Is sex dirty and sinful?
If sex is dirty and sinful, why are so many people doing it?
Barrington H. Brennen
Is it because it is a “force” we seem unable to control?
The conundrum is that if sex is dirty to many it is because
they are having free and wild sex, and the dirt is glorified
as freedom of expression. On the other hand, some believe
that sex is dirty because it was the sin the first couple,
Adam and Eve, committed in the Garden of Eden about six
thousand years ago. The latter could not be further from
the truth. Sex itself has never been sinful and God
intended it to be the highest expression of love between a
married man and woman. Sex becomes sin is when it happens
out of a marital relationship. Hebrews 11:13 states: “Hold
marriage in high esteem, all of you, and keep the marriage
bed pure because God will judge those who commit sexual
sins.” The Voice translation
The idea that sex is evil
started a long time ago by Greek philosophers. The ancient
Greeks first could not accept the divine existence of Jesus
and taught that Jesus only assumed human appearance. Thus,
this teaching led to a disbelief in the resurrection. It
also led to two extremes that were gradually impacting the
teachings of the Christian faith. The two extreme teachings
were all about sex or no sex. These two extreme teachings
were licentiousness—Immorality (dissolute indulgence
in sensual pleasure), and asceticism—non-indulgence
(strict self-discipline and avoiding any sensory pleasures
or luxuries). There was no middle road. If you engaged in
any form of sex, even in marriage, it was immoral.
Therefore, do not have sex, because it was sin. This was
the teaching during the Apostle Paul’s time and he was doing
his best to change the minds of the new Christian believers
by telling them that sex in the right context was holy and a
gift from God.
Then sometime later,
Saint Augustine developed his own views about sex, of
course, influenced by the Greeks. He "equated original sin
with concupiscence and sexual excitement. Marital sexual
intercourse he considered a necessary evil since it
is the means of procreation — "the satisfaction of lust is
transformed into the performance of necessary duty.
Nevertheless, the act itself still remains the channel by
which concupiscence and guilt on account of man's first
transgression are transformed and transmitted from parent to
child; hence the need for baptism, in which the guilt is
washed away–though the lustful impulses remain."
continued down through the centuries until it became a
natural part (in some people’s mind) of the Christian
beliefs—the belief that sex is sinful. Then in the 18th
century, these teachings mushroomed into what is called the
was first suggested by the 18th-century French clinician
Simon Tissot who claimed that sexual activity depleted vital
bodily fluids and led to feebleness and vice. He taught that
too much sex "was what made people sick. It drained away
their strength and debilitated them." He prescribed changes
in regimen-- health plans, diets, exercise--together with
abstinence as medical palliatives for a culture that
appeared to be losing its vitality and virility. Tissot’s
Degeneracy Theory influenced two men: Sylvester Graham and
John Harvey Kellogg. Who were these men? They were the
creators of some of the most famous food products ever---
Graham Crackers and Kellogg Cornflakes. Sylvester Graham
died in 1851 and John Harvey Kellogg died in1943, but their
influence still lingers on not just on the shelves of our
grocery stores but in the minds of many people (mostly
Christians) through their beliefs about sex.
These men taught that the
desire to have sex was sinful and bad to the mind and body.
They also taught that meat eating increases the sexual
desire. Their idea was that since meat causes sexual
desires which are believed to be sinful, we should stop
eating meat. This is why Dr. Kellogg invented Cornflakes.
The idea was that cornflakes would be a good protein
substitute for meat, so if eaten instead of meat, it will
lower the “sinful sexual desires” or the libido.
In 1839, Graham said in a
lecture on the Science of Human Life: “Sexual desire
disturbs and disorders all the functions of and can lead to
general debility, effeminacy, disordered functions, and
permanent disease, and even premature death. . .”
Similarly, Kellogg wanted to prove that "sexual activity is
not necessary to health, and in fact can retard growth,
weaken the constitution, and dwarf the intellect. His
roasted corn flakes were part
"Sex in the right context, when
climaxed in the great orgasmic
explosion, cannot be compared to any
other force or energy on earth.
Let’s keep sex in the right
of his health regimen designed
to cure original sin by reducing the force of sexual
passion." Interestingly, Dr. Kellogg was a married man for
67 years to his wife Ella. It is reported that he never had
sex with his wife but they were foster parents to children
and adopted seven of them. On his honeymoon night, Dr.
Kellogg stayed up late writing his book on the sinfulness of
Now we know why we have
cornflakes. I have never eaten meat, but my choice of being
a vegetarian has nothing to do with sex. God did invent
sex. I love it and enjoy having lots of it with my wife.
In Genesis 1:20 after God had finished creating Adam and
Eve, he told them to go ahead and have sex, lots of it. He
said “Be fruitful and multiply.” Sex is far from dirty or
sinful. People are dirty and sinful. Sex out of context is
what makes it dirty and sinful. While on one hand sex out
of context seems to be the most powerful force on earth that
drives people to ruin, even more than guns; on the other
hand, sex between a married man and woman is the most
beautiful expression of love, passion and compassion in the
entire universe. Sex in the right context, when climaxed
in the great orgasmic explosion, cannot be compared to any
other force or energy on earth. Let’s keep sex in the right
Barrington H. Brennen is
a marriage and family therapist. Send your questions for
firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1242 327 1980, or