What Happened To Sex When Christianity Split From Judaism?

Jay Dee

What Happened To Sex When Christianity Split From Judaism?

Jan 18, 2013

In Jewish law, sex is not considered shameful, sinful or obscene. So, how did Christianity mess this up? What happened when we split?

I tend to have interests that are obsessions for short periods of time, sometimes a few weeks, sometimes a quarter, sometimes 6 months.  But the two main interests of my life are Theology and Sexuality.  Lately, I’ve been delving into Hebrew, I want to learn it to be able to dig deeper into scripture.  So, I’ve been learning the Hebrew aleph-bet (not a typo), listening to podcasts, watching YouTube videos about Hebrew, and listening to some talks on Hebrew language and culture as well as reading a lot about Hebrew and Judaism in general.  Now, keep in mind, I’m not a Jewish or Hebrew expert by any means.

In my reading, I came across some articles on the attitudes of the Jewish people towards sexuality and I was amazed.  Here is a quote from one of the sites I came across:

In Jewish law, sex is not considered shameful, sinful or obscene. Sex is not thought of as a necessary evil for the sole purpose of procreation.

Interesting Points
In Judaism, having sex on the Sabbath (between Friday sunset and Saturday sunset) is a mitzvah (good deed or fulfilled commandment).   Personally, I like this idea and strive to have sex every Friday night. I’m not sure if it’s getting me points in heaven, but it couldn’t hurt…right? In addition to this, the Song of Songs is to be read every Sabbath.

By contrast, in classical Christianity, sex is forbidden on Sunday. I’m not such a fan of that tradition.

Now, granted, Jewish law isn’t necessarily reflected by Jewish people, or certainly all Jewish people (just as Christian teachings aren’t often reflected well by Christians), but this is an amazing statement.  How many Christians grow up believing that sex is shameful, sinful or obscene; a necessary evil that is only acceptable for procreation.  Why is this teaching around?

This is a bit of a sideline, and if you don’t care, you can skip over this indented part, but there are two reasons, I think.

The first dates way back to the classical Christian theology that Adam and Eve eating from the tree of life in the garden was a euphemism for sex.  In other words, the original sin is sex, therefore all sex is sin and any person born of such a union (all of us) has a sinful nature.  Now, anyone who actually reads the rest of the Bible and sees’s the tree of life come up again in Revelation knows this cannot be.  (If eating from the tree = sex and sex = sin, and we’re all going to eat from the tree in heaven, then there would be sin in heaven after redemption.  Not logically possible).  But you can see where they get this idea, particularly if you follow the thought through to Jesus (who was born without his mother having sex, ergo, no sinful nature).

The second reason is the Greek mythology of dualism, that many Christian denominations have adopted as theology.  This is the teaching that man is two parts: body and spirit or flesh and soul.  The body/flesh is evil and the spirit/soul is good.  So, of course, anything we do with the body must be evil.  But, this was never a teaching in Judaism and you will not find dualism in the Bible.  Here’s what you do find:

And the LORD God formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

Genesis 2:7

Now, I should point out that the Hebrew word for wind and spirit are the same.  So when God says he “breathed” into Adam, every Hebrew boy would understand that connection.

So, we have body + spirit = soul

Take the body away or the spirit and you cease to exist.  This is a teaching that has been lost in most Christian churches.   The Jews know it, but we’ve forgotten.  We’ve been too influenced by Greek mythology.

So, what does this mean?  It means we are body and breath.  We are each a soul, and God looked at the whole package and said it was good.  He didn’t say “Well, that spirit part is good, but we’re going to have to fix that flesh stuff later, that’s just pure evil what I made there, but it will do for now, they’ll just have to put up with it.”  No, it was good, from the start.  Anyways, back to my original point.

We as Christians do an amazing job of telling people who aren’t married “Don’t have sex!” “Sex is evil [outside of the context of marriage]!” “Wait!”.  But we completely drop the ball when people get married.  We fail 100% to tell people that, “hey you’re married, and now 90% of that stuff we told you doesn’t apply anymore”.  We spend 20-30 years trying to squash sexuality and tell people it’s evil and then wonder why there are so many issues with sexuality once people do get married.

We (as Christians in general) have dropped the ball on teaching sexuality properly.

Now, this is ridiculous given that the New Testament spends a fair bit of time on the subject of marriage, sexuality and love.  Picking up God’s intent for marriage should be much easier for Christians than it was/is for the Jews.  Nevertheless, I’d argue that the laws in the Talmud are far closer to God’s intend than what most of our churches are teaching.

For example, regarding frequency, in Christianity there are endless discussions about who has the right to demand sex, how much is too much, how little is to little.  The Jewish solution is quite simple.

  • Sex is the right of the wife, not the husband.  Jewish Rabbis have traditionally held that women are more sexual than men.  What have we done in Christian culture to kill that mentality?!
  • The husband is required to give his wife pleasurable sex whenever she wishes. (In fact, there is traditional teaching from the Rabbis that if the husband has an orgasm first and they conceive, they will have a girl, if the wife orgasm’s first, they will have a boy.  Of course, the desire is to have more boys (as in many cultures), so this is an incentive for the husbands to pleasure their wife)
  • Furthermore, he is to be watchful of clues so that she never has to actually ask.
  • If he fails to satisfy her, this counts as grounds for divorce with a full settlement.
  • Because of this, the husband may not fast from sex or take a long trip, because that would deprive his wife of his sexual services.


  • The wife cannot unilaterally decide she doesn’t want sex.
  • She cannot use sex as a weapon or a punishment.
  • If she does either, this is grounds for divorce without settlement.

Now, I think divorce is going a bit far myself, but it does have the advantage of everyone being clear about what the consequences are.  In fact, there is a marriage contract in orthodox Judaism that clearly spells the terms of the marriage.  I think more engaged couples would discuss frequency before they got married if they knew they had to sign a document saying if they failed to meet their partner’s needs, they’d be divorced and penniless.

So, how do we fix this?

  1. We stop telling people “Don’t have sex!”  We change it to “Wait to have sex!”  
  2. Don’t tell people “Sex is bad!”.  Change it to “Sex is awesome! Within the right context.”  I actually had a teacher tell me “sex really isn’t THAT good”.  Either he was lying, or he was doing it wrong.
  3. We need to drop this idea that sex is taboo, that it’s dirty, that it’s something we can’t talk about.  Sex is amazing, God created us as men and women for a reason.  He designed sex, don’t call His work dirty.  As well, sex is the easiest barometer to see how a marriage is doing.  It is extremely rare to find a marriage on the rocks that is having frequent sex.  It is just as rare to see a solid marriage that rarely enjoys sex.  I’m not suggesting you start prying into your neighbours’ sex lives, but with your close friends/accountability partners/cell group members of the same gender? “How’s it going? How’s your marriage? How’s your sex life?”  OK, maybe our culture isn’t there yet.  But I can think of a few guys in my church that wouldn’t pretend they didn’t hear me if I asked.  Note, if someone asks you, don’t give any information your spouse wouldn’t be comfortable with them knowing.
  4. We need to start preaching about marriage and sexuality within marriage from the pulpit.  I know some churches are starting, but it’s few and far between.  I’ll be honest, I’m not sure I’m ready to stand up and preach about sex in front of 100+ people.  Writing anonymously is one thing.  But, I would talk to 10 or 20 guys about it.  Preaching doesn’t always have to be from a pulpit at church.
  5. Pray.  We’re going to need God’s help if we’re going to beat this mentality.

Looking for help?

34 thoughts on “What Happened To Sex When Christianity Split From Judaism?”

  1. Rena Gunther says:

    Amazing insight!!!

    I love your summary. We need to STOP teaching that sex is bad. Period. It isn’t sex that is bad or evil. We need to teach that it is an amazing gift to be had within the confines of man and wife.

    Once again, thank you for speaking truth boldly. Thank you for digging deep and studying more and speaking out.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Glad you enjoyed it!

  2. livinginblurredlines says:

    We used to have Sabbath sex and I would feel sheepish in church. Now, we have Sabbath sex and I don’t care if it is written all over my face!!! I do wish it was taught to make sure wives are fully pleasured. That is where we lack in the MB and I can’t seem to get it through his head, yet. I have pleasure in the MB, but I’m very rarely fully pleasured, satisfied.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      So, what’s the difference between being pleasured and being fully pleasured and satisfied?

      1. livinginblurredlines says:

        Meaning sex feels good….feels great! But hubby rarely brings me to orgasm or performs the acts the bring me the best, most fulfilling and satisfying orgasms.

  3. J (Hot, Holy & Humorous) says:

    I can’t remember where I read this (which bugs me because I like giving credit), but a minister and his wife decided that their night was every Wednesday. He always gave a small talk at the Wednesday service, and his anticipation of making love with his wife when they returned home kept him focused and brief in his comments. They both loved their worship God/make love Wednesdays. And I bet the church liked the benefit too, even if they didn’t know why their preacher was brief and to the point.

    Thanks for the look at Jewish traditions. I didn’t know some of that, although Sabbath sex, I was familiar with.

  4. Pearl says:

    I love this kind of indepth information, esp. when it enhances the knowledge of the sexuality/spirituality correlation!!! Thanks for your obsession. (I ‘get’ that obsession thing, me too…..)

    Much of this I did not know regarding the Jewish laws. The one I did know was the theory about boy/girl predetermination.

    Mentoring and prayer is absolutely where we have to start! Such a great article.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Thank you, I’m glad you liked it.

  5. Kiki says:

    I’m thinking she meant she can have an enjoyable time in bed with her husband but doesn’t necessarily achieve orgasm which, maybe she wants every time. It’s not only the guys who want this! I continue to be confused that quickies are so highly touted. If you do this occasionally as a ‘favor’ to your husband, or to rev things up for later on, okay. Otherwise, doesn’t the wife get short-changed? Would husbands be in favor of a quickie which was so quick he didn’t orgasm? I highly doubt it:)

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Yeah, that’s what I figured she meant as well, but I could be wrong.

      That’s a good point, I think many husbands don’t realize their wives want orgasms. Often, not always, the wives fail to speak up and say what they want/need either though. Often both sides have blame to share. Again, not always.

      As for quickies. I for one would be in favor of a quickie that was so quick I didn’t orgasm. Any sexual contact with my wife is appreciated. Now, of course, if that was the standard fare, that would be a problem, as you say, on either side of the fence. That said, my wife sometimes isn’t willing to chase an orgasm at the expense of sleep. Sometimes she’d rather just make sure I get one. In our marriage, and I can’t speak for all, my “need” for orgasms seems to outweigh my wife’s, but it is always her choice whether or not we get her one. It wouldn’t be fair for me to decide that, except on the rare occasion when I decide she’s going to have one whether she wants to go to sleep or not… but then, she doesn’t object very strongly to those instances.

      1. livinginblurredlines says:

        I clarified above. I have spoken to hubby about it, but it’s like he doesn’t hear or get it. I can’t understand and I can’t change why he doesn’t want to take the time and effort to give that way to me. All I can do is continue to love and serve him, speak up and pray pray pray for God to lay it on hubby’s heart.

        1. Jay Dee says:

          That’s a hard position to be in. Stay strong. Keep praying.

          1. livinginblurredlines says:

            Thank you. I am staying strong and praying continuously. I praise the Lord that through this I am drawing closer to Him and learning to love my husband as Christ wants me to love him. My God shall supply all my needs, not my husband, though I pray for complete healing and holiness in the marriage bed…a marriage bed the way God wants it to be.

      2. K says:

        This actually brings up a very interesting point…I realize I am late to the party, but better late than never! My wonderful wife will quite often offer a quicky for me if it has been awhile…and don’t get me wrong…the release is wonderful, and it does take the edge off and relieve the pressure…HOWEVER…somehow, it just isn’t the same…I get almost as much enjoyment from being able to give her an orgasm as I get from getting my own…in our MB, I would say that probably 85% of the time, she gets hers first, and then I get mine. I think the real problem with quickies is that there really isn’t time for the emotional connection to be made…while the physical connection obviously happens, there just isn’t time for the bonding to happen that I find so important and valuable to our relationship.
        My $.02.

    2. Happy husband says:

      It really depends on how things are in general in the relationship but we have had quickie sex and by that I mean it took less than two minutes total time and she had a wonderful orgasm. Now I know that does not happen often and neither would I want it to as enjoy foreplay and the whole journey to much to make it quick often but if you only have a few minutes it can be really really good and usually we are good for another good round sooner that if we would have waited. Remember foreplay should always begin as soon as the the blood pressure return to normal. Keep it going!

  6. Deborah says:

    I agree that the wife should always come first. And actually more than just first. She should always be satisfied. Sex is not a sport, but the ultimate expression of love. When a woman feels loved, she naturally wants to return the love.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      I’m not sure if you mean, she should always be put first, or that she should always orgasm first.

      If you mean orgasm first, I’d have to disagree, some wives don’t want to orgasm first all the time, because they only have one in a session. My wife, in particular, seems to prefer it to be mixed, sometimes first, sometimes second.

      1. Holly says:

        Considering women are multiorgasmic and men are not I’m not sure what you mean by just one! 😉 But I can say that I am happy my hubby always makes sure I’m “satisfied”

        1. Jay Dee says:

          While all women might have the potential to be multi-orgasmic, not all are, in fact, many are pre-orgasmic (never had an orgasm). For my wife, she’s content with one and rarely, if ever, wants or is capable of attaining another. But, as you said, the goal is to satisfy, not to rack up some sort of orgasm score.

  7. Paul H. Byerly says:

    Great post, and spot on. The Jews of old were very pro-sex (in marriage) as were the early Christians, but the Christians got uptight fairly early on. Some of this was due to Gnosticism (we see Paul fighting that in some of his letter). I think we can also attribute some of it to the fact that the “rules” started to be made by those where were supposed to be celibate. I suspect a lot of the anti-sex teaching had more than a bit of sour grapes to them.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Hard to know which came first: celibate monks who taught sex was bad or the teaching that sex was bad which brought forth celibate monks. Either way, it probably fed itself once it got going.

  8. jhawkgirl86 says:

    “The first dates way back to the classical Christian theology that Adam and Eve eating from the tree of life in the garden was a euphemism for sex. In other words, the original sin is sex, therefor all sex is sin and any person born of such a union (all of us) has a sinful nature. Now, anyone who actually reads the rest of the Bible and see’s the tree of life come up again in Revelation knows this cannot be. (If eating from the tree = sex and sex = sin, and we’re all going to eat from the tree in heaven, then there would be sin in heaven after redemption. Not logically possible).”

    Not to nitpick, but I feel I should point this out because it weakens your argument. There were two trees in the garden (well, more than two, but these were the important ones theologically.) Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, not the Tree of Life. I agree that it is an erroneous viewpoint that eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is a euphemism for sex, but the fact that we will eat from the Tree of Life in the New Heavens and New Earth does not prove this to be an error. These are two different trees.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Wow, how did I miss that. Never-the-less, that was the teaching I found in the history books. Thanks for pointing it out. Either way, the theology was flawed. Thanks for commenting.

    2. Mat says:

      Unification church teaches about the role of sex in the human Fall, too. It explains all aspects in great detail, so your question about the both trees might get answered. The message is that Adam and Eve were supposed to mature their character first, so God told them to wait until due time.
      Marrying two people who both love God and are not selfish, sounds like a good plan to me.

      1. Mat says:

        Adding the link, if you are curious. I dont expect that you will agree with everything, but sometimes it is good to look at things from different perspective.

  9. Lynne says:

    What a great article, thank you. My husband (of 36 years) and I have been discussing this very topic. Christians should be the ones having awesome sex lives, this gift of God does not belong to promiscuous “heathen”! It would be great if we could get western Christian thinking back to its roots in this area instead of tangled in Greek philosophies.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      You are very welcome. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I agree, and I’m doing my best to instill an idea of healthy sexuality into Christianity.

  10. K says:

    I can not remember if I have been up on this soap box here before or not…my apologies if I have…but here goes: I have this feeling/belief that the western church has done a fabulous job of training/preaching that “Good Girls Don’t” for so many generations now, that we have thrown the baby out with the bathwater…as Lynne has mentioned just above…Christians are the ones who should be having the great sex and sex lives…but the church has abdicated its responsibility to retrain…they have completely lost the teaching manual titled “Great Wives DO!!!” Many of us are likely familiar with many different Christian websites, blogs, etc. on the internet that discuss all of this topic and everything around it, however, somehow it does not seem to carry the same authority as what is preached over the pulpit in our various local churches…(btw, if the past tense of “teach” is “taught”, why is the past tense of “preach” not “praught”…just wondering…that was a freeby); I have to sort of wonder if the church has not bought into the prevailing theory that the government does not have any place in the bedrooms of the nations, neither does the church really have any place in the marital bedroom; it is almost as if we shouldn’t talk about it at all.
    With apologies…I will now climb back down off of my soapbox.

  11. European says:

    What i am missing ,is the general attitude of physicality, and then special some thing like sex education, I think there was no need for it in the time of the Bible, because it was incorperatad in daily life ,fore example, Breastfeeding was common in those days , and was not stopping at 3 or 6 months, no, every child was fed by the breast fore at least 2 years. any child at the age of 10 had seen his or her mother giving breastfeeding to her/his babysister/babyboy, so education about the things about man and woman where common then ,Ok we today have more knowledge about the body’s of man and woman , but they had a better attitude about sex and all these stuff in general , i think its a good thing to make a better study about this , but i am feeling that i am searching in the right direction.

  12. Brian Collis says:

    I have challenged my pastor to do a sermon on 1 Cor 7:5 from the pulpit. Sadly, no response yet other than his initial “Whoa. I’ll be praying about it.”

    In the meantime, I’m running a Song of Songs study right now 😀
    SOMEone’s got to

    1. Jay Dee says:

      It’s difficult for pastors, especially in denominations where their salaries are provided by the congregation. Upset too many of them…and there goes your livelihood.

      We did a small group study a couple of years ago with four other couples on Intimacy Ignited, which is basically a Song of Solomon guide and workbook. Great times. Need to do that again.
      This year I think I want to do some workshops in my church with couples, but it’s hard, because we don’t have a building yet…makes logistics difficult.

  13. Norah says:

    I know this is old, but just rereading it help me to know to keep spreading the word. Its hard cause the idea that sex is bad, dirty, wrong, is just ridiculous. We as Christians have allowed the world to take what was ours and I feel like we are not even fighting to get it back. Well some of us are.

  14. Jill says:

    ‘How’s your sex life?’ I have no problem with the subject of sex in general, but would have a problem with my husband discussing any aspect of it with other men. Same goes for me discussing our intimate life with other women. Why do you want to know? I’d find such a question inappropriate and I’m no prude.

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