If you've read, or are reading either of the first 2 volumes of my trilogy, The Truth About Sex, you know I devote significant thought to the effects of Judeo-Christian ideologies on the history of human sexuality in the West.
Of particular interest to me, coming at it from a sexological point of view, is how many myths and falsehoods about sex were promulgated by the Catholic church and later adapted and further perverted by Fundamentalist ministers in the late 19th century.
The preaching against sex -- and the preachers' far-reaching political powers and often-times their vast personal wealth -- pursuaded many politicians to create new laws in the United States to govern precisely what kind of sexual and marital relations Americans were allowed. Where once an act, say, of homosexuality or adultery was a matter between the individual and his or her faith, by applying continual pressure to legislators, some segments of the Christian population (much like today) were able to influence local and national government to enact new laws so that things once considered church matters became state matters.
The poisonous rhetoric and false beliefs behind many of the old sex laws should be a strong argument for overturning them all and taking a look at the issues with fresh, rational eyes.
My buddy Aluthar Jamancar just pointed me to an interesting article detailing some of the similarly sex-negative effects that Christian missionaries have wrought on other cultures. I can't say it's the most authoritative summary of the subject, but it's a great place to start if the topic interests you
Yet in terms of the sheer amount of damage that Westerners have done to other cultures in response to their simply having different (and usually harmless) sexual customs from our own, religious missionaries definitely take the cake. In a distressingly large number of cases, the Church’s historical encroachment into far-flung corners of the globe has served to level whole societies through its many aggressive campaigns to save “savage” souls from their carnal “sins.”via blogs.scientificamerican.com
In America, the chill cast by religious beliefs about what sex should look like -- i.e., a monogamous heterosexual relationship focused uniquely on procreation and missionary-position intercourse -- has shaped our culture in directions that can, at best, be regarded as an outrageous violation of the separation of Church and State.
When preachers succeeded in convincing politicians to enact laws that were not based on human needs and rights so much as on the belief that all life should be conducted according to a book of self-constructed mystical principles, we ended up with laws that were literal translations of those principles. In other words, things once seen as immoral became illegal and we subtly, but significantly, shifted from sexual democracy to sexual theocracy.
I was doing some unrelated research a few weeks back and saved this snippet for you --
Lesbian and gay characters were more likely to appear in realistic problem plays, usually as "the problem" that had to be eliminated by the final curtain. Even these plays, which were hardly gay affirming, were often considered too immoral for production.
The Captive, an American version of Edouard Bourdet's melodrama, La prisonnière (1926), caused an outcry from the moral majority of the time, and Mae West's picture of gay life in the 1920s, The Drag (1927), was not allowed across the Hudson into New York City after its tryout in Bayonne, New Jersey.
It's a perfect example of how religion perverted the law and censored both artistic expression and our most basic right, our First Amendment right of free speech.
If you think we've changed since then, well, we have, on the surface. Nonetheless, laws still on the books could be dredged up to prosecute anyone who violates them. The existence of such laws is like keeping a loaded gun in the closet: any law enforcement agent could, at any time, grab it and shoot your free speech out of existence.
Whenever you see me banned someplace, whenever any of us sex activists and erotic artists are censored, it's really all stemming from the same toxic source: laws that reflect religious morality and not the free will of the people.
Laws must change for sexual freedom to exist.