Religion is often the basis of why so many people have so many hang-ups about sex and relationships and religious leaders have no psychological training or knowledge about sex as it applies to human beings. Plus, religious beliefs on sex and sexuality go back over 2,000 years ago and have nothing to do with what we know and how we live today. Going to see a pastor, minister or rabbi (at least most of them) about a sex or relationship problem is like taking in your laptop to get fixed by a guy who makes abacuses.
As Dr. Darrel Ray puts it: “How can you advise someone on their sex life when you don’t know what they’re being taught and what their belief structures are?”
I first learned about Dr. Ray when Lisa of Sweet Woman, Dirty Mind did a chapter-by-chapter review of his book, Sex & God: How Religion Distorts Sexuality. I couldn’t help but to say, “Yes! This!” more than a couple of dozen times. Like Lisa, I’m a recovering Catholic. I had to overcome a lot of the same things she was taught – or not taught – about sexuality and relationships when I was growing up and even well into my 20’s. I had to buy the book. When I discovered that Dr. Ray hosted a podcast, Secular Sexuality, I just got all over it.
I spent several hours over this past weekend listening to the podcasts. I listened to Dr. Ray speak with some notable people like Dr. David Ley about the myths of sex addiction 17 different ways and sideways, especially in the way religious people skew normal sexual thoughts and behaviors into guilt that must be absolved by the church, of course. I listened to him talk with people like a woman named Amber and others like her who talked about growing up fundamentalist and how she was taught nothing about sexuality, mainly because women weren’t supposed to be sexual. Dr. Ray talks with a guy named Ari, a former Hasidic Jew, about the archaic rules and rituals of sex that still apply today. He talks to people who are dancers, gay and polyamorous about the stigma, judgment and even ostracization they’ve had to overcome to be well-adjusted people, sexually and otherwise.
He even talked with Lisa from Sweet Woman, Dirty Mind about her transition from Catholicism to atheism and from monogamy to having a kinky, open relationship with her husband.
Talk about mind blown! They’re all frank, open, personal and explicit conversations. Every. Single. Conversation.
Religion is so pervasive in the United States, especially in our politics. We have half of the people in our country who identify as conservative. Even if they don’t go to church on a regular basis, they blindly fall in line with the religious mores of things like not having sex before or outside of marriage (even though just about everyone does), “good girls don’t”, and marriage is only between one man and one woman. In one way or another, most people have had some kind of religious conditioning from very early years that interferes with relationships, sexuality and our minds. Even if people are comfortable with their sexuality, there’s still the pushback and judgment that comes from parents, families, friends and business and community standards that a lot of sexually evolved people or people with non-traditional sexual orientations have to deal with.
“Nobody’s talking about this shit, and we should,” Dr. Ray says.
I can’t recommend giving Secular Sexuality a listen enough. Listen to it while you’re working on your laptop. Download the weekly podcasts and listen to them on your commute to or from work.
Until the next podcast, I plan on digging into Dr. Ray’s other book, The God Virus: How Religion Infects Our Lives and Culture.