Giving up church for sex…REALLY???

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~ At coffee yesterday I ran into a girl who used to work at one of the coffee shops I frequent. Last time I saw her (a couple years ago) she was something of a bible thumper; she went to two bible studies a week, a woman’s group every other Monday, and never missed midweek or Sunday services.

However, the young woman who stopped by my table to say hello yesterday was not quite the same woman. She was with three guys, and all of them were flirting with her big time. When I asked her about church life she frowned, “That’s not really my thing anymore Kenneth. I’m thirty now, I gave away some of the best years of my life doing the whole church thing, and what did I get out of it? Nothing but lonely nights and endless bible studies” she said

We chatted for a few minutes longer but her guy friends wanted to get to the bar, and soon they were leaving. As they started toward the door she leaned over and whispered, “Giving up church for sex was one of the best choices I’ve ever made”.

As we draw closer to Easter, this Lenten season and the conversation with my barista friend have given me a lot to ponder. I guess you could say the young woman has given up “church” for Lent, and the older I get, the more people I meet who give up on church altogether.

I was recently studying the poems of Rumi, an ancient poet and philosopher from Persia. He was the kind of guy who believed religion messes everything up. While theologians and religious folk will say that religion exists to help us remember what is beautiful; Rumi would probably say that more often than not, religion prevents us from seeing what is truly beautiful.

For many people, the payoff for being a religious devotee is just not worth it; giving up casual sex, or nights of drinking and revelry, for early morning prayer and meditation seems like a stuffy and boring life. For others, their problem with religion is the men (and women) who prey on the weak and lonely, and exploit them for their money and devotion.

It’s difficult not to look around and wonder where God is in the midst of all the nonsense that exists. Senseless murder and war. Millions of people who die in meaningless automobile accidents, malnutrition, or disease. Generations of unwanted children, many of them aborted by their mothers before childbirth, many others simply ignored by their fathers for their entire lives.

For the young woman I saw at coffee, giving up on Christianity was somewhat of a way out; it can be rather burdensome to constantly be thinking deep thoughts about life and death. Giving up Church for sex is a much easier life on many different levels. However, perhaps the problem is that religion exerts too much effort in telling people what not to do. Isn’t that really what the young woman and so many other young adults get tired of; endless prohibitions?

In psychology we are told, “Rules without relationship results in rebellion”. The idea is that endless rules simply frustrate children. If you don’t cultivate relationships with children and young adults, all you will end up doing is pushing them away. And sometimes, in order to maintain relationships, you have to set aside the rules. True love isn’t force feeding rules down the throats of others. It is about learning to accept them no matter what, learning to be there for others no matter what behavioral choices they make in life.

Religion for thousands of years has been a barrier to peace; instead of breaking down the walls that divide us, religion has erected massive stone walls that are often impenetrable when it comes to peace. Sunday morning is said to be the most segregated time of the week; racial divisions, income divisions, and every other ethnic or demographic division is all the more worse on Sunday morning. While religion should exist to help bridge the chasms that divide us, too often religion does nothing more than increase them.

I suspect the young woman I saw at coffee is not the only person who has given up church for sex.

Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee,

Kenneth



Categories: Culture & Society

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16 replies

  1. You are a knowledgable man. What is in that coffee? Keep on blogging in a free world – The False Prophet

  2. Interesting. The rules on sex in religions…in today’s world I don’t know if they are realistic. To tell my sons not to have sex before marriage when they may not choose to marry until after 30… Plus since sex is reserved for an expression of love for your spouse in my religion of Catholicism–masturbation is deemed wrong. I’ve already caught my both my five and seven year olds playing with themselves… I just tell him what I need to and protect them from creepy adults by letting them know that there are bad people out there and to what to do…true advice for all ages.

  3. I think what the woman really needs to learn is moderation.

  4. Kenneth, could you explain how religion was “a barrier to peace” in Switzerland or Australia?

  5. “In psychology we are told, “Rules without relationship results in rebellion”. That’s it, right there. And I think Jesus would probably agree.

    Too often, religion is rituals and rules with no relationship. Not what Jesus demonstrated with His life or what He taught. He didn’t say you will have Bible studies and rules more abundantly, He said He came to bring life abundantly. Authentic Christianity is relationship. As Robert Capon once said, “Christianity is not a religion; it is the announcement of the end of religion.” Of course, there’s the rub. We’ve been trying to turn it into one ever since.

  6. Hi Kenneth,

    Eventually she’ll get tired of sex, too–especially if it involves going to the bar with three guys. There’s more to life than either church or sex. It just takes some of us a long time to find it.

  7. Well, God, our Heavenly Father definately wanted/wants us to live in a beautiful, prosperous relationship, what comes with internal happiness and external one, too. Yes, sex (a lot) included.
    However, it is with one person. With whom we work through our individual and conjugal, later parental growin period – and this is with hiccups. Yet, with strong root every tree can blossom again; every problem will fade (in maturation shouldn’t be forgotten) and the internal-extarnal happiness can persist.
    Family life is the most sacred way to experience the reality of God, our Heavenly Father. Sex included.

    Have a Nice and Blessed Day!

  8. I agree that too many rules cause rebellion. That’s what happened with the prohibition. It just didn’t work. I think that’s why people who follow the strict religious rules end up rebelling. There’s a show about people who were Amish and run away to the “English” society (out society). They end up completely rebelling against their culture, going overboard into almost dangerous activity. I think it’s because they’ve never been exposed to other ways of living, and since they were always told “not to,” they grew curious and went a bit out of control.

  9. I’ve been fairly cynical about religion for my adult life. Part of it was growing up in a very restrictive and critical faith, the other is seeing how much anger and unkindness can get justified in the name of someone’s religion.
    Actually, it’s only fairly recently that I can see what religion is MEANT to do is provide support and human relationship in navigating “right living” in one’s life.
    This does not mean I am going to “get religion,” because I don’t believe one of the world’s religions is the right one. However, it’s useful to have an altered perspective.

  10. Giving up pleasure for religion is difficult
    Giving up pleasure in exchange for spiritual growth is rather easy.(the two are NOT bed partners)

    The One is boring and unfulfilling
    The other is an exciting adventure

    the church has failed across the board because by it’s very nature it is the abomination that maketh desolate . . .

  11. …and bring on the religious fanatics who want to tear your post apart!

    I thought this was an awesome post and simply echoes similar thoughts that I have had myself! Well done on a great post!

  12. Good post. There must be balance in all things. Sexual energy is demonized and given a taboo label in “pure” and “holy” (read: self-righteous) circles. I find that the Taoist approach is much preferable because it gives information with regard to how the energy moves and how to learn to balance it within the body. Sex is an appetite but too often people will seek to assuage their inner need for validation via emotionally damaging behaviors. Throw in a nice dose of shame and you’ll see people rebel from religious dictates faster than…. well, than they already are. Some things are fun for a time but it takes time to learn what’s truly important to you. Some people will never progress into those latter stages of transmuting experience into consciousness and that’s their path. People are tired of feeling like they’re getting the short end of the stick. Church for many people used to be a thing that solidified social cohesion. Now, our lifestyles have us so disconnected and isolated from the typically understood familial structures that church doesn’t fill that purpose anymore. What purpose does it fill? Where a bunch of people who think alike get together and pat each other on the back for continuing to think that way. I don’t see this model having much success in the future.

  13. Good post. There must be balance in all things. Sexual energy is demonized and given a taboo label in “pure” and “holy” (read: self-righteous) circles. I find that the Taoist approach is much preferable because it gives information with regard to how the energy moves and how to learn to balance it within the body. Sex is an appetite but too often people will seek to assuage their inner need for validation via emotionally damaging behaviors. Throw in a nice dose of shame and you’ll see people rebel from religious dictates faster than…. well, than they already are. Some things are fun for a time but it takes time to learn what’s truly important to you. Some people will never progress into those latter stages of transmuting experience into consciousness and that’s their path. People are tired of feeling like they’re getting the short end of the stick. Church for many people used to be a thing that solidified social cohesion. Now, our lifestyles have us so disconnected and isolated from the typically understood familial structures that church doesn’t fill that purpose anymore. What purpose does it fill? Where a bunch of people who think alike get together and pat each other on the back for continuing to think that way. I don’t see this model having much success in the future.

  14. I don’t see a problem with sex BEFORE church with my husband, but I’m not going to forsaken the assembling of the saints for anything other than sickness and an occasional vacation…

  15. “I was recently studying the poems of Rumi, an ancient poet and philosopher from Persia. He was the kind of guy who believed religion messes everything up. While theologians and religious folk will say that religion exists to help us remember what is beautiful; Rumi would probably say that more often than not, religion prevents us from seeing what is truly beautiful.”

    This Rumi guy sounds a lot like me.

    “It’s difficult not to look around and wonder where God is in the midst of all the nonsense that exists. Senseless murder and war. Millions of people who die in meaningless automobile accidents, malnutrition, or disease. Generations of unwanted children, many of them aborted by their mothers before childbirth, many others simply ignored by their fathers for their entire lives.”

    Yes. It was indeed a combination of things like that that led me to lose all faith. The most salient example was the abortion one. People have tried to rationalize and come up with reasons why their powerful and loving god would allow these senseless things to happen, but none of them has convinced any of those who have left religion when confronted by the problem of evil.

    “Religion for thousands of years has been a barrier to peace; instead of breaking down the walls that divide us, religion has erected massive stone walls that are often impenetrable when it comes to peace. Sunday morning is said to be the most segregated time of the week; racial divisions, income divisions, and every other ethnic or demographic division is all the more worse on Sunday morning. While religion should exist to help bridge the chasms that divide us, too often religion does nothing more than increase them.”

    You are a keen observer of the obvious.

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