Question regarding "missionary position"


#1

Recently I read an accusation against the Catholic Church saying that “missionary position” was forced by the Catholic missionaries in the Melanesia where people were originally using a different position for the intercourse. The writer of the article also notes that “there were cases where the Inquisition punished people for using other positions that the missionary position”. The author of that article quotes “The Sexual Life of Savages in North-Western Melanesia” by Bronisław Malinowski.

Can anyone provide more information on the history of “missionary position”? Did the Church at any time in the history condemn other intercourse positions as “sinful”? The statement that the Inquisition punished people for the way they had intercourse is ridiculous by itself (but anti-Catholics will stick to that). I would like to have more information before responding to that article.

God bless


#2

Bump.
I’m interested in the answer to this,too.


#3

From Wikipedia (for the other accusations, it is up to the person MAKING the accusations to prove them. Ask the person to cite authoritive Catholic sources.

A common myth states that the term “missionary position” arose in response to Christianmissionaries, who taught that the position was the only proper way to engage in sexual intercourse. This explanation probably originated from Alfred Kinsey’s Sexual Behavior in the Human Male through a confluence of misunderstandings and misinterpretations of historical documents.[2][3] Tuscans refer to the position as “The Angelic Position” while some Arabic-speaking groups call it “the manner of serpents.”[4]


#4

The book was published in 1929. I wouldn’t take the word of someone who probably hasn’t read it as to its contents. Read it for yourself. There are a couple of customer reviews here. (Click on: 2 Customer Reviews toward the bottom of the page.)


#5

PS: Not having read the book myself, I can’t say, but since the referenced book is about the anthropology of a group of savages, it’s rather doubtful that it says anything at all about the Inquisition! Also, I note that one of the reader reviewers wonders whether or not the savages might have been deliberately misleading the anthropologist about some things-- “taking him for a ride.”


#6

Well, I’ve never heard THAT one before and certainly don’t plan to follow that advice! Give me a break! Some of the books out there are nuts.


#7

There’s something about my ancestors that I never learned before…


#8

If the natives were having sex n public you’d think their choice of position would be the least of the missionaries’ worries.
If not, how would anyone know how they were doing it?
And why do Medieval writings make it clear that Europeans accepted a wide range of positions?


#9

I’ve read the Malinowski book, and don’t recall EVER seeing that particular comment, which certainly would have attracted my attention.
I also don’t recall any discussion of that comment in my anthropology class. I certainly would have reverted into apologetics mode :slight_smile: - or at least done some research.


#10

Probably, but sorry I cannot find a reference right now; I know Iota Unum talks about it in the context of gender roles and feminism in the Church, about half-way though the book.

I have always thought about it in terms gender roles and the relationship between body and soul, that a human is a composite of both in such an inseperable unity, viz., one effects the other and vice versa; our mind is not separate from and uninfluenced by the body as Cartesians (falsely) like to think. E.g., if one’s soul is in mortal sin, one’s body will reflect that. In marriage the husband is the head of the wife:[BIBLEDRB]Ephesians 5:23[/BIBLEDRB]The missionary position is simply a bodily manifestation of this. If it were otherwise, the woman would be more like a man (more like the head in control) and the man more like a woman (more submissive and receptive), which is contrary to nature:[BIBLEDRB]Genesis 1:27[/BIBLEDRB]


#11

I think I’ve heard that the Church may have spoken out against certain positions in the mistaken belief that a particular position was effective contraception (but I’m not sure).

I did a major research paper on the history of contraception a few years back, and there have always been crazy (to us moderns) ideas floatings around about what was and wasn’t effective to prevent pregnancy. One well-respected ancient physician was convinced that fumigating the vagina with onion vapors after intercourse would prevent pregnancy. :smiley:

If the prevailing medical science of the time said a position was contraceptive (and I know some did), I wouldn’t be surprised if the Church prohibited it. Once the science was cleared up, such a prohibition would obviously no longer make sense.


#12

I don’t know that they would be so crazy to us moderns- you must’ve heard the one about using Coca-Cola!


#13

I’m going to go with the idea that, as long as it’s ordered toward union and procreation, you can pretty much do anything you want.

Other than those two guidelines and the other prohibitions, I’d be very wary of anyone, celibate or not, telling me how to have sex…


#14

Even in vitro fertilization, which results in the death on many just to obtain one conceived? (Although it would be hard to argue for the unitive nature of IVF for a married couple…)

So the “missionary position” it is.


#15

IVF ISN’T ordered to union and procreation. Plus, I believe Sancta was speaking of sexual positions. Let’s not turn this into a debate it doesn’t need to be. :shrug:

In Christ,

Ellen


#16

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