The Irreverent Reverand   



Sex and Religion:


Reexamining Sex and Sin

By The Irreverent Reverend

         Despite its essential role in the continuation of the species, sex has been viewed by most religions as a kind of curse to humankind -- a necessary evil (with evil often being the underlying issue).

At one time in church history, sexual intercourse was forbidden between married couples for five months of the year on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays; for 40 days before Easter and for 40 days before Christmas; for three days before attending Communion; from the time of conception to 40 days after a child's birth; and during penance.

Once you got through "X-ing" all those dates out on your calendar, you find sex in marriage was almost totally forbidden.

  In its attempt to throttle sex, the male-dominated, celibate priestcraft declared a virtual war on women.


Mary Magdalene -

 A Clear Case of Defamation

        We now have evidence that suggests that Mary Magdalene, "the one who understood," and "the most beloved of the disciples," was more spiritually advanced than any of the disciples.

Jesus confided in her to a degree that made the male disciples jealous.

We know that Jesus travelled in the company of numerous women and these women supported his ministry.

These and other awkward realities of the time were largely written out of the official gospel records. To accomplish this the equivalent of "she" was sometimes changed to "he" during translations -- a change that now has mostly been lost over the centuries.

In the case of Mary Magdalene, without any solid biblical evidence to back up his assertion, a Catholic Pope branded her a prostitute. Apparently, having a women as a virtuous confident of Jesus was too much for a male-dominated Church.

But, you also need to consider the times.

Society that had not yet freed itself from the view that women were not to be listened to. They were second-class citizens -- the property of their husbands.

The prevailing anti-sex Jewish laws were primarily designed to protect the monetary value of women.

"Untouched women" were the most valuable. Thus, rape was considered a crime against a father or potential husband because it lowered her dowry value.

At one time the sin of adultery reportedly only applied to women, and even priests had female slaves to take care of their needs.

        Thanks to  successful efforts to banish views the Church didn't feel were in their best interests  -- including the oral and early written accounts of Jesus' life -- many of the early scriptures were branded as heretical and destroyed, or at the least simply left out of the approved scriptures.

The Sex-Spirituality Link

       Some religions took a very different view of women and sexuality.

Instead of sex being a hindrance to spirituality these religions saw women and sex as a catalyst for spiritual advancement.

For these believers "the sexual embrace" was a doorway to higher spiritual realization.

But the problem for the Catholic Church was that this seemed to short-circuit the role of priests, and by extension the power the Church.

During those times there were those who practiced spiritual sex, which had the same goal as meditation and deep prayer -- experiencing universal oneness or non-duality.

We should stress that these sexual techniques -- including those used by the temple priestess's -- were much more sophisticated than the "mutually getting off" sex that's commonly practiced today.

Consider this account:

Suddenly we both seemed to be floating in an unbounded space filled with warmth and light.

The boundaries between our bodies dissolved and, along with them, the distinctions between man and women. We were one.

...There was nothing to do, nothing to achieve. We were in ecstasy.

This is clearly spiritual transcendence.

Today, the only remnants of this spiritual approach are in some types of Tantric sex.

A  book that turns traditional religious thinking about sex upside down is In Search of God in the Sexual Underworld, by Dr. Edwin Johnson. Johnson is an ex-monk and psychoanalyst. This book is now out of print, but can be found in some sources specializing in used books.

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