Theology of sexuality

Authored by: Taylor G. Petrey

The Routledge Handbook of Mormonism and Gender

Print publication date:  May  2020
Online publication date:  April  2020

Print ISBN: 9780815395218
eBook ISBN: 9781351181600
Adobe ISBN:


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Latter-day Saint theologies of sexuality both reflect and reject broader cultural contexts and social values. In the nineteenth century, polygamy reflected a theory of sexuality as exceeding the limits that monogamy placed on it. Over the course of the twentieth century, Latter-day Saint theology adopted rigorous sexual norms, but eventually relaxed many of them in the wake of the sexual revolution in the 1960s. This shift caused Latter-day Saints to think of sexuality beyond reproduction, and to begin to discuss sexuality in terms of pleasure and spousal bonding. Commitment, not mere consent, was still the foundation of permissible sexual exchange. At the same time, reproduction remains a defining feature of the discourse of sexuality so as to delegitimize non-reproductive sex, such as masturbation and same-sex intimacy. The various overlapping and disjointed aspects of the tradition of LDS theology about sex leave open several places for ambiguity and disagreement.

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