Sex and Religion

Marie Carmichael Stopes

Sex and Religion
by Marie Carmichael Stopes
This booklet is from one of the chapters in Sex and the Young.
First Published 1926, Popular Edition, 1928.
First Published in this form December, 1929.

Sex and Religion
IT is my hope that this booklet may be of use to all parents and teachers whatever their religion or lack of it may be, whatever their country or social tradition.
There are those who maintain that instruction in sex matters should be entirely divorced from religion. Religions, however, date from ancient days. Nearly every religion concerns itself with sex, and religious views cannot summarily be disentangled from the social consciousness on sex matters, even if it were ultimately possible to do so. But is it possible or right entirely to dissociate religion and sex ? I think not. My reason for this view I give on p. 8.
Religion, as most of us know it, is presented to us with outward trappings, which though non-essential appear essential to the uncritical mind. These outward trappings vary widely even among different sects of the same religion.
The customs and peculiarities of some of the sects, even those which maintain themselves in a modern civilised country like England, appear to many to be revoltingly barbaric or disingenuously illogical. It is such irrelevant and local manifestations on the part of the human representatives and institutions of various sects which encourage the hasty to conclude that all religion is best kept away from sex matters, because sex of all subjects at present requires consideration in the clear light of unbiased truth. The practices of some exponents of religion make it clear that truth and logical thought are remote from them. When one knows for instance that a priesthood sterilises some of its young boys, castrating them to preserve their soprano voices, but af the same time condemns the "wickedness" of scientifically controlling the conception of diseased and unwholesome children, one is tempted to doubt whether priests have any right to claim serious attention in sex ethics. When one also learns that a sect considers it worse than murder to permit a young girl to menstruate before she marries, and thus incites to child marriages, one feels as though the only hope for a rational sex life would be for such religions to be swept off the face of the earth. One cannot but feel there is some excuse for those agnostics who denounce religions as the root of our sex problems, difficulties and diseases.
I feel, however, that the profundities of religion are not essentially involved in these and other deplorable individual manifestations. Not only does the human race need religion, but it needs a religious realisation immensely more profound and more interwoven into the consciousness and daily life of the people than any save the exceptional mind has hitherto possessed. I would not cut religion away from the consideration of sex, but I would, on the contrary, reform the existing religions and build them more deeply into the essential life of mankind.
As the tenets of the numerous sects upon the earth vary so widely, what can one possibly say on the theme of religion and sex which will be equally true of them all, and may be equally helpful to the believers of all creeds ? Their diversity is so great, the hasty may say, that there is nothing that can possibly be said which will be true and helpful to the believers in all religions. But I say not only is there one thing to be said, but that it is a most profoundly helpful and racially important thing, and it can be accepted by all the exponents of all religions. It is as follows :
God Himself creates human beings by the use of the sex organs of human beings at present existing in this world. In this way humanity collaborates in the divine work of creation.
Hence all knowledge and all facts about the sex organs and their most intimate structure, and the physiological laws which govern their material expression, are not only of supreme interest and importance to the human race but should be a highly honoured branch of social wisdom.
The consciousness that God requires human collaboration through the very same material means which the vulgar have debased in idea, must, if fully realised, safeguard youth, protect purity and strengthen the race. It must elevate and intensify the feeling of spiritual unity with the Divine which it is the object of almost all religions to inculcate among a humanity prone to backslide. The separation of religion from daily life, the frequency of sex crimes even on the part of those trying 'to lead a religious life,' all arise from a lack of realisation of the soul's marvellous potency and the Divine power within the racial organs.
In acceptance of the above profound truth all religions worshipping
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