Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Interrogating Sex & God: How Religion Distorts Sexuality by Darrel Ray, ED.D

Several years ago I read Dr. Ray's similarly audaciously titled book The God Virus: How Religion Infects Our Lives and Culture. I found the book underwhelming. Dr. Ray's thesis centered on building an analogy between virus pathology and the spread of religion. Most of the points were solid, but the book never went far enough to prove it's self theoretically. The virus analogy was likable, but the theoretical apparatus he is using to argue his points were flimsy.

In 2012 Dr. Ray release Sex & God: How Religion Distorts Sexuality, and initially I was excited. As a professional social worker, I was awestruck by the lack of critical thought regarding the problem social workers face and the intersection of religion. Religion and sexuality were taboo topics throughout my education, and when we did speak about religion, we only spoke to the hugging side of religiosity (aka general purpose spirituality). Sex & God sounded like a great avenue to meet this gap in my professional knowledge base. But I may have been judging a book by its cover.


Like the God Virus, God & Sex is written in the same layman's style designed to appeal to the masses at the same time avoiding the theoretical depth required to nail points home. The text is an overview of well-trodden evolutionary psychology and gentle theological critique. The chapter that stood out to me was on the research that Dr. Ray conducted via survey. The results paint an interesting snapshot of non-religious sexuality in the aftermath of leaving religion.


What was missing in this book was a strong feminist stance that sheds light on the fiscal aspects that religion incorporates in order to maintain heteronormative dominance. Also, what I found most difficult to stomach is that Dr. Ray only scratched the surface on LGBTQ sexuality. There is a great book called Love Between Equals: How Peer Marriage Really Works by Pepper Swartz, that argues that the egalitarian nature of some same-sex couples might be beneficial to opposite-sex couples. Same-sex couples by and large still maintain a hetero-dominate relationship style, while in part this is at times rooted and reinforced by religion, it is also a sexist capitalistic factor rooted in our society. The problem that Dr. Ray does not confront are the secular corruptions that distort sexuality in secular and religious societies.

I would recommend Sex and God to those who have little exposure evolutionary psychology, and feminism. The book is a solid overview of the harmful aspects located at the intersection of God and Sex.

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