Tuesday, May 6, 2014

For Orthodox Parents, Time To Talk Sex by Rabbi Mendel Horowitz

Forward   Recent articles in the Forward have raised the issue of Orthodox Judaism’s so-called repression of sexuality. Although I thought the articles were not particularly respectful of Orthodoxy’s moral codes, they do indeed raise a point. Arguably bad mannered, they are undoubtedly on to something.

This past summer, an article in The New York Times, presumably overlooked by many Orthodox Jews, examined the propriety of allowing teenage children to be sexually active at home. The author, who admits to being childless, suggests that the ideal attitude of parents be a “well-mixed cocktail of caution and tolerance.”

Continuing the conversation, the online magazine Slate lent support for a suggestive approach by reporting how Dutch parents enjoy more open dialogue with their children about sex than American parents do, all while “demonstrating acceptance and respect for their kids’ relationships.” Such parental candor is proposed as grounds for the low rates of teenage pregnancy in the Netherlands.

The discussion is not irrelevant to Orthodox Jews. While they will probably not consider in-house licentiousness — and I am not suggesting they should — having more open dialogue with children about their personal lives may help to promote more fruitful relationships. When it comes to sex, acceptance and respect are said to correlate with safer, healthier lifestyles.

Showing young people that we trust them to act responsibly seems to increase the likelihood of their responsible behavior. Allowing sex at home need not be a green light for promiscuity but can be a red light for undeclared, unpredictable, unsafe activity. Permission sometimes helps to prevent.

For Orthodox Jews for whom premarital sex (and even masturbation) is forbidden, the mere mention of sexuality is almost equally taboo. While some secular counterparts, too, may be prudish, devout parents’ inhibitions are complicated by immovable religious mores. With procreation a positive religious act, explicit regulations govern its procedure. The line between inappropriate words and less appropriate deeds is thin. Seeing themselves as Jews first and parents second, some Orthodox fathers and mothers propagate ignorance and insecurity by avoiding the conversation entirely. With no consent for action, many Orthodox teenagers have no vocabulary even for talking about sex. [...]


  1. There is no sex outside of Kidushin Marriage.! Do you want your daughter to lose her virginity in your house as a teen?
    Talk more ? why ? we are saturated with all types of this content , Just the opposite , Shelter them from this Sodom onslaught. Talk LESS A lot Less . Taboo! Yes!
    Talk even Less. don't copy the Goyim Shtufai Zimah

  2. I completely agree. I was tricked into a marriage with a man that I can only assume was homosexual. I was too naive to even recognise the problems. Growing up, sex was taboo. As the article states, I didn't even have the vocabulary or experience to articulate what was wrong. If only it was spoken about more and a more open minded view taken, we'd be a lot better off

  3. Is Mendel Horowitz Serious?May 7, 2014 at 1:22 AM

    I fully understand the problem of a teenager's raging hormones (m & f), the constant exposure in most Jewish societies to secular sexuality and all the opportunities out there possible by charming kids. So lighten up a bit. But how do you deal with the problem of Kares if there is penetration?

  4. If a child knows that the parent wants to marry them off early with a fine person and sees siblings doing fine matches, the pressures are minimized. But when the parent is busy with other things and the child is unsure or scared, that is a problem. When my daughter was yet pre-teen, I turned to her at the Shabbos table and asked, out of the clear blue, 'When are you leaving?" She turned pink with smiles and was somewhat embarrassed, but the point was made. You can count on me to do this so don't worry. And when the time came to find someone I worked with my wife day and night to find a proper shidduch, sometimes staying up very late at night to call someone in Israel for information. But some parents don't want to suffer. And so, good luck.

  5. Seeing themselves as Jews first and parents second.....

    He seems to be scorning this. Well then, that is clearly an anti religious sentiment by Torah standards. We are Jews first. Nothing comes before our loyalty to Hashem and The Torah. Everything dear to us, including our parenting, is UNDER the umbrella of this loyalty. This is enough to Passul relying on this individual, and even to read his words and rely on our own judgement, must be avoided, because he speaks against Torah values. How many people even noticed the poison that I pointed out, and this just gets absorbed into unsuspecting people's minds and hearts and taints them.

  6. From a review of history, it seems that most of us are descended from those who lived in communities where young men and women routinely got married in their early to mid-teens. When I bring up that we should go back to this way of life, sometimes people are appalled. What I think is truly appalling are "therapists" that subtly give the message that marriage-like contact between men and women outside marriage is acceptable -- if even that contact is the kind of banter and interaction that takes place in, say, a day school with mixed classes for post Bar- and Bas- Mitzvah students.

    Ever heard of "bundling"? I will not describe it here, nor even encourage anyone to research it. Suffice it to say that skirting the line of outright immoral behavior is not new. Interestingly, some trace the origin of bundling also to the Netherlands.

  7. talking openly at the appropriate time is good and important
    but prior to that is just waking up a raging force that cannot be satisfied
    Ever koton yesh liadam mareevi suvuh masbio Roav ,
    a small organ a man has when you Hunger it it is satisfied but if you try to satiate it it hungers even more !
    A fine line.

  8. People have a choice, get married or else. And delaying marriage is just putting fuel on the fire. This has nothing to do with frumkeit. Frumkeit doesn't help when the fire is raging. But today there is so much gender war and so much broken families and broken marriages that marriage is declining as an option for many people. People are afraid. And I repeat my previous message: You can't take your biology into a date and hope to succeed. If your parents find a nice match for you and you are young enough to succeed, you have a good chance. But dating later in life is a great problem. And as today people are afraid to marry before they have established their careeers, what can we expect?


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