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Buddhist Self-Love and Blessed Contraceptives January 24, 2007

Posted by tricycleblog in Random Notes.

From the department of Wasting Your Time on the Web:

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:

  • Blessed
  • Morally Acceptable in Most Cases
  • Neutral or No Clear Position
  • Morally Unacceptable in Most Cases, and
  • Condemned

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



1. Religion and Sexual Ethics Survey (from 1994) at Heartland.SG - January 24, 2007

[…] Tricycle’s Editor’s blog has this highlighting this interesting article of a recent survey on religion and sexual ethics. Buddhist Self-Love and Blessed Contraceptives […]

2. Me - June 14, 2008

Most of the above activities represent the many facets of NORMAL human sexuality. Bless or not. Condemn or not. They won’t go away. As a student of Buddhism, I understand that Buddhism don’t waste its time in futile activities such as condemning or blessing these NORMAL human sexual activities. Buddhism rather stresses that when people participate in these sexual activities, moderation is the key. Other than extramarital sex, which is discouraged in Buddhism, I don’t think Buddhism cares either way on any of the other activities. Taking a logical stand on these issues as this article accurately portrays has nothing to do with chilling out, doing what feels good, but rather has more to do with avoid self aggravating over things that are NORMAL.

3. Jon Friend - July 2, 2008

Me’s June 14, 2008 is quite misguided. I don’t know where “Me” got his/her ideas. Abortion is generally condemned by Buddhists because it is the destruction of a sentient-being-in-process.

Regarding homosexuality, the Dalai Lama specifically said in a meeting with Buddhist leaders and human rights activists in San Francisco in 1997 that all forms of sex other than penile-vaginal sex are prohibited for Buddhists.

4. Alexander Duncan - September 21, 2013

I don’t know where you got your informaton, but the Dalai Lama has made it clear that Buddhism does not condone either masturbation or homosexual ordination. Homosexuality is tolerated in Buddhism, but homosexuals may not be ordained (in an all-male sangha, the reason is obvious) and homosexual behaviour is a wrongful sexuality. If Buddhism were to be accepted in Buddhism, it would solely be in the context of marriage of householders, or, possibly, bodhisattvas.

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