Via Essays In Idleness:
Prudery finds easy passages in every era, and can invade the moral sense from many sides. Religion becomes bourgeois, and the distinction between sin and virtue is redrawn, corresponding to the distinction between bohemian and respectable. From my reading, all of the Saints were bohemian, and none were prudes. It goes without saying that the Martyrs were, invariably, unrespectable.
Our whole view of “sin” today is essentially prudish. We do not think an act to be wrong on any coherent, catholic (i.e. “universal”) principle. We will abort our own children if they might prove inconvenient to our social standing. But change our view if the process begins to appear “icky.” The prudish mass media — the tabloids especially — home in on something that will turn our soft little tummies. But a sin isn’t a sin because it is icky; rather, a sin is a sin because it is evil.