As I’ve already pointed out before, there are multiple health benefits to sex. In that same post, I also pointed out that none of those benefits require that the individuals involved be married, trying to have kids, or even be in the same zip code. It’s one of those wondrous ways nature encourages us engage, explore, and embrace our sexuality.
That’s somewhat of an affront to the rhetoric of certain parts of our culture, namely the socially conservative, very religious type. According to their ideals, sex only belongs in marriage and should only be used for procreation and not recreation. That’s also a major tenant of nearly all major religions, especially the Abrahamic religions of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Their ideology is pretty strict. Adherents should not have the wrong kinds of sex with the wrong kinds of people or their God will punish them horribly.
It’s a pretty twisted ideology that warps part of our basic human nature. Major political candidates actually run on this ideology, sometimes successfully. It works too because because according to Pew Research, 6 in 10 people say that religion plays an important part of their lives. Now there’s nothing inherently wrong with people who are religious. There are religious organizations that do great work. That said, the ideology surrounding sex can be pretty damaging.
I went to high school. I took sex ed. It wasn’t abstinence only, but it wasn’t exactly positive either. The way it’s taught to young people gives a lot of false impressions about sex. Even in a diverse public school system in a largely secular community, my teachers overplayed the negative aspects of sex and pretty much ignored the positive aspects. That’s a clear sign that even in secular communities, religion does affect our sexuality.
So what are those effects? Well, not many of them are positive. Religion does affect our identity and our psychology. Religion often uses (and sometimes hijacks) our natural capacity for guilt, shame, and empathy to enforce its ideology. It’s a big reason why a large chunk of those who claim to be addicted to porn are actually highly religious. It’s like a placebo effect. If you think sex is harmful, then it’s more likely to be harmful. If you think sex is positive, then it’s more likely to be positive. It’s one of those things that is highly influenced by our own psychology, which makes it difficult (if not impossible) to quantify objectively.
I do worry about those who are highly religious and highly negative in their perceptions about human sexuality. Being someone who writes erotic stories and explores heavy romantic themes, it sounds so cold and solemn, being so negative about something that’s so intimate and human. I shudder to think at the unhealthy ways this can manifest.
I’ve actually don’t more than think. This unhealthy mix of religion and sexuality is a core theme of my book, “The Final Communion.” In that book, I create a world where sexuality is strictly controlled and show what happens when someone finally gets a chance to explore it. It’s a book that I’m sure won’t sit well with certain religious types, but it reflects an important sentiment.
We are, a our core, a social species. We seek out one another. We seek intimacy with one another. It’s part of what makes us human and it’s a big part of what makes us a successful species.
It’s a topic I regularly explore when I’m not writing erotic stories. One recent book I’d like to recommend takes a much deeper look at religion and sexuality from someone who knows way more about it than I do. It’s by Darrel Ray, who has written numerous books on religion and how they affect human psychology. This one focuses exclusively on sex and it’s aptly titled, “Sex and God.” Some elements of this book have impacted my approach to telling erotic stories. I intend to continue my exploration of this subject in hopes that those stories will be better.