Sex and Worship: A Tale of Time

Has Sex and worship evolved through time?

When examining the relationship between all things sex and worship in today’s culture, you don’t have to look very far to see places where they intersect.  For example, in the TV show ‘American Gods’, Bilquis is portrayed as a character who draws strength from those worshipping her through the act of sex. Another example is the depiction of Nuns in sexualized outfits come Halloween time. In fact, nuns made the list of 2019’s most popular Halloween characters/costumes on Pornhub.

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In the past, the two concepts were often seen on opposite sides of the scale in Western culture, with those most devoted to God - such as priests, monks and nuns - being sworn to abstain from sex in the practice of celibacy. Sex was emphasised as a means for procreation and nothing much further; with the strong association of devilment and everything evil being associated with lust and sexual activity outside of marriage. Still today, these ideas haven’t been abandoned in the least, with some churches still advocating this idea specifically; the underbelly of sex as a shameful act seems far from gone.

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Funnily enough, one way that sex has been shown to have a more dynamic purpose was in the portrayals of woman as devils who would have sex with Satan as a form of worship. ‘Academic texts’ studying the subject contain graphic images that portray all manners of sexual acts. For example, ‘Malleus Maleficarum’, published in 1487, is a definitive text on all things witch related. The era of witch-hunting was a lovely period that did an excellent job of demonising women’s independence and their ability to experience sex as a pleasurable affair.

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Despite the sexual revolution of the 1960s and onwards, sex is often still linked to ideas of moral decay and seen as something shameful - though there are some exceptions. The rise of interest in areas such as Neotantra or ‘tantric sex’, which proposes the idea of sex as a sacred practice, intertwines sex and spirituality in new interpretations of old religious practices. Other practices that encapsulate this idea have seen a rise in popularity in recent years. The use of crystal dildos as sexual aids, for example, are sold by companies such as Chakrubs.

With this slow, but present, rise of ideas supporting sexual liberation, it's interesting to note where matters of worship will intersect and what ideas may be left behind.

Sources

https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/love-sex/culture-of-love/a-brief-cultural-history-of-sex-938527.html

https://www.spiritual-tantra-lounge.com/neo-tantra

https://cs.phncdn.com/insights-static/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/pornhub-insights-halloween-2019-characters-costumes.png

Witches, Sluts and Feminists: Conjuring the Sex Positive (2017) Kirsten J. Sollee