Revision test for the Edexcel syllabus on Sexual Ethics







1.In the book of Genesis, God instructs the first humans to ‘be fruitful and…’?

a. Eat lots of fruit.

b. Subtract.

c. Multiply.

d. Divide.

2. TRUE or FALSE? The above passage can be understood to mean that one of the purposes of being human is to procreate. Contraception, because it prevents this, should therefore arguably be avoided. For the Quiverfull movement, this entails avoiding ALL forms of contraception, both artificial and natural. Some (though certainly not all) Christians may also be willing to take advantage of reproductive technologies such as IVF treatment if they are childless.

3. TRUE or FALSE? Genesis 4v1 describes Eve as giving birth to Abel ‘with the help of the Lord’.

4. TRUE or FALSE? This passage could mean that children are produced through God’s will. Contraception therefore might be seen to possibly obstruct the will of God.

5. Read the following and then choose which of the available options contains the right sequence of names and terms: Genesis 38 tells the story of Onan, according to which he was instructed by his father to sleep with his deceased brother’s wife, Tamar, so that she could bear children and preserve the family line. However, he repeatedly withdrew before climax and ‘spilled his seed on the ground’ as any heir would not be legally considered his. As a result of this, God punishes him with death. This story has sometimes been used (e.g. in Catholic teaching) to argue that contraception/avoiding pregnancy is wrong. However, it is simply the avoidance of his duty to produce an heir that seems to be the issue.

a. 23, Conan, Tamar, loose change, Anglican, aphrodisiac.

b. 33, Onan, Rachel, seed, Orthodox, heir.

c. 38, Onan, Tamar, seed, heir, Catholic.

d. 38, Onan, Tamar, seed, Catholic, hair.

6. TWO of the following statements are untrue. Which are they?

a. In Humanae Vitae a papal encyclical published in 1968, Pope Paul VIth reaffirmed Catholic opposition to the use of artificial forms of contraception (for reasons based on Natural Law theory which you should already know and be able to explain).

b. However, Humanae Vitae is not an ex cathedra document. This means that although it is an authoritative statement, it is not an infallible document (i.e. one that the Pope acting as a universal pastor and successor to St Paul, elaborates a revealed truth that is binding on all Catholics).

c. More recently, according to the BBC website, towards the end of 2010, Pope Francis stated that the use of condoms may be permissible in certain circumstances to prevent the spread of STI’s, especially HIV.

d. Protestant teaching used to be opposed to contraception. But since the Lambeth Conference in 1930, this attitude has softened and nowadays ‘prudent family planning’ (perhaps to limit family size) is permitted and has been made a matter of conscience. The 1958 Lambeth Conference also acknowledged that there was “an ungoverned spate of unwanted births” and called for respect for the “consciences” of married couples who use birth control, 

e. Some Protestants may still be opposed to the use of abortifacients and regard the use of contraception outside of marriage as unacceptable as this may encourage promiscuous behaviour.

7. ONE of the following statements is also false. Which is it?

a. Kantian ethics is difficult to apply to the issue of contraception: on the one hand it is a duty based ethic, and it could be argued that we have a duty to procreate to keep the Kingdom of Ends populated with a healthy supply of rational, autonomous beings. On the other hand, the availability of the contraceptive pill arguably liberated women by allowing them to become more autonomous and undertake extended courses of professional training. It also stopped them being treated as the property of their husband rather than as ‘ends in themselves’.

b. The widespread use of contraception arguably encourages promiscuity, something that Kant would have been opposed to because he regarded the sexual act as intrinsically immoral because it inevitably involves treating someone as a means to one’s own sexual self-gratification.

c. If artificial forms of contraception help to stop the spread of STI’s (sexually transmitted infections), then adopting their use as a universal Kantian maxim would eventually lead to the human race dying out.

d. Kant actually wrote that ‘sexual love makes of the loved person a subject of appetite’ following which ‘the person is cast aside as one casts away an orange that has been sucked dry’.

8. TRUE or FALSE? Bentham, Mill and an organisation known as the Cambridge Welfare Utilitarians all campaigned for the legalisation of contraception.

9. TRUE or FALSE? Philippa Foot argues that that contraception leads to casual sex, which is inherently immoral as it treats the other person as a mean to personal satisfaction. A virtuous person would, contrastingly, place value on the other person.

10. TRUE or FALSE? Michael Slote emphasises the caring nature of a virtuous person (for oneself, family and friends, and for humanity). It could be argued that the use of contraceptives could therefore be justified in each of the three instances e.g. to prevent the contraction or spread of an STI and to limit the size of the world’s population.

11. TRUE or FALSE? The atheist philosopher Bertrand Russell also supported the use of contraception as a means of population control.

12. TRUE or FALSE? Russell additionally argued that it should be possible for couples make love without having be concerned about an unintended or unwanted pregnancy, and that aside from love, all else is to be deemed moral or immoral according to the situation, which not only includes contraception but also sterilization and abortion.

13. TRUE or FALSE? Up to 5 adults can be involved in successful fertility treatment that results in the birth of a child.

14. The view that it is ethically acceptable and the most loving thing to take advantage of reproductive technologies like IVF to allow infertile Christian couples to conceive could be a view maintained by:

a. Natural Law theory

b. Situation Ethics

c. Utilitarianism

15. TRUE or FALSE? Catholic Christians approve of AID (Artificial Insemination Donor).

16. TRUE or FALSE? Some Christians disapprove of IVF treatment because it results in the creation of spare embryos (which are seen as potential human beings). These embryos are either discarded or can be used for medical research up to the 12th day of their development.

17. Which of the following is NOT a true statement about the Bible and pre-marital/Extra-marital sex?

a. In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus quotes from the book of Genesis implying that marriage is sacred (‘…what God has joined together, let man not separate’) and therefore the only appropriate context for sexual relations.

b. The Genesis story of Adam and Eve can itself be taken as providing a template for good sexual relationships and Genesis 2v24 (‘For this reason a man will leave his wife and mother and be united to his wife and they will become one flesh’) suggests that marriage is the appropriate context for sexual relationships, ruling out pre-marital and extra-marital sex.

c. St Paul in a letter to the Corinthians includes ‘adulterers’ in a list of those who ‘will not inherit the kingdom of God’.

d. One of the 10 Commandments in Exodus is ‘thou shalt not commit adultery.’

18. Which of the following is NOT a true statement of Christian Church teachings about pre-marital and extra-marital sex?

a. Aquinas argued that if the primary purpose of sex is for the procreation of children then the purpose of marriage is to provide the most stable environment for them to be brought up in. He therefore condemned sex outside of marriage, writing in Summa Contra Gentiles that ‘matrimony is natural for man, and promiscuous performance of the sexual act, outside matrimony, is contrary to man’s good. For this reason it must be a sin.’

b. Some Christians (e.g. Joseph Fletcher – the founder of Situation Ethics) are accepting of co-habitation (what used to be known as ‘living in sin’) provided that the relationship is an expression of love and is not casual in nature.

c. More traditional church teachings condemn co-habitation. For example, Pope John Paul II writing in 1981 argued that such relationships lack commitment and trust and weaken the sense of fidelity inspired by the sacrament of marriage.

d. The American liberal theologian Harvey Nichols has argued that what is important is a relationship of love; whether the couple are married does not matter. Nichols goes on to suggest that in a world of fluid relationships, extramarital sex is sometimes going to be inevitable. However, he sees it as a symptom that a relationship may have broken down. The couple should recognise this and, in love and charity, move on.

e. The Christian organisations True Love Waits and the UK’s (now defunct) Romance Academy both promote sexual abstention, with participants in the UK programme (usually young but sexually active teenagers) reporting that they felt less taken for granted by their partners as a result of their involvement with the Academy.

19. Which of the following is NOT a true statement?

a. Extra-marital sex can often involve prostitution. But Kant condemned this activity on the grounds that it involved treating oneself as a means to an end i.e. making money. He wrote that, ‘Human beings are, therefore, not entitled to offer themselves, for profit, as things for the use of others.’

b. Kant additionally recognised that marriage was the best context within which to regulate the sex drive and the creation of offspring.

c. Sexual acts that hurt or exploit others are, for Kant, immoral, as are premarital sex acts that are not founded on care and commitment. 

20. TRUE or FALSE? Joseph Fletcher has argued that it is only an inference that – according to the Bible – sex should only take place within marriage. In actual fact only adultery is forbidden, and there is nothing that explicitly prohibits premarital acts.

21. TRUE or FALSE? Both Bentham and Mill thought that prostitution should be unlawful.

22. Only ONE of the following statements is incorrect. Which is it?

a. For an act utilitarian, he lasting pleasure of satisfying, deep relationships might rate more highly when a hedonic calculation is made.

b. Mill’s emphasis on ‘higher’ non-physical pleasures might also be employed to argue that a sexual relationship within a context of companionship, love and commitment (and perhaps a shared interest in higher pleasures) is preferable to a casual, sexual encounter.

c. Mill further thought that sexual intercourse outside of marriage should not be unlawful. However, writing with his wife Harriet Taylor, Mill argued that it would be wrong for a husband to cause embarrassment to his wife’s reputation by visiting brothels. This is interesting as his view seems to condone promiscuous male behaviour.

d. Aristotle held the view that both marital and extra marital relationships could both create the conditions in which virtuous love can flourish.

e. Sincerity was a virtue valued by Aristotle. So someone having an extra-marital affair would be unable to perfect this virtue due to the deception involved.

23. TRUE or FALSE? Homosexuality is condemned as an ‘abomination’ in two places in the book of Deuteronomy.

24. TRUE or FALSE? In the book of Genesis, God destroys the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of the sinful behaviour of the citizens, which apparently included homosexual activity (or at least the desire to commit homosexual rape).

25. TRUE or FALSE? Jesus is silent on the issue of homosexuality, but St Paul appears to condemn this type of behaviour in 1 Corinthians, Romans 1 and 1 Timothy.

26. Which of the following statements is untrue?

a. Two Old Testament Biblical passages where homosexuality is described as an ‘abomination’ could both be seen as criticising a specific religious practice amongst a group of people called the Ba’ul which involved having sex with male prostitutes in their temples. This is not the same as outlawing all homosexual relationships.

b. It has been argued that the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for failing to honour the important duty (in Biblical times) of showing hospitality to travellers. So homosexuality is arguably not being directly condemned here.

c. The translation of the two Greek words used by Paul in 1 Corinthians has been questioned and it has been suggested that they might instead refer to loose living and male prostitution rather than ‘homosexuality’.

27. TRUE or FALSE? The teaching of the Roman Catholic church is that homosexuality is an ‘intrinsically disordered’ state which is contrary to scripture and Natural Law, though it is accepted that some people are, for reasons which are unclear, born with homosexual inclinations. Having these inclinations is therefore not sinful but putting them into practice is. For such individuals, a life of chastity is encouraged.

28. TRUE or FALSE? Since 2005 same-sex couples have been allowed to enter into civil partnerships, a separate union providing for the legal consequences of marriage. More recently, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2014 permits same-sex marriage within a religious context, but with a provision guaranteeing that no religious institution would be compelled to perform such ceremonies. Quakers in the UK welcomed the new law and are happy for same-sex marriages to be performed within their faith community. 

29. TRUE or FALSE? The Church of England allows for the ordination of gay priests.

30. TRUE or FALSE? According to Aquinas, semen seems designed for the purpose of heterosexual procreation. To make use of it for other purposes (e.g. in homosexual sexual acts) would therefore be ‘unnatural’.

31. ONE of the following statements is inaccurate. Which is it?

a. In his Lectures on Ethics, Kant contends that homosexual acts are unnatural ‘crimes against nature’ that degrade human beings below the level of animals.

b. Additionally, homosexuality fails to cross the barrier of universalisation as far as the first formulation of the categorical imperative is concerned. This is because if everyone were to become homosexual the population of the world would decline to zero. So for this reason too, Kant saw homosexuality as morally unacceptable.

c. In his ‘Essay on Paedophilia’ (in the 18th century this was a general term for anal sex) Bentham argued that homosexual practices do not harm society and do not lead to the break-up of family life. Therefore, on utilitarian grounds, homosexual activity is to be allowed even if, as was the case, Bentham personally disapproved of it.

32. TRUE or FALSE? In On Utilitarianism Bentham makes the additional point that sexual acts performed in public would be indecent but not when performed privately where they are morally neutral (unless, of course, Mill’s Harm Principle is violated). 

33. TRUE or FALSE? The gay Catholic scholar John Boswell argued that throughout much of Medieval Christian Europe, unions between figures of the same sex and gender were socially acceptable, and he claimed to have discovered a liturgical manuscript that appears to describe a ceremony for same-sex union between two men.

34. Which of the following has NOT been argued by the Catholic theologian Jack Dominian?

a. Sex is a gift from God that should be celebrated as long as it takes place between two loving partners.

b. The traditional, Natural Law influenced notion of sex as being primarily procreative in nature needs to be re-emphasised.

c. The Catholic Church should accept non-traditional forms of loving relationships e.g. same-sex marriage.

35. Which of the following statements summarising the views of Peter Vardy about modern sexual relationships is FALSE?

a. The modern understanding of sexual relationships maintained by most people is transactional and utilitarian: relationships only last as long as they give pleasure to both partners.

b. Masturbation outside of a context of love, cybersexual activity, and one night stands are examples of expressions of this approach to sexual relationships.

c. As long as these temporary liaisons are entered into by informed and consenting adults, Vardy does not regard these activities as immoral.

36. Which of the following statements about the success of ethical theories in relation to sexual matters is FALSE?

a. Both Bentham and Mill argued that differences in sexual preferences should not be condemned or punished unless they could be shown to cause harm. this view is arguably reflected in modern, liberal attitudes to sex and relationships.

b. The Harvey Weinstein scandal that has led to allegations of sexual harassment on the part of many women and the #MeToo campaign suggests that Kantian ethics, which emphasises that people must be treated as a means to an end, is still relevant.

c. Christian religious views as defended by Peter Vardy and reflected in the success of the Romance Academy in preventing teenagers from being taken for granted in their sexual relationships following a period of sexual abstention suggests that what might be called a more ‘spiritual’ view of sexual relationships may also still be relevant.


1. c– though given that there are now more than 7 billion of us, it could be argued that responsible Christian stewardship of the planet should involve restricting population growth to preserve the natural resources available to sustain them.

2. True

3. False – it was Cain

4. True

5. c

6. b (it’s St Peter not Paul), c (it was Pope Benedict not Pope Francis). See HERE for the relevant BBC article.

7. d – it was a lemon not an orange.

8. False – Only Mill and the Cambridge Welfare Utilitarians did so (and Mill got himself arrested). According to a recent biography by Richard Reeves, Mill was on his way to work one morning in 1823 when he found a dead, newly born baby lying beneath a tree. The infant had been strangled. This was no surprise. London at the time was full of poor families who could not support another child. The experience prompted Mill to tour a working-class district of London distributing a pamphlet which described and supported contraception. Mill was arrested along with the other pamphleteers for the promotion of obscenity. As Mill’s father was famous, the nervous magistrate referred the case to the Mayor of London, who put Mill in jail for two days. As he was only 17 at the time, his family were concerned about his future prospects and succeeded in managing to hush the incident up. The details only re-emerged after Mill’s death. However, the story was transmitted through the salons and clubs of London by means of doggerel verse, an important Victorian broadcasting device: ‘There are two Mr Mills, too, which those who like reading, What’s vastly unreadable, call very clever; And whereas Mill senior makes war on good breeding, Mill junior makes war on all breeding whatever‘ [a possibly memorable quotation]. It is interesting to speculate that incidents like this might have caused Mill to eventually formulate his famous Harm Principle, and perhaps also that, given his experience with the dead child, as an advocate of contraception, that he might also have felt that abortion should be legalised.

9. False – it was Rosalind Hursthouse.

10. True

11. True

12. False – it was Joseph Fletcher who argued this.

13. True – one person could donate sperm, another an egg, a surrogate could then bear the child for childless couple. That makes 5 in total.

14. b

15. False – They disapprove because the ‘D’ in AID stands for ‘donor’. This introduces a third person into the relationship who is supplying the sperm used for Artificial Insemination. Catholics therefore see this as a form of ‘technological adultery’.

16. False – though some Christians certainly do disapprove of IVF treatment for the reason stated, the statement is still false because medical research is allowed to be carried out on embryos until the 14th (not the 12th) day of their development. This is also why some Christians may be opposed to PGD (Pre-Implantation Genetic Diagnosis), a technique used in conjunction with IVF that involves screening newly fertilised embryos for inheritable genetic conditions (e.g. Huntington’s Disease, Tay-Sachs and Down Syndrome) before the embryos are implanted in the womb. This procedure again may involve the discarding of spare embryos.

17. a – this teaching of Jesus can be found in Mark’s gospel, and in the same passage he seems to rule out re-marriage after divorce by stating that this practice is adulterous.

18. d – it’s Harvey Cox not Harvey Nichols. Harvey Nichols is a well-known department store chain. The American liberal theologian Harvey Nichols has argued that what is important is a relationship of love; whether the couple are married does not matter. Nichols goes on to suggest that in a world of fluid relationships, extramarital sex is sometimes going to be inevitable. However, he sees it as a symptom that a relationship may have broken down. The couple should recognise this and, in love and charity, move on.

19. c – it was Joseph Fletcher who argued that.

20. True – see HERE.

21. False – they thought it shouldn’t be illegal.

22. d – Aristotle thought that virtuous love could only be cultivated within a marriage. NOTE: the statement in e is a bit of new information.

23. False – it is condemned in the book of Leviticus.

24. True

25. True

26. a – The Ba’ul are actually an alien race from Star Trek who use their technological superiority to feast upon the Kelpien people. In Leviticus, the Hebrew word ‘toevah’ does not, when it is deployed, usually describe actions that are intrinsically evil, like rape or theft, but rather those that are ritually unclean for Jews, like eating pork or engaging in intercourse during menstruation. Most Christians have, of course. long since dispensed with these and other specific laws concerning diet, behaviour, dress etc. mentioned elsewhere in Leviticus. Indeed as John Boswell puts it, ‘the irrelevance of [such] verses was further emphasised by the teaching of Jesus and Paul that under the new dispensation it was not the physical violation of Levitical precepts which constituted ‘abomination’ but the interior infidelity of the soul’ [e.g. see Luke 16v15, Rom. 2v22, Titus 1v10-16]. Boswell concludes:

‘In sum, there is only one place in the writings which eventually became the Christian Bible where homosexual relations per se are clearly prohibited – Leviticus – and the context in which this prohibition occurred rendered it inapplicable to the Christian community, at least as moral law. It is almost never cited as grounds for objection to homosexual acts.’ 

27. True

28. False – the first marriages were performed in 2014 but the Bill was passed in 2013.

29. True

30. True

31. c- the title of Bentham’s work was Essay on Paederasty.

32. False – Mill wrote this in his famous essay On Liberty.

33. True

34. b – Dominian thinks that the emphasis on the procreative function of sex within marriage as maintained by Aquinas and subsequent Catholic teaching is too narrow.

35. c – Vardy regards these relationships as essentially shallow and largely affectless, drained of the love and commitment that he considers to be vital for social cohesion and mental health.

36. b – for Kant, sexual harassment of any kind would be wrong because it involves not treating someone as an ‘end in themselves’ (NOT a ‘means to an end’), a fellow rational being whose membership of the Kingdom of Ends, a community of rational creatures, automatically entitles them to respect.