January 24, 2007
Jef Poskanzer has a page on his site reproducing a chart that supposedly appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle in December 1994. The chart, titled "Religion and Sexual Ethics," lists a variety of (mostly) sexual topics, and says how these topics are viewed in various religions. The topics may be categorized under these headings:
- Morally Acceptable in Most Cases
- Neutral or No Clear Position
- Morally Unacceptable in Most Cases, and
The Chronicle is said to have made the chart "based on official reports and expert advice."
So how does Buddhism do? The following items are supposedly "Blessed" in Buddhism: Masturbation, Contraceptives, Homosexual Orientation, Same-Sex Blessings in Church, and Ordination of Homosexuals. "Mostly Acceptable": Pre-marital Sex, Divorce, Homosexual Sex Acts. "Neutral": Abortion, Married Clergy, Female Clergy. "Mostly Unacceptable": Teenage Sex, Extramarital Sex. "Condemned": Nothing!
Catholicism, on the other hand, is reported to condemn everything except Masturbation (mostly unacceptable), Homosexual Orientation (neutral) and Ordination of Homosexuals (neutral). Ah-hem!
Every religion other than Catholicism and Buddhism has Ordination of Homosexuals in the Condemned or Mostly Unacceptable camp. Buddhism and Methodism are the only religions not to say Extramarital Sex earns you a one-way ticket downstairs. And every religion other than Buddhism sends people who engage in homosexual acts to hell... and so on.
Obviously this chart says more about whoever wrote it than it does about the religions it purports to categorize. But maybe it's accurate in reproducing the Western stereotype of Buddhism as a chilled-out, laid-back, do-what-feels-good religion?
-Philip Ryan, Webmaster