Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Religion and Sexuality

Sexuality is a natural need for humans – without it, we would be extinct, after all. Yet especially three religions (Jewish, Christian and Moslem belief) treat sex like the worst thing on earth. Why?

Every society makes its own set of rules which are based on what the society deems right or wrong. Some of the rules are basically existent everywhere: no stealing, no killing. It’s necessary for us to lay down the rules once two or more people live somewhere, to put down the dos and don’ts. A major influence for the rules, though, is not just logic (which is, basically, behind ‘no stealing’ and ‘no killing’), but also belief. As a such, the modern western democracies really are Christian modern western democracies – which explains the ‘troubles’ we’re experiencing with Moslems these days. Christian belief and Christian moral are the basics for our code of conduct, for our idea of right and wrong. And one thing that used to be very wrong (outside marriage at least) is sex.

If you take a look at the 68 revolution (which started in 1968), you will realize that the idea of free sex (meaning sex without limitation to one partner … or one gender) was a political statement. We do not want your morals and we do not want your laws (under which each parent or landlord who allowed an unmarried couple to sleep in the same room was considered a criminal – it was true here in Germany at that time). We are making love (read: having sex) with whom we want, where we want (even in public places – absolutely against morals at that time … and today) and when we want. We do not wait until we’re married, we do not restrict ourselves to having sex with one person only throughout our life – we even have sex with a couple of people at the same time. It was a slap in the face of society at that time.

But why the sex? Because the Christian society abhors sex in all forms. It is ‘allowed’ to have sex for one reason only: to propagate. Whenever you have sex (and, of course, only with your husband/wife), you must have the goal of creating another child as well. It is well understood by the church that you will not produce a child every time, but you have to ‘try for’ a child whenever you sleep with your partner (so no preventive measures). You are, indeed, not even supposed to enjoy it.

Which is stupid. Nature (or God, depending on your view of the world) has given humans something pretty unique in the animal kingdom: orgasms. Beside us, chimpanzees are the only beings on earth (as far as we know) capable of achieving an orgasm. The idea of it, though, is pretty clever: instead of giving a species a certain time of the month/year during which they feel the need to propagate, nature has given us an urge to have sex (because we enjoy it) whenever our needs are taken care of. You see, we’ve lived in various areas throughout our evolution (or have been placed in various climates by God, if you prefer that), so it was a different time of the year at which we should ideally give birth to children. By not setting a certain time (nine full months before the ideal time for new children), but instead giving us this urge, nature (or God) took care of this problem. In other words: we are supposed to enjoy sex, so we have enough of it to keep our species from going extinct! Even the bible sees propagation as an important part of our lives…

There’s a strange thing in the bible – and its interpretation –, though: On one hand, the church claims the only reason for having sex should be to propagate. On the other hand, one of the duties of a wife is to be sexually available to her husband at any time – even when she’s not able to conceive a child. Logic? No. Works the other way as well? No, even though by now we know women feel a stronger urge for sex while they’re actually able to conceive. Theoretically, to maximize the chance of children, it should be the woman’s decision when to have sex.

But why is sex a sin? Because, the bible tells us, humans only had the urge after the Original Sin (you know: tree, apple, knowledge – that stuff). The moment Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge (the fruit is unknown, the apple is not in the bible), they gained knowledge and thus lost their innocence. And only after this moment, the bible tells us, they realized they were different from each other and covered those differences (read: genitalia) in shame. Now, why the hell were they ashamed? They would have had to be very blind, indeed, not to realize that animals were different from them, just as plants were. And Adam must have realized before that Eve did not look like that slightly shaky picture of himself he saw in the water every time he bowed down to drink some.

It was only after they were driven from Eden, Adam and Eve started to have sex. They must have overcome their shame enough, therefore, to take off the stuff they had used to cover their differences and get down together.

What’s written in the bible is, of course, not the word of God, but the word of man – of several men, as it is. And they already lived in a society in which people covered their differences. But what’s it with sex?

Well, from the Christian view of the world, the bad thing about sex is this: it’s fun (for humans, at least). Christian belief says that this life, our life, is supposed to be miserable – only in the afterlife, in Paradise, are we supposed to enjoy ourselves (and not through sex, of course).

The trick with the afterlife is quite clever, actually. By promising a good time in the next world, it’s easier to make sure the poor (in most ancient/medieval societies the vast majority) would not rise and overthrow the rich (still the minority in every society). Even better: the more people suffer in this world, the more joy they will find in the next. People should really line up for martyrdom.

Sex is not part of that – but not having sex seems to be a major criteria for becoming a saint/martyr: especially the female saints or martyrs normally either died as virgins (quite often because they did not want to have sex with a heathen) or were raped before dying. Even Mother Mary got her child without having sex! Can it get any more obvious?

Maybe, just maybe, religions abhor sex not because it is amoral, but because it’s the only way humans can find a little piece of Heaven on Earth…

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