Sex:  The Region of Permissions and the Region of Prohibitions

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In an earlier blog, I said that sex was like a continent divided into two regions.  One region gave permissions or legitimacies to certain sexual practices.  The other region consisted of prohibitions concerning sexual practices.  Some sexual practices have been and in some countries still are prohibited by law.  Permissions and prohibitions are defined by religion, culture, and politics.  These elements influence the individual in terms of their physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and financial appeal for sex.

Religion:

Religious teachings exert a powerful impact on what is permissible in terms of sex.  According to many religions, a man and a woman must be married to have sex.  Adultery is a term for a married individual who has sexual relations with someone they are not married to.  ““Thou shalt not commit adultery” is found in the Book of Exodus (Exodus 20:14) of the Hebrew Bible and Old Testament.  It is considered the sixth commandment by Roman Catholic and Lutheran authorities, but the seventh by Jewish and most Protestant authorities.” Wiki

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Jesus in the New Testament forgave a woman who was considered an adulterer when the crowd was going to stone her to death.  The religious taboos against adultery are only one of many religious taboos concerning sex.  Sex is forbidden among sex partners when procreation is not the objective and in certain physical positions not thought of as proper.  In some religions there is no such thing as rape between a husband and his wife.  Most religions prohibit sex between same sex partners.

Many of the prohibitions against sex by religions seem ludicrous and without any purpose.  Some such as the adultery prohibitions are almost impossible to enforce and are disregarded by a large number of religious adherents regardless of their theology or faith.

  • Statistics on Infidelity Rate: (2021): How Much Cheating is Going On?
  • Surveys show that 22% of married men have committed an adulterous act at least once in their life
  • 14 percent of married women have had affairs at least once during their married lives

Infidelity remains the number one reason that married and unmarried relationships end all across the world.  Everyone admits that cheating is wrong.  Religions rail against adultery and infidelity but humans routinely ignore the sanctions and prohibitions.  No one seems to stop and ask why we permit religions to prohibit many acts which people routinely perform.

anti-gay-but-sex-abuse-ok (2)The Catholic Church prescribes celibacy for its nuns and priests.  The recent scandals regarding the abuse of power by priests, bishops and cardinals would suggest a serious hypocrisy.  More importantly perhaps would be for the church to ask itself if these prohibitions do any good or serve any purpose.  Tradition may have a role in life but there is also a time when traditions must be changed.

Traditions can become evil when they force people to commit acts which religion regards as sinful yet are only a manifestation of human nature.  It is natural for people to be attracted to others and to want to make love to people they are attracted to.  Prohibitions based on the age of consent make sense.  It may be argued that the age of consent is a nebulous number that varies from country to country, but no one would argue that there should not be some age of consent.

“Age of consent laws vary considerably worldwide, although most countries require young people to be over 14 before having sex. Angola and the Philippines at 12, and several other countries, including South Korea and Japan at 13.”  —  “Age Of Consent By Country 2021

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So why are religions so opposed to sex?  What are the benefits that religions get out of controlling sex?  Why do religions make life difficult for their members by imposing sexual mandates which will be broken repeatedly and are broken repeatedly.  Even the authorities in various religions are guilty of breaking their own prohibitions.  Why?  Why? Why?

“Sexually awakened women, affirmed and recognized as such, would mean the complete collapse of the authoritarian ideology.” — Wilhelm Reich

The simple answer is power.  As Lord Acton said, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  Churches exert power in a variety of ways.

  • They control who goes to heaven and who goes to hell
  • They control who is forgiven their sins and who is not
  • They control a number of sacraments needed to live a sacred life

Perhaps the most powerful control they exert over their members is their domination of the sex life of their members.  By controlling who can have sex, who they can have sex with, what sex is for and when it can be used, religions keep their financial treasuries full.  Baptism, Confirmation, Marriage and Divorce are all sacraments that churches use to make sure that their halls are full on Sunday or Saturday.  There is a looming problem though.

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People are not going to church anymore.  The non-affiliated outnumber the affiliated.  Even those people who declare themselves with some religion seldom go to church anymore.  They may show up for marriage, baptism, and confirmation but after that they are like ghosts.  Only twenty-four percent of Americans attend a church service each week. — “Church attendance of Americans 2020”  Mainstream churches are losing members faster than baby boomers are dying off.  Any company that lost a share of its market like these churches have would take a serious look at its products and services.  Religions seem to be blind to the changes that culture are bringing to peoples views on sex.  Next blog we will look at the cultural influences on sex that impact what is permissible and what is not.

“I am not a Christian or a Jew or a Mohammedan, a Mormon, Polygamist, Homosexual, Anarchist or Boxer. . . . I do not believe that, in order to be religious in the good and genuine sense of the word, one has to ruin one’s love life and has to become rigid and shrunken in body and soul. I know that what you call “God” actually exists, but in a different way from what you think: as the primal cosmic energy in the universe, as your love in your body, as your honesty and your feeling of nature in you and around you.”  — Wilhelm Reich

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: The Influence of Culture on Sexual Activity and Practices | Aging Capriciously

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