LDS and Adventist Transition to Sex Positivity Profiled
29 May 2019 | The publication JSTOR Daily has published an article titled “When Adventists and Mormons Turned Sex-Positive.” The subtitle of the May 24 article reads “How the once sex-averse Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Seventh Day Adventism embraced (married, monogamous) sex as a positive ideal.”
The article points out that it was the emergence of gay culture and other alternatives to previous gender and sexuality norms that pushed the two denominations to abandon previous Victorian ideas about the dangers of traditional sex. They then started espousing a more pro-sex stance within the constraint of heterosexual marriage.
Health reformer John Harvey Kellogg, who invented corn flakes and led the Adventist denomination’s efforts at Battle Creek Sanitarium, is mentioned as an anti-sex voice. Kellogg, who was eventually disfellowshipped by the Adventist denomination, advocated for celibacy in marriage.
The article notes that though other Adventist leaders did not go as far as Kellogg, they pushed for strict limits on sexual activity even in marriage.
The LDS church is said to have allowed for polygamy so that men could direct their sex drives at procreation and avoid adultery and prostitution. The church officially reversed its stance on polygamy in 1890.
Positive attitudes toward sex are portrayed as having first emerged in the 1930s. By the 1970s both denominations stressed the value of sex in marriage. The article claims that this came as a reaction to “social changes that came with second wave feminism, the sexual revolution, and the gay rights movement.”
The social shifts also are said to have contributed to the denominations’ emphasizing gender differences. In this era the churches stressed the role of women as mothers and wives, restricting their public roles.