Sweet Gifts: A Jewish Response to Gilbert Meilaender

Journal of Religious Ethics 29 (1):19 - 23 (2001)
Judaism, like Gilbert Meilaender, analogizes food and sex. Traditionally, Judaism saw the primary purpose of sex as procreation, the fulfillment of a biblical mandate. It did not, however, link sex to the Garden of Eden story, and it acknowledged that sex was also important for couples' bonding. While Meilaender sees bonding as a value co-equal with procreation, Judaism traditionally kept procreation as the primary goal. Couples were encouraged to have sex when infertile and were permitted contraception when pregnancy endangered life, but whenever possible, they were directed to also have sex for procreation. Many modern rabbis, in agreement with Meilaender, permit contraception in order to foster bonding as a separate goal of sex. However, reproductive technology is seen, in Judaism, as partnership with God, allowing for a process of birth that is as natural as the process of producing food by farming. Last, when sex is permitted, Judaism celebrates the joy attendant to sex as a Divine gift
Keywords reproductive technologies  sexual pleasure  asceticism  contraception  original sin
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