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
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
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
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