Guest post by Elliot George
Religious people often seem to be unhealthily fixated on sex and have a desire to interfere with how everybody else does it! This prompts lots of questions that need answering: Why is virginity so highly prized?
Why is celibacy considered to be ‘pure’?
Why is masturbation considered to be shameful?
Why is homosexuality abhorred?
Why are women treated like second-class citizens?
Why do we have marriage?
Why is infidelity (adultery) unacceptable?
Why is divorce considered to be unacceptable?
What has any of this got to do with ‘god’ and his Earthly agents?
This is going to take more than one article to analyze and there’s little real evidence available to help us answer these questions so, unusually for this blog, what follows will be mostly reasonable speculation. Let’s start with virginity…
There is a very good biological reason to prefer having sex with a virgin, it is this: minimal risk of infection by a sexually transmitted disease. The opposite of virginity, promiscuity, is great for spreading pathogens via the sexual fluids. Historically, the clients of prostitutes could be observed falling ill with the same symptoms, so this undeniable correspondence is likely to have given rise to, in the minds of those who knew nothing about microbial infection, the idea of ‘virginal purity’ or ‘cleanliness’. Similarly, celibacy also safeguards against venereal diseases and could be considered to be another way of achieving a ‘clean’ state, at the cost of not parenting. By corollary, sexual acts came to be thought of as ‘unclean’ and, because everyone was ignorant of the fact that these diseases have to be transmitted, that included masturbation; it became tarred with the ‘dirty’ brush even though you can’t catch a disease from yourself!
Sex coming to be regarded as shameful in this way was a gift for the assorted clergy because their modus operandi consists of first destroying the self-esteem of prospective followers and subsequently offering them forgiveness and salvation, in the form of an ‘afterlife’, in return for donations (payment). Of course, there is no evidence for the promised reward (or the threatened alternative of punishment in ‘hell’), but it was wonderful for preachers to have a ready-made guilt button to press any time they wanted to make their flock subservient! There’s a seemingly obvious connection from ‘clean’ sex to ‘godliness’ and virtue, and it gives a preacher a perennial topic to rant about.
One of the reasons for the decline of religiosity in Western countries over the last fifty years may be because the availability of condoms for preventing contagion and effective antibiotic cures for contracted STDs have taken this weapon away from the priests and pastors. With nothing to fear, the guilt goes away and the message of shame loses its teeth. One of the things that the clergy traditionally told us we needed saving from turned out to have been a paper tiger, so people came to reasonably wonder whether all the other pulpit monsters are fake too!
In the minds of dogmatic seekers of purity, homosexuality adds another level of disgust on top of heterosexual unions. Being a minority practice it’s an easy target for the self-righteous and we all love a scapegoat. Homosexuals have been held responsible for all the disasters of society including drought, war, plague, famine, hurricane, earthquake, volcanic eruption, tsunami and flood. How they are supposed to have caused those events is a question that is not even asked. Recently, a preacher in Phoenix, Arizona [IFB pastor Steven Anderson] laid the blame for AIDs at the feet of gay men and advocated that they should all be killed before Christmas! This is not fake news – there is video evidence, see here.
Yet, the most homophobic preachers are constantly being exposed in flagrante with young boys and the outbreak of priestly pedophilia has changed the face of, once fervently Catholic, Eire (S. Ireland) to such an extent they have elected an openly gay Prime Minister!
Is the sexual fixation of theists finally turning into their nemesis?