Arguing About Sex

The Rhetoric of Christian Sexual Morality

By Joseph Monti

Subjects: Gender Studies
Paperback : 9780791424803, 365 pages, July 1995
Hardcover : 9780791424797, 365 pages, July 1995

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Table of contents




Being Faithful and Contemporary
Summary and Outline
The Rhetoric of Disputation: Writing as Argument
On Reading this Book


Part I. The Church and the Conversation of History

1. Sexual Discourse and the Problem of Modernity


The Church's Conversations on Sexual Morality
The Problem of Modernity
The Church's Brief Against Modernity


2. The Historicity of Faith and Life


Modernity and the Progress of History
The Liabilities of History: Pluralism, Relativism, and Conventionalism
The Obligations of Fidelity
The Obligations of Contemporaneity
Revelation and Historicist Modernity
Alterity and the Moral Praxis of History


3. History, Interpretation, and the Moral Life


Revelation and Reason
The Labor of Rational Interpretation
The Reality of Hermeneutic Burdens
The Norm of Content
The Church and the Problem of Modernity


Part II. The Analytic Conversation of Moral Argument

4. Ethical Norms and Moral Rules


An Analytic Mistake
The Levels of Moral Discourse and the Place of Ethical Argument


5. The Origin, Structure, and Function of Ethical Norms


The Origin of Ethical Norms
The Structure and Function of Ethical Norms
Marriage as a Normative Sacramental Model


Part III. Substantive Conversations in Christian Ethics and Moral Theology

6. The Norm of Heterosexual Marriage


Historical Remembrance and Moral Obligation
"The Reality of the Historical Past"
The Norm of Marriage
What Our History Discloses
The Values and Goods of Marriage
Nonmarital Sexual Expression
The Liabilities and Limitations of Argument


7. Building Communities of Moral Discourse


The Moral Intentions of Rationality
Moral Discourse and the Nature of the Church
Framing Constructive and Effective Debate: The Praxis of Communicative Action
"Discourse Ethics"
Moral Intuitions and the Vulnerability of Sociocultural Life
Consensus and Community: Toward a Moral Theology of Communication



This book is about current issues in sexual morality, the Christian church, and moral argument in late modernity.


This book is about sexual morality, the Christian Church, and moral argument in late modernity. Arguing about Sex offers a critical evaluation of the intellectual and cultural contexts in which the practical moral discourse of institutions takes place. After analyzing the challenges and possibilities of the Christian moral rhetoric of sex, the book builds a constructive ethical argument about sexual morality in a Christian context.

The book is intended for audiences who are interested in and articulate about issues of sexual morality. Students in university and seminary courses in religion and ethics will find this book helpful as will moral theorists interested in examining new relations between ethical norms and moral rules.

Joseph Monti is Associate Professor of Christian Ethics and Moral Theology at The University of the South.


"The author achieves a synthesis that is rare and difficult. By shifting the initial focus away from narrowly envisioned discussions of sexual morality to its larger, cultural, ecclesial or communal, and historical contexts, the author does great service in articulating a very 'rich' praxis appropriate to the cultural-spiritual life of many Christians today. And many non-Christians would find his work instructive for their own thinking and practice." — Robert M. Garvin, State University of New York at Albany