Christian Churches and Sexual Positions

In this thread over here, Jragon said:

(bolding mine)

I don’t mean to single out Jragon, because I’ve heard this kind of thing many times from many others in many places.

I was raised in the Christian faith (Protestant), and have attended churches of a number of different Protestant denominations. I’ve heard the topic of sex discussed in all of them. And frankly, those discussions have essentially been limited to, “Do it with your spouse if you’re married; abstain if you’re not”. Which, as near as I can recall, is about all the Bible has to say about consensual, married, heterosexual intercourse (aside from Jewish laws regarding menstruation, etc.). I’m pretty darned sure the Bible has nothing to say about the actual physical positioning during consensual, married, heterosexual intercourse, and no church I’ve ever attended has dictated “acceptable” and “unacceptable” sexual positions. Though I will grant that maybe some of these churches did so, but reserved such discussions for premarital counseling sessions (after all, it would be kind of silly to tell unmarried people, who aren’t supposed to be having sex anyway, what positions were acceptable or unacceptable).

So my question is, what churches/denominations did specify this kind of thing, and do they still do so today? Or is the sentiment expressed by Jragon simply some sort of holdover stereotype from the past?

(For the record, I’m of the personal belief that a married couple can engage in any kind of sexual activity they want with each other, as long as it’s consensual.)

I always thought that some of this comes from the idea that some positions (like back door) are viewed as being similar to gay sex so that’s why they are frowned on.

Some states still have laws on the books that call some positions “crimes against nature” .

The church I have attended for the past nine years is what most would call fundamentalist. I have never heard any discussions of positions. I have heard plenty of discussions of sex. The impression I get is that anything goes between spouses, although I have read some stuff that suggests fetishes can objectify one’s partner and are therefore objectionable.

During my Roman Catholic upbringing, I got the impression from priests and nuns that married sex was OK but somewhat of a necessary duty rather than fun. Consider the source. :slight_smile:

I have never encountered the stuff Jragon refers to.

I’m fairly sure that actual positions aren’t officially ruled upon anywhere in the Bible, but historically sodomy included both oral and anal sex (and possibly same-sex sex of any sort), and of course sodomy was prohibited.

In modern day, the fact that “sodomy” is never clearly defined in the Bible tends to make it so that on any given day, any particular Christian will say that it refers to something other than what they personally happen to do at home.

There is a lot of historical baggage that gets attributed to the modern church unfairly. It’s definitely the case that medieval churches were telling you how to have sex. Monks spent a ridiculous amount of time listing every conceivable sex practice and their position on it (which was almost always negative). In the Victorian times, it was generally believed that having sex as little as possible was a key to health and I also recall seeing the attitude that enjoying sex definitely meant you were doing it wrong.

It was never in the Bible, which does only talk about sex in general terms. (There are a few parts of Leviticus and Deuteronomy that have a few restrictions that can apply to heterosexual couples, like no sex while menstruating). All of these extra restrictions were purely cultural. There are commands in the Bible to respect “those of weaker faith” who might be tempted to sin by what you do, so you could argue that talking about unusual sex practices was a sin back then. (But the sin is not respecting the feelings of your peers.)
Saying that the church still teaches this is like saying that doctors still bleed their patients to cure fevers.

There is this excerpt on this very matter form Google Books.

Cecil has addressed this:

A while back I read an explanation for the Church’s preference for the “Missionary Position”.

It said that it came from the beliefs of Neo-Pythagoreans that the position was the most ideal due to certain mystical, geometric things. Something to do with the alignment of certain body parts. The idea being that if you did it in a different position, then you child - if male - would end up with more of a sexual preference for men then women, and they would act effeminately and would have loose morals.

I have no idea if that explanation is true at all, but I thought I’d share.

I recall Jerry Falwell claimed that woman on top sex was sinful due to not being properly submissive for the woman, and that it was the favored position of the mythical Lilith.

My understanding of Catholic teaching on this subject is that anything goes as long as it includes the possibility of procreation. So the man has to finish in his partner’s vagina, but anything before that point would be pretty much OK, and would be included in the category of foreplay, including oral sex and even anal sex.

Positions don’t even enter into it.

From this column: “Kinsey in his book claims that the Christian church once considered non-MP sex sinful.”

Could this be the origin of the belief the OP refers to? Or did Kinsey have a cite for that?

Der Trihs writes:

> I recall Jerry Falwell claimed that woman on top sex was sinful due to not being
> properly submissive for the woman, and that it was the favored position of the
> mythical Lilith.

Cite? Did you actually read or hear Falwell make this claim? Or is this something that someone opposed to Falwell said about him?

Well, this article might shed some light, but one needs to pay to access it. Anyone have access to “Current Anthropology” magazines?

Current Anthropology Volume 42, Number 1, February 2001

I thought that the reference was to the people of Sodom demanding that Lot’s male visitors (who were actually angels) be turned over to them for nefarious purposes.

Does the Bible use a term akin to sodomy? I thought it merely described things that happened in Sodom.

Who, I understand, was dynamite in the sack.

Lilith, that is.

Yes, that’s fairly important for good sex. I didn’t realize it was the Neo-Pythagoreans who had discovered it.

Now see, we were never told that. Just that sex was supposed to be something that brought married couples together. That it was a wonderful, loving, spiritual thing – as long as you were married.

If not, you could get really hurt, and most likely the guy would dump you, and you’d be left all alone and bitter. Or something like that.

Who knows? :rolleyes:

Better than what you got, but again, “consider the source.” (Then again, the pastor of our church was embezzling church funds…AND having an affair with his secretary…)

Thanks for the answers. Though I don’t want to veer too much off the primary question, which was who/which denominations approved “missionary position” only, and do any of them still teach that. It seems pretty clear the Catholic Church was behind it (heh) to begin with. Baptists also wouldn’t surprise me (though I’m remembering a joke about a couple attending a pre-marital counseling session with their pastor and asking about whether different positions were “okay”; the pastor gave his blessing to every position they mentioned, until they asked about doing it standing up. He denounced that position on the grounds that somebody might see them and think they were dancing :smiley: )

That was way back in the 90’s, when he was ranting about the Lilith fair. It’s not unique to him:

Do keep in mind that hatred and contempt for women has always been a central part of the Judeo–Christian family of religious beliefs.

You’re not quoting Falwell there. You’re quoting something called The Alphabet of Ben-Sira, a Jewish text generally dated between 700 A.D. and 1000 A.D. To claim that because some Judeo-Christian text sometime somewhere states that only the missionary position is allowed therefore Falwell believed that only the missionary position is allowed is obviously an illegitimate argument. When you write:

> Do keep in mind that hatred and contempt for women has always been a
> central part of the Judeo–Christian family of religious beliefs.

you make an even larger jump in logic. You might be able to claim that there’s no consistency in the attitudes of Judeo-Christian believers over the long period of their existence since you can find pretty much any attitude toward sex you can think of over that time espoused by somebody somewhere sometime, but you can’t claim that this means that any given believer therefore believed in that attitude. I asked for a quotation from Falwell.