Religious norms: its 8 types and examples

All religions have rules that define how their believers are to behave appropriately. It is religious norms, very varied depending on the belief and can lead to various consequences at the social level.

Although there are many religions, almost as many as there are cultures, all of their norms have a number of characteristics in common. If you want to know these characteristics, we invite you to continue reading this article.

    What are the religious norms?

    Religious norms are sets of rules that define a series of behaviors and habits that believers of a religion must adopt. Usually these rules are stipulated in a sacred text or are dictated by people who see themselves as representatives of the will of God or deities.

    Failure to follow these rules can be interpreted as an offense against other believers, disobedience to God’s will, or sin. That is why, through the use of these rules, one tries to avoid that the believers carry out acts which suppose a violation of the designs of the religion. It may also be that disregarding these rules is not seen as such a bad thing by society, but it is for the individual, who acquires a deep sense of guilt.

    Traditionally, religious norms they sought to regulate people’s behavior, And have acquired a capital importance in the proper functioning of societies before.


    Religious norms meet a number of characteristics which they occur in most organized religions. Let’s look at the most notable.

    1. Origin

    Traditionally, the emergence of religious norms precedes legal norms and they laid the foundation for the configuration of the legal system.

    This is why in many cultures, even though there is a more or less secular legal system which legislates on the correct behavior of citizens, their laws are generally based on ancient rules formulated from a religious perspective.


    Religious norms are difficult to change over time. Unlike social and legislative norms, which allow a greater degree of change, religious norms they can stay for hundreds of years without any modification.

    Indeed, in the context of obedience to a particular deity, changing this rule or admitting some freedom could be interpreted as not respecting the purposes of God and acting on its own.

    3. Internal

    Respect for these rules is not expressed openly and outwardly, but has more to do with accepting to follow them or not, and therefore behavior depending on how these rules are set.

    Every rule must be internalized and accepted by the believer himself, Do it out of devotion to God or to the gods in whom he believes.

    4. Incredible

    Religious norms do not, in most cases, allow them to be imposed on people by the use of force. Every believer is free to follow or not to follow the established rule.

    No one forces the believer to follow the religious standard. Although each rule, depending on the religion that marks them, has a number of consequences in the event of non-compliance, they cannot be tracked outside the person’s will.

    5. Unilateral

    Refers unilaterally to the fact that in religious norms there is no third party who has the capacity to decide whether or not to respect that particular norm.

    In other words, anyone who believes in a religion has an obligation to follow the rules set by their belief, but this obligation is not determined by other people, but is a decision of the believer himself towards their belief.

    6. Authorized driving

    Religious norms are, in essence, those behaviors that God or the divinities of a religion allow to accomplish and those who are not tolerated.

    7. Heteronomes

    With this they are heteronomous, it is referred to the fact that it is a third party, such as a prophet, priest or other religious figure, who has dictated these standards, ensuring that the deity has been indicated to them to whom it has told represent.

    The person who dictates religious norms, but does not impose or oblige them to observe them, usually says that it was done by means of divine revelation. The believer does not have the power to change the rules or add new ones, but you just have to limit yourself to respecting them.

    8. Religious promise

    In most religions, if you follow all the rules that have been dictated by that belief, some kind of advantage or privilege is promised in life or in the hereafter.

    But not only are promises of good things made in the event of obedience to heavenly designs. In many cases, hell, eternal suffering, and unhappiness are also promised in the event that it is small or opens against divine will.

      Some examples and social implications

      All religious norms aim to change the conduct of the people so that it is appropriate and in accordance with the purposes of what is interpreted as the will of God.

      There are many more examples than the existing religions. Then we will see a number of examples of true religious norms, Followed by believers in religions as influential as Islam, Judaism and Christianity, as well as an explanation of their social implications.

      1. Clothing

      One of the most famous religious norms in Islam it is the use of a certain type of clothing if one is female. Whether in the form of a veil that covers the hair of a burqa, a garment that covers the whole body, the woman in Islamic society must wear some kind of garment that hides her attributes and therefore does not cause lust. among men, according to their religion.

      Although among Islamic countries the degree of adherence to this religious norm is very varied, in those in which Sharia or Islamic law remains in force, this norm has legal consequences, such as imprisonment, flogging or stoning.

      In Christianity, nuns and chaplains are required to wear special clothing according to their position in the religious hierarchy, in addition to being modest and don’t make them sin with pride.

      Another example of this is the case of married Christian women, those who must wear white as a symbol of their purity and virginity.

      2. Food

      Back to Islam, during the month of Ramadan, the consumption of food during the hours when the sun is in the sky is prohibited. At night, food is allowed. This religious norm allows exceptions: children, pregnant and menstruating women and the sick can eat and drink according to their needs when they need it.

      Another Islamic rule related to food, shared with Judaism, is the ban on eating pork, Considered an unclean animal. Alcohol consumption is also not well regarded.

      In Christianity, the wine of the Mass represents the blood of Christ, although this does not mean that the abuse of this drug is viewed favorably.

      During Holy Week, red meat is not eaten in most Catholic countries, Replacing it with chicken or fish. This coincides with the anniversary of Jesus’ death, representing the sufferings he had to endure before his crucifixion.

      3. Intervention on the body

      Religions like Christianity do not accept to intervene on the body, because it is seen as a creation of God and therefore only it has the right to modify what it has created.

      So Christians in general do not look favorably on tattoos or piercings, and in more radical cases, blood transfusions and vaccines. This has as consequences associating individuals with this type of body mark with the crime or belong to areas incompatible with the faith.

      With regard to blood transfusions and vaccines, not accepting them for religious reasons presents not only a danger for the individual himself, but also for his relatives who may be affected by the disease they protect.

      On the other hand, in religions such as Hinduism and in various religions of the Pacific body modification is a religious symbol. Hindu women wear nose piercings and ceremonial tattoos are common in Polynesian religions.

      In Judaism, the baby is circumcised, while in Islam a similar procedure is performed, although it must be said that this was already done before the emergence of the Islamic religion.

      Such procedures, in which surgery is mostly performed on the penis without a medical purpose, can be seen as a male version of female genital ablation, which in the West is seen as poor treatment of women.

      4. worship animals

      As we said, there are religions like Judaism and Islam that shy away from certain animals, in this case the pig.

      Others, on the other hand, love certain animals.. In India, cows are considered sacred animals, which cannot even be touched. As a result, on several occasions, the cattle, which roam the cities in the open air, can paralyze the movement of plants in the middle of the street and without anyone doing anything to keep them away.

      In ancient Egypt, cats were practically considered gods, and large sphinxes and statues were erected in their honor, in addition to having certain privileges that citizens of the lower realms were not allowed to enjoy.

      The cult of felines was such in Egypt that even a tribute was paid to them after the death of the kittens, build graves and place their mummies there. In these same tombs, they were accompanied by offerings to the gods, which were very dear.

      5. Punishment of crimes

      In some Islamic countries, theft is punished by a law which is a re-adaptation of the old Hammurabi code, which can basically be summed up as the eye for the eye principle. The thief, who used his hand to commit a crime, will see his amputated hand as a just punishment for his criminal act.

      It should be noted that in most religions, theft and murder are both considered sins and are in no way accepted.

        6. Pilgrimage

        In Islam, there is the religious norm to visit Mecca, a sacred Arab city, at least once in your life. Every year, millions of Muslims visit this city to gather in the square where the Kaaba is and pray around it.

        In the Christian world there is the Camino de Santiago, which also moves thousands of people each year through northern Spain to honor Santiago the Great, who is buried in the Galician city of St. Jacques-de-Compostelle.

        Bibliographical references:

        • Jaki, SL (1985). The path of science and the paths to God. 3rd ed.

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