Is it a sin to talk about sex? The Bible mentions sex a lot. The world has redefined the use of sex into a free-flowing anything-goes framework rather than following the biblical model of being confined to a set-apart couple made of complementary sexes.
In today’s world children are being exposed to sex earlier and earlier in media and entertainment, as well as in education. Could part of this be the church’s fault? For a long time, the church has hidden sex from public discourse and even created a culture where people lied to kids about it by saying that babies come from cabbage patches or storks, rather than being honest and teaching them the biblical foundations for it. How is lying about that stuff any different from lying about Santa and the Easter Bunny? This systematic construct of lying to children for no reason can have a negative effect on children’s ability to trust their parents. If the parents are lying about sex, Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny, then what is a stop a kid from thinking they are lying about God?
One may say well kids are too young for sex talk. That is the main argument by western Christians against the secular education system when trying to prevent them from teaching children about LGBT issues right? I think that is hypocritical and the whole reason we are in this mess. If kids knew from their parents that boys have a penis and girls have a vagina at an early age then, this would be a defense mechanism against the subversions of the biblical model by the culture. However, when Christians pretend sex doesn’t exist then it opens a door for anti-biblical ideologies to say “you been lied to”. This is what Satan did to Eve in the Garden in Genesis 3:1-7. Satan says that God lied and is hiding godhood from humanity in the forbidden fruit rather than death. They believed it even though God did not lie, however, imagine how much worse it is when “satan is right” because the parent did lie.
There is a movie from the 90s called Kindergarten Cop and in the movie, there is a scene where a little boy stands up and says, “boys have a penis, and girls have a vagina”. Kids can know these things and it won’t make them horny, because prepubescent children are not being pumped with sex hormones yet. So why are people scared of “the birds and bees” talk? The parents are in fear for no reason and that is not biblical. It’s called “the birds and the bees” as a reference to the basics of plant reproduction, and the idea is to work up to animals. It doesn’t have to be a full lesson with anatomical drawings and contraceptive methods, that is for teenagers. They should know that animals and plants reproduce based on seed, time, and harvest (Gen 8:22). Then the simple concept that sexually reproducing creatures have complementary sexes (male and female), and these sexes have physical traits that distinguish them, the first of which is their genitals. They don’t need deep discussions of hormones or something high-level with advanced scientific nomenclature. Just the basics of the fact babies come from when a boy and a girl grow up, get married, and the boy gives the girl a seed from his body, that goes into her belly, and that forms into a baby and comes out of her, just like when a seed is planted in the ground.
In the eras in which the biblical authors lived, it would not have been as easy to lie to their kids about this stuff since most people lived on or around farms. When the animals were reproducing that meant an increase in livestock and more money, so it was a celebratory event that parents would share with their kids when new baby animals were born. There was no need for a parent to lie and say the cow and bull are “wrestling”. Sex is not evil, it simply has a certain context. Sex has been stigmatized by the church for a long time. Old church fathers came up with an idea that sex for pleasure in marriage was a sin and it was to be “tolerated” only for reproduction. I believe this came from taking the old testament laws about ritual impurity out of context. In the old covenant contact with sexual fluids via intercourse, menstruation, or seminal emission made a person unclean until the next evening (in the case of sex and ejaculation), or for the whole week (in the case of menstrual fluid). Paul made it clear that none of this was true in 1 Corinthians 7. In verses 1-2 he does say that marriage will help quell the lust in the church and while he encourages being a eunuch later in the chapter, he never says that it is sinful to enjoy one’s marriage. Otherwise, he would not have said what he says in verses 3-5, encouraging couples to have as much sex as they want, only breaking for three days in order to fast.
There are some Christians that believe any sex position outside of the “missionary position” is a sin. The missionary position is called missionary because colonial-era missionaries told indigenous people that it was a sin to have sex any other way. Their logic is that the man is supposed to be the head of his wife (1 Cor 11:3), and therefore on top. Some modern Christians who carry this theology may add that these positions are sinful because of their promotion in books like Kama Sutra, an East Asian book featuring sex positions. The claim is that the different sex positions are summoning demons. They likely believe the same thing about yoga positions. There is no biblical foundation for any of this, it’s all cultural speculation. A person doesn’t need Kama Sutra to have multiple sex positions you can look at nature documentaries that show animals having sex if one lacks that much creativity. We can take Paul’s advice on following one’s conscience on things that are not explicitly stated in the Bible as sin. Paul says to do this on issues of his day like vegetarianism, holidays, and idol meats in Romans 14, and 1 Corinthians ch. 8-10.
Let’s stop lying about sex and keep it in its biblical context. It is not a sin to have sex when married, it is not a sin to enjoy sex when married, or have it without the intention of making babies. If it were the Torah would have said so. The only forbidden sex act in the Torah, even in a biblical allowed heterosexual marriage, is menstruation sex (Lev 18:19, Lev 20:18-19, Ezekiel 18:6), and punishment for that couldn’t be enforced so easily since the people have to be caught in the act. If sex positions or enjoyment was a sin God would have said so, and if kids knowing how babies are made (even livestock) were a sin then God would have said so. Instead teach the kids the truth, and use wisdom for an age-appropriate discussion. That way they can go into the secular world knowing what God teaches and won’t be phased by deception. Telling them that their genitals are not to be touched by anyone other than their parents or doctor is an important aspect of this as well. What they don’t learn from their parents they will learn from the world, and if the parents wait until they are teenagers, it may be too late.
The following is from an article about the Doctrine of Original Sin, while I don’t share views on original sin theology, they have some interesting church history to share about the topic of sin specifically sexual.
From the Article:
[One heretical group of early Christianity proposed a way of thinking called Encraticism, which taught basically three things:
1) Marriage itself was a sin because it was ‘stained’ by the uncleanliness of sexual relations. Sex discouraged any kind of spiritual relationship with God. Therefore, only perfect chastity could signify the resurrection of Christ. The Essenes who wrote the Dead Sea Scroll also restricted marriage for this reason.
2) Marriage belongs to the old order of reality. In other words, Christ came to put an end to the Law; and marriage was part of that law. Julius Cassianus, who supported Encraticism, was reported by Clement of Alexandria as saying, ‘The Savior has transformed us and sets us free of the error of the union of the sexes’ (Stromata 3:13).
3) Since Christ wasn’t married, chastity is part of the imitation of Jesus. Encraticism linked sexuality and procreation with the continuation of the kingdom of death. As long as people continued to get married and have children, death would reign.
Clement of Alexandria, (150-216 AD), defended marriage against Encraticism, by saying that marriage was instituted by God, and that sexuality was willed by God for the procreation of the human race. However, was also influenced by Stoicism and Neo-Platonism. He said the only reason for sex in marriage was to procreate. He believed that husbands should “cohabit with their wives with self-control and only for the purpose of begetting children” (Stromata 3:11). He also believed that to have sex without intending children was an outrage against nature. And finally, he said, “A man who marries for the sake of begetting children must practice continence so that it is not desired he feels for his wife, whom he ought to love (Stromata 3:7).
V.A. Demant, in his book, Christian Sex in Ethics, crystallized the evolution of the Church’s theology of sexuality and marriage in this way:
“It is the period from the second century until well into the Middle Ages where sex was regarded as an enemy of the Spirit, where virginity is exalted, where there is a flight from erotic love and from all earthly ties, where a woman was held to be the embodiment of sex and the mediatrix of damnation” (36).]
Kindergarten Cop Clip starting at 2:32: