Study Guide

Stranger in a Strange Land Sex

By Robert A. Heinlein


Sex and spirituality are majorly linked in Stranger in a Strange Land. When Mike first comes to Earth, he uses water as a means to bond with people and form "water brothers" (more on water in the "Symbols, Imagery, Allegory" section). But eventually he discovers sex, as any young man is bound to do. And just like that, sex replaces water.

Mike links sex with his personal spiritual proverb, "Thou Art God" (24.163). But for Mike, sex isn't something that should be kept solely between two people in a traditional marriage. If sex is a way to understand God, and everyone is a part of God, then the more we express ourselves through sex— healthy sex, mind you—the more we understand about the nature of God. This is why the Church of All Worlds practices a less traditional view of marriage and sex. As you can imagine, the 1960s enjoyed this aspect of the novel quite a bit.

Questions About Sex

  1. Jubal rejects sex through most of the story. Why do you think he drops this personal code at the end of the novel?
  2. At one point, Jill sees herself through the eyes of male viewers and is sexually aroused. What does this scene tell us about female sexuality in Stranger? Do you agree with this portrayal? Why or why not?
  3. How is homosexuality viewed in the future society of Stranger? What about Mike's Church of All Worlds? Where do we see the evidence for this?
  4. Which characters undergo the greatest change in their views of sexuality? Which undergo the least change? Support your answer with examples from the text.

Chew on This

In defense of Mike's Church, Jubal argues that sexuality should never be used to hurt anyone; but Mike's sexual advances actually caused Ben quite a bit of distress and harm.

Women are generally more sexually aggressive than men in the novel.

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