It seems to me that societies are prominently divided in the manner they choose to arrange interaction between men and women to a large extent on the basis of how they deal with the question of extra-marital sex. There are societies which are overly relaxed about the question and there are others that are exaggeratedly rigid. The end result are two hugely different arrangements which are primarily based on their attitude towards this important consideration.
There is one society which either believes extra-marital sex is a matter of personal choice and not an evil at all or even if it is, it is a small matter. People belonging to this society are quite carefree in the manner they dress up, the way men and women greet, talk to, and behave with each other. A man deals with a woman, whether his wife or not, in almost the same way. Most certainly, some men and women are more careful than others but even those who are, they do it as a matter of personal choice, and they consider it a personal matter of those who are not careful. Physical relationship between a man and a woman whether between husband and wife or others is not a serious matter to be even talked about. They believe there are other more important matters in life than this petty one. To show that they are quite relaxed about this matter, they have gatherings where couples dance wherein a husband of one woman pairs up with a wife of another man. And life goes on for them merrily.
There is another society which belongs to the other extreme. The possibility of extra-marital sex is so seriously dreaded that it is made almost impossible for men and women to meet each other except if they are very close relatives. If women appear before others, one can only see a human-like structure, fully wrapped from head to toe in clothes. Human vulnerability on the face of weakness of sex is so seriously feared that no chances are taken. The kind of social life that results as a consequence of this attitude is based on same-gender interaction: Men interact with men and women with women. Family life too is confined to meeting only the male relatives with whom marriage of women isn’t legally allowed: father, brothers, and uncles. If conditions of intermingling are going to be relaxed, it is feared, the end result would be a society ridden with extra-marital sex. Quite often when people belonging to the first group become religious, they immediately adopt the ways of the second group, taking a complete u-turn, fearing the inevitable if they would compromise on anything less.
In one society consideration of chastity is compromised for social life while in the other social life is compromised for chastity. Going by their attitudes it seems that a balance between the two considerations is not possible. If you want to achieve one goal, you will have to sacrifice the other.
Thankfully, there is a third society which is equally concerned about both considerations: leading a meaningful and rich social life and taking measures of avoiding all forms of obscenity leading to extra-marital sex. It is a society that functions according to the principles mentioned in Qur’anic verses 24: 30-31 and 58-61. People meet each other, whether relatives or friends, they are mindful of how they dress up, they are careful about the manner they look at others, but they are also concerned that life should be led in a normal manner. One doesn’t need to abandon worldly engagements to achieve self-purification and salvation in the hereafter. One needs to be disciplined in the manner one operates and be clean at heart.
While one society is a poor advertisement of liberalism which decent humans can’t join the other one gives a scary picture of religiosity which repels people instead of attracting them. God wants humans to lead a normal life of decency.