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Pat Robertson's Malleable Definition of Sexual Sin

The televangelist says oral sex in marriage is only a sin if you think it's a sin; God has nothing to say on the matter. But does s/he?

Pat Robertson's Malleable Definition of Sexual Sin

JESUSLAND—You simply never know what pearl of biblical illumination is going to come sliding out of Pat Robertson's mouth at any given moment. He just came out supporting the legalization of marijuana, for instance, but then turns around and says non-Christians are like a virus. But who knew that the man who loves to condemn is apparently open to sexual experimentation as long as it is not specifically prohibited in the bible. Oral sex, for instance.

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The issue came up on a broadcast of the 700 Club by way of a question sent in by a viewer named Jerry, who asked, "Is oral sex between husband and wife in marriage a sin? "

The host of the show, a married mom named Kristi Watts, wanted no part of the question, but Robertson was nonplussed.

"The Bible doesn't make that sinful," he said. "It's a question of what's in your heart... what's in your heart. If to you it's sin, it's sin.

"And the bible says something about a bed being undefiled between a man and a wife, so whatever you guys decide on between and husband and a wife, God bless you."

Watts tried to move to another topic, but Robertson continued, "Any evidence of love and compassion and affection between two people who are married... it's a question of what is in your mind... if you feel it's sin, it's sin."

Okay, got it. Only, the relevant scripture actually reads, "Let marriage be kept honorable in every way, and the marriage bed undefiled. For God will judge those who commit sexual sins, especially those who commit adultery."

That tells us right there that it's not just up to the individual, but that God will judge the sex after the fact, even between man and wife, but that only adultery is specifically cited as against his moral code.  

So one would be excused for wondering where Pat Robertson gets the idea that he can absolve people before God has had a chance to weigh in, but maybe that's what comes from having a long-running TV show. It sure didn't come from the scripture.

But you also can't help wondering if Robertson's interpretation of the scripture was being made during the years when sodomy laws were on the books in many states, including in some for married couples. The point being that if the origin of all sodomy laws was religion, which it was, why didn't Robertson or some other preacher correct the record a hundred years ago, or two hundred years ago, for that matter?

In pre- and post-revolution America, after all, the maximum penalty for violating sodomy laws in Virginia was death, which Thomas Jefferson tried to get reduced to castration in 1778 as a way to liberalize the law, according to Wikipedia.

Up until 1962, in fact, sodomy was a felony in every state in the Union, which would probably surprise most people. Even after 1962, laws and penalties varied from state to state, and in 1986 the SCOTUS in Bowers v Hardwick even affirmed a Georgia sodomy law that criminalized private oral and anal sex between same-sex couples. Texas had a similar law, of course, which was eventually struck down by the Supremes in the famous 2003 case, Lawrence v Texas, which invalidated the nation's remaining sodomy laws that were still on the books in fourteen states.

It's a fascinating history of the evolution of the law, which continues to this day as the notion of privacy between consenting adults remains a bitterly contentious issue, especially when one of the Republican candidates for President of the United States argues forcefully for a return to vigorous prosecution of obscenity laws, which like sodomy laws, find their origin in ecclesiastical law that Americans inherited from the English.

Someone needs to write in to the 700 Club with another question: "If oral sex between a husband and wife in marriage is not a sin, is watching porn? "

Let's see what Pat Robertson has to say on that one.






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Tom Hymes

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