Why Doesn’t The Great Sin Of Pre-Marital Sex Get More Attention In Orthodox Life?

When I was growing up in Seventh-Day Adventist Christianity, the sin of fornication aka pre-marital sex received more attention than any other sin. It was the biggie. To do it, was to deny Christ and his love.

I’ve never heard a sermon in an Orthodox shul condemning pre-marital sex. I don’t think I’ve even heard it condemned from the bima (pulpit). The Orthodox rabbis I know take it for granted. Not that they say it is OK, but they give it no more attention than masturbation.

By contrast, there are all these talks about homosexuality in Orthodox Judaism.

I wonder why pre-marital sex gets no love? All sex outside of monogamous heterosexual marriage is condemned by Judaism according to the normative Orthodox view.

Why aren’t rabbis thundering against masturbation? Why aren’t they warning their unmarried congregants that they are placing their soul in peril by engaging in French kissing, let alone fondling, petting, heavy petting, heavy petting underneath clothing, oral sex and the like. Why this wall of rabbinical silence on this vitally important Jewish issue?

God, I am getting so worked up just thinking about the hazards of these sins. I guess it is up to the Leader to set the Jews straight.

I remember hanging out at the Pacific Union College pool in the late 1977, I was 11 at the time, and I was shocked to hear the lifeguards talk about going to see the movie Saturday Night Fever. I was shocked to hear about their participation in disco dancing. Both movie-going and dancing are big sins in Adventism.

I can still picture the womanly lifeguard in her one-piece bathing suit talking to this long-haired rebel who played quarterback in the college’s flag-football league about sensual matters in a completely matter of fact manner. That it was no big deal to dance and to go to movies and to have pre-marital sex and it was easy to get away with it at the college.

I was a very impressionable kid. I thought that to engage in this behavior meant that you were not a Christian and therefore unworthy of salvation.

Dennis Prager notes that in conservative Christianity, sexual sins are the worst sins.

Their social acceptance changed radically in the 1980s and 1990s. Now it is taken for granted on most Christian college campuses that kids are masturbating and having pre-marital sex.

I remember feigning that I was asleep one Shabbos afternoon in something like 1982. I was in the backseat of the car. In the front seats, this beautiful woman who worked as a secretary at our church was talking to her boyfriend. I guess they had confessed to my father, the preacher man, that they were having pre-marital sex and were unable to stop. They were discussing his advice. I’m sure he told them to stop and that they were jeopardizing their future happiness.

Perhaps that is why I am so unhappy? I’ve had too much pre-marital sex. Oy, what a big sinner I am. It sucks to me, all caught up in the vortex of lust when my thoughts should be on Torah.

Yerachmiel writes: “In Satmar there were guys wandering the dorms with flashlights and the rebbe himself would regularly lecture about oso hachet, referring to masturbation. they also got the hassidic version of fire and brimstone descriptions of hell. Though, yes in the modern ortho world that is not talked about, but it was implied that premarital sex was wrong.”

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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