Religions and sex have had an interesting relationship throughout history. From celebrating all forms of sexual expression, to condemning the very act. Religious organizations and the queer communities have had a rocky history: from outright hate, to grudging acceptance, to celebration! Many members of the queer community were raised in a religious home, and many more have come to various religions and spiritualities as they have aged. In this article, six asexual people—people who don’t feel sexual attraction—discuss their religious and spiritual beliefs, and how those beliefs have impacted their lives.
Jay Ron was raised in a Jewish household, but considers himself to be more secular these days. He still holds many of his family’s Judaic values, such as believing everything happens for a reason, and that all things and people have a purpose in life. He knows he is here for a reason, and as such has a sense of peace regarding his sexuality. “For some reason, I lack sexual attraction,” said Ron. “I am content and satisfied for what I am.” Ron is not open about being asexual with his community. When he was growing up, anyone who didn’t fit into the paradigm of the community would leave, and not keep in contact. Ron knows that if people were to find out he was asexual, the information would spread instantly, so he keeps it to himself. “People in my community don’t need to know. They can mind their own business.” Today, his upbringing and teachings have become a core part of his values, and his beliefs have given him a feeling of self-satisfaction for his identity.
Julia Dietz was raised in a Christian family, and remains a member of the religion. She said the stories she heard in Sunday school and summer camps made her feel full of faith and hope and love. Dietz knows that, in spite of many questionable decisions God was always there looking out for her. Asexuality is not something taught in Christian communities, and during high school she used religion as her reason to not have sex. As she got older she realized it had little to do with her religion, she just didn’t find anyone sexually attractive. This was a confusing time for her, as she had strong romantic feelings towards some men, but never any sexual feelings. She said the first time she had sex, she did it out of the feeling that it was a requirement of adult relationships, not out of a desire for the act. In 2014, she moved away from everyone she knew for a fresh start. She began attending a new church, and would often cry during the sermons because the messages were touching her so deeply. Dietz looks in her beliefs, and sees a saviour that forgives no matter what, and that is how she tries to live. “Even though it’s quite difficult sometimes, I try to love others as Christ loves me.” She has not actively discussed her sexuality with anyone, not out shame or an attempt to hide, merely because it hasn’t been something to occur in conversation. Those that do know, have been supportive and have not said anything negative about it. Dietz’s beliefs have given her the hope and strength to get through even the direst circumstances, and have given her the desire to help others. She said, “My beliefs give me a reason to live, and also a reason not to fear death.”
Rebecca is a member of Forn Sidr, the Danish Asatru organization. Members believe in the Aesir (the Norse gods), and all of the other elements of Norse mythology. They get their ethical beliefs from the Norse collection Hávamál, which reminds followers to value carefulness and hospitality. It reminds followers to be faithful and loyal towards their friends, and to avoid engaging with their enemies and their enemies’ friends; to wear proper clothes and to appreciate small gifts; to not pretend to be smarter than they are and to think before they talk; to appreciate their life, as it is better to be blind and alive, than be dead and burned; to help the poor, rather than mock them; and to remember that a good legacy lasts forever. Forn Sidr believes that everyone is part of a whole with all of nature, and is focused on living life as best as one can. Rebecca began following Asatru before she discovered her asexuality, and since has become more devout. Speaking with the Aesir brings her a sense of peace. She speaks most often to Gefjon, the goddess of unmarried women. “It’s important to me that I don’t belong to a religion where I feel that to be a Good Believer, I have to get married and have children, as that’s not something I’m interested in.” Rebecca isn’t out to everyone in her community, but those of them that know are “very kind and very lovely about it.” She said there were some offensive comments at first, but they were born of ignorance and not spite. Rebecca experimented with many religions before finding Forn Sidr. She said “It just hit me that it was right—it felt like the truth.” She grew up with Icelandic sagas and Scandinavian/Viking history, and actually knew a number of people who practiced the religion, so she was never without support as she began her journey with Asatru. Rebecca struggled with depression for many years, and the Aesir have helped her feel grounded, and have enabled her to find herself again. “Thing is, when you become sick the way I did, when you’re as young as I were, is that you don’t really know who you are, when you start getting well. I’m only just now beginning to find my personality and figure out who I am, when I’m not depressed, and my beliefs help with that.”
Amethyst is a neo-Pagan who follows the cycles of nature and honours the personifications of it (the God and Goddess). She also honours Aphrodite/Venus, and practices witchcraft based on the natural world. She enjoys the Pagan community, as it is one that encourages curious minds and is not well suited to judging other people’s lives or beliefs. Amethyst studied many religions over the years, but Paganism is the one that spoke to her. Since she began practicing, Amethyst has been spending more time in nature, which has allowed her to become far more appreciative of the natural world, and has allowed her to see the power it holds. “We’re doing ourselves a disservice by trying to overpower (nature) rather than working alongside it.”
Kimah’s beliefs are unique and slightly harder to explain. She believes in Nature, and the power of the natural world around us. She does not believe in the supernatural—all things like magic, curses and blessing come from nature itself, and are therefore natural. Originally, she grew up in a Christian home, and it wasn’t until recently that she stopped practicing the religion. Once she graduated, she began to notice things that she did not agree with inside Christianity. It was soon after that, that she began to look closer at the natural world and began to formulate her system of beliefs. Since finding her new beliefs, Kimah has become more open to things, and craves new experiences that allow her to be in nature.
Religions take many different forms, and can mean radically different things to people. For many, religion offers solace, peace of mind, and a place of belonging. To some religion gives their life meaning, or gives them a reason to keep living. There is no right answer when it comes to religion, there is not one set of beliefs that will suit everyone. Instead, everyone has to find their right answer, and, maybe, once that happens people will be at peace with themselves.