Saturday, March 10, 2012

Women, Sex and Religion

I grew up with basic Christian beliefs and fundamentals but I did not have them shoved down my throat. We hardly ever went to church but my mother and I said prayers together every night. I grew up in a feminine household with my grandmother and mother. The God I learned about through them was kind, loving and forgiving. I guess it was basically non-denominational Christian morals I was raised with. I was read bible stories and Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime Stories but they never really read the bible to me or preached at me. It was a very open household. I was not taught that sex was a dirty sin. I was taught that it was something beautiful and special to be shared with the right person. My world was all about strong, independent women and this shaped my outlook on life including my faith and my sexuality.

As I grew older and had more contact with the outside world and more understanding of the world and people around me I realized not everyone had the same views of God. I also realized most people who were religious, who considered themselves to be Christians, were nothing like my mother and grandmother who were so kind and loving towards everyone.

Male Christians in particular seemed to have many issues with women, believing they were inferior and supposed to be subservient to men. I did not want to take any part in the male confines of Christianity. I did not feel that I should be subservient to men or that my sexual needs or desires should be considered dirty, immoral or bad. Why did men have all the power? Why were men allowed to sleep around (sow their wild oats) and have many sexual “conquests” that labeled them a stud or something similar while a sexually aggressive female was a slut, whore or much worse? The inequalities shocked and upset me.

In some stricter forms of Christianity men are supposed to be morally clean and also remain a virgin until marriage along with their female counterparts, but there still seems to be a double standard. The men do not seem to be forced to uphold that morality and they are not punished like a woman is. A woman is not worth marrying if she isn’t a virgin and she can become a social outcast. I guess part of it is because you can’t really tell if a man has lost his virginity or not while a woman can be examined to determine whether or not her hymen has been broken. Even if a man could be examined they would probably never be put through such a humiliating process while many women are still put through this exam today if their virginity is questioned (not just by strict Christian sects but by other religions too).

It is said that knowledge is power and also the number one enemy of religion. I started reading the bible and really studying the Christian religion. I didn’t like what I found. In the bible women are portrayed as dirty and unclean. If they spoke up or stood against men they were whores or witches and should be put to death (thou shall not suffer a witch to live). Many women in the bible are evil, conniving, or just weak. They are supposed to serve God and men because men were created in God’s image. Christianity also seemed to portray sex as the most disgusting and hideous thing that should only be done to procreate and that no pleasure should be taken from sexual union (then why did God make it feel so good?)

I couldn’t see myself worshiping a God or following a religion that said I was not equal to men, that I was not just as important as a man. My sexuality and my sense of self as a female have ultimately influenced my views about religion and the choices I have made concerning my faith and religious preferences. I knew there had to be a more female friendly faith out there somewhere.

I started studying other religions, hoping to find something better, something more. There had to be a religion that did not censor sex or female sexuality. I found that in many ancient religions sex was celebrated, ecstasy was a religious experience. Just take a look at Tantric texts and the Kama Sutra. Even Pagan religions celebrated sexual union through extensive fertility rites and rituals. Yet Christianity censored sex right from the beginning. Jesus was born to the “virgin” Mary, taking all the naturalness of sex right out of the religion.

I see Christianity as a religion formed by men who hated and feared the power of women. These men were coming out of Pagan times where the Goddess was worshipped. Women had the power. They wanted to squash that power and take over. Throughout history the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Indians almost everywhere right down to more modern Native American cultures Goddesses have been worshipped either alone or alongside their male counterparts. Some cultures had a whole pantheon of Gods and Goddesses to worship. It seems to me ancient cultures were a little more correct in their belief systems, they understood balance. Like the yin and yang, there is both male and female in everything. Yet Christianity only focuses on the male: God the father, Jesus the son, the trinity of the father, son and the Holy Spirit (also male). The only Christian faith that pays any attention to the female is Catholicism, they worship and pray to Mary along with God and Jesus.

Christianity has taken away female power and sexuality and turned women into subservient wives and mothers or into unclean, dark things to be feared and kept out of the light. By turning sex into something sleazy and disgusting that should only be done by married couples (man and woman only) under the cover of darkness and only when trying to procreate, Christianity has destroyed the naturalness of sex and the power of women.

Women are sexual creatures with desires, needs and great capacity for pleasure. Women are nature, women are sex, and women wield power over men with their sexuality. Women have what men crave. The men who created Christianity knew this and feared it. They wanted to control women, command them instead of being in their control.

Today many women fear their own desires and needs, feeling dirty and unclean, feeling like a whore if they are sexually open. Some men want women to have sex with them but only to please and serve them, they don’t seem to want women to actually enjoy sex and really want it on their own terms. Men still crave and need that control. As I grew up I came across many men who could not stand a strong independent female like myself. They preached God to me and tried to make me a slave to them, either through verbal or physical abuse or both. I’ve been called a slut, a whore and every name in the book. Men tried to destroy who I was, tried to beat the Goddess out of me. I heard all kinds of excuses too, sometimes they used God. Man was created first and woman was created to serve him (which by the way, science proves otherwise. Every life starts as female inside the mother’s womb and then may or may not develop into a male, so really it is Adam out of Eve not Eve out of Adam).

In my quest to get away from the torturous confines of Christianity and the evil men do in God’s name I found Wicca and other Goddess based religions. Throughout the past thirty years or so there has been a resurgence of the old earth based and Goddess based religions. The tides are turning and women are realizing there is more than what the bible has to offer. Women are reclaiming their sexual identity, power and freedom without fear. Women are embracing their sexuality and not being afraid of their own desires. Many are doing this by becoming in touch with the Goddess, the ultimate feminine, the female energy that resides in all of women and that is in nature and mother earth.

Wicca is centralized around nature and around the Goddess. It is the fertile Goddess who gives birth and nurtures everything around us. In Wicca women are not viewed as dirty, evil or unclean. Women are celebrated, every aspect. The trinity of maiden, mother and crone shows all the changes women may go through throughout life whether physically, emotionally or symbolically and all are celebrated. Sex is celebrated. Sex is natural and wonderful, not dirty or sleazy.

Wicca lets women reconnect to the power of the Goddess and reclaim their own power, including their sexual power. Men are not left out in Wicca. There is a balance of male and female energy and Wicca teaches that. No one has the upper hand and no one is subservient to someone else. It is the way it should be. I found a religion that is true to what I believed deep in my heart from the beginning. It made sense to me. I have reclaimed my feminine power and celebrated my sexuality without fear. My sexuality does not have to be hidden or confined behind religious doctrine and locked doors. I can be open and free about who I am and what I am. I am a woman and proud to be one. I have connected with the Goddess and found the Goddess in myself.