Sexuality and the World's Religions

by David W. Machacek and Melissa M. Wilcox, Editors


Premarital sex and the Bible. Homosexuality and Hinduism. Polygamy and the Koran. Reproductive rights and the Judaic tradition. How do the world's major religions influence the sexual values, attitudes, and practices of their adherents? Sexuality and the World's Religions covers these not-suitable-for-the-dinner-table topics soberly and expertly, with extra chapters on nontraditional American religions and communities.

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Cover image for Sexuality and the World's Religions

August 2003


Pages 430
Volumes 1
Size 7x10
Topics Religion/General
  • Hardcover



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    Hardcover: £73.00/79,00€/A$121.00

Exploring one of the most controversial topics in contemporary theology, this scholarly volume reveals what the world's great faiths—East and West—preach about sexuality, with a special emphasis on American religion.

What do the world's most important religious texts have to say about one of humanity's favorite activities? Editors David W. Machacek and Melissa M. Wilcox have brought together top scholars in the field of religious studies to ask and answer these critical questions. Carefully researched, elegantly written, and respectfully presented, Sexuality and the World's Religions explores the intersection of the spiritual and the carnal in Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Daoism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and African and Native American spiritual traditions.

A separate section explores critical religious and sexual topics in American society, including the role of spirituality in gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender communities; the role of sex in the modern witchcraft community; and the ever thorny problem of religion and sexual liberty. Reconciling sexuality and spirituality in every human soul is one of religion's most important tasks. Students and other readers will find this timely and comprehensive volume of interest in exploring these issues.


  • 12 chapters on sexuality in each of the major religious traditions of the world, including African indigenous traditions, Native American traditions, Judaism, Protestant Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Catholic and Orthodox Christianity as well as topics in contemporary American religion such as feminist, New Age, and neopagan spiritualities
  • Chapters written by contributors who are recognized experts in each religion and in the topic of sexuality
  • Artwork including photographs of recent events and illustrations of pertinent sacred texts
  • An annotated bibliography of print and online resources


  • Covers Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and African and Native American religions
  • Explores religious values on topics such as homosexuality and practices such as Catholic celibacy
  • Examines great religious texts—from the Bible to the Vedas—in detail
  • American section examines non-traditional religions and communities, from Gays to Wiccans
Author Info

David Machacek is Resident Fellow at the Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life, Hartford, CT. He has published articles in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion and Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion.

Melissa Wilcox is Visiting Johnston Professor of Religion at Whitman College, Walla Walla, WA. Her published works include Coming Out in Christianity: Religion, Identity, and Community, as well as numerous articles on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender studies in religion.



"[V]ery highly recommended for academic and large public libraries."American Reference Books Annual

"[O]ffers one of the few explorations of sexuality and religion from a comparative perspective . . . The text builds on earlier work . . . providing not only a more extensive treatment of contemporary topics in religion and sexuality but also a more scholarly treatment, complete with extensive bibliographies . . . deals with a seldom touched area of investigation and offers a good introduction to the issue of religion and sexuality. Recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates."Choice

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