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Sexual Ethics

A Theological Introduction

Todd A. Salzman

Publication Year: 2012

Two principles capture the essence of the Catholic tradition on sexual ethics: that each and every marriage act must remain open to the transmission of life, and that any human genital act must occur within the framework of marriage. In the Catholic tradition, moral sexual activity is institutionalized within the confines of marriage and procreation, and sexual morality is marital morality.

But theologians Todd Salzman and Michael Lawler contend that there is a disconnect between many of the Church's absolute sexual norms and other theological and intellectual developments explicitly recognized and endorsed in the Catholic tradition, especially since the Second Vatican Council. These developments include the shift from a primary static worldview to a historically conscious worldview, one that recognizes reality as dynamic, evolving, changing, and particular. By employing such a historically conscious worldview, alternative claims about the moral legitimacy of controversial topics such as contraception, artificial reproduction, and homosexual marriage can faithfully emerge within a Catholic context. Convinced of the central role that love, desire, and fertility play in a human life, and also in the life of Christian discipleship, the authors propose an understanding of sexuality that leads to the enhancement of human sexual relationships and flourishing.

This comprehensive introduction to Catholic sexual ethics -- complete with thought-provoking study questions at the end of each chapter -- will be sure to stimulate dialogue about sexual morality between Catholic laity, theologians, and the hierarchy. Anyone seeking a credible and informed Catholic sexual ethic will welcome this potentially revolutionary book.

Published by: Georgetown University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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Abbreviations for Sources

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pp. xi-xii

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pp. xiii-xxix

Our earlier book, The Sexual Person: Toward a Renewed Catholic Anthropology, was highly acclaimed by its academic critics and was selected by the Catholic Press Association as the best theological book of 2009. That book, however, was...

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CHAPTER 1. Sexual Morality in the Catholic Tradition: A Brief History

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pp. 1-45

Human sexual activity and the sexual ethics that seeks to order it are both sociohistorical realities and are, therefore, subject to historicity. Before we embark on a presentation of contemporary Catholic sexual anthropology and ethics, therefore, it...

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CHAPTER 2. Unitive Sexual Morality: A Revised Foundational Principle and Anthropology

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pp. 47-93

Theologians who espouse the theology articulated in Gaudium et spes find in it a foundational principle for judging all human activity, including human sexual activity: the principle of the human person adequately considered. A reasonable...

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CHAPTER 3. Marital Morality

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pp. 95-121

In the previous chapter we advanced a theoretical foundational principle for making judgments about the morality of sexual actions. That principle was articulated as follows: Sexual actions within marriage by which a couple is united intimately and...

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CHAPTER 4. Cohabitation and the Process of Marrying

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pp. 123-154

Emmanuel Ntakarutimana expresses the Central African experience of marrying in the following words. “Where Western tradition presents marriage as a point in time at which consent is exchanged between the couple in front of witnesses approved...

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CHAPTER 5. Homosexuality

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pp. 155-189

One sexual issue is today tearing the Christian churches apart. It is the issue of homosexuality. In this chapter we consider this issue in the context of scripture and the Catholic moral tradition interpreted in contemporary historical context. Our...

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CHAPTER 6. Artificial Reproductive Technologies

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pp. 191-220

In the 1950s, the marketing of effective oral contraceptives made it possible to have sexual intercourse without reproduction; in the 1980s, the marketing of artificial reproductive technologies (ARTs) made it possible to reproduce without having sexual intercourse. The Catholic Magisterium argues against the morality...

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pp. 221-232

Throughout this book, we argue that Catholic sexual morality is institutionalized within the confines of marriage and procreation, and we examine the foundations of two principles that articulate the essence of that Catholic morality. The...


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pp. 233-250

E-ISBN-13: 9781589019416
E-ISBN-10: 1589019415
Print-ISBN-13: 9781589019133
Print-ISBN-10: 158901913X

Page Count: 280
Illustrations: 1 table and 1 figure
Publication Year: 2012