Deism and Sexuality: An Investigation
I was thinking about the areas in life that religion had influence in and really it was most of life. However it struck me when I thought about it that in the three Abrahamic religions, Islam, Judaism and Christianity the area that appeared to be of greatest concern was that of sexuality and in that, the role of women. Establishing norms about sexuality and defining what is and is not acceptable seems to be a particular pre-occupation, especially of fundamentalist Christianity.
Wars may rage on, millions of people die of starvation, and an economic crisis of an unforeseen magnitude is ravaging Western economies with people worried about their jobs and very survival - but what do fundamentalist Christians appear to worry about the most? - who is sleeping with whom! And of course they attribute this aspect to their God also!
I find it very hard to imagine God - the Being who created the Universe - worrying, in the face of the vastness of human suffering, so disproportionately about who is making love with whom! I would venture to say that this God is just the projections of people who seek to control other people in the most intimate way because of their own innate fear of sexuality and especially of forms of it that they find morally repulsive.
I am not talking here of pedophilia. I do not consider that a form of sexuality - it is actually a pathology - a sickness. No, I am more talking about being gay, bi-sexual and other forms of sexual deviation between informed sane consenting adults.
Now my position as a Deist is that sexuality should be investigated with Reason just as much as any other subject. I think that the morality about sexuality is the same as the morality that would apply to any other aspect of life and ask of it the same question. Do the practices of any sexual act actually harm anyone? That to me would seem to be the baseline of considering whether a sexual act should be considered moral and also allowed in law.
From a moral point of view I think it is completely irrelevant whether I, or any other person, consider certain sexual practises "yucky" and aesthetically revolting as a basis for considering them moral, and therefore allowed by law. It would be about as Reasonable as me requiring certain cheeses to be banned because I did not like their taste. In this sense sexual practises between sane, informed consenting adults are simply a matter of taste. I may or may not like them - but that is no basis on which to form my moral assessment of them. That is about whether any innocent party is being hurt or not - just as with the moral assessment of any other activity in life.
The price of having a society in which consenting adults are free to pursue their own form(s) of sexuality without interference from the State is that I may have to accept the existence of conduct that I find morally or aesthetically distasteful. (This is the case because a Reasonable State cannot legislate against all acts that people consider immoral. For example in the West the State does not punish adulterers - and neither in my view should it).
I cannot legislate against the legitimate sexual desires of other adults while claiming my own right to follow my own sexual path. Personally I believe in one man/one woman sexual union within marriage but I do not feel that I, or the State, has the right to stop polygamous marriage, swinging, homosexuality, bisexuality or any other form of consenting adult sexuality regardless of the fact that I may not like it. That is the price of a free society based on Reason or as Thomas Paine said:-
"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
Along the lines of freedom I was also interested to look at Nature to see how animals behaved in sexual matters because I do believe that would give us some idea as to the real nature of God since Nature, for Deists, is the real Word of God. Certainly I do believe that examining Nature will give us a truer understanding as to the role of sexuality in life rather than investigating the "holy" books of the so-called "revealed" religions which appear basically to be no more than the projections of some human beings' bigoted minds.
Let's, for an explanation of this, look at what the "holy" books of the Abrahamic faiths say about the role of women and gay people, (homosexuals and lesbians). Remember also at this point that sexuality is a larger subject than merely the act of sex.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines it thus:-
"The capacity for sexual feelings."
I would also add as a Social Scientist that sexuality also covers the assigned gender roles in society and what any society considers socially acceptable sexual behaviour and it is within this understanding that I am going to investigate sexuality as a Deist using Reason.
The Abrahamic faiths assign very specific roles to women that are meant to be strictly adhered to and exist for all time.
The Islamic holy book the Koran speaks of women's sexual role and men's privileges with these words:-
2/223: Your wives are as a tilth (field, garden) unto you; so approach your tilth when and how ye will - - -
4/3: - - - marry women of your own choice, two or three or four, - - - In addition you can have as many concubines/slave women as you want.
4/15: If any of your women are guilty of any lewdness - - - confine them to houses until death do claim them. There is no corresponding rule for men.
4/34: Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore, the righteous women are devoutly obedient (and chaste). And if the husband fears a wife may become rebellious in the future he should "scourge them."
So basically women are there to provide men with sexual services as and when a husband wants. He can also have sex with as many women as he wants but can confine his wife in the house until death if she is "lewd". That woman is seen as a sexual object for her husband and is totally unequal to him is self-evident in these verses.
Christianity on the other hand prescribes only one wife to one husband but the pattern of male domination continues as shown by this verse from the Bible:-
Ephesians 5 22 - "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands..."
Although more concisely put and in less detail than the Islamic role for women it is nevertheless essentially the same. Women should do what their husband commands. Presumably this also applies to being sexually available as and when the husband wants.
And also, in case we are left in any doubt, here is the following current advice for wives from a Bible education web guide entitled:-
10 Bible reasons why a wife must submit to her husband regardless of culture at:-
And in Judaism:-
(1) Rambam (Hilchos Ishus 15:20): And thus our Sages have commanded the woman honor her husband to an extreme degree and the fear of him should be on her and she should do all her deeds according to what he says and he should be in her eyes as a ruler or king. She should orient her activities according to that which he desires and stay away from that which he hates. This is the manner of the daughters of Israel and the children of Israel who are holy and pure in their marriages. In this way the community will be pleasant and praiseworthy.
(2) Menoras Hame'or (2:176): Even though the woman is the mate of the man - she should not view her husband as an equal but rather as her master as it says in Tehilim (45:12), Because he is your master and you should bow down to him. And the woman should love her husband and he rules over her as it says (Bereishis 3:16), And your desire shall be to your husband and he shall rule over you. And if you view him as your master he will love you ...
I think the picture is very clear. According to the "revealed" religions females submit to males and heterosexuality is the norm. That heterosexuality is the norm and the only moral way of sexual loving is confirmed by the following verses from the Abrahamic faiths.
Homosexuality in Islam-
Qur'an (7:80-84) - "...For ye practice your lusts on men in preference to women: ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds.... And we rained down on them a shower (of brimstone)"
I could not find any specific reference to lesbianism in the Koran but one of the lesser hadiths, ( A collection of traditions containing sayings of the prophet Muhammad), says:-
"if a man comes upon a man, then they are both adulterers," "If a woman comes upon a woman, they are both Adulteresses,"
Homosexuality in Christianity
The Bible says in Leviticus:-
1. Homosexual acts are an abomination to God. 18:22
2. If a man has sex with another man, kill them both. 20:13
I will leave the above verses to cover the position of homosexuality in Judaism also since Leviticus is also part of the Torah, (The Jewish holy book).
I think we will have to accept in all three traditions that references to homosexuality are meant in a generic sense and also cover lesbianism.
So there we have confirmation that heterosexuality is the only form of sexual orientation that is acceptable to the Abrahamic God. However since Nature is the Deist's Word of God let us look to that to see how sexuality manifests itself.
Since people are biologically animals and we are all people who are living parts of Nature it makes sense to look at us first in our investigation of Nature and sexuality. Looking at the anatomy of women and men it is obvious the first purpose of sexuality is procreation. This is so plainly evident that it makes sense that homosexuals can reasonably be considered sexually handicapped in that they can't sexually fulfill this first natural purpose of sexuality. However, it is also unreasonable and wrong to do as the "revealed" religions do and commit violence against them or kill them because of this.
Sexuality in the Beehive
I cannot resist looking at the roles of males and females in the beehive. Obviously there is the Queen Bee who is the only fertile female in the hive so she is there for reproduction and lots of sexual mating by different male bees, (drones).
The males bees who mate with the Queen have that as their only function. After mating with her the drone dies.
The role of the rest of the female bees in the hive is to have no sex or reproductive value at all and merely live to do all the work and attend to the entire Queen bee's requirements. After that they die.
Female Sexual Dominance in Primates
In most primates males are dominant but not always! In prosimianian society females are dominant. For more information go here:-
And finally let's look at homosexuality in Nature.
Apparently for those of the Abahamic faiths who feel that homosexuality is not natural and a "sin" against God, Nature would beg to differ.
According to the following article 1500 different animal species practise homosexuality and of dwarf chimpanzees, one of humanity's closes relatives, the entire species is bisexual. You can read the full story at:-
So what I think can be drawn from a quick study of Nature concerning sexuality is that the diversity of the roles of males and females and of sexual orientation, in general, is huge. Far from sexuality being defined in very authoritarian strict roles as ordained by the Abrahamic God, the Deist God of Nature appears to be very liberal.
In Nature sexuality and the expression of it has a great diversity with even its own version of male pregnancy in the lovely seahorses - the only species on Earth in which this happens! See here:-
It would appear that according to Nature, the Deist's Word of God, sexuality is liberal and diversity is valued and this is totally in contradiction to the narrow role it is assigned in the Abrahamic faiths - primarily reproduction. It has many roles in Nature including conflict resolution. (See the homosexuality in animal's link).
It is human beings and their "revealed" religions that practise bigotry when it comes to sexual expression; Nature does not. I think this suggests, when thinking about human sexuality Reasonably, this is the direction Deists should take also.
As long as sex is taking place between informed consenting adults it is nobody else's business how people live. It is utterly immoral to condemn people to death because they happen to practise a sex life that other people may find unattractive. This is certainly not an edict of Nature's God. Remember we don't have to approve of other people's sex lives but as long as it does not involve children, animals or force it should be legal and allowed. (I include disallowing sex with animals because they cannot give consent.)
Therefore in matters of sexuality Deists using Reason as their guide must allow liberty for all , within the parameters of sex happening between consenting adults, whether they find certain acts and roles personally distasteful or not. If not, they cannot claim that liberty for themselves in sexuality or any other areas - freedom being indivisible. Or as Thomas Paine said:-
"He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself."
Also with regard Thomas Paine I hold that it is not the role of the State to intervene in the sex lives of informed consenting adults and those religious fundamentalists, who want to secure this intervention by appeal to emotional bigotry, should be resisted with all the might we can muster. I agree with Thomas Paine when he says the following:-
"Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one."
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