Religious devotion isn’t something we normally associate with a hot and steamy sex life. The notion of “saving oneself” and distaste for birth control can feel entirely prohibitive in the context of the carnal, as if belief systems were bent on guilt-tripping us for freely enjoying our erotic urges. As a result, we tend to imagine staunch believers climbing into bed in matching his-and-hers pajama sets, the Holy Spirit snuggled between them like a discarnate cockblock.
However, a new study suggests that the reality is actually quite the opposite. According to findings published in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life, churchgoers actually have it better in bed. Félix Neto and Maria da Conceição Pinto of the University of Porto, Portugal, looked at 1,284 men and women between the ages of 18 to 90 and found that regular worshippers were more satisfied with their sexual relationships than those who are less inclined toward religiosity. And while it’s easy to assume that such findings are part of a methodological flaw, this isn’t the first time researchers have discovered a link between God and gratifying sex.
In “The Social Organization of Sexuality,” a comprehensive survey of sexual practices in the United States published in 1992, social scientists at the University of Chicago discovered a positive correlation between religious fervor and sexual satisfaction. In interviews with 3,432 test subjects between the ages of 18 and 59, exploring criteria such as sexual responsiveness and frequency of orgasm, researchers found that those who had the most sex, the best sex and felt best about their sex lives were usually “monogamous, married, religious people.”
According to the report, “women without religious affiliation were the least likely to report always having an orgasm with their primary partner,” as opposed to Protestant women—one third of whom claimed to get off every time. “In general, having a religious affiliation was associated with higher rates of orgasm for women (27 percent of both Catholic and Type I Protestants reported always having an orgasm with their primary partner).”
If you’re still having a hard time picturing Sarah and Todd Palin having the sex life you’ve always dreamed of, take a moment to explore the wild world of Christian sex blogs (no oxymoron here). Websites and forums such as Christian Nymphos (“Married sex: Spicy the way God intended it to be!), Monogabliss (“Monogamous, blissful, married sex as God intended it!”) and CWives (“Christian wives initiating, valuing and enjoying sex”) feature holy musings on everything from anal sex (“This is something that you and your spouse will need to discuss and pray about”) to low sex-drive (“Satan usually is the culprit behind things such as these”). Christian Nymphos even offers a catalogue of 99 positions to try, such as the Countertop Caboddle, the Grand Tetons, and the Italian Chandelier—complete with detailed descriptions and “twists” that rival Cosmopolitan magazine. Cunnilingus on the kitchen table, instead of dessert? I think so! As these kinky Christians put it, “We are not embarrassed or ashamed to talk about what the Lord has done in our lives, including our marriage beds.” Marriage being the keyword.
Though they do appear to enjoy getting frisky, the women of this blessed blogosphere are still staunchly opposed to any use of pornography: It’s Satan’s way of “distorting what God has already created.” However, sex toys are totally kosher. There are even retail outlets dedicated to Christian consumers. “Covenant Spice,” an online sex emporium, offers “Christian sexual aids that help foster intimacy and strengthen relationships within the bonds of a healthy marriage.” As to how their sex toys are “Christian,” they proudly proclaim that “there is no nudity or models on our site or on any of our packaging” and “all orders are shipped in plain boxes.” In other words, Christian toys are just more discreet, not blessed by the pope. Top products include the “Inner Desire Velvet Touch Egg” and the “Super Head Honcho Pleasure Sleeve.”
“God does not have to be a killjoy,” says Sheila Wray Gregoire, a Christian sex expert, mommy blogger and the author of The Good Girl’s Guide to Sex. She believes the connection between faith and a good fuck makes perfect sense, both from a social and physiological standpoint. “Sex is more than just physical,” she says. “It’s supposed to be a truly intimate experience with someone you can feel completely vulnerable with. And religious, monogamous people are more likely to have that.”
As Gregoire describes it, sexual difficulties often arise when true intimacy is missing—a coital component that is usually harder to find in a casual fuck buddy than the man you’ve married. “In society today, all we focus on is the physical. It’s not about the intimate,” she says. “You can say it is, but it’s impossible to have real intimacy and vulnerability when you are having sex with multiple people.” What arises instead is a kind of “faux vulnerability,” such as the theatrical bondage scenarios perpetuated by Fifty Shades of Gray. And though it may feel seductive, Gregoire believes “it’s not real emotional vulnerability because you don’t know and love and trust each other.”
That said, nonbelievers need not worry too much. “I think spending time together, talking more, looking in each other’s eyes and even saying each other’s names can do a lot to bring the intimacy back,” says Gregoire. “But first you’ve got to get rid of the porn.”