It’s no secret that most religious institutions view sex only as a way of procreation and nothing more. In their eyes, indulging in it without the intent to have children is a shameful and filthy act. But are all religions the same when it comes to intercourse? Well, that’s the catch — they’re not.
Popular religions across the world don’t see sexuality the same. Although most major faiths have codes of morality and ethics they teach, some things aren’t as clear. From premarital to gay and lesbian sex, people of various religions see things differently.
But to understand sex and religion better, we need to take you on a little journey across the world and different cultures. So without further ado, let’s check what the Bible, Quran, and other religious texts have to say about this topic. Shall we?
The Relationship of Sex and Religion
Essentially, all traditional religions see sex as a way to procreation. They reject the idea that sex is one of our primary natural needs. This also means they don’t look fondly towards premarital sex. They deem it wrong, sinful, and in some cases — punishable by law.
Depending on various circumstances, having intercourse before you’ve said yes to your partner isn’t necessarily an issue. It mostly comes down to secular culture and society. For example, in Europe and North America, it’s widely accepted. Consuming sex before marriage is more likely to happen in Christian societies than in Muslim or Hindu ones.
Social science studies suggest that this is in direct link with the culture you live in rather than the religious belief itself. Islam and Hinduism appear to be more strict when it comes to sex. This is especially true for women who are often expected not to have any intimate relationships before marrying. In some African religions, such actions are even punishable by death or body mutilation.
This just goes to show how far the freedom of sexual expression in the United States has come. It’s especially evident in terms of LGBTQ+ liberation. Still, religious groups affect public opinion, but it’s nowhere near the same as elsewhere in the world. Of course, even in the US, there are religious organizations that are still quite conservative when it comes to sex.
What Do Major Religions Say About Sexual Relationships?
Many Christian sects teach that sexual relationships are important and that they are a godly gift to humans. As such, they preach that it should be consumed only through marriage. The argument is that this is the only way to share your whole being with your partner. When it comes to same-sex couples, most Christian churches — most notably, the Catholic and Orthodox ones — have been against them for centuries. However, there are some indications that this will change soon.
On the other hand, Judaism shares similar beliefs. Lust and desire are frowned upon, and sex is only for procreation. This religion prohibits extramarital intimacy, masturbation, fantasies, pornography, gays, etc. Interestingly enough, the Talmud never explicitly says anything against sex outside of marriage. It only condemns cheating and incest as forbidden practices.
Islam also sees sex as a gift from Allah to humans, describing it as a wall of love. Only married couples should participate in it. This makes intimacy outside wedlock wrong. Cheating is a serious crime. Muhammadanism advises men and women to dress modestly. This way, they’ll avoid attracting other people, which is a precaution against cheating. Homosexuality is also a cardinal sin. In some clerical Muslim countries, it’s even punishable by death.
As for Buddhism, sexual activities can vary from good to bad. The good kind is the ultimate form of love and understanding. The other involves lust, craving, and simple pleasure. What Buddhism thinks about homosexuality is a topic of debate. Early teachings were silent about same-sex practices but talked about sexual misconduct. However, there’s no explicit mention of gay relationships.
Why Is Premarital Sex Frowned Upon by Religious Sects?
There are various reasons why religious sects discourage premarital sex. However, if you think about them, they all come down to the same thing — traditional religions see sex as something sacred and holy. They see it as a gift from God — a way for humans to procreate and spread across the whole world.
These concepts might seem dated nowadays, but you can understand why religions preach them. For them, it’s important to separate humans from animals, and a perfect way to do that is to get rid of our primal urges. After all, bare bodily functions and thinking are what separates us from other living creatures.
A sexual orgasm is one of the strongest sensations a human can feel. Therefore, it’s easy for religious people to associate it with the divine. To reach climax alongside your partner in wedlock is a testament to the holiness of God. Sexual intercourse is rather primal if you think about it. But if confined to strict rules, it can serve religious ideas.
Every religion teaches us about procreation and the need to carry on as a species. Since sex is a way of having offsprings, it needs a religious context. Having this in mind, it’s easy to understand why many religious people wait until marriage before they consume it.
Reiterating the Value of Virginity
The value of virginity for religious sects is huge. It’s a way of staying true to your faith and not consuming sex before you marry your future partner. Christianity worships a virgin mother. It teaches that Mary gave birth to Jesus without sexual intercourse and by the power of the Holy Spirit.
As we’ve already said, sex is only okay when done in wedlock in many religions. No matter what traditional religion you’re talking about, they all agree that losing virginity is meant for marriage. But virginity isn’t put on a pedestal only in religion.
In many cultures, women need to stay pure for their husbands. It’s a way of keeping her family honorable, and herself worthy of her future man. Although this concept is outdated in developed countries, it’s still going strong around the world. It’s a traditional form of sexual abstinence that enforces chastity.
Effects of Religious Beliefs on Sexual Behavior and Reproductive Health Issues
Although highly-developed countries are secular, people’s religious feelings affect society in many ways. From various civil laws to family planning, religion can prove to be a problem for certain progressive ideas to prosper. Sexual behavior and health can also become rather problematic when faith comes into play.
One of the things religious sects take issue with is abortion. Traditional religions’ views clash with what modern society thinks about it. They see it as unethical and wrong, while others support different arguments. Another problematic topic is contraception. Condoms and other preventive methods clash with religious views of sex and procreation.
In some countries, religion fuels social stigma towards the LGBTQ+ community. This makes it harder for human rights laws to be enacted. From dismissing same-sex marriage to preventing pride parades, most religions spread homophobia and misunderstanding within their communities. The level of their influence varies from country to country.
Sexual education is also a problem for various religious groups. Sex is a hot and taboo topic in religious circles. That’s why these institutions are against talking about sex openly and spreading awareness among young people.
Even though many religions are against sex unless it’s for procreation purposes, some are beginning to adapt to modern times. The beliefs these sects promote tend to be centuries old, and in order to survive in today’s world, some religions are trying to adapt by being more accepting.