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A Sikh Perspective on Sexuality

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Sikh teachings regard the sexual and social relationship of man and woman as part of the law of nature and accepted the householder's life as superior both morally and spiritually. All the historical examples highlight the importance of marriage, reproducing and contributing to society as a whole.

 

Celibacy

 

The Gurus denounced the ritualistic renunciation of worldly responsibilities as well as celibacy. They taught that, merely by not engaging in the physical sexual act, one cannot overcome the desire which lurks within. The path to conquering the inner lust and desire which leads to the physical sexual act is ultimately through meditation on God or naam simran. This does not mean that excessive indulgence in sex becomes desirable. The Gurus told their followers to exercise self-control and to regulate sex sensibly. The Gurus recommended the middle way between self-indulgence and abstinence, combining the idea of controlling desire internally through meditation with external abstinence.

 

Abandoning his household, he may go to the forest, and live by eating roots; but even so, his sinful, evil mind does not renounce corruption.

(SGGS pg 855)

 

Sex outside marriage

 

Sexual relationships before marriage are not liked. Young people are encouraged to get to know each other and develop their relationships in other ways such as their emotional and spiritual connection, but should wait till marriage for sexual relations.

 

They control their sexual desires, and their lifestyle is the self-discipline of Truth.

(SGGS pg 122)

 

They alone are called husband and wife, who have one light in two bodies.

(SGGS pg 788)

 

A normal sexual relationship as a householder is not restricted in any way but any other indulgence is not considered positive. Sex outside marriage or sex against the will of the partner is taboo, as it can cause unlimited sorrows. In addition, both promiscuity and sexual perversion are absolutely forbidden. Excessive sex is a taboo as it leads to sorrow and sickness, this is known as Kaam or lust. It is considered illegitimate and produces nothing but shame and misery. It is one of the greatest evils that tempt people away from God. It makes an individual weak-willed and unreliable.

 

Renounce sexual desire and promiscuity, and give up emotional attachment. Only then shall you obtain the Immaculate Lord amidst the darkness of the world.

(SGGS pg 141)

 

Adultery is clearly unacceptable. However, if a partner dies and either man or woman is widowed, they are encouraged to remarry or find another spouse whenever they feel ready.

 

Contraception

 

In olden times, the problem of family planning did not exist. Even today in areas where population is scanty and resources adequate, family planning is not necessary.

 

Sikhism accepts the commonsense approach to family planning. It is for the couple to decide whether they want family planning or not. Family planning may be necessary for the health of the partners or the nursing or bringing-up of existing children. However, natural methods of contraception are preferred to artificial methods and devices. Even so, family planning should not be undertaken without competent medical advice and supervision. There are no injunctions in the Sikh faith against the use of contraceptives.

 

Abortion is a taboo, as it is interference in the creative work of God. If conception has taken place, it is unacceptable to destroy a life, and hence deliberate miscarriage or abortion is forbidden. At the same time, if a violation has taken place and the woman has been taken advantage of, an exception can be made.

 

Similarly, experimenting with embryos and genes is discouraged. Contraception for the purpose of avoiding the results of illicit sex is also prohibited. Accepting responsibility for one's actions also plays a major role in Sikh discipline. The Sikh Gurus have also made it clear that sex is not just for enjoyment and indulgence, but an important act for creative purposes, and this is the right given to parents:

 

 

Blessed is the mother who gave birth; blessed and respected is the father of one who serves the True Guru and finds peace. His arrogant pride is banished from within.

(SGGS pg 32)

 

Homosexuality

 

The Sikh faith does not say anything specific about gay or lesbian relationships, but as mentioned above sex purely for physical enjoyment is not the reason why the Gurus recommend sexual relationships. Lust can take over in homosexual relationships as there are no responsibilities of procreation possible, and this needs to be controlled as it is considered draining, physically, mentally and emotionally.

 

The body-village is filled to overflowing with anger and sexual desire; these were broken into bits when I met with the Holy Saint.

(SGGS pg 13)

 

Sikhs are encouraged to take responsibility for their every action and live a healthy lifestyle. In general, therefore, no advice or discrimination is made in the scriptures against single-sex relationships, but clearly heterosexual relationships are encouraged.

 

 

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