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Making Love Just

Sexual Ethics for Perplexing times

by Marvin M. Ellison

Publication Year: 2012

These days sexual sin is far less about sex and far more about the misuse of power and exploitation of vulnerability. It's time to redraw the ethical map. But how should a contemporary Christian ethic of sexuality be formulated? Marvin Ellison, a pioneer in contemporary Christian rethinking of sexuality and sexual ethics, uses a series of provocative questions to increase readers' skills and confidence for engaging in ethical deliberation about sexuality. Students and all adults will welcome this book for enabling their personal clarity, approach to relationships, and mindful participation in respectful moral debate.

Published by: Augsburg Fortress Publishers


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pp. 1-3

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 4-7


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pp. viii-9

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pp. ix-11

This book was conceived during the 2009 marriage equality campaign in Maine when it became clear that many people were feeling challenged not only about sexual difference and how to talk publicly about sex and sexuality, but also about ethical values and how to engage publicly in ethical inquiry. Friends and colleagues helped me early on give shape to this project and have given me ongoing...

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pp. 1-6

This book is an invitation to ethical inquiry about sex and sexual values. Given all the personal conflicts and cultural controversies that continue to swirl around human sexuality, an ethical guide for those who find themselves sexually perplexed seems necessary. Who among us is ever surprised to hear people say that they are not well prepared to engage in ethical deliberation about these matters? We might even include ourselves among those...

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Chapter 1: Why Do We Have to Keep Talking about Sex All the Time?

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pp. 7-22

As a Christian ethicist, my short answer to this question of why we must keep talking about sex, sexuality, and sexual ethics is because harm is being done. This harm burdens both individuals and the community, and it causes suffering. Moreover, this harm is caused by injustice. In order to bring healing and hope, we must pursue a broad social justice agenda that embraces a passionate commitment to sexual justice. To begin with, in cultures strongly influenced by traditional Christian norms about purity, women, and sexuality...

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Chapter 2: What Makes “Good Sex” Good?

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pp. 23-40

For persons interested in sex, or perhaps more to the point, in how to have really good sex, the Christian tradition offers little help. If by good sex we mean sex that is pleasurable and powerful to the senses, the Christian tradition will disappoint because it has by and large promulgated a highly restrictive and often quite punitive moral code that warns incessantly about the dangers of illicit pleasures, places severe limits on...

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Chapter 3: Is It Still Adultery If the Spouse Has Alzheimer’s?

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pp. 41-58

Christians have traditionally drawn a hard line between monogamy and nonmonogamy and presumed that ethical marriages are marked by monogamy, sexual exclusivity, and permanence. Because of the widespread practice of divorce and remarriage, the ideal of a lifelong intimate partnership may persist, but significant numbers of people practice what may be called serial monogamy. It is not unusual for people, over the...

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Chapter 4: Is Same-Sex Marriage a “Must”or a “Bust”?

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pp. 59-76

Humor can be a seriously effective way to acknowledge the difficulty—and the delight—of putting conflicting issues into perspective, which is one of the ongoing tasks of ethical inquiry. As ethicist Daniel Maguire observes, “Often the cartoon is more insightful than the editorial.” Or, again, with a bit more solemnity he points out that humor is “good for ethics” because “humor has an epistemological function: it shakes the foundations of settled surety.”2 With that insight in mind...

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Chapter 5: Why Don’t Batterers Just Leave and Rapists Just Cease and Desist?

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pp. 77-98

A Christian ethic seeking to promote sexual justice dare not gloss over the fact that people often live and love in social and relational contexts of power inequities, violence, and injustice. As ethicist Karen Lebacqz rightly suggests, “To be adequate, Christian moral reflection must begin with real experience, not with romantic fantasies about love, marriage, and the family.”3 Accordingly, in sorting out our ethical roles and responsibilities, what if we begin by paying attention to the pervasive patterns of sexualized violence...

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Chapter 6: Is “Pro-Choice” What We Mean to Say?

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pp. 99-114

Pregnancy happens. So does abortion. Worldwide, some 210 million women become pregnant each year. About six out of ten (63 percent) of these pregnancies result in live births, while more than two out of ten (22 percent) end in abortion and the remaining 15 percent in miscarriage. In the United States, about six million pregnancies occur...

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Chapter 7: What Do We Have to Learn From, as Well as Teach, Young People about Sex?

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pp. 115-138

Just as faith communities have a mandate to promote justice and compassion in all things and strengthen our interpersonal and communal ties as sexual-spiritual persons, so too do they have a responsibility to equip people for the challenges and joys of becoming passionate and principled lovers in the bedroom and beyond. Sexuality encompasses genital sex but refers more expansively to our divinely given desire for physical, emotional, and spiritual...

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pp. 139-142

Several assumptions have informed this examination of human sexuality and sexual ethics. First, the conventional Christian approach to sex and sexuality, most often negative and rule-oriented, is woefully inadequate. It has left people only further perplexed when it comes to sorting out these humanly significant, yet difficult questions about erotic power, gender and sexual difference, intimate rela-tionships, and life together in community. Second, an alternative ethic is needed, one that is sex-positive, respectful of sexual diversity, and invested in challenging sexual ...


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pp. 143-158


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pp. 159-161

E-ISBN-13: 9781451424409
E-ISBN-10: 145142440X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780800698843
Print-ISBN-10: 0800698843

Page Count: 176
Publication Year: 2012