Religious Norms: Their 8 Types, And Examples

religious norms

All religions have rules that define how their believers should behave appropriately. Is about religious norms, which are very varied depending on the creed and can imply various consequences at the social level.

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

What are religious norms?

Religious norms are sets of rules that delimit a series of behaviors and habits that believers of a religion must carry out Normally, these rules are stipulated in some sacred text or are dictated by people who consider themselves representatives of the will of God or deities.

Not following these rules can be interpreted as an offense by other believers, a disobedience to God’s will or a sin. That is why, through the use of these rules, an attempt is made to prevent believers from carrying out acts that violate the designs of religion. It may also be the case that not following these rules is not seen as something so bad by society, but it is seen as something so bad by the individual, who acquires a deep feeling of guilt.

Traditionally, religious norms have attempted to regulate people’s behavior and have acquired a key importance in the correct functioning of the societies of yesteryear.


Religious norms bring together a series of characteristics, which They occur in most organized religions Let’s see the most notable ones.

1. Origin

Traditionally, the appearance of religious norms precedes legal norms, and they have laid the basis for the configuration of the legal system.

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

2. Timeless

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

This is because, within the context of obedience to a specific divinity, changing that rule or admitting a certain freedom could be interpreted as not respecting God’s designs and acting on one’s own.

3. Internal

Compliance with these rules is not expressed in an open and external way, but has more to do with agreeing to follow them or not, and, consequently, behaving according to how these rules set out.

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Each norm must be internalized and accepted by the believer himself doing so out of devotion to God or the gods he believes in.

4. Incoercible

Religious norms do not allow, in most cases, to be imposed on people by force. Each believer is free to follow the established norm or not.

Nobody forces the believer to follow the religious norm. Although each rule, according to the religion that sets them, implies a series of consequences if they are not met, they cannot be followed outside the will of the person

5. Unilateral

Unilateral refers to the fact that in religious norms there is no third person who has the ability to decide whether or not that specific norm should be respected.

That is, each person who believes in a religion has the obligation to follow the norms established by their creed, but This obligation is not determined by other people, but is a decision of the believer himself for your belief.

6. Permitted conduct

Religious norms are, in essence, those behaviors that God or the deities of a religion allow to be done and those that are not tolerated.

7. Heteronomous

The fact that they are heteronomous refers to the fact that it has been a third party, such as a prophet, a priest or another religious figure, who has dictated these rules, ensuring that they were being indicated by the deity whom they claimed to represent.

The person who dictates religious norms, but does not impose them or force their compliance, usually says that it has been through a divine revelation. The believer does not have the power to change the rules or add new ones, but rather You simply have to limit yourself to complying with them

8. Religious promise

In most religions, if you respect all the rules that have been dictated from that belief, some type of benefit or privilege is promised in life or in the afterlife

But promises of good things are not only made in case of obeying heavenly designs. In many cases, hell, eternal suffering and unhappiness are also promised in case one sins or acts against divine will.

Some examples and social implications

All religious norms have the objective of modifying the behavior of the population in such a way that it is appropriate and in accordance with the designs of what is interpreted as the will of God.

There are many, many more examples than existing religions. Next We will see a series of examples of real religious norms followed by believers of such influential religions as Islam, Judaism and Christianity, in addition to explaining their social implications.

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1. Clothing

One of the most famous religious norms of Islam It is the one that concerns the use of a certain type of clothing if you are a woman. Whether in the form of a veil that covers the hair or a burqa, a garment that covers the entire body, women in Islamic society must wear some type of garment that hides their attributes and, thus, does not provoke lust in men, so according to their religion.

Although among Islamic countries there is a lot of variation in the degree to which this religious norm is followed, in those where Sharia or Islamic law is still in force, this norm has legal consequences, such as prison, flogging or stoning.

In Christianity, both nuns and priests must wear special clothing according to their position in the religious hierarchy, in addition to these being modest and do not make them sin of pride

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

2. Food

Returning to Islam, during the month of Ramadan, The consumption of food is prohibited during the hours when the sun is in the sky When night comes, the consumption of food is allowed. This religious rule allows exceptions: children, pregnant women, menstruating women, and sick women can eat and drink according to their needs at the time they require it.

Another Islamic rule related to food, shared with Judaism, is the prohibition of consuming pork, considered an impure animal. The consumption of alcohol is also not frowned upon.

In Christianity, the wine of the mass represents the blood of Christ, although it does not mean that the abusive consumption 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 is done coinciding with the anniversary of Jesus’ death, representing the suffering that he had to suffer before his crucifixion.

3. Intervention on the body

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

Thus, Christians generally do not look favorably on tattoos or piercings, and in more radical cases, blood transfusions and vaccines. This has as a consequence the association of individuals with this type of body marks with crime or to belong to areas that are not in line with the faith.

Regarding blood transfusions and vaccines, not accepting them for religious reasons not only poses a danger to the individual themselves, but also to the people close to them who may be affected by the disease from which they are not protected.

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

In Judaism, circumcision is performed on the newborn, while in Islam a similar procedure is performed, although it should be said that this was already performed before the appearance of the Islamic religion.

These types of procedures, in which surgery is basically performed on the penis without medical purposes, can be perceived as a male version of female genital cutting, something that in the West is considered abuse towards women.

4. Animal worship

As we were already saying, there are religions like Judaism and Islam which avoid certain animals, in this case the pig.

Others, however, adore certain animals In India, cows are considered sacred animals, which cannot even be touched. As a consequence, on more than one occasion cattle, who roam the cities at will, can paralyze traffic by standing in the middle of the street and without anyone doing anything to move them away.

In Ancient Egypt, cats were seen practically as gods, and large sphinxes and statues were erected in honor of them, in addition to having certain privileges that lower-class citizens did not have the right to enjoy.

The adoration for felines was such in Egypt that homage was even paid to them once the kittens were dead, building tombs and placing their mummies in them In those same tombs, offerings to the gods were accompanied, which were very expensive.

5. Punishment of crimes

In certain Islamic countries, theft is punished with a law that is a readaptation of the ancient code of Hammurabi, which can basically be summarized with the principle of an eye for an eye. The thief, who has used his hand to commit a crime, will have his hand amputated as just punishment for his criminal act.

It should be said that in most religions, both robbery and murder are considered sins and are not accepted in any way.

6. Pilgrimage

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

In the Christian world there is the Camino de Santiago, which also moves thousands of people each year traveling through northern Spain to honor Santiago the Greater, who is buried in the Galician city of Santiago de Compostela.