I was asked this question today by a theist. If there is no God why is safe sex between brother and sister immoral to an atheist? This guy was smart to add safe sex because it closed off my avenue to argue the health issue. So, I was thinking why is it immoral if it is consensual? I understand we find it gross but is that because of Christian influence?
It's hard for me to respond to the poll because it says 'Incest: immoral or moral', but then it limits it with one particular example- that actually does not define 'incest'. The most common form of incest worldwide occurs between girl children and their male parents characterizing a drastic imbalance of power that can not be explained or be limited by religion/s, and where invariably girl children suffer lasting damages.
As well, it's not a matter of 'morality', it's exploitation.
first of all, I know people who are the products of incestuous rape that have no deformities. I also knew a lot of people who come from parents not genetically related who have major disabilities, so that isn't an issue. Besides, off you're having safe sex.....
This is one area where we are taught that is gross. But since it happens, it's perfectly natural.
The fact is that morality isn't about what you think other consenting adults are doing. Morality is about conducting yourself with integrity, and not allowing your preferences to hurry other people. So incestuous rape is immoral. Incest between consenting adults is not. Just like any rape is immoral, but sex between consenting adults is not.
"So, I was thinking why is it immoral if it is consensual? I understand we find it gross but is that because of Christian influence?"
Yes and no. Incest tends to be a universal taboo. Other species (though not all) have evolved a host of strategies to prevent incest (for fitness reasons). Even plants tend to possess anti-incest mechanisms.
I voted that incest was immoral because most incest does not occur between two consenting adults. With that said, I don't see incest as an immoral act when every precaution has been taken to prevent pregnancy (if between male and female) and STDs between two consenting relatives. However, I find sexual relationships between mother/daughter, mother/son, father/daughter, father/son a bit disconcerting. Young siblings may do it out of curiosity.
The one you are in the debate with assumes it requires a god to see the problems that can arise with incest. It doesn't. Humans have learned by forming and testing hypotheses, building on working models of the social world as they interacted with it, and consulted these models when making moral judgments (Turiel, 1983). If incest wipes out half your tribe, it doesn't take a god or religion to figure out that this behavior isn't in their tribes best interest. Just my two cents.
It's a neutral area when sex is between two consenting adults. It is like asking if a woman who is of the age of consent decides she wants to sell sex and is not coerced nor is she engaging in survival sex work is she acting morally or immorally. It is neutral. I disagree with giving those two choices but I see your reasoning why.
In theory, incest wouldn't be immoral. But the way our culture works, brothers and sisters, children and parents do not have sexual relations. For this reason, there is too much emotional baggage and damage potential. I would not condone a sibling relationship, because it is fraught with potential for serious problems.
If I met someone who told me they were INVOLVED in such a relationship, depending on the details, I wouldn't feel the need to end the friendship or lecture them. I could accept it in some circumstances, I think. But relationships are hard enough without adding cultural baggage and emotional damage.
If it is safe sex, as stated, and the two people are adults I see no problem. The issue of incest has been mostly due to religious restrictions and due to the fact that if children are born from the union of the two people certain genetic abnormalities are very possible. As long as there are no children from the union then who am I, and why would society, have anything to say about two people enjoying each other sexually. Interestingly, due to my upbringing, my emotions are telling me to take away what I have just written above, but my mind over rules and says that if two consenting adults choose to enjoy a sexual union without children, why not?
I believe that if both parties are consenting and their intention isn't to have children, it is moral. Like other commenters are mentioning, incest can lead to birth defects and gentic mutations that would lower the quality of life for the offspring. If contraceptives or other methods are used, I see no reason why two relatives couldn't have a prosperous relationship.
Perhaps mine is not going to be a popular opinion, but my moral compass is governed by the principle of doing no harm. If incest is consensual and they aren’t trying to reproduce, then it does not harm anyone and both consenting adults have a right to be happy.
You should ask said theist how Adam and Eve populated the earth. Or remind them of the daughters of Lot.
I find this hard to vote for one way or the other. Incest may be an emotionally safe scenario if there's no power-play going on, as siblings know each other well and (if raised well) have healthy trust for each other. On the flip side, there is SUCH a stigma attached to it, their lives would be devastated if found out. Why risk it? So, I can't make a moral judgement, as I think that is a false dichotomy based on an outmoded value system. I think what I'm saying is that morals are a construct that can be good or bad.
(...see what I did there???)
Because no age parameters or relationships were given, I am going with immoral under the assumption that there is a significant age gap, disparate levels of education/power/wealth, or other inequalities that would put one party at a disadvantage. For example, a girl and her Father vs two 35 year old first cousins are vastly different scenarios.
I don't know if I would say that it was moral as much as I don't think its inherently immoral. Of course that statement has to be qualified. I think if both parties are consenting adults, and that assumes that there is no coercion, then I can see anything objectively wrong with it.
There should be a third option..like depends. Because if people were separated for years through adoption or father was a sperm donor..if they somehow found one another and started a relationship..only to find out later on they were related..how can we as a society deny them when they were not aware of the relation? If two men and two woman either twins or brothers and sisters close in age start fool around..its taboo and morally wrong but if god does not exist like most of us believe..how is anything immoral? Who makes these rules? As long as you are not causing harm to others who cares what someone does. So I guess incest is fine in my book within reason..appropriate ages..and situations..and 100% safe sex so children can not be spawned from such actions.
Your family is a place of safety where all emotions can be explored but the boundary to sex shouldn't. Physically, genetic mutations make it rightly taboo and emotionally it should be taboo as you can go out into the world and literally fuck up your life, but you shouldn't fuck up your family and place of refuge.
I am a little disappointed in the answers. They all seem to be addressing child molesting or genetic dangers. The question was phrased in a way to make it if two grown, consenting relatives want to have sex, is that immoral. Not have children, not prey on children. The hypothetical question is about sex between two consenting, related adults.
I can't say moral or immoral because those are social judgments based largely on social norms, but also on facts, such as inbreeding. But the truth is that pederaste was common and accepted for generations in Europe, royalty and aristocracies have in-bred publicly and even today, supposedly "moral" religious practices (not just LDS cults) marry off their children at young ages even to close relatives. I'm not sure how society has come to look down on what we call incest, but I'm sure that had a lot to do with the advent of rights-recall that even in early America, women and children were chattel and could be beaten by the male owner... until society started changing the narratives and fighting not only for women's rights, but also for the rights of children to not be abused... and our social definitions of child abuse have also changed consistently and incessantly for eternity.
As a product of a western society upbringing, I still have thoughts about incest being abuse, but, a better question is to ask the theist to justify all the incest, pederaste, and the forcing of victims to marry the rapist...Which is more "immoral?"
I cannot vote yes or no because I have to object to the use of the terms "moral" and "immoral," since both are ground in religious presumptions of a sort of natural law. To say something must be avoided BECAUSE it is wrong is, to a secular thinker, ass-backward. We are, rather, taught certain things are immoral in order to scare us away from doing things that our society or culture believes would be destructive in some way. So...the question should be "Do we think incest is harmful or not?" To me, the answer cannot be absolute, because there are exceptions, but in general I think it could be harmful, not just because of potential for genetically compromised offspring, but also because it might mess with the other social aspects of family relations, either with the specific persons committing incest or with their relations with other family members, or both. I do believe, though, like any self-respecting situational ethicist, that there are valid exceptions sometimes. Others on this thread have already pointed to some, and historically our definitions/parameters for which relatives involved would constitute incest or not. What about identical gay twin brothers who felt closer to each other than to anyone else? Personally, I think the main difficilty in that situation would be how the two handle reactions from other family members who would be upset with them.
Society has certain rules be you a religious or not. There are many religions, I'm sure that would welcome the practice of incest. I like to consider myself a liberal, live and let live, blah blah, but I also work in family law. The cases I have seen in 35 years with incest somehow end up to be more one-sided. Again, with the male convincing the female the it's ok. In fact look at all these people on this website that agree with me. I'm sorry but I disagree. If the only person you can find to form a loving sexual relationship with is in your immediate family, you might want to seek counseling.
I actually don't see it as a huge deal if cousins or distant cousins decide on having some sort of relationship or even children. The genetics would be way more diverse and you wouldn't be raised in the same household so it's not the same as siblings.
Now siblings is immoral for many reasons. Your children would face repercussions of not having enough diversity in their genetics one way or another. If the siblings decided on just a sexual relationship then there is A LOT of emotional problems that could and will occur if it happened and shame since it's a very taboo thing and could ruin your relationship with them as a whole.
Well...if you are looking at it from the biological perspective of reproduction, there is that risk of passing on genetically inherited flaws and afflictions (weak chins, poor vision, disabilities) so it may not be wise. On the other hand, if you don't have any genetic markers for health concerns you would strengthen your bloodline and could lead to a better, faster, stronger (depending on strengths) specimen. Kinda hard to get past the 'eww ick' factor. When you are your own aunt, things get weird. But you probably will get something better than socks and an autoharp cd for your birthday. I don't think that immoral or moral are really the best choices because morality generally is passed down through religious dogma. Better to say gross or not gross. Not easy to get out of the gross camp. If it were a social norm with which I had grown up I would likely feel differently.