FB's book - THE SEX CODE
Weidenfeld & Nicolson
||Doc. No. 1991.005.295
The Sixty Precepts
ARRANGEMENT OF HEADINGS
Note. Below is a collection of the sixty moral
precepts which are set out in various places in the body of the book and constitute the
Code. The numbers in square brackets after each precept is that of the page on which
Ethics and sex
1. The concept of secular morality.
2. Secular sexual morality.
3. The duty of ethical understanding.
4. The duty of ethical action.
5. The present Code.
6. Interpreting the Code.
Accepting our sexuality
7. The duty of sex-acceptance.
9. Sex in the workplace.
10. Nudity and exhibitionism.
11. Toleration of harmless sexual disorders.
Respecting our sexuality
12. The duty of sex-respect.
13. The right to sexual privacy.
14. Sex with animals.
Fulfilling our sexual natures
15. The duty of sex-fulfilment.
16. Acquiring and improving sexual techniques.
17. Celibacy and chastity.
18. Sex for the disabled.
19. Sex for service personnel.
20. Sex for prisoners.
21. Types of sexual act.
22. Consent to sexual acts.
23. Sexual harassment.
24. Solitary sex.
25. Troilism and orgies.
26. Sex between persons of different race.
27. Harmful sexual acts.
Pair-bonding and marriage
29. The social institution of marriage.
30. Open sexual relationships.
31. Passing as single.
33. Sterilisation of a marriage partner.
Conception, pregnancy and lactation
35. The decision to propagate.
36. Every child a wanted child.
37. Propagation of mixed-race children.
38. Artificially induced pregnancy.
39. The defective fœtus.
40. Adverse actions during pregnancy.
41. Breast-feeding in public.
42. Morality of contraception.
43. Deceit as to possibility of conception.
44. Abortion of non-viable fœtus.
45. Abortion of viable fœtus.
46. Anti-abortion campaigning.
47. Parents' duty to rear their child.
48. Sex education.
49. Consent by young people to sexual acts.
50. Same-gender sex acts.
51. Discrimination against homosexuals.
52. Promoting homosexuality.
53. Payment for sex.
54. Treatment of prostitutes.
55. Categories of pornography.
56. Non-erotic pornography.
57. Perverted or debased pornography.
58. Stimulative pornography.
59. Educational and artistic pornography.
60. Political or destabilising pornography.
I. ETHICS AND SEX
The concept of secular morality
1. Though non-believers cannot accept religion, they acknowledge
right and wrong. They wish to make the best of themselves, and out of common sympathy
also wish the best for their fellow humans. Without
any supposed divine command or revelation, they accept that human acts are moral, immoral or morally
neutral. They perceive that this indicates the existence, in some sense that is real, of an
objective standard of ethics (referred to in this book as 'the ethical code') whose sole
base is in human reason and the human conscience.
Secular sexual morality
2. In the sexual field we all have a duty to be good, that is to act
morally. This is part
of our general duty, laid down by the ethical code, to act morally in every area of our life. Because
the ethical code requires us to strive at all times and in all ways to be virtuous, it follows that
we should strive to be virtuous in our sexual life. Indeed, since sexual wickedness can cause
untold harm and distress, the duty to be good is particularly strong in this area.
duty of ethical understanding
3. No one can be sure of acting morally in a given situation, or
responding with moral correctness to the act of another, unless they know and understand
what is called for by the ethical code. Therefore
we should try to absorb its principles to the fullest extent of our capacity. This we may call the
duty of ethical understanding.
The duty of ethical action
4. We should comply with the ethical code not only
directly but indirectly. It guides our own sexual acts and also our response to the
sexual acts of others. What we must not do ourselves, we must not
countenance others doing. What it is our duty to do, it is our duty to help others do also.
All this may be called the duty of ethical action.
5. Because the ethical code cannot be known in precise detail its
prescriptions may be unclear in particular
cases, and cannot be free from dispute. The present text (referred to in this book as 'the
Code') attempts to formulate the ethical code, so far as it relates specifically to human sexuality,
in a form most likely to produce certainty and command agreement in the modern western secular culture.
Interpreting the Code
6. It is important to bear in mind when reading the Code that its
effect is intended to be cumulative. Each precept is subject to limitations stated
elsewhere in the Code, and also by precepts of the
ethical code not specific to sexual matters. The Code is concerned only with morality, and pays no
regard to law or aesthetics. In the Code references to acts include omissions.
II. ACCEPTING OUR SEXUALITY
duty of sex-acceptance
7. Since we are all sexual beings we should look upon our own or
another's sexual organs, functions
and desires positively, with welcoming acceptance that they exist and work (the duty of sex acceptance). We
should never look on them negatively, with dislike, regret or contempt. This does not mean that remediable
sexual disorders ought to be accepted as they are, or that immoral sexual behaviour should be tolerated.
8. Because of negative conditioning, guilt about the mere existence
of sexuality (sex guilt) is endemic in western culture. Yet the duty of sex-acceptance means
we should eschew this guilt in ourselves. Moreover we are under a duty not to implant or nurture
guilt in another person, particularly a child,
because of their sexual organs, functions or desires, or because of their sexual acts where these
are not immoral. When we encounter such guilt we should where possible help to alleviate it.
in the workplace
9. If we have a job to do we should not let sex interfere with its
proper execution. While accepting our sexuality, we should not therefore allow a sexual relationship
with a fellow worker to become
so demanding or stressful as to obstruct the work. If things do reach this stage, it may be our duty
to seek other employment.
Nudity and exhibitionism
10. The duty of sex-acceptance requires us to tolerate the sight
of the nude human body, even where because of the subject's advanced age or other factors it seems
to us aesthetically unpleasing. We should refuse to countenance prudishness about the body or its
functions, which can be harmful
psychologically. On the other hand we need to recognise the effects of past negative conditioning,
and not knowingly outrage another person by the sight or sound of any extreme sexual activity or
Toleration of harmless sexual disorders
11. The duty of sex-acceptance requires us to tolerate the sexual disorders
of others, except where they give rise to immoral acts. If however such a disorder is remediable
we should where practicable assist in its cure.
RESPECTING OUR SEXUALITY
duty of sex-respect
12. Since sexuality is the source of all human life, and
is of profound emotional concern to all human beings in the living of their lives, we
should treat our own or another's sexual organs, functions
and desires with respect, even reverence (the duty of sex-respect). We should therefore not commit
any act that degrades or trivialises them.
The right to sexual privacy
13. It is immoral, as contravening the right to privacy
and the duty of sex-respect, for anyone, without the consent of the person in question,
to gaze at or listen to the sexual activity of another person,
whether directly or by means of a recording or listening device.
14. It is contrary to the duty of sex-respect for a human
being to have sex with an animal.
FULFILLING OUR SEXUAL NATURES
duty of sex-fulfilment
15. Because sexuality is an essential and vital part
of the human constitution, we should develop and fulfil our sexual nature throughout
life (the duty of sex-fulfilment). This does not mean that
remediable sexual disorders ought to be accepted as they are, or that immoral sexual behaviour should
be tolerated. However it does follow that we should help and encourage others, particularly
the young, to achieve fulfilment in the sexual field as in any other area of life. Equally we should
not deny old people sexual fulfilment or denigrate their pursuit of it. We should not condemn any
sexual relationship on the ground of a disparity in the ages of the partners.
and improving sexual techniques
16. As with most things in human life, satisfaction in
sexual intercourse depends on knowledge and improves with practice. It is our duty
to our partner and ourself to learn and practise the techniques
needed to make the best of our sexual natures.
17. Because they contravene the duty of sex-fulfilment,
enduring celibacy and chastity are undesirable in the way that any other failure to
fulfil one's human potential is undesirable. This does not
mean that young persons should be hurried into sexual experience before they are physically or emotionally
for the disabled
18. (1) Apparent consent by a mentally incapacitated
person to a sexual act cannot be taken as true consent where the incapacity is too
great to permit the person to understand the full emotional and
ethical significance of the act. Where however such a person would otherwise be condemned to
involuntary celibacy or chastity it is not immoral to afford them sexual fulfilment with no more
than their apparent consent, since in such circumstances the usual requirement of true consent is
prevented from applying.
(2) The duty of sex-fulfilment indicates that it is immoral
to deny people a full sex life merely on the ground of their mental or physical incapacity. Those
having charge of such people therefore have a duty to ensure so far as practicable
that they are afforded suitable opportunities for such
fulfilment, provided necessary contraceptive and other precautions are taken.
Sex for service personnel
19. The duty of sex-fulfilment indicates that it is immoral
to deny people a full sex life merely on the ground of their service in the armed forces
or other state services. Those having charge
of such people therefore have a duty to ensure so far as practicable that they are afforded suitable
opportunities for such fulfilment.
20. A sentence of imprisonment inevitably restricts the
prisoner's freedom of activity; indeed
that is its social purpose. However the duties of sex-fulfilment and sex-respect indicate that
we ought not to deny people a full sex life merely on the ground that they are state prisoners, just
as we do not deny them food, drink and rest. Those having charge of such people therefore have
a duty to ensure so far as practicable that they are afforded suitable opportunities for sexual fulfilment.
V. SEXUAL ACTS
of sexual act
21. Since the primary purpose of our sexual organs, functions
and desires is reproduction of the species, contraceptive-free vaginal intercourse between
a fertile male and female may be regarded
as the primary sexual act. However healthy sexuality goes much wider than this, and no type
of sexual act is to be condemned on the ground that it departs from the primary act.
Consent to sexual acts
22. We ought not to touch another person sexually
without their consent, whether explicit or reasonably inferred. Nor should
we do any other act towards a person sexually (such as showing them a pornographic
picture or exposing their nakedness) which is out of scale with any indication
have given regarding their willingness for this. Special considerations apply where the person
is too young, or is otherwise unable, to give informed consent.
23. We should not make sexual overtures to any person
beyond a point where the recipient indicates refusal, disapproval or distress. If
for any reason the other is or may feel coerced or otherwise subservient, we need
to realise that the signs of rejection may be faint. That does not mean they
are to be disregarded.
24. A sexual act (such as masturbation) is not immoral
because done in solitude. Since young people are often ready for sex before they
are mature enough to enter a sexual relationship with another
person, solitary sex may for them be the most suitable form of early sexual activity and should
not be condemned or discouraged by parents or others in authority. However, solitary sex
may encourage narcissism, and lacks the richness that comes from a loving relationship with another. Where
the subject is within a pair-bond, solitary sex may be immoral if it indicates a rejection of the
25. The participation of more than two people does
not render a sexual act immoral.
between persons of different race
26. It is morally neutral for a person of one race
to have sex with a person of a different race, and it is therefore wrong to condemn
persons of different races merely because they have sex together.
Harmful sexual acts
27. (1) Where it is known or suspected by either party
to a prospective sex-act that one or other is or may be infected with any sexually
disease it is their duty to ensure that adequate
precautions are taken against infection.
(2) If a person knows that an infected person is likely
to contravene the previous rule (for example because they have themselves contracted
disease from that person) it is their duty to help ensure
that the infected person does not transmit the disease to others.
(3) It is immoral for a person who knows or suspects
that they are infected with any sexually transmissible disease to have sex with another
person without first informing them of the fact.
(4) It is immoral to have sex with another person by
a method or technique that may cause either party physical or mental injury.
VI. PAIR-BONDING AND MARRIAGE
28. It is common for sexually mature humans, whether
heterosexual or homosexual in orientation, to
form themselves into pair-bonds, that is couples who choose to link exclusively by means of enduring
emotional-erotic ties. This bonding originates with the need of the human young for settled parenting
during their lengthy period of infancy, and now has a deep emotional significance for humans generally.
Accordingly the parties should strive to make the relationship fulfilling and enduring, particularly
where children are being nurtured within the bond. Except in the case of an open relationship, outsiders
should respect a pair bond and not intrude upon it with competing sexual demands.
social institution of marriage
29. The highest form of pair-bonding is secular marriage,
whereby society formally recognises the tie and accords it special consideration in
law and otherwise. Since married bonding is supported
by social consensus and state institutions, since it increases the chances of happiness of any children
of the union, and since it enhances the bond's prospects of permanence and success, it is morally
preferable to unmarried bonding. The institution of marriage should not be withheld from homosexual
couples or transsexuals.
Open sexual relationships
30. An open marriage or other open sexual relationship
is one where the partners agree that the relationship shall not be exclusive, so that
a partner is free to have sex with outside persons. Because it can
lead to their unhappiness, children should not be propagated or reared within an open sexual relationship.
31. It is immoral for a married person to enter into
a sexual relationship without informing the other person that he or she is married. Similar
considerations apply to an unmarried person who is within a pair bond.
32. Unless a marriage or other pair-bond is an open
relationship or has broken down, it is immoral for one of the partners to have sex
with anyone except the other.
of a marriage partner
33. One party to a marriage should not undergo sterilisation
without the consent of the other, since this operation fundamentally alters the nature
and significance of the relationship of marriage.
34. Incest may be morally objectionable on one or more
of three grounds. It may (1) risk producing genetically defective offspring, or (2)
grievously disrupt relationships within a family unit, or
(3) constitute immoral exploitation of a younger person by an older relative. Where none of these
conditions exist, incest is morally neutral.
CONCEPTION, PREGNANCY AND LACTATION
The decision to propagate
35. One of the most important decisions a person can take
is the decision to propagate, that is to bring a new life into the world. It is
an awesome responsibility. Accordingly the decision
should be taken with great care, having due regard to the likely quality of life of the child and the
effect of its arrival on other members of the family.
child a wanted child
36. It is wrong deliberately to propagate a child unless
it is wanted and the parents are able and willing to rear it properly. A child needs
both parents, and therefore needs both parents to want
Propagation of mixed-race children
37. Before a person has sex with a person of different
race in a way that could produce a child it is their moral duty carefully to consider
whether, having regard to the social difficulties often
experienced by children of mixed race, and the genetic factors involved, it is morally right to do
this in their case. If their sincere answer is yes, their propagation of the child is morally
neutral, but they have a duty to recognise the difficulties the child may experience and help it
to overcome them.
Artificially induced pregnancies
38. (1) If the natural parents, that is the man and
woman from whose bodies the sperm and ovum respectively derive, are pair-bonded to
each other the fact that a pregnancy is caused by artificial
insemination, or is otherwise artificially induced, is morally neutral.
(2) Where parties to a pair bond accept
insemination or implantation
from a donor, this carries the same duties
with respect to the resulting child as if both were its natural parents.
(3) A woman who is within a pair bond ought not to
accept insemination from a donor without the consent of her partner, and a man who is within
a pair bond ought not to donate his sperm for another
woman without the consent of his partner.
(4) A man who donates his sperm, for example through
a sperm bank, without knowing its destination, or a woman who similarly donates her ova, has
no moral responsibility for the resulting child and
is entitled to keep his or her identity secret from it.
39. A person ought not to take the decision to begin a pregnancy,
or continue it while the fœtus
is still non-viable, when believing that the resulting child's quality of life is likely to
be poor because of injury, disease or genetic defect.
actions during pregnancy
40. Subject to the rules regarding abortion, during pregnancy the
prospective mother ought not to take harmful drugs or other deleterious substances, or engage
in any other activity that might
endanger the wellbeing of the fœtus.
41. The duty of sex-respect forbids our objecting to breast-feeding
in public. It is wrong to equate this, as some do, with the public performance of excretory functions.
42. It is not immoral to use any type of medically approved
contraceptive method, whether natural or artificial.
as to possibility of conception
43. It is immoral for a person to deceive their sexual
partner by falsely saying or implying that they are sterile or have taken adequate contraceptive
of non-viable fœtus
44. It is not immoral for a pregnant woman who does
not want the child to abort her fœtus before
it has become viable, provided no pain is inflicted on the fœtus and the woman has carefully considered,
and rejected as too distressing, the alternative of bearing the child and then offering it for
the prospective mother and father are married to each other, or have a subsisting pair-bond
together, the former should consult the latter before deciding on an abortion,
and should carefully consider
any arguments he may advance.
of viable fœtus
45. It is immoral for a pregnant woman to abort her
fœtus after it has become viable, except where
this is necessary to preserve her life or health, because by that time (though not before) the fœtus
has developed into a person in its own right.
46. It is immoral to distress a woman who is considering
the abortion of her non-viable fœtus by
asserting that the abortion would be immoral, or by using dysphemisms such as 'baby' or 'child' for
the fœtus or 'murder' for the process of abortion.
X. THE YOUNG
to rear their child
47.(1) The natural parents of a child should accept
and discharge their responsibility to rear it unless circumstances render this impracticable.
(2) It is the duty of the persons rearing
a child to give it a secure and loving upbringing till adulthood.
(3) If the child cannot be reared by its natural parents it is
best that it be reared by a couple who are as near as possible in age and characteristics to
the natural parents. To be reared by a lone parent,
or by two persons of the same sex, may succeed. It is more likely however to be less than the
best, since the child needs a close and extended view of rearers of both sexes in order to make sense
of its world.
48. It is the duty of the persons rearing a child to
ensure that it undergoes whatever sex education may be necessary to enable it progressively
to learn the facts about human sexuality, and eventually
to carry out its duties of ethical understanding and ethical action. Subject to this, a child-rearer
who has not been proved to lack a genuine intention to promote the welfare of the child has the
right to decide what it is to be taught about sex.
by young people to sexual acts
49. Apparent consent by a youngster to a sexual act
with an older person is morally ineffective, and therefore counts as no consent,
where the youngster is too immature to understand the nature and
quality of the act, that is its physiological, emotional and ethical significance. Apparent
consent by a youngster to a sexual act with an age-mate is however to be treated as morally effective.
A test for whether a youngster who apparently consents to a sexual
act really understands its nature
and quality is whether, when maturity is attained, he or she would be likely to regret having
committed the act.
50. It is not immoral to have sex with a person of the
51. It is immoral to discriminate against a person
on the ground that he or she is a homosexual (whether practising or not).
52. It is not immoral to advance the view that homosexuality
is a natural condition rather than a remediable disorder, that homosexuals are to be
encouraged to enhance their lifestyle, or that a
good family life is possible for homosexuals and others (including children) associated with them.
53. It is not immoral to make or receive payment for
a sexual service willingly rendered. The duty of sex-fulfilment may require a person
to pay for what they need rather than go without.
Treatment of prostitutes
54. The duty of sex-respect requires that prostitutes
of both sexes should be well treated and never degraded. They serve a useful
and valid social purpose.
Categories of pornography
55. Pornographic, that is explicitly sexual, material
can be divided into: (1) non-erotic material; (2) perverted or debased material,
(3) stimulative or erotic material, (4) educational and artistic
material, and (5) political or destabilising material. Given material may fall into more than one
of these categories.
56. Non-erotic pornography, namely sexually explicit
material without erotic content, is morally neutral.
Perverted or debased pornography
57. Perverted or debased pornography is immoral because
it contravenes the
duty of sex-respect by denigrating human sexuality through
associating it with violence, cruelty or bestiality, or
otherwise depicting it in degraded form.
58. Stimulative pornography has the effect of initiating
or enhancing sexual desire. The duties of sex-acceptance and sex-fulfilment, together
with the principle of free speech, require such
pornography to be treated as not immoral, provided the nature and provenance of the material does
not infringe the duty of sex-respect or any other ethical principle, such as the duty of consideration
for a spouse or the requirement of consent to participation by models. That this kind of pornography
causes the commission of immoral acts such as rape is unproved generally. On balance more such
acts might be committed if this material were not available for masturbatory use.
and artistic pornography
59. Educational and artistic pornography is morally good
as being in the interests of science, literature, art (including drama, opera and ballet)
or learning, or of other objects of general concern.
Political or destabilising pornography
60. Political or destabilising pornography uses explicitly
sexual material to make political points, and may therefore be subversive. The duty
of sex-acceptance and the principle of free speech require
such pornography to be treated as not immoral.