Proper Intimacy in Marriage: 

Statements by Prophets and Other General Authorities on Oral Sex

 

Michael T. Griffith

2010

Second Edition

 

President Spencer W. Kimball

 

"Even though sex can be an important and satisfactory part of married life we must remember that life is not designed just for sex.  Even marriage does not make proper certain extremes in sexual indulgence. . . . Perhaps the Lord's condemnation included secret sexual sins in marriage when he said: 'And those who are not pure and have said they were pure, shall be destroyed, saith the Lord God' (D&C 132:52).  The First Presidency 'has interpreted oral sex as constituting an unnatural, impure, or unholy practice' (Letter of January 5, 1982, to all Stake Presidents, Bishops).

 

"If it is unnatural, you just don't do it.  That is all, and all the family life should be kept clean and worthy and on a very high plane.  There are some people who have said that behind the bedroom doors anything goes.  That is not true and the Lord would not condone it." (Spencer W. Kimball, "The Gospel Perspective on Morality," Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 312)

 

President Harold B. Lee

 

President Lee said the following in response to an inquiry about the propriety of oral sex:

 

"I was shocked to have you raise the question about 'oral lovemaking in the genital area among married couples.'  Heaven forbid any such degrading activities which would be abhorrent in the sight of the Lord.  For any Latter-day Saint, and particularly those who have been taught in the sacred ordinances of the temple, to engage in any kind of perversions of this sacred God-given gift of procreation, would be sure to bring down the condemnation of the Lord whom we would offend were we to engage in any such practice." (Letter from Harold B. Lee, May 17, 1973, prepared by President Lee’s secretary)

 

First Presidency Statement (issued in 1982)

 

"Letter to all Priesthood Leaders, January 5, 1982.

 

"Married persons should understand that if in their marital relations they are guilty of unnatural, impure, or unholy practices, they should not enter the temple unless and until they repent and discontinue any such practices.  Husbands and wives who are aware of these requirements can determine by themselves their standing before the Lord.  All of this should be conveyed without having priesthood leaders focus upon intimate matters which are a part of husband and wife relationships.  Skillful interviewing and counseling can occur without discussion of clinical details by placing firm responsibility on individual members of the Church to put their lives in order before exercising the privilege of entering a house of the Lord.  The First Presidency has interpreted oral sex as constituting an unnatural, impure, or unholy practice.  If a person is engaged in a practice which troubles him enough to ask about it, he should discontinue it."

 

(Signatures)

Spencer Kimball

N. Eldon Tanner

Marion G. Romney

Gordon B. Hinckley"

 

Elder Bruce R. McConkie

 

Elder McConkie specifically mentioned “sodomy,” a term that refers to oral and anal sex, as a type of lewdness, as one of the sexual sins condemned by the Lord:

 

“Every degree and type of lewdness . . . of sodomy . . . fornication, adultery, and uncleanness . . . are condemned by divine edict.” (Mormon Doctrine, Second Edition, Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1966, p. 708, emphasis added)

 

The following statements from other General Authorities clearly seem to have been aimed at practices such as oral sex:

 

Elder Boyd K. Packer

 

"I must include a caution to you who are married.  A couple may be tempted to introduce things into your relationship which are unworthy. . . . If you do, the tempter will drive a wedge between you. If something unworthy has become part of your relationship, don't ever do it again!  Now, what exactly do I mean by that?  You know what I mean by that, and I will not respond to any questions about it.  We do not, in our counseling, enter the bedrooms of members of the Church." ("The Fountain of Life," BYU Address, 29 March 1992)

 

Elder Dallin H. Oaks

 

“Pornography impairs one’s ability to enjoy a normal emotional, romantic, and spiritual relationship with a person of the opposite sex. It erodes the moral barriers that stand against inappropriate, abnormal, or illegal behavior. As conscience is desensitized, patrons of pornography are led to act out what they have witnessed, regardless of its effects on their life and the lives of others.” (“Pornography,” Liahona, May 2005, emphasis added)

 

This is a significant statement, because one of the acts most frequently performed in pornographic videos is oral sex.

 

Elder Bruce Hafen

 

"For example, as you date and hang out, even when you feel there is a growing foundation of love in a relationship, show your profound respect for that love—and for the doctrines about eternal love and family life—by bridling your passions. Don't be deceived by the false idea that anything short of the sex act itself is okay. That is a lie, not only because one step overpoweringly leads to another, but because even touching another person's body with sexual intent is part of the intimacy that is kept holy by the sanctuary of chastity. Please also beware of unnatural sexual acts that are just as immoral, if not worse, than traditional fornication or adultery." ("Your Longing for Family Joy," Ensign, October 2003, p. 28, emphasis added)

 

Elder Spencer J. Condie

 

“Unfortunately, some married couples fail to realize that sexual experiences were never intended by the Lord to be a mere plaything or merely to satisfy passions and lusts. When couples engage in physical intimacy devoid of emotional and spiritual intimacy, or when they participate in unholy practices, what should be a spiritually bonding element in their marriage may actually become a disruptive force. Going to the scriptures and to the words of modern prophets for inspired counsel is one of the best ways husbands and wives can improve their communication and strengthen their marriage.” (“Finding Marital Unity through the Scriptures,” Ensign, July 1986, p. 52, emphasis added)

 

Lex De Azevedo

 

Brother Azevedo, although not a General Authority, is a well-known LDS composer.  In 1985 the Ensign, the Church’s official magazine, published an article of his on “A Closer Look at Popular Music” in which he noted that modern rock music increasingly glorifies various types of perversion, and he included sodomy as being among them:

 

“Songs and poems of adultery and fornication are nothing new; every generation has had its fill of them. But in order to make their product more and more exciting—and sell more songs—record producers have gradually added additional perversions to their traditional preoccupation with illicit sex. Today, songs containing references to homosexuality, transvestism, sodomy, masturbation, sadomasochism, rape, prostitution, venereal disease, child abuse, and incest have all been added to the musical menu.” (“A Closer Look at Popular Music,” Ensign, March 1985, emphasis added)

 

Church Publication Titled A Parents Guide

 

“You can best teach your children that intimacy between husband and wife must be guided by righteous attitudes toward each other. The most sacred intimacy must be shared in a relationship characterized by genuine love. If we truly love others and desire their eternal joy—if we are our brother’s keeper—our intimate relations as husband and wife will uplift rather than degrade. Immorality, which stems from a desire for selfish pleasure, will be unthinkable. Lust is selfish. It therefore draws a man and a woman, a brother and sister, into an unlawful or an unrighteous association with each other. Lust dulls the senses and encourages people to increasingly bizarre efforts to feel pleasure. Lustful men and women, married or not, will be preoccupied with selfish mental or physical gratification of their appetites without feeling the joy of natural affection. Virtuous behavior, however, does not reject the feeling and joy of the physical senses but provides a full and satisfying enjoyment of them. Genuine love—love unfeigned—leads us to lawful and righteous relationships, to compassionate but chaste relationships outside of marriage, and to righteous intimacy within marriage—within the bounds the Lord has set. . . .

“Choose books about human intimacy carefully when you teach your children or when allowing others to teach your children about this subject.” (A Parent’s Guide: Intimacy and the Purpose of Earthly Families, emphasis added)

 

It’s interesting to note that ancient Christian sources likewise condemn the practice of oral sex.  One such source is the Epistle of Barnabas, a second-century Christian text that was often quoted as scripture by early church bishops and theologians (Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson et al, editors, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1980-1985, 2:354‑355, 362, 366, 372, 459; 4:97, 424):

 

Do not, he is saying, be such a person.  We hear of such men, who perform a lawless deed uncleanly with the mouth. Neither associate with those unclean women who perform the lawless deed with the mouth. (Epistle of Barnabas 10:8, in Jack N. Sparks, editor, The Apostolic Fathers, Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1978, p. 285)

 

Epiphanius (A.D. 320-403), bishop of Salamis:

 

They [certain Egyptian heretics] exercise genital acts, yet prevent the conceiving of children. Not in order to produce offspring, but to satisfy lust, are they eager for corruption. (Adversus Haereses, 26:5:2)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Michael T. Griffith holds a Master’s degree in Theology from The Catholic Distance University, a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts from Excelsior College, two Associate in Applied Science degrees from the Community College of the Air Force, and an Advanced Certificate of Civil War Studies and a Certificate of Civil War Studies from Carroll College.  He is a two-time graduate of the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, in Arabic and Hebrew, and of the U.S. Air Force Technical Training School in San Angelo, Texas, and has completed advanced Hebrew programs at Haifa University in Israel and at the Spiro Institute in London, England.  He is also the author of five books on Mormonism and ancient texts and one book on the John F. Kennedy assassination.

 

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