LOVE AND SEX: A Modern Jewish Perspective by Robert Gordis

LOVE AND SEX: A Modern Jewish Perspective

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In matters of sex, Judaism counsels legal restraint and moral pressure, Rabbi Gordis tells us: easy divorce and few divorces, homosexual rights and, it is fair to say, a minimum of homosexuality. The appeal of this ethos lies in its equation of love and (hetero)sex--in contradistinction to the long-dominant Christian view of sex as a sin and a target for repression, to which, in Gordis' view, ""so much of the current moral chaos must be attributed."" With not a little lamentation, he leads the reader through history to the sexual revolution; traces the Jewish attitude toward sex, love, and marriage from the Old Testament forward, stressing ""the joy of sexual activity"" and the sanctity of marriage; and proceeds to consider such current issues as birth control, abortion, extramarital relations, etc., in the light of Jewish tradition. Sources in the Bible, the Talmud, and subsequent rabbinic literature are explored and, where necessary, reconciled--to the end that, for instance, therapeutic abortions are condoned while ""the alleged right of abortion on demand"" is denied; ""It is basic Jewish teaching that no human being is master of his own body."" In a broader vein, Gordis takes up women's (restricted) role in Jewish life, the knotty problem of intermarriage (to be ameliorated, perhaps, by ""welcoming non-Jews into full membership""), and prospective ways to disseminate Jewish thinking. While the last tends to be parochial, and the book as a whole is didactic, it constitutes more than a prescribed code of conduct: numerous Jews (and some others) will find its precepts, if not wholly palatable, at least reasoned and responsible.

Pub Date: March 6th, 1978
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux