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Sex and Religion: Teachings and Taboos in the History of World Faiths


Sex and Religion: Teachings and Taboos in the History of World Faiths Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Sex and religion are inevitably and intricately linked. There are few realms of human experience other than sex in which religion has greater reach and influence. The role of religion, of any faith, to prohibit, regulate, condemn, and reward, is unavoidably prominent in questions of sex—namely with whom, when, how, and why.  In Sex and Religion, Dag Øistein Endsjø examines the myriad and complex religious attitudes towards sex in cultures throughout the world.


Endsjø reflects on some of the most significantly problematic areas in the relationship between sex and religion—from sex before or outside of marriage to homosexuality. Through many examples from world religions, he outlines what people mean by sex in a religious context, with whom its permissible to have sex, how sex can be a directly religious experience, and what consequences there are for deviance, for both the individual and society. As Endsjø explains, while Buddhist monks call attention to gay sex as a holy mystery, the Christian church questions a homosexuals place in the church. Some religions may believe that promiscuity leads to hurricanes and nuclear war, and in others God condemns interracial marriage. Sex and Religion reveals there is nothing natural or self-evident about the ways in which various religions prescribe or proscribe and bless or condemn different types of sexuality. Whether sex becomes sacred or abhorrent depends entirely on how a religion defines it.


Sex and Religion is a fascinating investigation of mores, meanings, rituals, and rules in many faiths around the globe, and will be of interest to anyone curious about the intersection of these fundamental aspects of human history and experience.

About the Author

Dag Øistein Endsjø is professor of religious studies, specializing in gender, human rights, and death studies, at the University of Bergen. He is also the author of Primordial Landscapes, Incorruptible Bodies, and Greek Resurrection Beliefs and the Success of Christianity. Peter Graves is head of the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures at the University of Edinburgh and has translated many books, including Running: A Global History, also published by Reaktion Books.

Table of Contents



1. Defining Sex and Religion

2. No Sex, Thank You

3. Solitary Sex

4. The Blessings and Curses of Heterosexuality

5. Homosexuality: Expected, Compulsory, Condemned

6. Religio-Sexual Racism and Religious Discrimination

7. Sex Beyond the Mortal Sphere

8. Because Youre Worth It

9. Sacred Sex, Ritual Sex

10. Religio-Sexual Priorities

Some Concluding Thoughts




Photo Acknowledgements


Product Details

Endsjo, Dag Oistein
Reaktion Books
Endsjo, Dag Olstein
Edition Description:
Publication Date:
30 halftones
8.5 x 5.5 in

Related Subjects

Religion » Comparative Religion » General
Religion » World Religions » Essays
Religion » World Religions » Sexuality and Gender Studies
Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » Environment

Sex and Religion: Teachings and Taboos in the History of World Faiths New Hardcover
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Product details 333 pages Reaktion Books - English 9781861898159 Reviews:
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