Why Is Religion So Concerned About What We Do In The Bedroom?

As not only an ex-Muslim Atheist living in a predominantly believing environment (Muslim at home; Christian at university), but also a homosexual, I know first hand about what religion has to say about my activities in the bedroom. Why does religion have any say in our sexual activities, though? Surely sex and sexuality – and the manner in which you choose to enjoy it – are between the parties actually involved in the act, not some third party with an inflated opinion of itself? Let’s look at the two major religions and their views on sex and sexuality, and whether there is any justification in giving them the authority to dictate to us what is moral and what isn’t. 

Christianity

Thanks to organisations like the Westboro Baptist Church, one of the most famous verses of the bible is not one of Jesus’ many verses preaching peace, love and hippie vibes, but Leviticus 20:13. No homophobic bigot’s arsenal is complete without this weapon; for what is a homophobe without divine justification for their hatred?

If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. – King James Bible

I mean, this verse is clear. There is no ambiguity here. I can fully understand why someone who believes that the Bible is the flawless and quintessential word of God would regard the above verse as a universal truth, and why that person would be totally opposed to homosexuality. Having said that, I have two issues here:

  1. If you choose to believe that Leviticus 20:13 is the perfect and incorruptible word of God, then that should mean that all the other verses of Leviticus should be held in the same respect. Surely this should be the case? If you are the person who firmly believes that Leviticus 20:13 is unambiguous and clearly states God’s displeasure with homosexuality, tell me: have you ever touched an unclean animal (5:2)? Carelessly made an oath (5:4)? Drunk alcohol in a ‘holy place’ (10:9)? Gone to church within 33 days after giving birth to a boy (12:4) or 66 days after a girl (12:5)? Worn clothes with mixed fabrics, such as polyester (19:19)? Trimmed your beard (19:27)? Cursed your father or mother (20:9)? Bad news for you, buddy…
  2. Even in the highly improbable case that you actually follow all 76 laws of Leviticus, and are hence in a morally legitimate (by Biblical standards) position to oppose homosexuality, why does that have any bearing on anyone who doesn’t believe in the Bible? The beauty about a secular state is that no one religion has dominance over any other. You can wallow in your own burning lake of bigotry, and that’s fine; just don’t expect me to pay you any attention. You are opposed to homosexuality – awesome. How does that affect me? You, as a Christian, would not appreciate a Muslim coming to you and enforcing his religious morality – which you may not observe – down your throat. You wouldn’t want to be forced to observe certain Muslim or Jewish or Hindu customs, laws or rituals; why should I, as an Atheist, live under your Biblical law? If we allow the Bible, the Qur’an, the Vedas – or any other religious or otherwise free-from-criticism book – to dictate legislature, we end up with a theocracy. See how well that’s working out for Saudi Arabia and ISIS.

Okay, now that we’ve cleared up why it’s illogical for someone’s belief in the Bible to influence me or any other non-Christian, let’s take a look at who is doing all this judging and criticizing.

Besides all the homophobic politicians who were later found doing very homosexual things, the one loud opponent of homosexual rights is the Roman Catholic Church. With a disgustingly patriarchal system that forces its ~1.2 billion followers to believe strange things (like in its ban on all methods of contraception), the Catholic Church has significant influence, and hence its views and opinions carry much weight. So when the then-head of the Catholic Church, St. Pope John Paul II, made a statement that “[All Catholics are] obliged to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions,” it isn’t easily forgotten when, two popes later, Pope Francis makes a somewhat nicer statement about the LGBT community, saying, “Who am I to judge?

Exactly! Who exactly are those in the Catholic Church to judge? The Catholic Church: An institution that has been accused by the UN of adopting policies that protect paedophiles, instead of their victims, and allowing them to transfer to other dioceses instead of facing the allegations, where these monsters are free to abuse children again. Also, Pope Francis is quoted as saying that one in every 50 priests is a paedophile. Then we have the numerous allegations of gay sex going on in the Vatican – keeping in mind that these are all supposed to be celibate men. It’s funny that the holiest men and women in Christianity often resort to celibacy to proclaim their spiritual superiority when their Holy Bible is surprisingly full of some A-grade erotica.

And they made their father drink wine that night: and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose. And it came to pass on the morrow, that the firstborn said unto the younger, Behold, I lay yesternight with my father: let us make him drink wine this night also; and go thou in, and lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father. And they made their father drink wine that night also: and the younger arose, and lay with him; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose. Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father. –  Bible : Genesis (19) : 33 – 36.

The Church often makes the claim that homosexuality is “unnatural” – meaning it is not found anywhere in the animal kingdom (it is) – and is therefore wrong and immoral; tell me, which animal has ever been observed practicing celibacy? Which animal has ever decided that it will refrain from acting upon its natural instinct to fuck, for no other reason than to have some sort of moral and spiritual crutch over the other animals in its species, putting it on a pedestal above them and making it “better” than them?

Why should I allow an institution of systematic child-fuckers who claim to be celibate – hence, not even knowing what sexual intercourse is really about – tell me what I can and cannot do in the privacy of my bedroom with a consenting, adult partner?

Islam

Other than its legendary sensitivity to all manner of criticism and satire, Islam is most known for its stance on what it calls “sexual morality.” The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University in Cairo (regarded as Sunni Islam’s most prestigious university), recently made the following statement regarding homosexuality (disclaimer: this might be disgustingly offensive to sensitive readers. You have been warned):

‘The objective is to promote and solidify homosexuality … the amoral and satanic propaganda launched by these various, vicious, parties has the purpose of destroying the human moral order respected by all religions and schools, because this moral order is in line with humanity’s innate quality … created by Allah.’

‘Promoting homosexuality and this moral decadence is not a victory for human rights but is a moral disease that undermines humanity’s [innate quality] and is contrary to the nobility granted by Allah to human beings.

‘Homosexuality constitutes humanity’s deep moral decadence, a crime against humanity itself, an obvious violation of our humanity and a contamination of freedom. And we certainly reject all these ruthless efforts.’ – click here for source

Before we look at what the Qur’an and the Hadith (sayings of Mohammed), the two highest media of religious instruction for all Muslims, have to say about homosexuality, let’s take some time to just digest what the Grand Imam has said.

According to this authority in the Sunni Islamic world, there is some “amoral and satanic” conspiracy by Western media to propagandize the practice of homosexuality. I’m not so sure what is immoral about homosexuality; in my personal opinion, there is no crime if there is no victim. If two (or more) adults consent to engage in a sexual practice, then that is their business, and nobody has the right to tell them that it is “amoral.”  Next: satanic.

Now, as an ex-Muslim, I know that the word “satanic” is used interchangeably with the word “evil.” This makes sense: if you want someone to stop doing a certain thing, simply call it satanic. The mere association with Satan, and the inherent desire to not be affiliated with him, will usually be enough to get the desired results. However, this is nothing more than scare tactics, something which Islam and its religious authorities are notoriously good at doing. Remember Salman Rushdie? After publishing “The Satanic Verses,” he was forced to flee Iran with a fatwah for his assassination issued by Ayotallah Khomeini. Unfortunately, Rushdie refuses to shut up and remains a loud and outspoken critic of Islam.

The Grand Imam makes the claim that the amoral and satanic practice of homosexuality will destroy the “human moral order.” I’m not exactly sure what he means, so I’m going to examine the morality described by scholars, the Hadith and the Qur’an.

Before we get to the Qur’an and its stance on sexual morality, I want to point out that when answering the question “Why is homosexuality forbidden in Islam?” (which was posed by another Muslim), Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid started off by saying:

The Muslim should not doubt, even for an instant, that what Allaah has prescribed is wise.

You see what I mean by scare tactics? From a young age, Muslims are taught to never question the authority and wisdom of Allah. This means that, as an adult, whenever they are reminded that doubt in Allah amounts to shirk (or lifting oneself up to the same level as God), the questioner backs down out of fear. So why does Islam outlaw homosexuality? Al-Munajjid elaborates for us:

They (gays and lesbians) both go against the natural disposition (fitrah) which Allaah has created in mankind – and also in animals – whereby the male is inclined towards the female, and vice versa.
Whoever goes against that goes against the natural disposition of mankind, the fitrah.

What is it with these religions that repeat the same incorrect claim that homosexuality goes against nature, over and over again? Earlier, I showed that homosexuality does indeed exist in the rest of the animal kingdom, though maybe not to the extent that it does in humans. But why should this even be a point? Why should whether or not homosexuality is observed by other animals have any bearing over whether or not it is moral? Murder has been observed among apes – does that make it “moral”? Systematic rape of pups has been observed among otters – is it “moral” yet? Necrophilia, sexual coercion, and sexual and physical abuse of chicks have been observed in Adélie penguins – are you starting to see the point?

It’s clear that the appeal to nature fallacy often utilized by religious authorities is just that – a fallacy. When the appeal to nature argument against homosexuality falls in upon its own shabby stilts, the appeal switches from natural morality to something described as Qur’anic sexual morality, or the morality that is apparently gifted to us by the wise and generous Allah. What exactly is this?

As with Christianity, I fully believe that Islam has no authority to tell anyone that the sexual acts they commit – when they are with consenting adults – are wrong, immoral or satanic. One needs only look at a few verses of the Qur’an and the Hadith to realize why this is the case; keep in mind that the Qur’an is the literal divine word of God, straight from His mouth, and the Hadith are the sayings of Mohammed, who is regarded as the only perfect, flawless man to ever have existed.

The Satanic Verses

Women are a field to be plowed whenever you, as their lawful husband, so wish – except, of course, when she is menstruating (menstruation grosses Allah out and sex during this period is unlawful):

2:223 Your women are a tilth for you (to cultivate) so go to your tilth as ye will, and send (good deeds) before you for your souls, and fear Allah, and know that ye will (one day) meet Him. Give glad tidings to believers, (O Muhammad).

Are you a lewd woman? Shame – you are to be confined to your house until death:

4:15 As for those of your women who are guilty of lewdness, call to witness four of you against them. And if they testify (to the truth of the allegation) then confine them to the houses until death take them or (until) Allah appoint for them a way (through new legislation).

Allah, in His infinite wisdom, has decreed what is moral: that if “your woman” is rebellious or disobedient to you, their lawful husband, you should beat them into submission and force them to sleep in a separate bed. Why? Because men are better than women, obviously!

4:34 Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them. Lo! Allah is ever High, Exalted, Great.

Those were extracts from the Qur’an. What follows next is a Hadith regarding sex.

What does Mohammed say about a woman who refuses to have sex with her husband?

Narrated Abu Huraira: [Mohammed] said, “If a husband calls his wife to his bed (i.e. to have sexual relation) and she refuses and causes him to sleep in anger, the angels will curse her till morning.” – Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 54, Number 460

On this site, you will find many Hadith relating to sex, some of which forbid you from having sex with a woman who is physically unattractive to you; henna increases “sexual energy”; also, among being forbidden by Shari’ah, masturbation causes “distress and weakens the sexual appetite.”

Now, what is the point of all this?

It was my goal to highlight to you, the reader, the complete illogicality of having someone (the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University, for instance) tell you what is unlawful and disgusting for you to do with your partner, while recommending that you follow the “perfect” sexual morality outlined by a man and his god that condones the above quotes. If the Grand Imam thinks it is moral for a man to marry more than one wife, to beat them when they refuse him sex, to confine them to the house until death for being lewd, and that the Benevolent Allah created men inherently better than women, then I would gladly be considered sexually immoral. To be considered a moral person by the Grand Imam, or by anyone like him, or who ascribes to his ideology, is a deep and scathing insult.

Conclusion

There is no point in allowing your private, consensual sexual life to be dictated either by child-molesting celibates or by lust-driven, patriarchal misogynists, both of whom have a mindset that should have stayed in the desert 2000 years ago.

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I criticize religion while keeping in mind the countless humans who have lost their lives, often in disgustingly cruel ways, for doing what I am doing. Homosexuals are not cowards.

 

 

8 thoughts on “Why Is Religion So Concerned About What We Do In The Bedroom?

  1. Found this post through your reddit post, wanted to write a bit of a comment (although I am really only responding to the parts relating to Christianity).

    Firstly, I want to say that much of my comment here are not going to reflect my own personal beliefs, since I am also a gay atheist. However, I did want to share my understanding of where I think religious folks are coming from, since I think there is a very big misunderstanding here.

    The post title asks why religion is so concerned about what we do in the bedroom. The simple answer is that religion is about social behavior, and religion refuses to view sexuality as private.

    In other words, when you say something like:

    Surely sex and sexuality – and the manner in which you choose to enjoy it – are between the parties actually involved in the act, not some third party with an inflated opinion of itself

    Then that’s just a very different mindset. To you, it seems obvious that sex and sexuality is just between the parties involved in the act. But to many others, it seems that the opposite is obvious — that sex and sexuality have profound social consequences, so society has a vested interest in what sort of sex and sexuality is promoted.

    (Again, I’m not saying that I necessarily agree…just, that’s why there is a difference of perspective.)

    Another misunderstanding I see throughout this post is the discussion of what is natural vs unnatural. For example, you say:

    The Church often makes the claim that homosexuality is “unnatural” – meaning it is not found anywhere in the animal kingdom (it is) – and is therefore wrong and immoral; tell me, which animal has ever been observed practicing celibacy? Which animal has ever decided that it will refrain from acting upon its natural instinct to fuck, for no other reason than to have some sort of moral and spiritual crutch over the other animals in its species, putting it on a pedestal above them and making it “better” than them?

    This is pretty basically a misunderstanding of what Christianity (especially Catholicism) means when it talks about what is “natural”. It does NOT mean “it is not found anywhere in the animal kingdom” — that is more of a scientific/secular definition of what is “natural”.

    In contrast, Christians (especially Catholics) believe that different creatures have different “natures” given to them by God. So, the human “nature” is to be in the imago Dei (the image of God)…what entails a lot of things, but it usually entails a separation from other animals, and it entails things like having the capacity for rationality over passions/emotions.

    If you can understand the difference in perspective here (even if you don’t agree with it), then you should see how your statement here doesn’t make a lot of sense from a Catholic perspective. That animals have a natural instinct to fuck, as you say, says nothing about humans, because human nature differs from animal nature by the fact that we are not beholden to passions/emotions/instinct alone. (Again, if you’re thinking that humans are just another type of animal, then you’re coming at this from a secular viewpoint that Catholics wouldn’t accept.)

    From that Catholic/Christian perspective, sexuality serves a purpose of allowing us to participate in the image of God as creators — in this sense, sexuality allows us to create life and that is its purpose. Living in accordance to our nature means to responsibly employ that gift and be open to life. This basic concept should explain why Catholic sexual ethics is the way it is: contraception, abortion, homosexuality, etc., all represent uses of sexuality outside of that “purpose” of being open to creating life.

    In your post, you mention a lot about the hypocrisy of various Christians/Catholics. For example:

    Why should I allow an institution of systematic child-fuckers who claim to be celibate – hence, not even knowing what sexual intercourse is really about – tell me what I can and cannot do in the privacy of my bedroom with a consenting, adult partner?

    There are a few things here, though:

    1) In a Catholic/Christian system, it’s well understood that people are flawed and sinful…that they make mistakes. The big issue in Christianity is that human nature has been corrupted by the fall — this is what Christians speak of as “sin nature”. So, Christians behaving imperfectly is to be expected.

    2) You’re trying to point out something that’s *bad* to make something else *OK*. In other words, you’re saying, “if Catholic priests are child-fuckers, then their comments on homosexuality can’t be taken seriously and homosexuality must be OK.” But really, from a Catholic perspective, both pedophilia and homosexuality are bad, but the question is whether someone accepts that these things are bad and tries to repent from them (even if they keep falling into sin), or if they reject that these things are bad, and therefore does not repent from them.

    3) I just want to highlight how your view of sexual ethics is fundamentally different from a Catholic perspective. In your last sentence here, you talk about “the privacy of [your] bedroom with a consenting, adult partner.” This is very common for modern, secular sexual ethics. But from a Catholic or Christian perspective, having consent with another adult is not ENOUGH for proper use of sexuality. It’s not just about what two consenting adults want. It’s also about being open to life, being responsible to what is seen as a god-given gift, etc.,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Andrew. Thank you so much for your comment! I highly appreciate it. You have explained at great length and detail a few things that I see clearly now that I didn’t see at the time of posting. Having said that, I wouldn’t change too much about the original post. I fully understand and appreciate you pointing out that my argument is mostly secular and as such will pretty much fall on deaf ears when talking to Catholic Christians; however, this blog post is not aimed at Catholic Christians or Muslims to try and win some sort of sexually moral debate. No, I’m speaking to the secular humanists with secular morals and principles, to try and explain to them why religion (Catholicism and Islam in particular) have no right to moral authority, especially where sex and sexual morality are concerned. My arguments are constructed with secular morality in mind, and as such are directed at the secular humanists.

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      • Seems like a strange thing to try to explain to secular humanists why religion has no right to moral authority, when secular humanists are probably most likely to already believe that. As they would say, “preaching to the choir”.

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  2. Interesting discussion…having been born into Methodist, redirected by loved ones to Lutheran, ran to Baptist of my own doing, and now simply agnostic, I just wonder why we still cleave and cling (crave) to religion at all. The world has changed maybe a lot or not depending on your slant…but one thing is certain, our view of the world and the universe (this particular multiverse? haha) has changed, some of the great mysteries from 2000 years ago are not so mysterious now. More over, why is it just a given that really, just men made up a bunch of rules based on some unforeseen (by anybody else) message-giver? Instead of thinking how audacious one could be, our fears make us ally with these visionaries of days of yore while hard working, determined, genius (really) people of today actually reveal real truths about what we are (and are about). Yeah I get the premise of the soul….sounds wonderful. But until we can prove all the constantly revised interpretive nonsense bundled up in to “religion”, thank goodness (a truly human concept) for secular representation in discussion is still allowed in some parts of this closed thought world.

    I’m just hoping for the day when a truly open minded society can debate a real walk away from antiquated concepts regarding our creation and behavior. It pains me every day to think we cant stand the idea we are mortal, may actually be here, on this planet, in this solar system, in this galaxy, in a universe, on our own, and that we simply can’t survive without holding out hope that we will be delivered from ourselves by following rules we made up out of thin air so many eons ago…. too many untruths, too many versions of “god”….but there is change afoot…actual human revelation we all get to attest to…not just the chosen. Anyway, God has moved on, so shall I…

    ….this is the part Lennon’s “Imagine” kicks in on the fade out…actually Perfect Circle’s updated version is more appropriate…

    Take care, be safe

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Není času nazbyt, proto pouze jedna vÄ›ta – souhlasím s vámi. Alespoň tedy v jednom – SSSR si “své” zemÄ› neaĽhkÃli jako USA. DÄ›kuji za tuto velkou pravdu.

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