The Secret of Sex

While the Bible isn’t pornographic (“Song of Songs”, notwithstanding), it’s not shy about telling us who did what with (and to) whom.

The Bible is a fascinating book – as history; as inspiration; and as a guide for what to do or not to do.  Though I’m not religious, it might surprise you to know that I studied the Bible for twelve years, so I might as well refer to it.

What strikes me is the fact that nowadays – modern times and all, we talk openly about sex less than in ancient times! That bears exploring…

Our own sex life is not a topic of conversation in most adult social gatherings. We gossip about infidelities, we tell sexual jokes, we read about it in books and some watch it in movies (of all kinds).  But when we’re asked, “What did you do last night?” We’re unlikely to answer, “Oh, we went dancing; got together with some friends for a while; and then went home and had sex”.

We don’t say that.

Some would say that it is because sex is an intimate, loving and private act, and that’s why we don’t talk about it in a casual way.

I don’t buy that.

Yes, sometimes sex is loving and intimate, but many times it’s just an exchange of fluids.  

Moreover, we tell one another many other details about intimate, loving moments; and many tales about body ailments, pains, procedures and such. And yet we keep our sex lives private, almost secretive.  Not so in the Bible.  It is very open about Adam and Eve; about Lot and his daughters; about King David lusting; about Ruth and Boaz and so on and so on…


The Bible wasn’t shy, so why are we?

I believe that, besides the influence of Puritanism on American culture, which had a lot to do with the topic of personal sex being taboo – there’s one very important reason for the lack of open conversation about it: 

Competition and self-esteem!

We are so used to looking at every aspect of our lives through the lens of others, that we are afraid and concerned that we might not do it right!

  • Am I doing it too much or too little?
  • Do I want it more than the average person or less?
  • How come my spouse/boyfriend want it more than me or less than me?
  • Does the fact that I like to do it this way and not the other indicates that something is wrong with me? Am I a pervert?
  • What about masturbation?  Is it OK to do it even though I am married to a beautiful woman/man?  BTW, there’s a prohibition in the Bible, so if you’re religious, you should stop that!

If I told you about me, what would you think of me???

I believe that our concern about being judged, evaluated, scorned or even envied stops us from talking about “having sex” as a natural activity.

The Bible, on the other hand, encourages us to have it more and more, as God commanded us to be “fruitful and multiply”.   Moreover, there’s a plethora of Hebrew words meaning intercourse in the Holy Scriptures, such as “to enter,” “to lie with,” “to know” and “to go into”.  And, they are repeated again and again, without inhibition.

I know for a fact that when men talk about it in their locker rooms, they hardly ever talk about their lack of success, but mostly about “scoring”.  And, when they do, the rest of the guys either join in, or are quiet, because they did not do as well. Not unlike being quiet about your grade on the final exam when your score was a “D”.

So do I believe that this blog will change the way we talk about sex? Probably not.

But I do like to point out things we do blindly, fearfully, and automatically. Even when I’m guilty as well.                     


About rachel bar

Psychotherapist and supervisor.
This entry was posted in Puritanism, Religion, Sex, Talking about sex, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to The Secret of Sex

  1. Mort says:

    I guess I have a little different take on this–sure, the Bible can get very candid and open about sexual matters, and so does much great literature. But I don’t recall anyone in the Bible talking about their own sex lives. We’re told of various sexual adventures and misadventures, but from the omniscient third-person perspective. Of course, that was mostly in the Bronze and Iron Ages & we’re now in the Kardashian Age, so maybe we need to rethink.

    • rachel bar says:

      Gee, Kardashian and Bronze Age- one and the same…

      You are mostly right. I think that there’s the story of Amnon and Tamar when he expresses his desire to have sex with her, but I’m not sure. As far as the Song of Songs, I would differ. Here are some quotes:אֶנְהָגְךָ, אֲבִיאֲךָ אֶל-בֵּית אִמִּי–תְּלַמְּדֵנִי; אַשְׁקְךָ מִיַּיִן הָרֶקַח, מֵעֲסִיס רִמֹּנִי. 2 I would lead thee, and bring thee into my mother’s house, that thou mightest instruct me; I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine, of the juice of my pomegranate.
      ג שְׂמֹאלוֹ תַּחַת רֹאשִׁי, וִימִינוֹ תְּחַבְּקֵנִי. 3 His left hand should be under my head, and his right hand should embrace me.
      Full of metaphores of course, the pomegranate, the wine etc.

  2. Oren Raz says:

    Sexuality has been treated differently throughout history (including the times the bible was written). Political, cultural aspects and other factors demonized or SHAMED it and times (ancient Rome for example) normalized it. We live at times (and mostly a place) where sexuality is not a natural part of connection and love but rather a split-off, SHAMED part you don’t talk about. When used, it is often a matter of PERFORMANCE where “results” “comparisons” and criticism (self, others and often both) is evident – leading to- shame, avoidance and hiding.

  3. Barbara Cooper says:

    As a person who matured during the free love, birth control pill period of the 70’s, I am of the generation that not only had casual sex but discussed it as openly with friends as one would any other form of entertainment. It was just no big deal. You had sex or you didn’t, no one cared with whom or how and when. It was just a topic of conversation like any other. It was ubiquitous and never raised an eyebrow with any kind of judgement. Just like the “f” word, which was used so predominantly, it lost its power to shock- it was just a word. Of course all that free sex had its consequences, at it’s worst new venereal diseases emerged, some which were fatal. But in spite of that, my generation more than any preceding us, treated sex as a part of life. And that,I think was a good thing. Women learned to enjoy their bodies and relish the act of giving and receiving pleasure without guilt, something men have done throughout time. So yay to my generation!
    Now, as a married woman, it is no longer casual sex in that it is a shared intimacy with my husband. And the fact that I don’t wish to discuss it with anyone is not because I am ashamed or worried about how what we do (or don’t do) might be perceived, but rather something completely private and special between the two of us. A private bond which permits no intruders less that bond be diminished.
    As for men talking in the locker room….. years ago I was being hit on by a man I had absolutely no interest in. I will never forget what he said to me when I ever so gently rejected his advances.
    He said, “Barbara, whether you do or you don’t, tomorrow when I get together with the guys, you did”
    Nuff said.

    • rachel bar says:

      What a wonderful response Barb. What is perplexing to me is that people often share with me very intimate details of their lives and yet they blush when they talk about their sex lives, as if it is embarrassing.

  4. Sex…one of my favorite topics to discuss and well to act…but hey I am a male…I found psychology a great subject.. because of Freud..just to think that all our problem come from sex..not understanding it, doing it or getting stuck in it… OK I know that is extremely simplified…but I do feel it have some value…We as Americans are so caught up on the “act” of sex that we often forget the true reason behind it..”procreation”.. and like any other activity..the more you do it the better your success rate…So lets all procreate and have fun doing it…

    I recall facilitating a class for potential foster parents and the sexual session of the class was my I got to see grown people blush, giggle, and groan when they would have to write down names they heard about the body parts…So what if she calls her vagina a taco or a pocketbook..and his penis a poker or a ding dong…as adults, we have to get use to these things and move to provide for our children we have to be comfortable with our self and talking about sex

    • rachel bar says:

      I actually think that Freud was helpful in making us neurotic about sex!

      I had the same experience once, leading a parenting group when the subject drifted to sex. The grown ups behaved like first graders.

  5. Martha Carr says:

    Funny Story: I once led a parenting group for mothers of pre-schoolers. At the time, they wanted to talk about whether to let their 4 yr old children play with toy guns (early 80’s). One woman said: “Well, didn’t allow our son to play with toy guns, and one day we had a house full of guests he ran into the livingroom, whipped out his penis started shooting people!” I think she gave him back the toy gun:)

  6. rachel bar says:

    This is one of the funniest stories ever about parenting! I intend to send it to some people who should read it.

  7. Dalia Kenig says:

    Comparing ourselves to others and ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ is a very human trait, after all we are social creatures and part of the “herd”. What you describe is more of ‘comparanoia’ comparing obsessively with other people; sex; looks, achievement, cars, cell phones, the list is endless…I think thou that part of maturing and individuating includes developing an internal reference what is “normal” based on our own needs and values.
    When you wrote about feeling natural and open to talk about sex what came to my mind was Dr. Ruth the famous sex therapist with her frank and non-judgmental talk about sex- no taboos. She approached sex in a very down to earth manner. Her heavy German accent was hilarious to listen to.
    I Was thinking about why I don’t talk sex with my friends over coffee ??? I’m still looking at this one; we might talk about it next time we meet over lunch….

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