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Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics Paperback – February 15, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0826429247 ISBN-10: 0826429246 Edition: 0th

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic (February 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826429246
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826429247
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.2 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #136,453 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

'In a world of moral confusion and ethical compromise, the principles for which Margaret Farley stands have shone as a lodestar of hope. Or perhaps like a beacon, for her life and work guide us though the haze of uncertainty in which we nowadays perforce live, leading us always toward the good and the real.' - Sherwin Nuland, author of How We Live and How We Die.



Reference & Research Book News/ August 2006
(mention)

'On a topic about which too many angry polemics are written, Farley's calm, commonsense style comes as a relief...This will be a wonderful book to use with students...In a society where sex is used to sell nearly everything...Margaret Farley has the guts and the clarity of mind to give as a third alternative to "narrowly constituted moral systems and rules" on the one hand and sexual chaos on the other.'
William C. Placher, Christian Century, October 17th 2006
(The Christian Century)

Just Love carries to a new level Farley's analysis of different world-views and cultural systems....As a theologian, Farley gives us a social ethic of sex that incorporates both the biblical "option for the poor" and the orientation of Catholic social thought to the universal common good. As a feminist, she reminds Catholics that their tradition should make its global option for women more consistent, more explicit and more effective, especially in the areas of sex, motherhood, marriage and family.' ~ Lisa Sowell Cahill, America, December 2006
(Lisa Sowle Cahill, J. Donald Monan Professor of Theology, Boston College)



'This is an excellent work by a leading Roman Catholic feminist and ethicist, written with flair, clarity, and absence of jargon. The many changing circumstances surrounding sexuality are well described. The influence of Foucault and Freud is critically introduced. The Christian traditions of thinking abut sex, and their indebtedness to Graeco-Roman assumptions, are helpfully summarised.' (Adrian Thatcher, Church Times, February 2007 Church Times)

"Farley is best known for her largeness of spirit and for the demanding intelligence she brings to her teaching and writing. Her new book exudes those qualities...Farley's manner is academic but not obscure, and once readers grow comfortable with it, they will reap the benefits of wisdom gleaned from decades of teaching and scholarship...I consider Just Love an important resource and spur for further collaboration among Christians and others on the knotty issues of sexual ethics. Throughout her book, Farley evinces the sort of intellectual modesty that comes from great learning and an open mind....Just Love does not provide all the answers concerning sexual ethics. But it does lay out a serious and solid framework for thinking about them."
(Luke Timothy Johnson, Commonweal Commonweal)

"The double entendre of the title, is only the start of an excellent book. Margaret Farley examines the meaning of human sexuality and how this meaning can be incorporated into what she terms "a moral view of human and Christian life." Eschewing simple answers to what can be murky questions, and withholding judgment based in either a strictly deontological approach or a relativized culturally conditioned ethic on sexual issues, Farley sets out to establish adequate criteria to judge the goodness or rightness of the human sexual interaction. While she neither denies or dismisses the insights of western culture, including the teaching and tradition of the Catholic Church, she embraces the healthy anthropology of that tradition that assumes human beings can continue to learn more about themselves and their sexuality. Insights can be found in many areas, including the conclusions of alternative sexual ethical frameworks proposed by contemporary thinkers. New knowledge may press beyond past conclusions, resulting in the development of new normative positions. The author does not promise answers, but rather proposes a framework from which answers can be derived. The marvel of the book is that she has managed in just 300 pages to cover so much ground and do it so well.
"...Farley's work, the patina of her practical wisdom and passionate caring gives heart to what is a highly scholarly work. The author's colleagues, students and other readersdare I say "devotees"will not be disappointed in Just Love. Farley has, in her usual fashion, covered the topic with impeccable scholarship, practical wisdom and a compassion and acceptance for the existential reality of human beings in a sexual world. The book, while clearly not an ideal beach book, will keep the reader interested to the end."
(Catholic Books Review)

Farley's book can be recommended for scholar and novice alike. The work is eminently readable, despite the profundity of its subject matter. It is extensively documented, with clarifying and often lengthy footnotes, which the average person may simply ignore...nearly 300 works are cited in the explanatory notes."
(Bondings)

"This book offers both the comprehensive presentation of the voices that have shaped the present state of the question and a constructive proposal that argues that these voices require a consistent and comprehensive account of justice as the foundation for sexual ethics ... This is why classics are - and should be - read broadly by those within and outside of a field of study, by experts and the general reader. This is why Farley's Just Love is, at the least, a contemporary classic in Christian sexual ethics." - Timothy F. Sedgwick, Anglican Theological Seminary, May 2007

"Farley's eagerly anticipated book delivers exactly what it ambitiously promises: a framework for Christian sexual ethics.... Consistent with her earlier works, such as Personal Commitments (1986) and "An Ethics for Same-Sex Relations" (in A Challenge to Love [1983]). Through them all she is developing tools by which we can thoroughly and thoughtfully evaluate practices within their particular situations and cultural contexts, rather than laying out permanent norms (which she believes often function as taboos, short-circulating moral reflection). New here is her careful demonstration of means for employing diverse contemporary, global, and cumulative Western thinking on sexuality. For the benefit of students and informed general readers F. efficiently surveys the important primary and secondary sources but she also performs a subtle service for specialists.... Her broad norms and caveats are clear and convincing; copious footnotes guide the reader to all the major sources and controversies in the Western history and ethics of sexuality, and to many global ones. The book is highly recommended for scholars in the field and for graduate students as an introduction to ethical method generally."- Cristina L. H. Traina, Theological Studies
(Theological Studies)

"What distinguishes a contribution and a classic in a field of study is the difference between works that further a conversation and works that reconstruct the conversation. This is why classics are (and should be) read broadly by those within and outside of a field of study, by "experts" and the "general reader." This is why Farley's Just Love is (at the least) a contemporary classic in Christian sexual ethics." - Anglican Theological Review
(Anglican Theological Review)

"This book is a gigantic contribution to the discourse and understanding of human sexuality. It is monumental. It turns the entrenched dictates of the Vatican on their head...opens the subject of sex to rational discourse by Christian people, and acknowledges the direction from which the source of light comes—reason and science informed by just love open to all."
Richard Sipe


"Just Love responds eloquently to the quest for enduring meanings of embodiment, gender identity, and sexuality that might ground moral wisdom in the face of cultural diversity and a growing skepticism about the adequacy of normative frameworks in sexual ethics...Farley has written a text that is at once compassionate and wise, inclusive, and moving. She draws on poetry as well as philosophy, historical studies, scientific research, and the meanings of sexuality. Theologians and their advance students, pastoral guides, and adults searching for wisdom in relationships will all appreciate this book." —Rosemarie E. Gorman, Religious Studies Review, Vol. 33, No. 2, April 2007
(Rosemarie E. Gorman)

Mention of title winning Grawemeyer Religion Award in Earth Times, December 2007


"This important book by Margaret A. Farley, professor emerita of Christian ethics at Yale Divinity School and member of the Sisters of Mary, won the prestigious Grawemeyer award, administered by the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary...Young people, parents, and pastors are challenged to work together to help us all lead sexually responsible lives in the light of Farley's challenge to practice 'just love.'" —The American Catholic (Joseph Cunneen)

"This book is a serious primer for anyone who wants to think about sexual ethics in some depth. The scholarship is impeccable, and the footnotes not only give the broad sources but are often interesting in themselves." - Catholic Herald


"she intelligently examines the evidence surrounding the questions from a variety of perspectives
...The book is broad enough to be relevant and appeal to a wider audience than solely the Christian...The book is very readable."
INTAMS ( Journal for the study of Marriage and Spirituality), vol.13/2, autumn 2007
(Anna Abraham)

"Margaret Farley's Just Love won the 2008 Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Religio...The award is well deserved for Just Love, which takes the powerful idea that justice is the criterion for morally good human love and applies it to sexual ethics in a style that is clear yet substantive, learned yet free of academic jargon"
"Just Kove forwards a substantive framework for thinking about sexual ethics and handles concrete moral issues with sensivity and compassion. This volume will become a standard in university ethics courses and should be welcomed as a resource for parish adult education groups"
1 July 2009
(Darlene Fozard Weaver Theology)

"This spring I taught a course to undergraduates at Macalester College on the topic "Religion, Gender, and Sexuality", in which Farley's book was a required text. In that context it proved to be an invaluable tool for two reasons. First, it provided my students with clear and readable summaries of much literature already covered but which is not as stylistically lucid as Farley's prose. Second, her book was a marvellous manual for teaching students what goes into the making of an ethical argument and how they might go about constructing such a normative position on secular ethics for themselves. Since most of the secular literature we read was mainly of a descriptive or explanatory nature, while the religious and theological literature articulated those normative views on gender and sexuality that are problematic for this current generation of college students, Farley helped them to synthesize various contemporary viewpoints critical of the Christian tradition with a revised approach to ethical reflection. Her book validates the experiential and intellectual reasons persons have to be critical of the church's inherited sexual morality, at the same time that she clarifies why Christian faith itself provides a warrant for ethical revision on behalf of its distinctive vision of what human life may and should be when lived out of a love that just is. There is no better book on Christian sexual ethics. Tolle, lege: take and read." —Paul E. Capetz, Touchstone (Paul E. Capetz)

"In 2008, Margaret Farley received the Grawemeyer Award in Religion for her achievement in Just Love. This prize, which places Just Love in the company of works such as Marilynne Robinson's Gilead and Jurgen Moltmann's The Coming of God, indicates the respect the book commands...Just Love represents both a contribution to the developing literature of relational ethics and a 'creative reconstruction' of the natural law tradition, broadly conceived...Reflecting on the natural realities of human nature and experience, she outlines a universally applicable justice ethic and undertakes to identify common ground upon which all persons of good will can reason together about moral perplexities relating to our interactions as embodied, gendered, sexual beings...This book, then, consolidates and systematizes the central themes and intentions of Margaret Farley's truly remarkable career."
-D.M. Yeager, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Sept. 2009


Reference & Research Book News/ August 2006
(Sanford Lakoff)

Just Love carries to a new level Farley's analysis of different world-views and cultural systems....As a theologian, Farley gives us a social ethic of sex that incorporates both the biblical "option for the poor" and the orientation of Catholic social thought to the universal common good. As a feminist, she reminds Catholics that their tradition should make its global option for women more consistent, more explicit and more effective, especially in the areas of sex, motherhood, marriage and family.' ~ Lisa Sowell Cahill, America, December 2006
(Sanford Lakoff)



"Farley is best known for her largeness of spirit and for the demanding intelligence she brings to her teaching and writing. Her new book exudes those qualities...Farley's manner is academic but not obscure, and once readers grow comfortable with it, they will reap the benefits of wisdom gleaned from decades of teaching and scholarship...I consider Just Love an important resource and spur for further collaboration among Christians and others on the knotty issues of sexual ethics. Throughout her book, Farley evinces the sort of intellectual modesty that comes from great learning and an open mind....Just Love does not provide all the answers concerning sexual ethics. But it does lay out a serious and solid framework for thinking about them."
(Sanford Lakoff Commonweal)

“The double entendre of the title, is only the start of an excellent book. Margaret Farley examines the meaning of human sexuality and how this meaning can be incorporated into what she terms “a moral view of human and Christian life.” Eschewing simple answers to what can be murky questions, and withholding judgment based in either a strictly deontological approach or a relativized culturally conditioned ethic on sexual issues, Farley sets out to establish adequate criteria to judge the goodness or rightness of the human sexual interaction. While she neither denies or dismisses the insights of western culture, including the teaching and tradition of the Catholic Church, she embraces the healthy anthropology of that tradition that assumes human beings can continue to learn more about themselves and their sexuality. Insights can be found in many areas, including the conclusions of alternative sexual ethical frameworks proposed by contemporary thinkers. New knowledge may press beyond past conclusions, resulting in the development of new normative positions. The author does not promise answers, but rather proposes a framework from which answers can be derived. The marvel of the book is that she has managed in just 300 pages to cover so much ground and do it so well.
“…Farley’s work, the patina of her practical wisdom and passionate caring gives heart to what is a highly scholarly work. The author’s colleagues, students and other readersdare I say ”devotees”will not be disappointed in Just Love. Farley has, in her usual fashion, covered the topic with impeccable scholarship, practical wisdom and a compassion and acceptance for the existential reality of human beings in a sexual world. The book, while clearly not an ideal beach book, will keep the reader interested to the end.”
(Sanford Lakoff)

Just Love is a thoughtful reexamination of 'justice in loving’ within the sexual sphere, including lesbian/gay relationships. Subtitled A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics, the new work offers a fundamental but updated set of ethical principles, based on well articulated norms of justice.
Farley’s book can be recommended for scholar and novice alike. The work is eminently readable, despite the profundity of its subject matter. It is extensively documented, with clarifying and often lengthy footnotes, which the average person may simply ignore…nearly 300 works are cited in the explanatory notes.”
(Sanford Lakoff)

"This book offers both the comprehensive presentation of the voices that have shaped the present state of the question and a constructive proposal that argues that these voices require a consistent and comprehensive account of justice as the foundation for sexual ethics ... This is why classics are - and should be - read broadly by those within and outside of a field of study, by experts and the general reader. This is why Farley’s Just Love is, at the least, a contemporary classic in Christian sexual ethics." - Timothy F. Sedgwick, Anglican Theological Seminary, May 2007

“Farley’s eagerly anticipated book delivers exactly what it ambitiously promises: a framework for Christian sexual ethics…. Consistent with her earlier works, such as Personal Commitments (1986) and “An Ethics for Same-Sex Relations” (in A Challenge to Love [1983]). Through them all she is developing tools by which we can thoroughly and thoughtfully evaluate practices within their particular situations and cultural contexts, rather than laying out permanent norms (which she believes often function as taboos, short-circulating moral reflection). New here is her careful demonstration of means for employing diverse contemporary, global, and cumulative Western thinking on sexuality. For the benefit of students and informed general readers F. efficiently surveys the important primary and secondary sources but she also performs a subtle service for specialists…. Her broad norms and caveats are clear and convincing; copious footnotes guide the reader to all the major sources and controversies in the Western history and ethics of sexuality, and to many global ones. The book is highly recommended for scholars in the field and for graduate students as an introduction to ethical method generally.”- Cristina L. H. Traina, Theological Studies
(Sanford Lakoff)

"Just Love responds eloquently to the quest for enduring meanings of embodiment, gender identity, and sexuality that might ground moral wisdom in the face of cultural diversity and a growing skepticism about the adequacy of normative frameworks in sexual ethics…Farley has written a text that is at once compassionate and wise, inclusive, and moving. She draws on poetry as well as philosophy, historical studies, scientific research, and the meanings of sexuality. Theologians and their advance students, pastoral guides, and adults searching for wisdom in relationships will all appreciate this book." —Rosemarie E. Gorman, Religious Studies Review, Vol. 33, No. 2, April 2007
(Sanford Lakoff)

“This important book by Margaret A. Farley, professor emerita of Christian ethics at Yale Divinity School and member of the Sisters of Mary, won the prestigious Grawemeyer award, administered by the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary…Young people, parents, and pastors are challenged to work together to help us all lead sexually responsible lives in the light of Farley’s challenge to practice 'just love.’” –The American Catholic (Sanford Lakoff)

"she intelligently examines the evidence surrounding the questions from a variety of perspectives
...The book is broad enough to be relevant and appeal to a wider audience than solely the Christian...The book is very readable."
INTAMS ( Journal for the study of Marriage and Spirituality), vol.13/2, autumn 2007
(Sanford Lakoff)

"Margaret Farley's Just Love won the 2008 Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Religio...The award is well deserved for Just Love, which takes the powerful idea that justice is the criterion for morally good human love and applies it to sexual ethics in a style that is clear yet substantive, learned yet free of academic jargon"
"Just Kove forwards a substantive framework for thinking about sexual ethics and handles concrete moral issues with sensivity and compassion. This volume will become a standard in university ethics courses and should be welcomed as a resource for parish adult education groups"
1 July 2009
(Sanford Lakoff Theology)

"This spring I taught a course to undergraduates at Macalester College on the topic "Religion, Gender, and Sexuality", in which Farley's book was a required text. In that context it proved to be an invaluable tool for two reasons. First, it provided my students with clear and readable summaries of much literature already covered but which is not as stylistically lucid as Farley's prose. Second, her book was a marvellous manual for teaching students what goes into the making of an ethical argument and how they might go about constructing such a normative position on secular ethics for themselves. Since most of the secular literature we read was mainly of a descriptive or explanatory nature, while the religious and theological literature articulated those normative views on gender and sexuality that are problematic for this current generation of college students, Farley helped them to synthesize various contemporary viewpoints critical of the Christian tradition with a revised approach to ethical reflection. Her book validates the experiential and intellectual reasons persons have to be critical of the church's inherited sexual morality, at the same time that she clarifies why Christian faith itself provides a warrant for ethical revision on behalf of its distinctive vision of what human life may and should be when lived out of a love that just is. There is no better book on Christian sexual ethics. Tolle, lege: take and read." —Paul E. Capetz, Touchstone (Sanford Lakoff)

About the Author

Margaret A. Farley holds the Gilbert L. Stark Chair in Christian Ethics and Professor Emerita at Yale University Divinity School. She was awarded the 2007 St Elizabeth Setan Medal and 2008 Grawemeyer award. She is also apast president of the Society of Christian Ethics and the Catholic Theological Society of America.

More About the Author

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Customer Reviews

Margaret Farley, R.S.M., Ph.
Amazon Customer
I am grateful to be currently reading this book - am half way through it and will read it to the end.
Joyce K
It is well written and well thought out.
V. M. Cooke

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

220 of 254 people found the following review helpful By Julie Balamut on January 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Dr. Farley's book is carefully written and convincingly argued. As a Catholic moral theologian in these times of limited theological discourse especially on matters concerning sexual ethics, I give Dr. Farley major credit for taking on this subject with honesty and courage. The book provides a wide range of historical evidence on many religious traditions regarding sexuality and she builds to the promise of the virtue of justice based on the human condition in regard to love, most importantly, that is everyone's due and the role of sexuality in love. My favorite part of her book is her discussion of moving beyond only the physical expression of sexuality that she quite rightly, I think, states has had too much emphasis throughout history and trips us up to this day and argues for the importance of the human need and importance of love. I hope all thoughtful, spiritual readers of all religious traditions and sexual orientation who want a thoughtful, well-reasoned theological study and argument for justice in love read this book. Dr. Farley is a refreshing, thoughtful voice on this subject.
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132 of 153 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 4, 2012
Format: Paperback
Sr. Margaret Farley, R.S.M., Ph. D., writes in "Just Love" a compelling and comprehensive framework for evaluating sex ethically in today's complicated world. In so doing, she challenges traditional understandings of sex as being appropriate only in opposite-sex marriage, while at the same time examining the challenges to monogamy and commitment that so many face today. Sr. Farley's wide consideration of sexual experience, traditional and contemporary arguments across different religious frameworks and cultures, and unflinching confrontation and consideration of what some theologians refuse to consider, all contribute to a masterful work informed by a lifetime of teaching ethics at Yale University.

Most importantly, Sr. Farley brings a heart deeply open to God's creation and the goodness and harm that human beings embody and live out in sexual experience and in relationship. Her love of God and of people is evident on every page, and this depth of love is matched by a surpassing intellect that speaks in clear, bold arguments. Please considering purchasing and reading this book if you have interest in sexual ethics, relationships, contemporary Christian ethics, or any number of others areas covered by "Just Love."
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65 of 74 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Rollie Lal on June 6, 2012
Format: Paperback
This book is an extremely balanced and calm analysis. Farley's writing style is accessible and compelling, and she presents an enormous amount of religious information about world religions as well as Christianity, and in a balanced manner. That is an extremely difficult task, and she should be commended for her research and contribution. The Vatican should be chastised for trying to quiet her voice of reason. Luckily, their efforts have only increased the attention to this excellent book.
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Format: Paperback
One star reviews here love to cut and paste irrelevant material to burn this good book which brings us to consider very seriously that which makes us most truly human, how we love, with justice.

But no one really asks, who wrote this book. Knowing the author is a woman seems sufficient to dismiss her, for some.

Please permit me to cut and paste from a recent National Catholic Reporter article about Farley and this, her good book, Just Love:

"Farley is a former president of the Catholic Theological Society of America and of the Christian Ethics Society. She has received 11 honorary degrees and in 1992 was awarded the CTSA's highest honor for theological achievement, the John Courtney Murray Award."

Past President of the CATHOLIC Theological Society of America, etc., etc.

And if you do NOT know who the Reverend Father John Courtney Murray is (among other things author of Religious Liberty: Catholic Struggles with Pluralism), and what this award signifies, then please just keep quiet in church (folks only think it sounds ignorant to dismiss this book and its author anyway, out of hand), get this book like the rest of us, and learn who we are and how we love more fully, more justly, most truly.

Just love. Only love.
Love thy enemy.
Read this book.
Learn to love, more justly.
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93 of 113 people found the following review helpful By V. M. Cooke on March 20, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The author utilizes a Neo-Kantian general or formal ethics to address specific issues of sexual morality. In case you are wondering 'just' in the title does not mean 'only' but 'in accord with justice'. It is well written and well thought out. The weakness of the book from a philosophical point of view is that the general ethics is not argued for at length. It is more or less presupposed, although it is presented in an intuitively attractive manner. Most time is spent on applying the Neo-Kantian perspective to sexual matters. This is something which, to my knowledge has not been done before. The ethics elaborated here can be called Christian because of the author's obvious motivation and perspective. It is weak however in providing a basis for the conclusions in scripture and church tradition. Thus this work is exactly what its title indicates, a framework or sketch, rather than a comprehensive treatment.
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51 of 61 people found the following review helpful By PkM on June 5, 2012
Format: Paperback
A thoughtful and open contribution about the role of sex and love in Christian ethics. A wide review, accessible and well-written - the type of academic review in an accessible style that is so rare and thus even more important.

The author has a broad view and considers much more than just the cliches of recent Catholic dogma in this work. The Vatican's maladroit response is an indication of its failing self-confidence in its own teachings. (And really, are they so out of touch that they didn't realize a ban would make this book a bestseller?).
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