Why has the western world had a tendency to equate  sexuality with sin?Why has the western world had a tendency to equate  sexuality with sin?

Expert Answers
larrygates eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I  cannot agree with the above answer. There was always some belief that sex outside marriage was sin; however the idea of sex itself as constituting original sin was a Calvinist concept born of the idea of Original sin.  Calvinists took the words of the 51st Psalm in which David said

I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.

to interpret the sin of Adam and Eve as sex. They made this determination from the words of Genesis that both Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed until after they consumed the hidden fruit at which time they were suddenly embarrassed to be naked and covered themselves. They also pointed to the fact that no children were born to Adam and Eve until after they had consumed the forbidden fruit.  

Stringing all this together, the early Calvinist thinkers, including Calvin himself, determined that sex was the original sin. Since all human beings can only be conceived through sex, then all human beings are born in sin and tainted by it.

Milton's Paradise Lost has contributed a great deal to this legend. In that work, after the forbidden fruit is consumed, then and only then do Adam and Eve engage in sex. The concept has been handed down since that time, and sex has suddenly become a dirty word.

readerofbooks eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a great question and there are three answers for this.

First, much of early Christianity and the Western world was an outflow of the thoughts of Plato. For this reason the body was seen a prison house of the soul. This belief lead to a negative view of the body and most importantly it tended to look down upon sexuality.

Second, some of the writings of the apostle Paul have been interpreted to have a negative view of sexuality such as 1 Corinthians 6:12-20. I would disagree with those interpret it this way, but unfortunately many do not consider the context in which Paul is writing. We need to keep in mind that Paul did shape the Western world, whether we like to admit it or not.

Third, some church fathers took a negative view of sexuality. All you need to do is read people like Clement of Alexandria and you will see that sexuality was downplayed, and he was only a moderate. In addition, people like Augustine, a central figure of the early church, believed that the first sin was concupiscence.

For all of these reasons, the western world, which has been influenced by the church had a view of sexuality that bordered on sin.


Jessica Pope eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Only the forms of sexuality that threaten heterosexual patriarchal norms have been equated with sin. It's always been okay for men to have sex withwives, concubines and enslaved women. Things like sodomy, extra-marital sex and aggressive female sexuality have been labeled "sinful" in the Western world. I believe that this is an attempt to control female sexuality and to ensure that males retain a dominant status of women. Most, if not all of the rules governing sexually have been aimed at constricting the sexual autonomy of women and establishing a relationship of control and ownership between men and the women in their lives (whether daughters, wives, sisters or non-marital lovers).

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think many people are uncomfortable talking about sex.  Often when people do not like something, they call it a sin.  Sex makes people feel very uncomfortable.  In the Bible, it is labeled the Original Sin, but I do not believe that Adam and Eve were married.

bhawanipur | Student

Kamini means women whose beauty and sexual pleasure attract all of us. Then we don't see what is ethical. Kanchan means gold or wealth. Once again this is one of the reasons of our sufferings. lastly, Kirti means name and fame for which we are ready to kill each other instantly.

So sexuality is considered a sin not because to have legally but to keep us away from illegal relationship. In those days when scriptures were written, people understood only two things - Heaven and Hell/sinner and pious.

The more you keep away from it the more you preserve strength. Its known that a drop of semen is produced from 40 drops of blood. Having sexual pleasure too often also make our body weak, idle, and all sort of crimes take place  in such a places.

bhawanipur | Student

In my view both the experts are right in their opinion. Yet there is reality to see in the present context.

Sexual pleasure, I think, is considered to be the highest of all contentment. It not only gives plesure but also we have a consequence of 700 billion of people. It is because we call ourselves as the best of all creatures but we have deviated from our true path and have clung to the path of other animals.

Secondly, sexual discontentment is the cause of all problems. Now a day we hear about lots of rape cases, murder, having illicite relations and so on. These cases have degraded the standard of Man. We talk about concubine but brothels have cost us a lot. It has brought us new diseases to which still no remedies. Our teen aged children have discarded study but talk about sex without any hesitations.

Yesteday, I logged in to a dot com and desired to answer questions on Society and culture and I find most of the teen aged questioners have asked questions on having illegal sex regularly, about having boy/girl friends not for friendship but to sleep together and have sex forgetting about their study.

That is why the religious books have considered it as a sin. Those learned men knew that time will come and we will die quarreling for sex.

In Hindu religion, most of the ancient wars were fought because of some women and ultimate desire for sex only. But we call it a play of God. In Veda, three things are cinsidered to be the most harmful-Kamini, Kanchan and Kirti.