Religion and the Sex Surge
The Sex Surge can be really overwhelming and frustrating- even at the same time that it’s fun and exciting. And if you are a woman who deeply identifies with her religion, especially some forms of Christianity (both Catholicism and Protestantism, and also other branches like Mormonism), the Sex Surge can have an added layer of shame and frustration added to it. This particular difficulty applies to some Hindu, Buddhist, and yogic religious teachings as well.
I grew up Protestant – American Baptist and Presbyterian mostly. And so I had a lot of shame and guilt and very clear guidance (mostly the word ‘no’) around sexual behavior, fantasies, masturbation (we call it klittra), and sexual expression. And even though I had moved to a completely different path when I found myself in the Sex Surge, there were still a lot of Biblical ideas that lived inside me and caused me extra difficulty as I was trying to figure out what to do.
I often felt like there was something wrong with me because I wanted more sex and my religious upbringing definitely agreed with the wrongness of that idea.
The idea that the Surge was some kind of spiritual punishment also crossed my mind.
Other religious women I’ve talked to have wondered why God might let this kind of thing even happen when there is no useful instruction on how to handle it in the Bible.
I felt guilty for desiring someone outside my marriage- which is partly society and partly religious.
I definitely tried to pray it away!
Clients have wondered what to do when they want more sex (or fantasies or toys) but the Bible says to obey the husband and he clearly says, ‘no.’
Some women have to worry about being kicked out of their religion if they get divorced or have an affair and are found out.
I have had more than one woman feel her faith was deeply shaken by the Sex Surge and that truly makes for a dark night of the soul.
These religious questions, rules, and beliefs can cause a lot of pain as we try to navigate the Sex Surge. And while I may tell you to let the rules of society fall by the wayside as you navigate how to handle the day-to-day decisions of the Surge, simply letting go of our deeply held religious beliefs is 1- hard to do and 2- may not be necessary.
Here is what I believe is necessary when you’re experiencing the Sex Surge and are deeply connected to your religion.
The first thing I suggest, if you are a woman in the Surge with deeply held religious values is to have some compassion for yourself. “Do unto others as you would have done to you,” right? And what would you do for another woman in your situation? I bet you would be kind to her. I bet you would listen and try to help her get calm and figure out what to do or try.
That is exactly what you need and deserve.
Be kind to yourself. Let yourself be aware of your feelings and feel them. Christ did not shy away from crying on the cross. It’s okay to live with this and feel everything and maybe be broken open, broken anew by it. (I believe this is part of what the Surge is for, actually.) Give yourself the same compassion another would give you.
The second thing I recommend, is to take a little more logical look at what’s going on inside your religious path. It might surprise you to know that I am an ordained interfaith minister. In the interfaith training, my coursework introduced me to a wide variety of religious and spiritual paths. And one thing that is really clear in all paths is that, somewhere along the way, they did celebrate and enjoy the body.
Let me just point out that, in the Bible, Song of Solomon is one h-o-t book of sexy innuendo and metaphor. Have you read that stuff? A gal could blush and get a little turned on. Wouldn’t I love it if my beloved said I tasted like honey? Hells yes! It should be a huge reminder to us that this book is still in the Bible, despite the many times it has been edited. There is a reason!
I would also remind you to take a look at what is called ‘conditioning’ within what you have been told by your religion about sex. ‘Operant conditioning’ is when we learn something new by either having it positively reinforced or negatively reinforced. So, if you get rewarded (with community, with prayer, with resources, with peace) for believing certain things about sex, that would be operant conditioning. And it’s worth examining, even just a little, to see if there are other truths beneath the conditioning, truths that are in your heart.
Related to that is my third suggestion for dealing with the Sex Surge as a religious woman, which is to look into things for yourself. Dare to investigate. What does the Bible or other religious book actually say about sex? Where does the current thinking about that come from (i.e. who wrote it)? Are there other thinkers with other things to say? Sometimes religious doctrine comes from people we don’t even know, and if it comes from people, there are other people we can look to for other ideas and interpretations. Divine inspiration is not limited to dudes or prudes.
Sometimes this kind of investigating and curiosity will do a wonderful, but scary, spiritual thing: it will add dimension and depth, and sometimes sheer size, to your definition of God. We have all been through times when our definition or understanding of God had to change. For me, with the Sex Surge, I had to remember that God is not simply a masculine energy. In the Jewish tradition, which Jesus would have grown up with, Shekinah was an aspect or facet of God that was freely spoken of. Shekinah is the feminine facet of God. My definition had to grow to include her, because she knew what it was to be the feminine essence, to hold the energy of creation in the way only a woman can.
Lastly, I want you to remember, if you’re dealing with this particular set of circumstances, that you don’t need to give up your religion or spirituality because of sexual shame, guilt, or restrictions. There are ways to be a good woman of God and live with the Sex Surge.
Working with extra libido as a religious woman can sometimes be difficult. But I believe it is worth the effort of investigating both our religion and our hearts to see what is true. Most importantly, I believe we must give ourselves the compassion a truly good God would so lovingly offer.
If you’re dealing with this issue and want to talk to someone about it, consider using the One Time Sex Surge Consult this way. It’s 90 minutes of deep talk about what is going with the Surge but also how to get through it with grace and joy (as much as possible, anyway).