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Sex & God: How Religion Distorts Sexuality

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4.09  ·  Rating details ·  441 ratings  ·  61 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 ...more
Kindle Edition, 300 pages
Published January 10th 2012 by IPC Press
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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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Richard
Mar 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jeffrey
Apr 27, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
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, ...more
Kru
Dec 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting and informative read.
Fry (Evra) Morgan
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
...more
Tiffany
Jun 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Clarke
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
Eric
Nov 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...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
...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
...more
Peter
Apr 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
...more
Eric
Mar 28, 2015 rated it liked it
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
...more
Rodrigo Bressane
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 ...more
Stephen Starr
Apr 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...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. :-)
Laurel
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book that covers an essential topic. I am a witness to the truth of this distortion, from having a family member who thought God told him to practice polygamy, to having siblings and boyfriends who had sexual obsessions or unhealthy avoidance, to having inappropriate private interviews as a young teenager with middle aged [untrained and unvetted] men about my sexuality. Religion plays a very dangerous game with the world's perception of sex. It can cause longterm psychological ...more
Mike Vieira
Mar 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Though I don't agree with the author's every assertion, I do with his main points.
First, human biology does not match with the teachings of major religions, as far as sex is concerned. Religion teaches a restrictive, "one size fits all" approach to sexuality. Primate sexuality, including that of humans, does not nearly match the expectations taught by major religions. E.g. almost nobody actually lives out the religious definition of monogamy: one sexual partner only for a lifetime.
Second,
...more
Megan
Jul 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
excellent read for anyone in the church and willing to be critical or anyone who's left the church and wants to uncover some implicit messaging they aren't even aware of.

the mid-section got a bit slow, lots of research and less interesting bits, but overall a very good book that explains biological desire and cultural/religious conditioning. definitely read to the end.

Ray isn't preachy or telling you what to do, he just explains how religions distorts sexuality, and suggests alternative ways
...more
Kahawa
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was really good, with caveats. I can definitely see some of my own programming. It's going to be difficult processing it all. I don't know where I'll end up on that.

This was pretty condemning to religion, but fair enough, religion has had its fair share of condemning everyone else. Ray comes across as a bit angsty, but I can get over that. And some of his studies listed barely support his points, but I think his points were mostly sound anyway.

I thought I might read this and have to make
...more
Fariz Abdussalam
Feb 16, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
as a practicing Muslim, I really understand why the author has such a negative view about Islam. He does not know anything about Islam, and learn from Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a Somali-born Dutch-American activist, feminist, author, scholar and former politician and a critic of Islam. Therefore, He get a wrong interpretation of Islam.

So, my message for all readers, please don't learn Islam from this book.
Amberly Page
Lots of useful and validating information here. The author lets his biases color it a bit more strongly than necessary--the research and data can stand on its own without some of the personal flavor. Regardless, it was an important step for me in reclaiming my sexuality.
Johnny
Aug 06, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
I thought this book would be in the spirit of other academic minded books like Sex
At Dawn. But this contained no supportable evidence and was filled with anecdotal opinion. Awful
Sarah
Nov 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well-researched.
Would love to read second time.
Edythe Hamilton
“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
Winston Jen
Jun 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
SDAtheistPodcast
“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
Elissa Anne
Nov 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
John
Jun 16, 2014 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
...more
Avery
Feb 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Gofita
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
...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.” 23 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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