In what ways does modern culture derive attitudes on sex from Christianity?

Modern society has changed radically in the last fifty years, but attitudes that derive from Christianity and perceive sex as shameful, especially for a woman, still linger.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In the Bible, Paul tells the early Christian church in 1 Corinthians 7:8–9 the following:

I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I.

But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.

From Paul, and later Augustine, Western society developed the idea that sex is a tainted practice. Abstinence is superior, while sex is something that, if it cannot be avoided, must be contained and controlled. The unspoken idea is that the sex act is shameful, a lust or passion unworthy of a spiritual being.

The New Testament also contains stories that show female prostitution to be shameful. Jesus, for example, protects a prostitute from being stoned by a mob and then says to her, "Go, and sin no more." This reveals that God considers prostitution a sin. However, while the story might imply it, it does not overtly state that a man procuring a prostitute is a sinner.

While attitudes towards sexuality have changed radically in the last fifty years, there are still lingering notions of shame and sin associated with the sex act. Evangelical groups still use chastity oaths and condemn sexual relations between unmarried people. More importantly, women are still primarily blamed when unwanted or extra-marital sex occurs. This leads to rape being under-prosecuted. The sense that sex is uniquely a symbol of uncontrolled, animalistic lusts, and a suspect activity, lingers in modern society.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial