Archive for December 30th, 2009

Sex and Religion

In ancient cultures, sex was integrated with religious life. Sex was celebrated within religion. Spring festivals included fertility rites. Temples were dedicated to the ‘love arts.’ Parading phalluses were not uncommon. Even the gods had their passions and trysts.

Christianity features an “ascetic ideal.”[1] We’ve created a gulf between body and soul. The soul is lofty, pure and eternal. The body is dirty, transient and gets us into trouble. Luther’s wedding made sex kind-of-OK, but we’re still scared and conflicted. This is hereditary.

The results aren’t good. Sex is suppressed and becomes a foul, even violent thing. Movies for example: Extremely graphic rape scenes are used to add a little dramatic tension, a little more character sympathy or just set up the great chase (saw one in a James Bond movie the other day). As long as no genitals are seen, there’s no problem; that’s just good entertainment. Rape gets a PG or maybe an R. But even the most loving and artful scene cannot feature certain body parts, especially if said parts are in an aroused state. Sex gets marked X; for eXplicit or Xed out – SeX-is-out? Sex = grotesque, guilt, shame, remorse…

No, I’m not suggesting we parade phalluses this Easter. But couldn’t we begin a conversation? Shouldn’t we find a way to sanction the body and celebrate the art of love? Maybe we can make some meaning of sex.

[1] See Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morals


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