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Love the Sin

Sexual Regulation and the Limits of Religious Tolerance

Janet Jakobsen, Ann Pellegrini

Publication Year: 2003

Sex. Religion. There is no denying that these two subjects are among the most provocative in American public life. Even the constitutional principle of church-state separation seems to give way when it comes to sex: the Supreme Court draws on theology as readily as it draws on case law when rendering decisions that touch on sexuality.

In this compelling and carefully argued study, Janet R. Jakobsen and Ann Pellegrini examine this powerful and disturbing connection as they explore the reasons why secular institutions habitually use religion to regulate sexual life. From state legislatures to the halls of Congress and the Supreme Court, from daily newspapers to popular magazines and television talk shows, Jakobsen and Pellegrini illustrate the intensity of America's obsession with sex in the name of values and the dangers it poses to some of our most basic freedoms.

Using a wide range of case studies, Love the Sin offers an insightful critique of the ways in which sexuality in general and homosexuality in particular are discussed and debated in the public arena. Additionally, the book sets forth constructive alternatives that highlight the vital links between sexual and religious freedom and expose the hazards of using religion as a justification for regulating sexuality.

A timely, necessary, and refreshing contribution to the many debates surrounding religion, morality, and sex, Love the Sin boldly dreams an America that lives up to its promise of freedom and justice for all.

Published by: NYU Press


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p. vii

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pp. ix-xiii

This book marks a different kind of writing for both of us. Not only is it collaborative, when collaborative articles and books in the humanities are a rarity (especially in comparison to the sciences and social sciences), but it also represents something of a departure from the densely footnoted work we have produced in our more traditionally academic writing. ...

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Introduction: Why Religion, Why Sex?

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pp. 1-17

Love the Sinner. Hate the Sin. This familiar catch-phrase seems to be the guide forthinking about a number of contemporary moral issues, particularly those having to do with sex. In debates over homosexuality, reproductive rights, and teen pregnancy and welfare policy, the distinction between sin and sinner, act and person, seems to provide...

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1. Getting Religion

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pp. 19-44

One of the most puzzling, yet persistent, features of public life in the United States is how quickly talking about sex turns into talking about religion and, conversely, how quickly talking about religion turns into talking about sex. It is not simply that religion is the context for public debates and policy making around sex; rather, in a fundamental sense, ...

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2. What’s Wrong with Tolerance?

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pp. 45-73

“Love the sinner and hate the sin” is an inadequate formulation for dealing with the politics of sexuality. The line between whom we are supposed to love (the sinner) and what we are supposed to hate (the sin) is impossibly movable and contradictory. ...

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3. Not Born That Way

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pp. 75-101

In his blistering dissent in Romer v. Evans (which we discussed at length in chapter 1) Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia accused homosexuals (and their advocates) of dedicating themselves “to achieving not merely a grudging social toleration, but full social acceptance, of homosexuality.” ...

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4. The Free Exercise of Sex

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pp. 103-126

Rethinking sexual freedom in terms of practices rather than those of the overarching enlightenment narratives of liberation, is a major project. Is it really possible to practice freedom in the American context? In this chapter, we turn to a constitutionally protected freedom that specifically names practice—the free exercise of religion. ...

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5. Valuing Sex

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pp. 127-147

What does it mean to take sex seriously as a site for the production of values? Sexual relations are human relations, and the activity of making sex forges these relations. We use the language of “making sex” (rather than “making love”) because, as we stated in the previous chapter, we don’t think that the value of sex necessarily depends upon whether...

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Conclusion: Open Endings, Dreaming America

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pp. 149-151

The tolerance of “love the sinner, hate the sin” is antidemocratic. Democracy has to mean more than coercive homogeneity. For those who are the measure of the norm there’s no great problem because their values form the center of public life and national identity; but for those who are in any way different from this dominant identity—whether in terms of race, ...


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pp. 153-167


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pp. 169-174

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About the Authors

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p. 175

A former policy analyst and lobbyist in Washington, D.C., Janet R. Jakobsen is Director of the Center for Research on Women at Barnard College. She is the author of Working Alliances and the Politics of Difference: Diversity and Feminist Ethics. ...

E-ISBN-13: 9780814743256
E-ISBN-10: 0814743250
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814742648
Print-ISBN-10: 0814742645

Page Count: 176
Publication Year: 2003

OCLC Number: 76898852
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Love the Sin

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Subject Headings

  • Gay rights -- United States.
  • Homosexuality -- Government policy -- United States.
  • Homosexuality -- Religious aspects -- Christianity.
  • Gay rights -- Religious aspects -- Christianity.
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