Many religiously active women have great sex, debunking the myth that they’re rigid. (I like to call that the revenge of the Church ladies!)
A study conducted by the University of Chicago, and considered to be one of the most statistically accurate studies on sexuality available today, determined that some of the most sexually satisfied women in the United States are conservative middle-aged, married Protestant women, with 32 percent claiming that they climax with orgasm every time they have sex. Mainline Protestants and Catholics were just behind them at 27 percent, but those with no religious affiliation claimed to have orgasms just 22 percent of the time.
According to the study, those having the most sex were not singles, but those in monogamous marriages (and they liked it more than the singles). In fact, having sex outside of the commitment of marriage can lessen the beauty of the sexual experience for some women. (And I do mean beauty!) One Penn State University study of students who experienced their first sexual encounter in college found that women tended to report a significant decline in body image after sex.
This alarmed me. It’s counterintuitive to what I know of the purpose of a cocktail of chemicals that wash across a woman’s brain when she has sex. They should make her feel totally hot!
I wanted to compare this study with one on religiously active, middle-aged, married women, but deeply as I dug the research geek in me just couldn’t find one. So, I sent a completely brazen private survey to women I personally know to be deeply spiritual. I was asking one hundred of my girlfriends to get real with me!
The majority admitted that they’d had strong negative feelings about their bodies before marriage. Yet nearly 70 percent of them felt “highly positive” about their body directly after sex, with the majority also reporting an increased level of confidence continuing into the next day. I’ll get real with you: no matter how many extra pounds I’m carrying or whether a zit the size of a planet might be plaguing me, I feel completely confident about my body after sex with my husband!
A spiritually satisfied woman in a committed marriage just might be among the most sexually satisfied. Maybe the ancient Jews were on to something when they used the word “yada” to describe the act of sex. The word means “to know, to be known, to be deeply respected.” Bypassing any reference to their bodies, the word transcended the physical and spoke of the emotional and perhaps spiritual connection occurring. Ironically, they also used the word “yada” to describe the deep knowing they had with God. The ancient Hebrews saw a strong connection between sex and spirituality.
Of course, I want to avoid generalizations. Some spiritual women struggle deeply with their sex lives but fifteen years of research has led me to believe that sex and spirituality are more connected than our culture wants to admit. I believe this so strongly that I recently delivered a controversial TED Talk proposing greater tolerance for virginity.
What I’d rather see a woman work on during her dating years is her spiritual formation. That’s why I took a break from writing books on sex to simply write one about how women can get lost in God’s love. I believe that a woman who is lost in God’s love is the one most capable of enjoying a love relationship here on earth. In fact, it’s even quite possible that all those orgasmic church-going woman are sexually satisfied simply because…well, they’re satisfied in life. They’re already full and not looking for another person to complete them. God does that for them.
Dannah Gresh is the author of Get Lost: Your Guide To Finding True Love. In it, she traces the Hebrew language of love to answer some of today’s most practical questions about relationships with an emphasis on a love relationship with God. She recently delivered a TEDx Talk that’s available on youtube.com and is entitled “The Walk of Shame vs. The Walk of Fame.”
Robert T Michael et al., Sex in America: A Definitive Survey (Boston: Warner Books, 2007).
“First sex linked to better body image in men, not women”, Sexual Health News, March 23, 2011, http://www.health.am/sex/more/first-sex-linked-to-better-body-image/, retrieved March 27, 2012