfeed their newborn. There are no actual laws that prohibit the action of breastfeeding in public except two places in Illinois and Missouri. Various sexual acts are traded for money or other goods across the world.
Ethical positions on sex work may depend on the type of sex act traded and the conditions in which it is traded, there are for example additional ethical concerns over the abrogation of autonomy in the situation of trafficked sex workers.
Sex work has been a particularity divisive issue within feminism. Some feminists may regard sex work as an example of societal oppression of the sex workers by the patriarchy.
The ethical argument underlying this position is that despite the apparent consent of the sex worker, the choice to engage in sex work is often not an autonomous choice, because of economic, familial or societal pressures. Sex work may also be seen as an objectification of women.
An opposing view held by other feminists such as Wendy McElroy is that sex work is a means of empowering women, the argument here being that in sex work women are able to extract psychological and financial power over men which is a justified correction of the power unbalance inherent in a patriarchal society. Some feminists regard to sex work as simply a form of labor which is neither morally good or bad, but subject to the same difficulties of other labor forms. If sex work is accepted as unethical, there is then the dispute over which parties of the contract are responsible for the ethical or legal breach.
Traditionally, in many societies, the legal and ethical burden of guilt has been placed largely on the sex worker rather than consumers. In recent decades, some countries such as Sweden , Norway and Iceland have rewritten their laws to outlaw the buying of sexual services but not its sale although they still retain laws and use enforcement tactics which sex workers say are deleterious to their safety, such as pressuring to have sex workers evicted from their residences .
There are three different approaches to gender identity and sexuality. These three different approaches are the "person-centered", "rights-based", and "deconstructive" which draws on ideas from Queer Theory. The debate between sexuality being predetermined and developed throughout a person's life is further talked about.
Despite the opinions of these commenters, we can talk about the two different opinions about sexuality. One opinion is that sexuality is something someone is born with and will not be changed. Someone may choose to suppress their sexuality or behave differently from it due to their family or society. The other opinion is that sexuality is developed based on someone's environment and sexual relationships.
See also queer theory. In ancient Athens , sexual attraction between men was the norm. In the Levant, however, persons who committed homosexual acts were stoned to death at the same period in history that young Alcibiades attempted to seduce Socrates to glean wisdom from him. As presented by Plato in his Symposium, Socrates did not "dally" with young Alcibiades, and instead treated him as his father or brother would when they spent the night sharing a blanket.
And in Xenophon's Symposium Socrates strongly speaks against men kissing each other, saying that doing so will make them slavish, i.
These questions, and others like them, are largely ignored by the homosexual crowd. He is not demanding that we become loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind people. She said that homosexuality is a manifestation of psychological "flaws, corruptions, errors, [and] unfortunate premises" and that it is both "immoral" and "disgusting" "The Moratorium on Brains," Ford Hall Forum Lecture [Boston, ]. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines morality: "descriptively to refer to some codes of conduct put forward by a society or, some other group, such as a religion, or accepted by an individual for her own behavior or normatively to refer to a code of conduct that, given specified conditions, would be put forward by all rational persons. Things like STDs, unplanned pregnancies, habits that would make a partner wonder if the other one is being faithful. Often, this is stated in an attempt to distance themselves from ethics and focus on the social and political agenda to promote homosexuality.
Moral issues on sexuality. Is Homosexuality Moral?
Articles on Ethical Issues of Human Sexuality | Culture of Life Foundation
Among the many topics explored by the philosophy of sexuality are procreation, contraception, celibacy, marriage, adultery, casual sex, flirting, prostitution, homosexuality, masturbation, seduction, rape, sexual harassment, sadomasochism, pornography, bestiality, and pedophilia. What do all these things have in common?
All are related in various ways to the vast domain of human sexuality. That is, they are related, on the one hand, to the human desires and activities that involve the search for and attainment of sexual pleasure or satisfaction and, on the other hand, to the human desires and activities that involve the creation of new human beings.
For it is a natural feature of human beings that certain sorts of behaviors and certain bodily organs are and can be employed either for pleasure or for reproduction, or for both. The philosophy of sexuality explores these topics both conceptually and normatively. Conceptual analysis is carried out in the philosophy of sexuality in order to clarify the fundamental notions of sexual desire and sexual activity. Conceptual analysis is also carried out in attempting to arrive at satisfactory definitions of adultery, prostitution, rape, pornography, and so forth.
Conceptual analysis for example: what are the distinctive features of a desire that make it sexual desire instead of something else? In what ways does seduction differ from nonviolent rape? Normative philosophy of sexuality inquires about the value of sexual activity and sexual pleasure and of the various forms they take. Thus the philosophy of sexuality is concerned with the perennial questions of sexual morality and constitutes a large branch of applied ethics.
Normative philosophy of sexuality investigates what contribution is made to the good or virtuous life by sexuality, and tries to determine what moral obligations we have to refrain from performing certain sexual acts and what moral permissions we have to engage in others. Some philosophers of sexuality carry out conceptual analysis and the study of sexual ethics separately. They believe that it is one thing to define a sexual phenomenon such as rape or adultery and quite another thing to evaluate it.
Other philosophers of sexuality believe that a robust distinction between defining a sexual phenomenon and arriving at moral evaluations of it cannot be made, that analyses of sexual concepts and moral evaluations of sexual acts influence each other.
Whether there actually is a tidy distinction between values and morals, on the one hand, and natural, social, or conceptual facts , on the other hand, is one of those fascinating, endlessly debated issues in philosophy, and is not limited to the philosophy of sexuality. Our moral evaluations of sexual activity are bound to be affected by what we view the nature of the sexual impulse, or of sexual desire, to be in human beings. In this regard there is a deep divide between those philosophers that we might call the metaphysical sexual optimists and those we might call the metaphysical sexual pessimists.
The pessimists in the philosophy of sexuality, such as St. On the other side of the divide are the metaphysical sexual optimists Plato, in some of his works, sometimes Sigmund Freud, Bertrand Russell, and many contemporary philosophers who perceive nothing especially obnoxious in the sexual impulse.
The particular sort of metaphysics of sex one believes will influence one's subsequent judgments about the value and role of sexuality in the good or virtuous life and about what sexual activities are morally wrong and which ones are morally permissible. Let's explore some of these implications. An extended version of metaphysical pessimism might make the following claims: In virtue of the nature of sexual desire, a person who sexually desires another person objectifies that other person, both before and during sexual activity.
Sex, says Kant, "makes of the loved person an Object of appetite. Taken by itself it is a degradation of human nature" Lectures on Ethics , p. Certain types of manipulation and deception seem required prior to engaging in sex with another person, or are so common as to appear part of the nature of the sexual experience. As Bernard Baumrim makes the point, "sexual interaction is essentially manipulative—physically, psychologically, emotionally, and even intellectually" "Sexual Immorality Delineated," p.
And when one person sexually desires another, the other person's body, his or her lips, thighs, toes, and buttocks are desired as the arousing parts they are, distinct from the person. The other's genitals, too, are the object of our attention: "sexuality is not an inclination which one human being has for another as such, but is an inclination for the sex of another. Further, the sexual act itself is peculiar, with its uncontrollable arousal, involuntary jerkings, and its yearning to master and consume the other person's body.
During the act, a person both loses control of himself and loses regard for the humanity of the other. Our sexuality is a threat to the other's personhood; but the one who is in the grip of desire is also on the verge of losing his or her personhood. The one who desires depends on the whims of another person to gain satisfaction, and becomes as a result a jellyfish, susceptible to the demands and manipulations of the other: "In desire you are compromised in the eyes of the object of desire, since you have displayed that you have designs which are vulnerable to his intentions" Roger Scruton, Sexual Desire , p.
A person who proposes an irresistible sexual offer to another person may be exploiting someone made weak by sexual desire see Virginia Held, "Coercion and Coercive Offers," p. In this act a human being makes himself into a thing, which conflicts with the right of humanity in his own person" Kant, Metaphysics of Morals , p. Those engaged in sexual activity make themselves willingly into objects for each other merely for the sake of sexual pleasure.
Hence both persons are reduced to the animal level. They make of humanity an instrument for the satisfaction of their lusts and inclinations, and dishonour it by placing it on a level with animal nature" Kant, Lectures , p. Finally, due to the insistent nature of the sexual impulse, once things get going it is often hard to stop them in their tracks, and as a result we often end up doing things sexually that we had never planned or wanted to do.
Given such a pessimistic metaphysics of human sexuality, one might well conclude that acting on the sexual impulse is always morally wrong.
That might, indeed, be precisely the right conclusion to draw, even if it implies the end of Homo sapiens. This doomsday result is also implied by St. Paul's praising, in 1 Corinthians 7, sexual celibacy as the ideal spiritual state. Regarding the bodily activities that both lead to procreation and produce sexual pleasure, it is their procreative potential that is singularly significant and bestows value on these activities; seeking pleasure is an impediment to morally virtuous sexuality, and is something that should not be undertaken deliberately or for its own sake.
Such views are common among Christian thinkers, for example, St. Augustine: "A man turns to good use the evil of concupiscence, and is not overcome by it, when he bridles and restrains its rage.
Metaphysical sexual optimists suppose that sexuality is a bonding mechanism that naturally and happily joins people together both sexually and nonsexually. Hence the pursuit of sexual pleasure does not require much intricate justification; sexual activity surely need not be confined to marriage or directed at procreation. The good and virtuous life, while including much else, can also include a wide variety and extent of sexual relations. See Russell Vannoy's spirited defense of the value of sexual activity for its own sake, in Sex Without Love.
Irving Singer is a contemporary philosopher of sexuality who expresses well one form of metaphysical optimism: "For though sexual interest resembles an appetite in some respects, it differs from hunger or thirst in being an interpersonal sensitivity, one that enables us to delight in the mind and character of other persons as well as in their flesh.
Though at times people may be used as sexual objects and cast aside once their utility has been exhausted, this is no[t]. By awakening us to the living presence of someone else, sexuality can enable us to treat this other being as just the person he or she happens to be. There is nothing in the nature of sexuality as such that necessarily. On the contrary, sex may be seen as an instinctual agency by which persons respond to one another through their bodies" The Nature of Love , vol.
Pausanias, in Plato's Symposium a-3, e, d , asserts that sexuality in itself is neither good nor bad. He recognizes, as a result, that there can be morally bad and morally good sexual activity, and proposes a corresponding distinction between what he calls "vulgar" eros and "heavenly" eros. A person who has vulgar eros is one who experiences promiscuous sexual desire, has a lust that can be satisfied by any partner, and selfishly seeks only for himself or herself the pleasures of sexual activity.
A similar distinction between sexuality per se and eros is described by C. Lewis in his The Four Loves chapter 5 , and it is perhaps what Allan Bloom has in mind when he writes, "Animals have sex and human beings have eros, and no accurate science [or philosophy] is possible without making this distinction" Love and Friendship , p. The divide between metaphysical optimists and metaphysical pessimists might, then, be put this way: metaphysical pessimists think that sexuality, unless it is rigorously constrained by social norms that have become internalized, will tend to be governed by vulgar eros, while metaphysical optimists think that sexuality, by itself, does not lead to or become vulgar, that by its nature it can easily be and often is heavenly.
See the entry, Philosophy of Love. Of course, we can and often do evaluate sexual activity morally : we inquire whether a sexual act—either a particular occurrence of a sexual act the act we are doing or want to do right now or a type of sexual act say, all instances of homosexual fellatio —is morally good or morally bad. For example: a spouse might have a moral obligation to engage in sex with the other spouse; it might be morally permissible for married couples to employ contraception while engaging in coitus; one person's agreeing to have sexual relations with another person when the former has no sexual desire of his or her own but does want to please the latter might be an act of supererogation ; and rape and incest are commonly thought to be morally wrong.
Note that if a specific type of sexual act is morally wrong say, homosexual fellatio , then every instance of that type of act will be morally wrong. However, from the fact that the particular sexual act we are now doing or contemplate doing is morally wrong, it does not follow that any specific type of act is morally wrong; the sexual act that we are contemplating might be wrong for lots of different reasons having nothing to do with the type of sexual act that it is.
For example, suppose we are engaging in heterosexual coitus or anything else , and that this particular act is wrong because it is adulterous. The wrongfulness of our sexual activity does not imply that heterosexual coitus in general or anything else , as a type of sexual act, is morally wrong. In some cases, of course, a particular sexual act will be wrong for several reasons: not only is it wrong because it is of a specific type say, it is an instance of homosexual fellatio , but it is also wrong because at least one of the participants is married to someone else it is wrong also because it is adulterous.
We can also evaluate sexual activity again, either a particular occurrence of a sexual act or a specific type of sexual activity nonmorally : nonmorally "good" sex is sexual activity that provides pleasure to the participants or is physically or emotionally satisfying, while nonmorally "bad" sex is unexciting, tedious, boring, unenjoyable, or even unpleasant.
An analogy will clarify the difference between morally evaluating something as good or bad and nonmorally evaluating it as good or bad. This radio on my desk is a good radio, in the nonmoral sense, because it does for me what I expect from a radio: it consistently provides clear tones. Similarly, sexual activity can be nonmorally good if it provides for us what we expect sexual activity to provide, which is usually sexual pleasure, and this fact has no necessary moral implications..
It is not difficult to see that the fact that a sexual activity is perfectly nonmorally good, by abundantly satisfying both persons, does not mean by itself that the act is morally good: some adulterous sexual activity might well be very pleasing to the participants, yet be morally wrong.
Further, the fact that a sexual activity is nonmorally bad, that is, does not produce pleasure for the persons engaged in it, does not by itself mean that the act is morally bad. Unpleasant sexual activity might occur between persons who have little experience engaging in sexual activity they do not yet know how to do sexual things, or have not yet learned what their likes and dislikes are , but their failure to provide pleasure for each other does not mean by itself that they perform morally wrongful acts.
Thus the moral evaluation of sexual activity is a distinct enterprise from the nonmoral evaluation of sexual activity, even if there do remain important connections between them.
For example, the fact that a sexual act provides pleasure to both participants, and is thereby nonmorally good, might be taken as a strong, but only prima facie good, reason for thinking that the act is morally good or at least has some degree of moral value.
Indeed, utilitarians such as Jeremy Bentham and even John Stuart Mill might claim that, in general, the nonmoral goodness of sexual activity goes a long way toward justifying it. Another example: if one person never attempts to provide sexual pleasure to his or her partner, but selfishly insists on experiencing only his or her own pleasure, then that person's contribution to their sexual activity is morally suspicious or objectionable.
But that judgment rests not simply on the fact that he or she did not provide pleasure for the other person, that is, on the fact that the sexual activity was for the other person nonmorally bad. It is another thing to wonder, nonetheless, about the emotional or psychological connections between the moral quality of sexual activity and its nonmoral quality. Whether that is true likely depends on what we mean by "morally good" sexuality and on certain features of human moral psychology.
What would our lives be like, if there were always a neat correspondence between the moral quality of a sexual act and its nonmoral quality? I am not sure what such a human sexual world would be like. But examples that violate such a neat correspondence are at the present time, in this world, easy to come by. A sexual act might be both morally and nonmorally good: consider the exciting and joyful sexual activity of a newly-married couple. But a sexual act might be morally good and nonmorally bad: consider the routine sexual acts of this couple after they have been married for ten years.
A sexual act might be morally bad yet nonmorally good: one spouse in that couple, married for ten years, commits adultery with another married person and finds their sexual activity to be extraordinarily satisfying. And, finally, a sexual act might be both morally and nonmorally bad: the adulterous couple get tired of each other, eventually no longer experiencing the excitement they once knew. A world in which there was little or no discrepancy between the moral and the nonmoral quality of sexual activity might be a better world than ours, or it might be worse.
Sometimes that a sexual activity is acknowledged to be morally wrong contributes all by itself to its being nonmorally good. Whether a particular sexual act or a specific type of sexual act provides sexual pleasure is not the only factor in judging its nonmoral quality: pragmatic and prudential considerations also figure into whether a sexual act, all things considered, has a preponderance of nonmoral goodness. Many sexual activities can be physically or psychologically risky, dangerous, or harmful.
Anal coitus, for example, whether carried out by a heterosexual couple or by two gay males, can damage delicate tissues and is a mechanism for the potential transmission of various HIV viruses as is heterosexual genital intercourse. Thus in evaluating whether a sexual act will be overall nonmorally good or bad, not only its anticipated pleasure or satisfaction must be counted, but also all sorts of negative undesired side effects: whether the sexual act is likely to damage the body, as in some sadomasochistic acts, or transmit any one of a number of venereal diseases, or result in an unwanted pregnancy, or even whether one might feel regret, anger, or guilt afterwards as a result of having engaged in a sexual act with this person, or in this location, or under these conditions, or of a specific type.
Indeed, all these pragmatic and prudential factors also figure into the moral evaluation of sexual activity: intentionally causing unwanted pain or discomfort to one's partner, or not taking adequate precautions against the possibility of pregnancy, or not informing one's partner of a suspected case of genital infection but see David Mayo's provocative dissent, in "An Obligation to Warn of HIV Infection?
Thus, depending on what particular moral principles about sexuality one embraces, the various ingredients that constitute the nonmoral quality of sexual acts can influence one's moral judgments.