In our age of science and psychology it’s tempting to think of human sexuality in terms of biology and interpersonal relationships. But this new book by Thomas Moore regards sex as an experience of the soul and emphasizes the themes of fantasy, desire, meaning, and morality. In The Soul of Sex, Moore turns especially to religion, mythology, literature, rites, stories, and visual imagery that see in sex some of the most profound mysteries of life. He finds spirituality inherent in sex and at the same time explores the many ways in which spiritual values can sometimes wound our sexuality. He recommends chastity and celibacy for everyone–as aspects of sexuality and not only as literal lifestyles–and presents them as a means of developing a sensuous spirituality.
The Soul of Sex also establishes the principle that one can’t have a fully satisfying sex life in a world that is asexual and antierotic. Thomas Moore recommends many ways in which society could tone down its moralism and create a public life that is erotic, one that affirms desire and pleasure. He sees widespread attention to sex in the media as a symptom of our failure to find a positive place for sex in the culture, and he spells out an Epicurean way of life in which the simple, deep pleasures of good food, friends, family, home, and intimacy with nature provide an appropriate erotic base for a fulfilling sex life.
This is a book for any individual of any gender or lifestyle who is trying to integrate sex into the rest of life. It is also a tool for couples, helping them to explore their sexuality with honesty, appropriate emotional complexity, civility, and comfort. Moore argues that sex should be at the center of life and at the top of our priorities and if we don’t give sex its due, it will haunt and consume us. But when sex has a soul, deep pleasure and meaning find a common home, and in that sense this book is a sex manual for the soul.