News Satire People Food Other

Sex And Religion

By Matty Silver, Sex Therapist on April 27, 2016 in Other

Photo: George Pell

Photo: George Pell

It’s always surprising how many of my clients have acquired sexual problems because of their religious beliefs or cultural backgrounds. Often they are completely unaware of it, which is not surprising when people are taught confusing values from an early age.

It’s difficult to grow into a healthy sexual being when you are told by religious parents and/or church leaders that God created sex to be something beautiful and pure that should only be enjoyed in marriage, that it should only take place between a man and a woman, that you have to be a virgin until marriage, and that masturbation and homosexuality are strictly forbidden.

Almost all religious groups, over the ages, have condemned masturbation, claiming it inhibits self-control and promotes sexual promiscuity. The many myths and outdated beliefs surrounding masturbation remain hard to shake. Some people still claim that masturbation leads to blindness and/or hair growth on the palms of one’s hand, and that it causes premature ejaculation and impotence later in life. The latest false claim is that it leads to sex addiction.

One of the most destructive emotions a person can experience is guilt. It’s not as if this guilt makes people abstain from forbidden sexual activity. Rather, it just makes them feel bad and depressed. Given these negative messages, it’s not surprising that there are still feelings of shame and embarrassment about this very natural and healthy activity.

US Therapist Dr Marty Klein wrote an interesting book titled America’s War on Sex: The Attack on Law, Lust and Liberty. In it he explains how the religious right faction is successfully censoring what people should read, hear, and see, limiting access to contraception, legislating ‘good’ moral values, and brainwashing teenagers into believing that God hates premarital sex. Religion’s ideas about sex centre on the ‘don’t do this and don’t do that’.

Religious institutions vary widely in their views on birth control, but the Catholic Church has banned artificial contraception for as far back as can be historically traced. Successive popes have strongly opposed any relaxation of church policy.

It was only in 2009 that Pope Benedict, on a trip to Africa, claimed (in defiance of all medical opinion) that condom use could actually make the AIDS epidemic worse by increasing sexual activity. The timing of his remarks outraged health agencies trying to halt the spread of HIV and AIDS in Africa, where about 22 million people are infected.

The new pope, Pope Francis, agrees with him, but at least he has a more open view on homosexuality, saying, “If someone is gay and searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” This sent shockwaves throughout the Catholic Church. He also stated that “celibacy not a dogma” for Catholic priests.

I tell my religious clients who are overwhelmed by feelings of sexual guilt that I do not believe God would have created men and women with sexual organs that can give them pleasure if they were simply supposed to be used for procreation alone.