Cultural Perspective

Culture is defined as the way of life of a group of people. Different people have different cultural orientations depending on their birth rights, races, religion and even geographical locality. The culture that people subscribe to determines their ways of life, their thinking and acting formulas and even their perspective of life and life processes (Brown, 2005). All these are influenced by the cultural activities such as rituals, ceremonies, taboos and even beliefs. In life’s aspects such as sexuality, culture is believed to play a very important part in guiding beliefs, values, and behaviors. This paper is an exploration of the cultural values relating to relationships and sexuality in Roman Catholicism, Hinduism, and Native American cultural perspectives. The paper will compare and contrast the three cultural perspectives in this regard to exemplify how each defines and explains relationship and sexuality.

Roma Catholicism is the kind of culture that is based on Christian beliefs and more specifically in the authority of the Pope as the leader of the church. Arguably, Roman Catholic is the original Christian denomination on which all others have been based. Fundamental to the beliefs and the conduct of Catholics is the Ten Commandments (Summers, 2015). In addition, the culture of Catholics puts special worth on family and the values of unity and respect within a monogamous family. Accordingly, the unity of the church is based on the unity and success of family and its procreation. Moral instructions are also stressed on in the family structure and teachings on sexuality begin in the family unit. Homosexuality, contraception, abortion, premarital sex, and masturbation are considered mortal sins and can sometimes lead to excommunication from the church. Issues of choice within the family on matters of divorce and separation may, however, be granted by the church (Bridgers, 2011).

Hinduism is very similar to Catholicism on many issues. First, the two share a part of the guiding principles obtained from the Bible. However, in Hinduism, the rules that govern relationships and sexuality are very specific to different people gender, age, and even social status. What holds right for men is not necessarily right for women (Hawley & Narayanan, 2006). This discrimination is sometimes viewed as wrong by most other faiths. Unlike the Catholic faith, Hinduism does not consider sexual desire as evil or impure. However, virtuous living is considered a virtue and sex is the unifying factor in the community. A major aim of life according to Hinduism is the procreation and the subsequent fulfillment of sexual desires. The conduct of people before marriage and the courtship process in Hinduism is determined largely by the individual social-cultural orientation. This too determines the concept of monogamy and polygamy are also determined by the mainstream culture and society orientation (Flood, 2007).

Native American culture is quite different from the two religious cultures explored above. First, it is not guided by any holy books or doctrines but on a verbally shared tradition and a code of conduct. The culture is based on animism, a common belief among the Americans and various indigenous tribes of India and North America (Duran & Duran, 1995). The main belief in this regard is the concept that the universe is made of objects and people that have souls and spirits. The traditional religion of the Native Americans extends to natural phenomena such as rain, lightning, and geographic features. The original culture is not strict on relationships and sexuality. It identifies sex as the natural way to procreate and bring about new life for the prosperity of the society. All people are expected to get into a relationship and sex as early as they are sexually mature. However, the rights on sexuality and relationships are different for male and female (Brown, 2005).

In all the three cultures explored, love is considered a virtue. Besides bringing people together and making them have a complete society, love is considered in all three perspectives the origin of relationships that lead to marriage. Besides, the relationships that arise from the love are the ones that lead to marriage and the progression of the society. This makes love and relationships valued in all the three cultures. The rules guiding love and relationships in the three cultures are however different. In the Christianity culture, as followed by the Catholics is based on the Biblical teachings and the doctrines of the church (Brewer & Higgins, 1999).

The church is very strict on the values of being friends and learning about one another during the courtship period to understand one another and make informed decisions on relationships. Love in this perspective should be guided by the traditions if the church, the Bible and also counseling received from the experienced members of the church. This is almost similar to what happens in Hinduism where the young people are mentored through the process of courtship and are expected to adhere to it strictly (Hawley & Narayanan, 2006).

In the Native American perspective, however, there is only collective and group concerns about relationships. Traditionally, relationships were not necessarily based on love but on the need to unite clans and families. This meant that the two people were not supposed to be in love to get into a relationship. Sexual needs and lust were enough to bring people together in a union through which they would learn to live with one another. However, the situations have since changed in this perspective and love is characteristically part of any relationships especially leading to marriage (Starn, 2011). Sex and sexuality are another very important aspect to consider in these perspectives. In both the Catholicism and Hinduism perspectives pre-marital sex is prohibited by the religious doctrines. Sex is considered sacred and only preserved for the married and those living in religiously recognized unions. As such, virginity has traditionally been valued for both men and women before marriage but most importantly for the women (Summers, 2015). In the Native American traditions, however, men and women have different codes of ethics and sex before marriage is only stressed for the women although still recommended for both men and women. The women who are believed to have lost their virginity before marriage are considered loose, and they lose the respect of the society. However, there is no way to claim virginity for the men, and they are sometimes let free (Duran & Duran, 1995).

The sources of the moral authority regarding sexuality and relationships in the three perspectives is also a very different. Whereas the Catholicism and Hinduism perspective have books and doctrines that contain all codes of conduct and the prescriptions for behaviors related to sex, sexuality, and relationships, the Native American perspective has none. In its place, the people are the handlers and the keepers of the rules. The rules are therefore passed from one person to another through verbal communication and teachings from the parents to their children. In the religious perspectives, the passing of the teachings is done through formal teachings in catechism and Hindi Classes (Summers, 2015);(Hawley & Narayanan, 2006).

The three perspectives analyzed in this paper indicate differences in the way people think and operate from their culture. There are very distinct similarities between the three cultures regarding relationship and sexuality. First, the three perspectives believe in the importance of sexuality and relationships as the basis for building families, procreation, and progression of the society. Secondly, the three perspectives regard the issues of sexuality and relationships as importance to the extent of teaching them to the siblings and the children through all the means possible. However, there are also differences especially regarding how the cultures apply the codes in both males and females and also the source of the authority and how this authority is passed from one person to another.

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