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Love Does No Harm: Sexual Ethics for the Rest of Us

Love Does No Harm: Sexual Ethics for the Rest of Us

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by Rev. Dr. Marie Fortune
Forward by M. Joycelyn Elders, MD

A practical book about nonsexist sexual ethics in relation to family values.

In this straightforward, easy-to-read guide, Rev. Dr. Marie M. Fortune discusses the process of ethical decision-making in intimate relationships. Starting with the premise that "love does no harm," Fortune offers a set of guidelines that can assist people of all ages in making sexual choices and includes broad reflections on:

  • Why sexual choices are difficult
  • What social and cultural influences make sexual choices more difficult
  • How individuals can choose to express their sexuality in ways that are pleasurable, intimate, and sensitive to the needs and rights of others

Love Does No Harm makes no assumptions about the individuals' age, sexual orientation, or type of intimate relationship in which they are involved. It is not heterosexual monogamous marriage that makes sexual behavior ethical, Fortune argues, but the persistent effort on the part of both partners in whatever relationship to choose to do no harm to one another.

Rejecting rigid rules and simplistic answers, Love Does No Harm seeks to demonstrate an alternative way of approaching ethical decision-making in sexual matters, a way that is grounded in religious values, but also suitable for secular viewpoints.


"Love and sex in dangerous times (read: AIDS) require common sense, respect, clarity, and a sense of proportion. Marie Fortune offers them all in Love Does No Harm. She advocates safety, writes with integrity, and has the wisdom not to preach. Even those who disagree with her answers will recognize the value of her insightful questions." --Mary E. Hunt, Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual

"Fortune gives us a much heftier understanding of family values: respect, honesty, love, loyalty, safety, acceptance, and support. From strong, faith-filled relationships, Fortune points the way to a love that does no harm and leads us to an incarnational theology that celebrates and cherishes life." --Emilie M. Townes, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of African American Religion and Theology, Yale Divinity School

"I learned about Marie Fortune's work when I was in seminary, but waited until after seminary to read her book, Love Does No Harm. I wish I hadn't waited, because it would have prevented me some pain. However, I am stronger now because I have read Love Does No Harm and implemented it into my life." 
--Teresa Vosper, Church Divinity School of the Pacific, Alumnae