The influence of religious beliefs on sexuality

The influence of religious beliefs on sexuality

Each culture has its own set of values. Some people consider these beliefs to be more important than others. While we are children, our parents make choices for us in the belief that they are for our benefit. Once we are adult, we can decide on our own values. Research indicates that both the cultural and the religious beliefs we hold, influence the way we express our sexuality. Traditional moral standards have always condoned promiscuity in men but required that a woman had to be a virgin on her wedding night. Marriage traditionally involved a man paying for an unsullied (chaste) sexual asset.

Someone who has never engaged in penetrative sex is called a virgin. Female virginity is valued by men because of the territorial nature of male sexuality. Men are attracted foremost to timid women because men want control in sexual situations. Men prefer an inexperienced lover so that they can focus on sexual activity that they enjoy. An inexperienced woman is more likely to accept whatever a man offers without question because she has no expectations from other men. Men dislike being compared with other men.

In some religions and cultures, a man is allowed to have many wives. The words monogamy, bigamy and polygamy all refer to how many wives a man has. It is embarrassing for women to be viewed as such an obvious sexual asset. Women rarely have sex with more than one man at a time. Women are unfaithful when their current relationship is emotionally unfulfilling or when they hope to improve their lifestyle with a more successful man. Women who are financially independent, often decide that a relationship with a man is not worth it. The sexual overhead is onerous over decades.

Men can volunteer to be sperm donors and their semen is offered to women who cannot or don’t want to conceive by natural means. Test-tube babies are conceived in an artificial environment. But the developing embryo must then be implanted into a woman’s womb. Science can replace the male role, but not the female role, in reproduction. Test tube babies must develop in the womb and are born like other babies. Women, called surrogate mothers, volunteer their wombs in return for payment. This has enabled people such as gay men and lesbians to have a baby that has one of the partner’s genes.

Human beings kill millions of animals every day but we place a spiritual value on human life. Religious beliefs about conception and the creation of human life attribute a soul to a zygote only a few seconds old. Many people believe abortion (for any reason) is morally wrong. Abortion has only been possible relatively recently in our history. Making life and death decisions, that used to be left to Nature, can be equated to playing God. In some cultures, even rape is not considered sufficient reason for a woman to have an abortion.

Women associate sex with a loving relationship and family. Women are not capable of experiencing the erotic pleasure of sexual activity as men do naturally. So women tend to be offended by references to genitals and fantasies. A person who doesn’t enjoy eroticism is not consciously choosing to be inhibited. It’s just the way they are and most likely they are happy to be that way. They just don’t have the benefit of enjoying the pleasure of responding positively to eroticism. People who object to suggestions for enjoying sexual pleasure have rarely experimented themselves by exploring pleasuring beyond intercourse. They cannot imagine that they would enjoy more adventurous sex play and so they believe that no one else should.

Pornography, prostitution and strip bars all attract male customers. Anyone who engages in activities outside the socially acceptable is described as a sexual pervert. Women are primarily responsible for this negativity over sex. Women never experience the sexual urges that men do, so they tend to consider them sordid and crude. This is why pornography is censored in every society around the world. Women’s dislike of explicit eroticism causes some men to feel guilty about their natural sexual urges. Most people want to be seen to conform to the social norm. Men can also be highly competitive. No one else can ever understand the erotic pleasure we enjoy from our sexual experiences. They are personal to us. Given women’s universal disinterest in sex, we can conclude that the majority of people (including many older and less responsive men) are not sexually motivated.

Anyone who is responsive (capable of orgasm) naturally has a positive response to eroticism. A positive response means we enjoy the feelings we experience when our minds are aroused by specific erotic stimuli (personal to each individual). Anyone who lacks a response to eroticism cannot appreciate the mental turn-on of sex. They question the purpose of sexual activity outside a relationship or other than as a demonstration of affection (lovemaking). They may seek a moral or a spiritual justification (such as tantra) for sex. Women, much more than men, look for justifications for sex. Few women ever experience erotic arousal and naturally question their role.

Once someone has experience, such as masturbation or gay sex, there is little difference between the religious and the unbelievers. So religious beliefs only deter people from gaining experience in the first place. Religious men engage in sexual activity much less frequently than other men. Inevitably celibacy and abstinence are much more appealing to those with low responsiveness. Some men never or rarely have sex. Their sexual arousal is never strong enough to overcome the obstacles in finding a partner who is willing to offer them an opportunity for penetrative sex. But these men usually masturbate.

It is easier to abstain from sin when one is not physically or psychologically endowed with the capacity – or with much capacity – to sin. (Alfred Kinsey)

Excerpt from Learn About Sexuality (ISBN 978-0956-894748)