An Essay in Christian Sexual Ethics
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: University of Notre Dame Press
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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I would like to thank David Alexander, Michael Almeida, Michael Beaty, Ron Belgau, Todd Buras, Sarah Coakley, Mike Darcy, Stephen Evans, Ted Furton, Richard Gale, Sherif Girgis, Alfonso Gomez- Lobo, Luke Gormally, Germain Grisez, David Jeffrey, Christian Jenner, Daniel Johnson..
Chapter 1: Introduction
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Many of the great controversies within Western Christianity in the latter half of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twentyfirst have been over sexuality. And while Christianity entered the twentieth century with agreement on a reasonably clear set of rules of sexual conduct, the...
Chapter 2: Love and Its Forms
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The central ethical concept in the New Testament is love. Usually, the Greek word is agapê or a related verb, which is typically taken by interpreters to indicate a selfless charity, while occasionally a version of philia is used, a word whose classical Greek meaning was the love in a friendship. The..
Chapter 3: Desire
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That I desire something normally helps explain why I pursue it. This much is uncontroversial. But as soon as we try to say anything more, controversies abound. I am going to argue that it is possible not to understand one’s own desires—not to know what it is that one desires. Once we have reached...
Chapter 4: The Meaningfulness of Sexuality
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Some things matter: love, truth, beauty, courage, pain, crime, joy, life, death, and suffering are clear examples. These things do not matter merely because we or our tribe or even the whole human race values or disvalues them. Someone who felt that one of these things did not matter would be blind...
Chapter 5: One Flesh, One Body
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In Genesis, we read: “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh” (2:24). Christ based a prohibition of divorce precisely..
Chapter 6: Union, Commitment, and Marriage
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I have argued that it is appropriate for higher aspects of the central case of intercourse, such as union of heart and mind, to come about through lower-level ones, like the striving for reproduction. We will not, in fact, analyze the union of heart and mind much further. It is a matter in some ways...
Chapter 7: Contraception and Natural Family Planning
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It does not follow immediately from the account of sexual union in terms of a joint bodily striving for reproduction that contraception is wrong, as I noted earlier. We have seen, after all, that sexual union appears compatible...
Chapter 8: Sexual Pleasure and Noncoital Sexual Activity
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In the case of a typical pleasure, we are taking pleasure in something meaningful, be it food, conversation, camping, or a novel. Sexual pleasure, particularly the feeling of complete sexual satisfaction1 in orgasm, is phenomenologically...
Chapter 9: Same-Sex Attraction
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While a majority of people seem to be sexually attracted primarily to members of the opposite sex, some are attracted primarily to people of the same sex and some are roughly equally attracted to people of both sexes. I will use “heterosexual,” “homosexual,” and “bisexual” to refer, respectively,...
Chapter 10: Reproduction and Technology
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Without the use of special methods, human beings reproduce in two different ways. Our primary way is to reproduce sexually through intercourse, but we also have a less common mode of asexual reproduction through the twinning of an embryo. The causes of the latter are not yet known, but it...
Chapter 11: Celibacy
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There is one final major topic, of which I shall treat only very briefly. The Christian tradition has generally held that celibacy is superior to marriage, but that marriage is itself good (this is particularly clear in Augustine’s treatise...
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About the Author
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Page Count: 464
Publication Year: 2012