Ok, I admit it. I’m angry.
I have been working all this month to rehabilitate a student of mine who was raised Catholic. She lives in Seattle, which is a progressive city. Yet in spite of her yearning to be open, sensual, and connected to others – the most basic of human needs – she is completely frozen in her mind and body, rendered helpless by her religious views of the world.
Actually, her religious views aren’t hers at all. They belong the church – and represent the Bible’s take on sexuality, women, and the body.
These biblical beliefs can be boiled down to this; women are evil, sex is bad, and the body is naturally dirty.
Like so many of us, she justifies her sexual suppression, depression, and unhappiness by saying, “I’d rather be miserable and right, than happy and wrong.”
The inescapable realization has been coming to me over the years, after leading thousands of hours of groups, meditations, and counseling sessions, is that so many of our sexual, psychological, and spiritual stresses – one way or another – lead back to religious thinking.
And because sex begins in our brain, this means that billions of people are sexually, and emotionally disabled by their religious beliefs.
For example, I was speaking with a man about his being at his wife’s side during the delivery of their daughter. But when his child “got closer to actually coming out – I left”, he said, waving with his hands in front of his eyes, while turning away his head, as if trying to block the memory of his daughter’s head emerging like a bloody “evil eye.” For him, as for us, it is best to turn away.
It occurred to me in that moment; body shame begins at birth. We exit the womb out of “the dirty, place, down there.” It is literally a shame to be born.
In my Catholic friend’s case, she is so religiously disabled that she has no sex life, even though in her mind, she wants one. Her husband shames her when she brings up sex, insinuating that by wanting “just sex”, she’s nothing more than a whore. Her children received very little touch as well. She’s faithfully and unquestioningly passing along the religious doctrine of shame and guilt about the body to her kids – just like it was passed to her from her parents – and so on.
It is inevitable that the pursuit of sexual liberation will eventually lead us to question our beliefs, and I assert that is exactly the reason why religion is obsessed with thwarting our pleasure, and suppressing female sexuality. When we realize that the Bible is wrong about female pleasure, menstruation, and sex, then it could be wrong about a lot of other things as well.
We can summarize the idea like this; In order to be a faithful believer, we must pretend to not see the things that – given the preponderance of evidence – we should see. Instead of being simply deceived by delusional, yet well intending religious leaders, we inflict the final deception upon ourselves.
Perhaps, if we can begin to admit our wrongness about our ideas of a sex-hating, punishing god, then we have a chance to become free. We have a chance to become more and more sex positive, which in turn makes it harder to justify the mental, emotional, and physical abuse that a punishing God heaps upon us for the simple act of feeling good in our tender, beautiful bodies.