Sexing Up the Christian Conservative Religious Right

Conservatives are getting down and dirty to spread their social agenda


| January-February 2009



Open a recent evangelical advice book and you will read comments like this one: “Some people have the mistaken notion that God is anti-sex . . . in fact, he’s outspokenly pro-sex! He invented it. What an incredible thought! Passionate sex was God’s idea.” Or: “Orgasm is an integral part of God’s design for sex.”

We’ve always known that sex sells. Now it’s being used to sell both God and the Republicans, dressing up the old repressive values in fishnet stockings and flouncy lingerie.

The religious right is enthusiastically asserting that, in contrast to general belief, it is far from sexually uptight. On the contrary, these conservatives are wildly pro-sex, provided it’s marital sex.

Evangelical writers even coined a catchy new term, soulgasm, to describe the joys that await the evangelical wife: incredible orgasms plus intimate emotional connection with the husband plus the presence of God. They detail how the husband can become a “Superman-lover” and make his wife come repeatedly and how breasts and penises can be most sensually caressed. Websites such as My Beloved’s Garden even offer Christian sex toys (Christian vibrators, Christian clit-ticklers, Christian jelly rings) and pride themselves on marketing these items without any offensive pornographic images.

Repression just isn’t a very good marketing tool. It’s the promise of pleasure (and lots of it) that is building a new following for the religious right. Even more insidious, though, is the fact that the evangelicals haven’t confined their erotic message to religion. Instead, they’re moving into the realm of psychological health, even taking over the language of New Age therapy.

Suddenly the mainstream conversation in women’s magazines and on daytime talk shows is not so much about physical danger as about self-esteem. People who sleep around have low self-esteem. Porn use is a sign of low self-esteem. Even the supposedly kinder, gentler homophobia that has replaced the ugly old disgust-mongering rides on the self-esteem theme. Children of gays and lesbians are likely, we are now told, to suffer from low self-esteem.

fran_3
2/27/2009 1:30:02 AM

This article presents nothing new. Christianity has always been about promoting a relationship that results in the best kind of sex: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. The Bible is quite erotic in parts (i.e. Song of Solomon), but not sleazy. What is seen as being anti-sex by the rest of society is just the Christian being anti-bad-sex and protecting the best kind of sex: the kind the creator of sex revealed in scripture. The kind that symbolizes Christ and the Church. Anyone can get drunk with Pabst Blue Ribbon, but experiencing with the whole self a fine bottle of aged Merlot is something totally different. Monogamous heterosexual sex is by far the best sex.


mara einstein
1/18/2009 11:12:15 AM

As I noted in my book, "Brands of Faith: Marketing religion in a commercial age": "The disappearance of [abortion] providers has been occurring even while the number of unintended pregnancies has remained stagnant. What has changed, however, is that a disproportionate number of unintended pregnancies occur among poor women--the ones least likely to be able to afford to travel great distances for services and the ones least likely to have access to education and birth control. Moreover, while the percentage of abortions in the United States is lower per capita than that in the rest of the world overall (21 abortions per thousand women versus 35 abortions per thousand women), the percentage of abortions in the United States is significantly higher than in most industrialized countries. Only Australia has a higher rate per capita than the United States. What these statistics suggest is not that we lack the ability to reduce the number of abortions, but rather that we lack the politic will to do so. Because abortions, not to mention birth control and sex education, are a political issue that generates media attention, attacks on abortion clinics and the picketing of state legislatures remain the norm. It is this lack of political will in service of a Christian agenda that keeps the numbers of abortions so high." I believe most of this data came from http://www.guttmacher.org/presentations/abort_slides.pdf


rev. marie hulme adam
1/17/2009 5:45:58 PM

For quite some time the evangelical community has touted its prowess with regard to heterosexual sex within the confines of a "Godly" marriage. With the recent debunking of their claim that abstinence works, we are hard pressed to find research supporting the likelihood that "good Christians" are hard at work buying diapers and providing childcare for those teens who end up violating their "pledge" of virginity and getting pregnant. Sex, is in fact, a gift, and its too bad that evangelical, pregnant girls will not be able to appreciate it as much when they've got a crying baby to feed and a diploma to earn.


daniel d.
1/16/2009 9:23:46 PM

The evangelical Christian-right has high jacked Christianity and claims to speak for all Christians. Evangelicals do not represent all Christian views; they just represent a limited segment of Christians who spew bigotry and hateful messages, messages that do not mirror the true Message of Christ. I was trained in fundamentalist theology, and after 20 years, I came to realize that amount of theological gymnastics is done in order to twist the meaning of scriptures, so that it serves fundamentalist beliefs and is used to condemn anyone who disagrees. It’s time for more open-minded, balanced Christians to represent the true message and spirit of Christ: love and acceptance of all peoples regardless of their sexuality.


erica wisner
1/2/2009 10:50:16 PM

Great article. I had a question about one sentance: "Meanwhile, the United States has the highest rates of sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies, and sexual coercion in the developed world, the lowest contraceptive use, and the highest rates of abortion." I checked the original, too, but it's without citation. Have you found a source to support these statistics? I'd be interested to know. Thanks, Erica Wisner