On an intuitive level, I believe that intimacy should be reserved for a husband and wife. But on a philosophical level, I have no good reason to explain why to friends (or my children!) who insist on a more liberal view of these issues. Can you help me articulate what I am feeling?
The Aish Rabbi Replies:
Judaism understands that the family unit is the key to the psychological health of children, and the stability of society as a whole. To ensure the preservation of that family unit, Jewish law places boundaries on human sexuality. Historically, those societies that did not adhere to such sexual boundaries eventually broke down and failed.
As Dennis Prager explains: "Man's nature, undisciplined by values, will allow sex to dominate his life and the life of society. When Judaism demanded that all sexual activity be channeled into marriage, it changed the world. It is not overstated to say that the Torah's prohibition of non-marital sex made the creation of Western civilization possible."
In contrast to other societies, where sexuality is a function of pleasure (secular) or procreation (Christianity), Judaism considers sexuality a mechanism to bond with one's spouse. This powerful tool aids a couple in their life goal of self-perfection. A human being can only achieve perfection through a marriage with the opposite sex, because only by the joining of opposites – male and female – can this bonding occur. This is one reason why Judaism opposes pre-marital sex, homosexuality, incest and bestiality.
A proper marital context directs one to grow and adapt to each other's differences and become one. Through that bonding, perfection can be achieved, and by extension – through bringing children into the world – the perfection of society is likewise attainable. It is the Jewish sexual revolution, and it has proved a pillar of civilization throughout history.