Christianity and Sex

Copied from:  “Why I am not a Christian” by Keith M. Parsons

For Augustine, sexual pleasure was so horrible that even married couples should endure it only if, both before and during the sex act, they are wholly motivated by the desire for children (Ranke-Heinemann, 1990, p. 92). As he put it with casuistic precision: “What cannot occur without lust should not, however, occur because of lust” (quoted in Ranke-Heinemann, 1990, p. 92). Ranke-Heinemann comments on such doctrine: “It has warped the consciences of many men and women. It has burdened them with hairsplitting nonsense and striven to train them as moral acrobats instead of making them more humane and kinder to their fellow human beings” (Ranke-Heinemann, 1990, quoted on back cover).

Of course, today’s hip, worldly-wise fundamentalist would deny that sexual pleasure is bad but would insist that it must be enjoyed only within the “sacred bond” of heterosexual marriage. Why? Consider spontaneous, joyful, mutually respectful sex between two mature, responsible, but unmarried (gay or straight) people. Why is this a terrible sin? Again, we get no reasonable answer, only dogma. One suspects that something like Augustine’s sex-phobia simmers not too far down in the psyche of many of today’s allegedly enlightened Christians. (See the appendix on C.S. Lewis’s views on sex and marriage.)

Instead of attacking sex per se, today’s churches prefer to persecute sexual minorities, especially gay and lesbian people. Here is what the Christian Life Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention said about homosexuality and gay rights:

The CLC opposes homosexuality, because it is clear in the Bible, God condemns it as a sinful lifestyle harmful to the individual and society. Therefore, the CLC opposes the granting of civil rights normally reserved for immutable characteristics, such as race, to a group based on the members’ sexual behavior…. The CLC proclaims the gospel because the Scriptures declare the Lord Jesus can change homosexuals. To accept homosexuality as an appropriate lifestyle would betray the life-changing sacrifice of Christ and leave homosexuals without hope for a new and eternal life (quoted in Nava and Dawidoff, 1994, p. 98).

Allow me to urge that the Baptists reword their doctrine in more honest language. Here is a suggestion: “We urge continued discrimination against degenerate queers, who are damned to hell unless they abandon their perverted ‘lifestyle.'” There. That gives the Baptist position much more succinctly and clearly and I urge the CLC to adopt this more honest phrasing.


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