On Religion: In a Manhattan Classroom, Judaism Meets the Facts of Life
I want this story spread to all corners of the net, especially those where some of my favorite bloggers sit bashing religion in general, and its views on sex in particular. Granted, I probably should learn more about what, specifically, this rabbi has to say about these complicated issues of sexuality before deciding to endorse him too strongly, but look at the types of things he says in this article:
“Sex is fun...Sex is pleasurable, no question about it.”Without knowing more specifics about his curriculum, that's the type of attitude I want sex educators, and religious educators, to have. I'm even ok with it when he says, “[Sex] really has to do with relationships. It isn’t just something you do." That falls within my range of acceptable messages, that sex is something sacred and special, and is best within a relationship. We could have some debate about what constitutes an acceptable relationship, but that essential idea is a strong part of my own sexual ethics.
“The Ramaz that I’ve associated myself with prides itself on being open to all issues, to all views, while maintaining its Modern Orthodox stance. Nowhere does that get more difficult than in the area of sexual ethics."
“I keep saying to the students as we move along in the course, ‘I believe there is a right and a wrong. But you’re going to make a decision.’ So it’s better not to just come down on them with a heavy-handed moral absolutism.”
I get very frustrated by the common perception that religion is sex-negative. Yes, some religion is, and there are definitely pieces that seek to control sexuality, but religion done properly promotes life, community, self-development, family, and happiness, and sex is a part of all of these.
In Judaism we are commanded not to just have sex, but to enjoy it. Some, unfortunately, try to regulate the definition of "enjoyment" just as they do "relaxation", "celebration", and "prayer" in other parts of life. It is regrettable they apply this constrictive viewpoint to sex, but I guess it's at least consistent.
Anyway, my point is religion and sex can co-exist happily, and promote each other. There is at least one rabbi out there teaching this; give me a few years and there will be two.