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on 7 May 2012
If you want to understand how religion distorts and influences our sexuality in order to control us, then look no further than this wonderfully positive, humane, and healthy book. The fact that many common beliefs (including of course our sexuality) are founded in religious indoctrination and can impact on us without our knowledge, is something that even the athiest may not be aware of. In fact we all can be effected by religion to various degrees. Psychologist, Dr Darrel W. Ray, has produced a outright classic which will benefit anyone with an open mind. And I do mean anyone.

Among its mine of helpful information, and what the author stresses above all else, is that religion (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc) is poisonous to your sex life. God and sex don't mix is the message. Sex is better and richer without the feelings of guilt and dirt often associcted with religion. ''Guilt is a key tool by which religion controls people. Guilt impedes effective communication and undermines sexual confidence and enjoyment'' (Alex Comfort, The Joy of Sex). This serious and important lession is constantly played down and ignored in religion, for obvious reasons.

In chapter 2, You can take Religion out of Sex, But you can't take Sex out of Religion, Dr Ray says, ''Religious sexual morality is fundamentally meaningless. Any instruction is largely negative.'' I couldn't agree more! Holy books such as the Bible or the Koran doesn't instruct us in ''ways to give a woman an orgasm.'' The joys of oral sex and the pleasures of masturbation are not important in such books. As Mark Twain ironically observed: ''Of all the delights of this world, man cares most for sexual intercourse. He will go to any lengh for it. Risk fortune, character, reputation, life itself, and what do you think he has done? He has left it out of his heaven! Prayer takes its place'' (Notebook, 1906). Sex is certainly the weak spot of religion.

Ray makes this humorous comment about the Catholic Church: ''What would happen if sexual restrictions were taken out of the equation? Can you imagine the Pope waking up one morning and saying, ''Wow, I had the best wet dream last night. I think we will make masturbation legal in the Catholic Church.'' Now, if only that were true. And he makes the point, in chapter 4, Did Jesus Masturbate? And Other Interesting Thoughts,: ''The idea of god watching you durning sex, knows when you are masturbating and sees you when you look lustfully at another person comes from early Christian writings that are influenced by a strong antisexual mythology.'' Certainly, to have a puritanical god watching you at all times, is not designed for those of us who enjoy sex. On masturbation, the Christian religion teaches that it is wrong or at best questionable. The author makes so many important points, another is when he says, ''Jesus' idea that lust in the heart is the same as adultery feeds right into the guilt around masturbation'' (Matthew 5:27-28). It most certainly does, as any ex-evangelical Christian will tell you. Since masturbation involves the imagination and visualization, this teaching is absolute poison for anyone who enjoys this harmless activity. As a ex-Christian, it was more than enough to make me feel like a rapist.

Those of us who have left religion are given a chapter on their own, chapter 16, What Happens When You Leave Religion. Well, for many, and I'll be succinct, 'sex is better and hotter'! Whenever the sexual guilt (or the idea of puritanical god that's always watching you) that's experienced in religious training starts to go away, or lose its grip, the fun and joy of sex is let loose. This great book has so much more to offer than what I've touched on here. It has 26 chapters, and they are not difficult to read. I really cannot recommend this book enough. Everyone should read it!
11 people found this helpful
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on 3 July 2014
I have heard Dr Ray interviewed when the book came out which prompted me to buy a copy and I am really glad I did! It looks at how and why religion distorts human sexuality and some ways people can overcome these negative effects. I don't want to say too much because I don't want to spoil the book, but this is definitely worth a read!
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on 26 July 2015
Fantastic read, with plenty of examples and case studies. A very informative and easy to read material, highly recommended to anyone who's curious about our natural sexual life and how cultural constructs can sometimes distort it.
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on 1 June 2017
If you've been struggling to accept and normalise your sexuality due to religious upbringing, this the book for you.
If you've been struggling to accept and normalise your sexuality due to the mixed signals given out by films, stories and social conventions, this is the book for you.
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on 16 January 2015
This is a great read, its not the most polished piece of work, but certainly well researched and very compelling. I loved the anthropological stuff about early humans, and the examples of non-patriarchal societal models. It comes at the issue from an American standpoint, but the takeaway points are very universal. I want to see many more writers tackling this subject matter!
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on 5 July 2013
A fair bet that what you think you know about sex, is totally coloured by childhood upbringing. encouraged by guilt inducing religion.
Want to rid yourself of childhood indoctrination about sex. It's going to be difficult but this book will definitely help.
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on 22 December 2014
factual no unfounded claims. Sadly true.
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on 24 December 2014
wonderful insight! everyone must read it.
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on 25 February 2015
Well written and full of useful information backed by scientific research.
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on 18 November 2012
There is little surprising in this book - it is a rational, sensible review of the relationship between religious belief and sexual behaviour. The author's contention is that religion distorts and pathologises normal sexual behaviour in order to control its adherents through the use of guilt and shame. He also contends that in the war between religion and biology, though religion may win some of the battles, it is doomed to lose the war.

None of the content surprises me, nor do I disagree with the author's viewpoints and conclusions. However, I do find his style and delivery rather annoying. The book is well researched, with plenty of supporting references, but its tone is vaguely patronising instead of incisive. This, most likely, is due to his professional role as a counsellor. The situations and problems it discusses are universal - it is a pity that that he constantly adopts an "America centric" approach. If he opened it up culturally he would have a useful book for people in other continents.
5 people found this helpful
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