You will rarely hear the words, “Sex Positive” and “Religious” in the same sentence. I blame it on St. Paul and St. Augustine, but the fact is, all of the main religions are pretty sex negative. There seems to be nothing religions like better than policing who we go to bed with, and what we get up to there.
Like many people, I was brought up in a religious household. The United Kingdom where I live, is like most other countries in the world that has a heavily religious past, that still seeps into our culture to this day. I grew up being very active in the Church, and most of my family are still regular and enthusiastic believers.
My religious background wasn’t all bad: It gave me a great community, an introduction to spirituality and in social action. The church I grew up going to was lively, inclusive and multi ethnic. (Although not at all LGBT friendly). The vicar, and all the people who worked there, genuinely cared and strived to be the best people they could be.
However, when I started my Tantra education, and then sex coach training I realized how much I’d been taught about sex that was actually blocking my healing and happiness as a woman. I was carrying bucket loads of shame and conditioning that took 5 years of mentally re-programming to get me to the sex positive place I am now.
It doesn’t matter whether you grew up in an eastern or a western culture: Religion has shaped a lot of our sexuality, whether we actively believe or not.
If religion is a part of your life, here are 3 of the biggest lies about sex that will be blocking your happiness and healing.
1. Sex= Morality
Religion teaches that your moral behavior is intrinsic to how many people you have or haven’t slept with. Doesn’t that sound absurd?
A Sexologist, Dr Marty Klein wrote a great book on America’s War on Sex. The summary of it is that religion teaches that they are the authority on morals and so have the right to tell people what is and isn’t moral behavior.
But since when does your personal morals have to do with consensual and enthusiastic sexual behavior? I would think it far more important to monitor how you treat other people, and how loving you are than how often you jump into bed, and with who. Anything that happens between consenting adults has nothing to do with whether you are a good person or not.
Your morality is not in direct proportion to how often you open your legs. Period.
2. True love waits
Religion teaches that sex must only happen between a married couple. It teaches that if you really love the person, you will wait.
Look, who you choose to sleep with and at what stage of the relationship is completely your choice. If you want to wait until you know and trust somebody better before sleeping with them, then that is beautiful. It is completely your choice to decide who you share your body with and when. But if you feel like it on the first date, then that’s your choice and your prerogative too.
And please, let’s throw out this idea that sex should only be with someone you love. We humans are animals that have sex for pleasure, not just for reproduction. Sex can be fun, naughty, blissful, healing, cathartic, or just a stress reliever. There is no such thing as “good” or “bad” sex, only sex that is non consensual.
Let me just add the clause of informed consent, because as I assume that we are all adults, sex with minors is not included and a ball game that I will not go into here.
Be clear on your intentions, ask for consent, practice safer sex and speak up for what you want and don’t want. You have my permission.
3. Sex is dirty
Purity balls, purity rings, and countless articles praising abstinence as keeping yourself pure. Notice a theme here? That abstinence from sex makes you pure white, so the reverse would be that having sex makes you sullied and impure. This message has seeped into every fabric of our culture: “Sex is dirty, do it with someone you love.”
You only need to look on abstinence only websites that compare people who don’t stay virgins to chewed up gum. What kind of message is that giving us about our bodies?
And not just partnered PIV sex, but also oral sex, and masturbation. Most religions- despite saying that they encourage sex between happily married (heterosexual) couples- still preach the message that sex is inherently dirty. This dangerous message is at the root of our unconscious, and affects how we show up in bed.
Get rid of it right now!
If God made our bodies capable of experiencing vast amounts of pleasure, why should that be dirty?
You don’t need to throw religion completely out of your life, just carefully filter the messages it will give you about your body, about your relationships and about your sexuality. For some great resources and alternative opinions, I am a huge fan of the blog, Patheos.