Developing a Personal Code

December 1, 2007
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Shelley Halman

Though I believe that sex belongs in marriage, I know all people don’t feel that way. Judaism has helped me understand that my body is mine, and just like tattoos and piercings make a body impure, so does pre-marital sex — at least for me.

I agree with Danya’s students when they speak about the emotional ramifications of sex. It complicates everything. Abstinence-only sex education, which is supported by many of today’s politicians, is definitely not the way to go. Teenagers especially need to be aware of options available to them, seeing as most of them will not choose abstinence.

The ethics around sex continue to change. My generation generally views pre-marital sex as no big deal. My parents’ generation, as baby boomers, was split: some were conservative while others, “hippies,” experimented with sex and drugs. Now, all of those “hippies” are parents who are watching their children make their own choices. Sexual ethics go back and forth across generations.

While the Torah outlines specific sexual behaviors, as individuals we must develop our personal moral code. And no matter what code we adopt, we still have the laws of Judaism that we choose to follow or not.

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Shelley Halman, a senior at Jackson High School in Jackson, Miss., hopes to attend Syracuse University next year as a student in their music business program.

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