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The influence of religious beliefs on sexuality

Each culture has its own set of values. Some people consider these beliefs to be more important than others. While we are children, our parents make choices for us in the belief that they are for our benefit. Once we are adult, we can decide on our own values. Research indicates that both the cultural and the religious beliefs we hold, influence the way we express our sexuality. Traditional moral standards have always condoned promiscuity in men but required that a woman had to be a virgin on her wedding night. Marriage traditionally involved a man paying for an unsullied (chaste) sexual asset.

Someone who has never engaged in penetrative sex is called a virgin. Female virginity is valued by men because of the territorial nature of male sexuality. Men are attracted foremost to timid women because men want control in sexual situations. Men prefer an inexperienced lover so that they can focus on their own arousal. An inexperienced woman is more likely to accept whatever a man offers without question because she has no expectations from other men. Men dislike being compared with other men.

In some religions and cultures, a man is allowed to have many wives. The words monogamy, bigamy and polygamy all refer to how many wives a man has. It is embarrassing for women to be viewed as such an obvious sexual asset. Women rarely have sex with more than one man at a time. Women are unfaithful when their current relationship is emotionally unfulfilling or when they hope to improve their lifestyle with a more successful man. Women who are financially independent, often decide that a relationship with a man is not worth it. The sexual overhead is onerous over decades.

Men can volunteer to be sperm donors and their semen is offered to women who cannot or don’t want to conceive by natural means. Test-tube babies are conceived in an artificial environment. But the developing embryo must then be implanted into a woman’s womb. Science can replace the male, but not the female, role in reproduction. Test tube babies must develop in the womb and are born like other babies. Women, called surrogate mothers, volunteer their wombs in return for payment. This has enabled people such as gay men and lesbians to have a baby that has one of the partner’s genes.

Human beings kill millions of animals every day but we place a spiritual value on human life. So many people feel that abortion (for any reason) is morally wrong. Religious beliefs about conception and the creation of life attribute a soul to a zygote just a few seconds old. Abortion has only been possible relatively recently in human history. Making life and death decisions that used to be left to Nature can be equated to playing God. In some cultures, even rape is not considered sufficient reason for an abortion.

Women associate sex with a loving relationship and family. Women are not capable of experiencing the erotic pleasure of sexual activity as men do naturally. So women tend to be offended by references to genitals and fantasies. A person who doesn’t enjoy eroticism is not consciously choosing to be inhibited. It’s just the way they are and most likely they are happy to be that way. They just don’t have the benefit of enjoying the pleasure of responding positively to eroticism. People who object to suggestions for enjoying sexual pleasure have rarely experimented themselves by explore pleasuring beyond intercourse. They cannot imagine themselves enjoying more adventurous sex play and so they believe that no one else should.

Pornography, prostitution and strip bars all attract male customers. Anyone who engages in activities outside the socially acceptable is described as sexual pervert. Women are primarily responsible for this negativity over sex. Women never experience the sexual urges that men do, so they tend to consider them sordid and crude. This is why sex is censored in every society around the world. Women’s dislike of explicit eroticism causes some men to feel badly about their natural sexual urges. Most people want to be seen to conform to the social norm. Men can also be highly competitive. No one else can ever understand the erotic pleasure we enjoy from our sexual experiences. They are personal to us. Given women’s universal disinterest in sex, we can conclude that the majority of people (including many older and less responsive men) are not sexually motivated.

Anyone who lacks a response to erotic stimuli cannot appreciate the mental turn-on of sex. They question the purpose of sexual activity and seek a moral or a spiritual justification for sex. Women, more than men, look for spiritual justifications for sex. The modern tantra movement is an example of this. Confusion arises because it is not appreciated that orgasm is a response to erotic (not emotional) stimuli. A positive response to eroticism occurs naturally when a person is responsive (capable of orgasm). We respond positively to eroticism because we are aroused by erotic stimuli.

Men who are practicing members of a religion tend to engage in sexual activity (of any kind) less frequently than others. Inevitably the concepts of celibacy and abstinence are much more appealing to those with low responsiveness. Once someone has experience, such as masturbation, there is little difference between those who are religious and those who are not. So religious beliefs deter people from gaining experience in the first place.

It is easier to abstain from sin when one is not physically or psychologically endowed with the capacity – or with much capacity – to sin. (Alfred Kinsey 1953)