Maybe a sex educator at your religious school told you oral sex is a sin, or maybe it was a mentor or parent who warned you about oral sex. But despite what you may have learned, giving and receiving oral sex is natural and normal — and it is not a sin. To find out more about oral sex and if it’s a sin, we talked to a few religious leaders to hear their perspectives on the matter.
Some Christians believe the Bible says oral sex is a sin. But there is actually no scripture that even mentions oral sex. “There really is no support in the Bible that oral sex specifically is wrong — and it is not,” Brandan Robertson, lead pastor at the Mission gathering Christian Church in San Diego, tells O.school.
“Sinning is when we willfully and purposefully harm, exploit, and use others for our own pleasure,” explains Latishia James-Portis, a minister, advocate, and pleasure activist. “So, if the people engaging [in oral sex] are consenting, respecting each other’s autonomy, and not exploiting each other in anyway way, there is no sin in having oral sex.”
But are there are certain cases where oral sex might be considered a sin? There are a few scriptures that imply that any sex outside of marriage or sex purely for pleasure is wrong. Hebrews 13:4 reads, “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”
But your desire to experience pleasure from oral sex, in or out of conventional marriage, doesn’t have to be viewed as sinful or shameful. This desire is totally normal and just part of being human.
Why is desiring oral sex normal?
Simply put, many people find oral sex to be incredibly pleasurable. “God gave us bodies that experience pleasure. In the same way we can experience longing and desire for God, we can feel those things for other people,” says Martha Schick, a youth and young adult ministries leader in Boston. “I believe that we are made in the image of God, and many of us have clitorises — an organ that functions exclusively for pleasure. So, why would one of the ways to receive that pleasure be a sin? Oral sex can be a way to express our desires and give and receive pleasure in a safe and healthy way. The only way oral sex becomes a ‘sin’ is if it is taking place as part of a non-consensual assault.”
From a physical standpoint, the soft yet firm texture of a tongue can feel really good against sensitive areas like the clitoris or tip of the penis. But the tongue isn’t the only part of a mouth that can provide enjoyable sensations. Sucking, blowing or even gently grazing teeth over the various nerve-packed areas on or in genitalia can feel good.
Beyond the physical, oral sex can be just as intimate as sex. Some people even find the use of a mouth even more intimate than penetration. “It’s a way for people to connect with one another and practice vulnerability,” says James-Portis. “This is because oral sex requires a level of comfort and communication.” Consensual intimacy can be an incredibly powerful and enjoyable part of sexual interaction and there is nothing sinful about connecting in that way.
Dealing with shame around oral sex
If you’re feeling any sort of religious-based shame for enjoying oral sex, remember: “The Bible talks about the body being beautiful — it is the temple of your spirit,” says Robertson. “So, as long as you are being respectful to yourself and others, you absolutely have the freedom to explore and enjoy pleasure. There is nothing shameful about it.”
Keeping this in mind can help you combat shame that may pop up from past negative teachings or lectures. It can also help to explore resources that address religion, sex, and shame. One such resource is Beyond Shame: Creating A Healthy Sex Life on Your Own Terms by Matthias Roberts. The author studied theology and wrote the book to combat the shame many people who grew up in the church feel around sex. In the book, you’ll find ways to determine what a healthy, non-shame-based sex life looks like for you.
Consent Is Key
If you decide to have oral sex, know that as with any other sexual activity, consent is key. So, what does consent look like when it pertains to oral? “It’s the same as consent for any other sex,” says James-Portis. Agreeing to participate through verbal communication is the clearest way to deal with consent. Asking if someone would like to engage in it and getting a response of ‘yes’ leaves no doubt in either person’s mind. If you know the other person very well, clear non-verbal cues and gestures could also work. Coercion or force are never acceptable. When either of these things occur, it is considered assault or rape. Abusing any power or authority one may have to get oral sex is also never acceptable.
You should also know that consent can be withdrawn at any point during oral sex. So, people engaging in oral sex should continue checking in and immediately stop if there are any verbal or non-verbal signs that the other person doesn’t want to keep going. If you are ever unsure, you should ask, “Would you like to keep doing this?” Then, wait for verbal confirmation.
While so many of us, especially those in religious communities, feel shame when it comes to sexual expression, there is no reason to believe oral sex is a sin. The Bible does not address oral sex, and many religious leaders will tell you that oral sex is totally natural and normal. Oral sex is just another part of sex and the human experience. Whether or not you choose to engage in oral sex is completely up to you. But don’t let shame be a reason to not try it if you would like to.