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Details of FB's book The Sex Code


Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1991   Doc. No. 1991.005 Book 23



Publishing details and Summary

Selections from reviews etc.

The 60 Precepts

Letters and articles by FB citing The Sex Codes


Publishing details and Summary



The Sex Code


Morals for Moderns

Type of book
Number of Volumes
Number of Pages
xii + 323
Name of Publisher
Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Address of Publisher

91 Clapham High Street,

London SW4 7TA

Date of publication
Current edition
Previous editions
Current availability
Out of print. Secondhand copies may be available from booksellers on the Internet


'Sex-positivism is the happy acceptance of human sexuality, seeking its fulfilment: wholeness is all.' - The Sex Code


Buy "The Sex Code": This book is currently out of print but secondhand copies may be available from booksellers on the Internet


About the book


The heart of the book is a Code of 60 precepts covering most aspects of human sexual behaviour. At the base of the moral teaching set out in THE SEX CODE are the suggested duties of sex-acceptance sex-respect and sex-fulfilment, coupled with general duties of ethical understanding and ethical action. Francis Bennion wrote The Sex Code to promote the belief that-

  • the health of society requires a positive and approving approach to human sexuality;
  • such an approach can be soundly based on secular moral values;
  • moral convictions should be instilled and strengthened by persuasion rather than coercion (whether the coercion is physical or psychological).

Today many people are confused about sexual behaviour. Few, even if religious in other ways, feel convinced by what the official religions teach. They do not see why sexual fulfilment should be reserved for the married, or why a pregnant woman should be denied the right to have an abortion if she considers it necessary to take that grave step. Yet they reject the idea that anything goes. They dislike promiscuity, for it indicates lack of discrimination and the rejection of quality. They are uneasy about 'permissiveness', for it suggests an absence of standards. If you cannot accept the religious teaching on sex morals, what's the alternative? Let everyone do what they like, so long as no one gets hurt? This offers no view of sexuality. It is unhelpful, for it provides no true guidance. Criticising the idea that 'hurt' is a sufficient moral guide, Garrett FitzGerald said-

There is an implicit, and very unsociological, denial of the possibility of harm being done socially through the indirect impact of an accumulation of individual actions. But such an accumulation of actions can change, perhaps quite fundamentally, the climate of a society by weakening inhibitions against behaviour that may be inimical to the good of society (or even by creating pressures - including, especially among young people, peer pressures - in favour of such behaviour). - The Guardian 14 August 1992.

We know that moral principles do exist, though they derive from human reason and conscience rather than religious dogma. It is important to work out what they are, since otherwise we do not know how to guide our children. Nor do we know what behaviour to expect from them, or how to justify to them the standards we follow ourselves. Even adults may feel the need of help on ethical issues. Also we must be sure that our legal rules truly correspond to what morality requires. If they do not, then we

will want to alter them.


People need to know what to expect from other people when it comes to sexual behaviour. Shared and agreed standards are the mark of a civilised society, but ours does not seem to possess these. Or if it does, few people can state them. So what we need to do now is work out just what our prevailing moral principles on sex really are. THE SEX CODE aims to provide guidance on secular sexual morality corresponding to that provided in abundance by religious interests. For this purpose it sets out and explains ethical principles currently followed in the West by the majority who, while unable to accept religious dogma on sex, nevertheless believe in behaving morally

and teaching their children to do the same.


THE SEX CODE aims to be an agent of change, converting the largely negative attitudes of our society to something more healthy. It also seeks to combat the widespread view that in order to be moral you have to be religious. In particular, it aims to provide argument and other ammunition for those who are struggling in certain areas. For example, there are people who fight prejudice to obtain sexual rights, without exploitation, for those with learning disabilities or physical handicap.


We now set out the Code of 60 precepts.