Episode 24 - Women. Religion. And Sexuality.
Religions Preach Virtue... But Do They Do It Right?
Most religions throughout the world ask their members to follow a model of sexual purity. The rules and consequences vary in their intensity from church to church, but I believe the overall intention is typically good and pure. However, anything - including good things - if taken to an extreme can be damaging.
Self-confidence if taken to an extreme can become self-absorption. An optimist can quickly become unrealistic. Loyalty can become blindness. Honesty can become rudeness. Courage can become recklessness.
Virtue and chastity, if taken to an extreme, also possess a dark side. When sexual purity is celebrated, sexuality tends to become demonized. Sex, and even feelings of pleasure, begin to be associated with extreme feelings of guilt and shame. People develop a fear of their own bodies.
Misperceptions of Virtue = Bad Sex
Unintentionally, we create a culture of unhealthy sexual beings. Religious individuals get married and are so scared of sexual arousal that they don't have sex for weeks or even months. Or, when they do have sex, it's associated with guilt and feelings of evil and darkness.
Many couples never have good, enjoyable sex because they never explored their own bodies to understand what makes them feel good. Nor do they feel they have a right to feel good. Sexual pleasure has been portrayed as something evil.
How sad that something so beautiful, and intimate - when taken to an extreme - can tear an otherwise healthy relationship apart.
What Sex Should Be
Sex should be something that brings couples together. It is the ultimate act of unity. It is foundation of the creation of family, and the most physical manifestation of love and vulnerability.
Good sex requires work, communication, openness, selflessness, and a willingness to be in the moment and experience pleasure.
If religious-types want to raise informed and sexually healthy individuals (which I believe most do), it might be time to reframe some of the ways we teach virtue and chastity.
The following is a great start, developed by Kristin Hodson and Alisha Worthington, the guests on today's podcast. If you want to learn more about the BE HEALTHY process, and hear a bit more about how to find a healthy sexual balance for yourself, check out the podcast (at the top of the screen).
Embrace your growth edge (based on trust and Risk not safety) Have realistic expectations on range of experiences (how sex is like dining, good enough sex) Engaging your partner (being deliberate, increase the eros, flirt, desire to desire) Authenticity (be present in your sex—emotions, sensations - wanting to known and be known as you/they are) Learn how your body works and your partners (this also includes knowing your sexual history) Take time and treat it like a skill (schedule it – make it matter) Have conversation and negotiate You know best (sexual agent - trust your experience, not looking to other sources to be experts on you)
[jbox title="Show Notes:" border="5" radius="15"] Thanks for listening! Remember, you can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and get them delivered for free on a weekly basis!
Here are some of the resources we talked about in the podcast today. If you want to learn more about finding a balance between virtue and sexuality, this is a great place to start.
Real Intimacy: A Couple's Guide to Healthy Genuine Sexuality was written by today's podcast guests, Kristin Hodson and Alisha Worthington. Check out their website, The Healing Group, for counseling, support and hope.
The Danger in Demonizing Male Sexuality, by Alyssa Royse discusses how the current "predator/prey" model of sexual relationships is harmful to both men and women alike.
The Secret To Desire In A Long-Term Relationship is a TED Talk by Esther Perel that talks about the conflicting needs within a healthy sexual relationship. The need for security and the need for surprise. The need predictability and the need for spontaneity. The need for independence and the need for vulnerability and closeness. Communication is key to a healthy sexy life.