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Sex & God: How Religion Distorts Sexuality

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4.09  ·  Rating Details  ·  327 Ratings  ·  53 Reviews
Why are all the major religions consumed with sex? What makes sex so important, whether Buddhism or Islam, Christianity or Mormonism? What is the impact of religion on human sexuality? This book explores this and more. It ventures into territory that has never been examined. You will be surprised at how much religion has influenced your sexuality, who you marry, the pleasu ...more
Paperback, 300 pages
Published January 10th 2012 by IPC Press (first published January 1st 2012)
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Annmariee I was raised Baptist, and that came with preconcieved ideas of what I SHOULD want for my life (a subservient marriage, a husband to lead me and guide…moreI was raised Baptist, and that came with preconcieved ideas of what I SHOULD want for my life (a subservient marriage, a husband to lead me and guide me, children to indoctrinate into the faithful life, boring, lousy sex, cooking and cleaning, etc). Almost none of it was correct or natural for me, but who doesn't want to be "normal"? This book was a game-changer for me. I am just not interested in anything that doesn't interest me, and not feeling shame about it either. Freedom. Read this: You will be surprised how very infected you are by your culture. (less)
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Community Reviews

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Richard
Apr 13, 2012 Richard rated it really liked it
If you are someone who was raised with any sort of religious indoctrination, this is probably an invaluable book. It has a great deal of very topical information about how religion and sexual practices are intertwined. The only problem I had with the book, and I am the last person to defend religion, is that the author lays the problems with infidelity and sex education among other things at the at the feet of religion. While I am am certain that religion is to blame for much of it, I feel that ...more
Eric
Dec 02, 2013 Eric rated it really liked it
I saw Dr. Ray give a lecture on the subject of sex and religion at a recent conference, and wasted no time in buying his book at the speakers table. He was a funny and engaging speaker. The same easy-going conversational style comes through in his book. Sex & God is as much a book of self understanding as it is a examination of the role of religion in shared sexual mores, in the sense that we are all products of the culture we are raised in, and so it is responsible for much of our identitie ...more
Fry (Evra) Morgan
May 22, 2016 Fry (Evra) Morgan rated it it was ok
This book definitely bites off more than it can chew.

Mind you. I am as anti-religion as the author himself. So my issue is not with the book's stance. The book read more like a Facebook rant by a bullied teen rather than a, well, book. Apart from a few paragraphs scattered around, there wasn't much value. I definitely didn't learn a whole lot from this book, and almost halfway through I was only reading to justify the money I spent on it.

The author talks again and again about the fact that relig
...more
Tiffany
Jun 22, 2013 Tiffany rated it it was amazing
This is the best book I have read to date dealing with this subject matter.
The author's experience training ministers, priests, and other religious officials combined with his work as a psychologist give him a unique point of reference to write a book that goes in depth in regards to the issues he has witnessed and assisted with.
As someone who has ambitions of one day becoming a sex and relationship therapist, I foresee this book being a staple recommendation. Imagine the world we could have i
...more
Kendra
Excellent book, and oh so very timely right now, with all the religious conservative crap going on here in the USA. The author covers a wide range of information covering how religion poisons sex, and yet the hypocrisy that religious people are having sex, because it's natural, and then feel guilty and dirty about it, which makes a gradually more vicious cycle as they repeat it.

An easy, fascinating read, covers the basic screwed up religions of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, as well as touches o
...more
AerinLuvs
This is a great book and very helpful for those who grew up with religious programming. The writer, a counselor, has counseled extensively and spoken and researched this subject extensively, and his stance is that religion doesn't belong in sexuality. It is a very sex-positive book and humanistic and interesting. I suppose some people (perhaps the strictly religious) might have a problem with the stance. It is educational and thought-provoking and I recommended it for my family members.

I will pr
...more
Jeffrey
Feb 11, 2016 Jeffrey rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Given that the Amazon blurb says "it ventures into territory that has never been examined" I was on red alert from the start. Territory that has never been examined? Are you saying this is the first book ever published on Religion and Sexuality? That's absurd. Amazon has an entire section about religions and sexuality, and a simple search of the university library system finds books and articles on the topic dating back to the mid-1800s in Religious Studies, Neurology, Psychology, Sociology, Ant ...more
Tanya
I received this as an arc from netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I really liked this book. What kept me from giving it 5 stars was that I wanted to see more academic references to support his claims because I wanted to use it in an academic setting as a required textbook. But I understand why he provides information from both academic journals and mainstream entertainment magazines and newspapers: to reach the common reader.

Dr. Ray takes us through his personal experiences with religio
...more
Emily Dietle
Apr 12, 2012 Emily Dietle rated it it was amazing
The news has been at capacity lately with attacks on issues of sexual freedom, and this book by psychologist Dr. Darrel Ray could not be more important to us all.

Sex & God: How Religion Distorts Sexuality. The bold title and cover image of this book will supply you with endless entertainment from the odd glances you will receive; I made several people uncomfortable at Hobby Airport last month.

Straight from the first page, this book flows naturally and Dr. Ray’s words come through as the voic
...more
Eric
Apr 16, 2015 Eric rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion-atheism
A fairly interesting book about how bad religion is at sex. It's a good read for anybody that grew up religious and needs to readjust your thinking. The author said it's intended for atheist as well as religious readers, but it has the annoying, slightly condescending voice of a book that can only be appreciated by the nonreligious.

For the newly nonreligious, there's lots of interesting information on how religion is quite bad at actually keeping its followers chaste, how our biology works again
...more
Stephen Starr
Apr 12, 2012 Stephen Starr rated it it was amazing
A fascinating book that blows the top off the sex control systems used by organised religion. The early chapters are perhaps a little predictable in their attack on religion, but the later chapters illustrate how religion and the agricultural societies they infect radically changed the healthier attitudes to sex and relationships held by hunter gatherer societies. I was surprised that there was no mention of the medieval church's strictures on marriage between related cousins, second cousins etc ...more
Rodrigo Bressane
Jun 16, 2012 Rodrigo Bressane rated it it was amazing
An incrediblly broad view on how religion affects sexuality and the perception we have of sex, relationships, general human behavior and values. Even though a lot can be said on the subject, by the end of the book it feels like no topic had been left unattended by the author. It's a wonderful piece that will provoke a war of thoughts for those who are still living under the sexual dictatorship of religion. And for those who already left God's realm of control, the piece is a great surce of knowl ...more
Clarke
Dec 04, 2015 Clarke rated it did not like it
I looked this book up before I purchased it and I'm still not sure how it got such high reviews for being such an awful book. I was looking for a book that had an earnest discussion about God and sex. Covering all those messy social norms we don't like to talk about. Instead the book comes off as angry ramblings. To make matters worse I suggested it for a group read. More power to the people in the group who finished it. I just like to say thanks for not chasing me from the room and still being ...more
Elissa Anne
Nov 10, 2015 Elissa Anne rated it really liked it
When I began reading this book I was enthralled and couldn't get through it fast enough, but by the time I got to the end I was shaken to my core. Being a Universalist-Christian, I am more than willing to entertain new ideas and adapt the ones I have. Darrell presents the idea that human beings are not naturally monogamous but polygamous. He had me almost convinced. Then I remembered that just because our behaviour is more polygamous than monogamous, does not mean we were designed to be that way ...more
SDAtheistPodcast
Jul 17, 2015 SDAtheistPodcast rated it it was amazing
“Among all American religions, Mormonism is the single most sexually guilt ridden. Mormonism scores 37%% higher in sexual guilt than even Catholics. Mormons are closely followed by Jehovah’s Witnesses, Pentecostals, and Seventh Day Adventists, all of whom score 30% higher than Catholics.”
--Sex & God by Darrel Ray

After reading that quote I *had* to read the book! Ray had a lot of interesting things to say, but his main point was that sexual guilt is not merely one of a bullet list of problems
...more
Edythe Hamilton
Feb 13, 2014 Edythe Hamilton rated it liked it
“I have been a psychologist for over 35 year. Before I went into psychology, I thought I was destined to be a minister…I helped train ministers, chaplains and other church officials…I saw layer upon layer of complicity in sexual scandals and financial fraud…Not all displayed this behavior, but almost all participated in hiding or ignoring it…This experience led me to a deeper study of how religion works…What if we took religion out of sex?” Yes, some church officials are guilty of these charges, ...more
Phillip Elliott
Dec 22, 2015 Phillip Elliott rated it really liked it
Very interesting read. The author Darrel Ray, is well versed in organized religion because he was a minister. He adds his insight and experience to the narrative.

At times he seems to be hostile towards religion. I share his point of view for the most part, but I'm not sure that there isn't a place for organized religion. On the other hand, Mr. Ray, offers some magnificent arguments that nicely refute my belief.

I finished the book smarter and better informed. I have new points of view to consid
...more
David
While I certainly don't share this (atheist) author's intense resentment of Christianity, I do enjoy behavioral science in all its forms, and I find there's always things to learn from reading books that differ with one's own positions.
BTW, you can judge this book by its cover. :-)
Andrew
Feb 21, 2015 Andrew rated it it was amazing
Read this book. If it seems appealing, just buy it. I want to throw some quotes down but I don't even know where to start. I will quote the heading and subheading for Chapter 24: Jealousy: The Anti-Love Potion, though, because I feel like it's the most universally needed:
"Sexual jealousy is an emotion that originates in ideas about sex and ownership.
'A jealous husband doesn't doubt his wife, but himself.' -Honore De Balzac
'Jealousy is nothing more than a fear of abandonment.' -Arab Proverb
'Jea
...more
Peter
May 04, 2013 Peter rated it it was amazing
some of this is light and fluffy, some however is very serious and important.. the chapter on sexual abuse is eye opening and worrying.have to say the cover pic was misleading , the topic is very serious. see the reviews by others on goodreads or amazon
John
Sep 25, 2014 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a proud atheist gay man, reading Darrel Ray’s quick treatise, Sex and God: How Religion Distorts Sexuality was largely an exercise of preaching to the anti-theist choir — particularly with regard to the Abrahamic religions’ negative effect on natural human sexual expression. Ray bought home some salient points and this offers much to ponder.

Politicians and preachers endlessly speak of the bedrock that one-man-one-woman marriage is to human existence. Yet, Ray points out that our collective hu
...more
Avery
Feb 26, 2013 Avery rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Avery by: Freethought Arizona
I wish I had found this book when I was much younger. I like to think I wouldn't have had to learn all my lessons the hard way to get to the wonderful place I am at today if I had read something like Dr. Ray's book when I was much younger.

Darrel Ray paid homage to visionaries like Dr. Albert Ellis and Robert A. Heinlein by putting their visions of people achieving healthy intimate relationships, openly and honestly negotiated without guilt, shame or jealousy, on a scientific basis with evidence
...more
Winston
Jun 18, 2013 Winston rated it it was amazing
Rewrite your Sexual Roadmap

As Darrel outlines early on, using a map from the American Colonial era would be useless in today's modern world. Skyscrapers, back alleys, gang territory etc. would be conspicuously absent. So too with religion and sex. In the latter case, however, the consequences are far more dire than not finding the Space Needle after a few hours of sojourning in Seattle.

Religious myths about sex covers a short chapter, and some more humour is present in the Mormon "teachings" for
...more
Stacie
Sep 16, 2015 Stacie rated it really liked it


This was a very interesting read. Being raised Mormon, I could definitely relate to the shame and guilt that was put on any sexual activity other monogamous, married, heterosexual sex. Before reading this book, I never really thought about why religion stigmatizes sex, but the theories proposed in this book make a lot of sense. I'm glad that I was able to leave, but I do fear for the thousands (millions if you believe church census records) who still subscribe to those theories. I wish they cou
...more
Susan
Overall, I would say I enjoyed reading this book. I thought the author brought up some interesting information. I think he was likely right about many things that he said, at least for some people. What I did not like about the book is that he talked about a lot of things as if they absolutely would happen. If X, then your marriage will Y. I think there are a lot of factors that influence outcomes. Therefore, it seems unlikely that such predictive statements could be made absolutely. I also susp ...more
Heather
I like Darrel Ray's easy-going style. It feels kind of like a conversation in many ways. That's a good thing, especially when your subject is sex and religion!

The first parts of the book go through history of our sexual evolution along with our closest cousins the chimps/bonobos and gorillas. He also goes through how religion has hijacked a lot cognitive processes and how those distort our sexuality.

He repeats a lot throughout the middle. He probably could have cut out a couple of chapters and p
...more
Nathan Fast
Jan 04, 2015 Nathan Fast rated it really liked it
It's difficult to do in a book like this, but I wish more care had been taken to avoid generalization. Specific religious beliefs should be tied to each distortion, and it would have been nice if there was more discussion on the rationalizations the religious use to minimize or (in certain cases) eliminate the distortion.
David
Nov 11, 2014 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh yes, this is the book I wanted to read when I was in High School. I listened to most of it in the car driving up and down California. I love the fact that Atheist Audio Books LLC. did a voice over for this book. Darrel Ray is an amazing reader and well versed. We learn all sorts of things concerning the different sexual attitudes of each culture and that monogamy really isn't the default of humans (or many other animals). I knew some of this knowledge, but wow I am taken a back on how wrong p ...more
J.P.
Sep 03, 2012 J.P. rated it it was amazing
This is an awesome book! Another from Darrel Ray who has become one my favorite authors over the last couple of years! It's very straight forward & I learned a lot of about sex & sexuality in different cultures that I was not aware of & never would've thought that they were that way. Believer or non-believer you will definitely learn about how you were taught to view sex, how you currently view sex & how that will likely change after reading this book & you will therefore lea ...more
Huw
Nov 17, 2012 Huw marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Review by J. Anderson Thomson, Jr., M.D., University of Virginia, psychiatrist, author, Why We Believe In God(s): A Concise Guide to the Science of Faith
"Read this book. Whether you are a believer, doubter, or atheist, religion influences your sexuality. Darrel Ray removes our blinders. Never again will you view religion as benign in its effects. With patience, verve, and overwhelming evidence he makes the case that religion is an STD, a sexually tarnishing disease. Religion undermines our capac
...more
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“Religion has the capacity to silence critical thinking and create blindness in entire groups of people. It can infect the minds of followers so completely as to allow the most egregious sexual acts against children and others to go unchallenged for centuries.” 16 likes
“We acquire both the language and religious concepts from our immediate culture – at the same time. A child cannot discriminate between useful survival information and the emotional and psychological manipulations of religion. Once infected, these ideas are deeply embedded and almost impossible to change.” 9 likes
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