This is a collection of links about the various things that religious people have said about asexuality and what it’s like to be asexual in religious contexts. I can only provide what I’ve found and what people have already written on, so for now, only Islam, Christianity, and Paganism will be primarily addressed here. If you have any links to add to this list — any blog posts on the relationship between religion and asexuality — then please let me know.
Edit 12/4/2014: After this post was published, the theme of religion was chosen for the October Carnival of Aces. Check the link for more recent writing on this subject.
Edit 6/21/2022: Please stop linking to this post next to links from Landover Baptist.
Islam and Asexuality
Asexuality, Islam, and Queerness
My religion includes teachings like, “Marriage is half the religion,” and “Marriage is part of my way and who goes away from my way is not of me.”
This is what it’s like being asexual and Muslim.
Islam, Patriarchy, and the Recalcitrant Asexual Wife
In a patriarchal Islam, the reality is that because of my asexuality, aromanticism, non-libidoism, and sex-aversion, as a wife I would innately and always be in a state of recalcitrance (nushuz) unless I had made special arrangements in advance, and if those arrangements fell through, then I would revert to being in a state of recalcitrance. I am not able to be a “good Muslim wife” and there is no way for me to become one.
Ace-mulsim’s masterpost of all her posts on asexuality, Islam, and marriage, including the above
Christianity and Asexuality
On Christians & the Sanctification of Sex
There seems to be this idea that there’s some version of Christianity out there that categorically hates sex (and I get where that’s coming from and all, given that most Christianities are very particular about what kind of sex is acceptable, but last I checked, the Shakers were dying out). The thing is — I see people responding to this presupposition more often than I see the thing itself.
One of the responses to the above post, about being asexual in the Mormon Church
i grew up mormon, and heard all my life that while sex outside of marriage is one of the Worst Sins Ever, sex within marriage—and marriage itself—is the most holy thing anyone could ever do. in fact, according to mormon theology, if you do not get married and have children, it is literally impossible for you to reach the highest tier of heaven. oh, you can go to heaven, sure, but you’ll never be as close to god as those people who fulfilled their life mission.
The final results of the Church Email Project, in which I contacted several nearby churches for their stance on asexuality. Their responses won’t necessarily allow you to predict how any given church might respond to the subject, but it should give you a window into some of the kinds of rhetoric specific to Christianity.
A couple of accounts from some asexual Christians about negative reactions to asexuality from other Christians
An anonymous contribution to the F-ACE-ing Silence zine (Issue 1) from an asexual Christian begins on pg.14
Aydan’s post on Christianity and Asexuality
I’ve observed four primary areas of tension between asexuality and Christianity. The first is the mistaken idea that asexuality is voluntary, or is basically celibacy. The second is that asexuality isn’t a choice, but is still commendable. The third is that asexuality is preferable to being gay. The fourth is that asexuality is sinful. These ideas are probably familiar to anyone who does ace 101, but I believe this four ideas are so prevalent in Christian discussions of asexuality because of deeper beliefs that run strong in many Christian communities.
The Back Pew: Asexuality & Christianity — Part 1 and Part 2
If you sit down with a Christian religious representative – whether a priest, pastor, reverend, monk, or nun (and I have conversed with many) – sexual attraction/desire will almost always be on this list of human attributes, even if a diversity of objects of that desire is recognized.
Depending on the denomination, the responses I have often received upon broaching the topic of asexuality range from the old-school “it’s an unnatural defiance of God’s will” to the more psychologically-informed “it’s an unhealthy aversion.” Such responses rely heavily on the idea that God’s design in human creation includes experiencing sexual attraction/desire.
Buddhism and Asexuality
Queenie’s write-up of an academic article on Buddhism that indirectly covers asexuality
Being a member of the third sex not only prevented you from being ordained, you also weren’t allowed to give alms to begging monks or be preached to at all. The third sex is also apparently unable to meditate, because they cannot develop the necessary concentration “due to their defilement and bad kamma [karma]” (98). Harsh. But why was the third sex being excluded at all? Wouldn’t you think that asexuals would be the perfect people to enter a celibate order? Well, actually, “a certain lack of restraint (asamvara) is required in order for there to be a basis for a vow of restraint. The idea seems to be that the pandaka [that is, the third sex] does not have enough sinful willfulness to have something to take a vow against” (99). Basically, monasteries didn’t want asexual folks because they wouldn’t have to struggle to maintain their vow of chastity.
Also, this post on clerical marriage & sexuality
The next time someone tries to tell you that “Buddhism” is “asexual-friendly” or is all about “transcending sexual desire and becoming asexual,” feel free to point them toward chapter 9 of Richard Jaffe’s Neither Monk Nor Layman. The book as a whole is about Buddhist clerical marriage in Japan, but chapter 9 has an extended section (202-206) on various pro-clerical marriage arguments that specifically drew on an idea of sexual desire as innate and immutable and argued that advocating clerical abstinence was an infringement of human rights.
Paganism and Asexuality
Paganism, Asexuality, and the Creative Force
Basically, my patron Goddess is a lover and a fighter; she is seen as the Goddess of love, sex, and warfare. So, I’m sure you can see why my rejection of sex puts me at spiritual odds with my faith. I went through some dark times when I literally questioned whether one can be both a pagan and hold feelings of asexuality at the same time, I wondered if those two things could live in the same house. […] I also felt very strongly that I could not discuss this situation with my Pagan family. I was ashamed and felt like I was a “bad Pagan”, I was afraid of the judgement I was convinced would come.
The Trauma of Being an Asexual Pagan (cw for NSFW text at the link)
To not enjoy sexual experience as a woman is seen as setting a limit on yourself. It is succumbing to your Christian past. It is being locked in social norms rather than allowing yourself to expand your spiritual body and let your kundalini rise.
To be an asexual female pagan is to be regarded as one who cannot accept their natural instincts.
A post on the awkwardness of being a trans asexual pagan
…and a defense of Wicca I found while looking for additions to this list.
Atheists on asexuality [+ obligatory footnote that no, atheism is not a religion, but I figured it was relevant enough to include anyway, and the excerpt below becomes all the more interesting in light of the above]
Sometimes atheists have a negative reaction to asexuality because it’s assumed that religion and asexuals are pals. This assumption does not come from any real experiences, but from an oversimplified view of religion and asexuality. Religions don’t like sex, therefore they must like asexuals, who don’t have sex.
September 12th, 2014 at 4:48 pm
Not sure if it’s relevant, but The zine F-ACE-ing the Silence, about people silenced in ace spaces: https://www.sendspace.com/file/ohammk (Also see print-friendly version, here: https://www.sendspace.com/file/jg7k96 . – copying and pasting from the linkspam, here: http://asexualagenda.wordpress.com/2014/07/18/linkspam-july-18th-2014/ ) included “Anonymous” on pages 14 through 17 discussing a few things including being a conservative Christian and feeling silenced in Ace Spaces. The specific stuff about religion was on pages 16 and 17.
September 12th, 2014 at 6:03 pm
Hmm. I’m not sure either. This post is more about being asexual in religious spaces than the other way around, but since that piece talks about both, I suppose I might as well add it in.
September 12th, 2014 at 6:25 pm
Yeah that piece discusses both angles to it, however short the discussion may be.
September 12th, 2014 at 10:55 pm
[…] Religion and Asexuality Overview […]
September 13th, 2014 at 2:47 pm
There’s a post from anagnori here on being pagan and asexual, if relevant: http://anagnori.tumblr.com/post/69198382176/the-awkwardness-of-being-a-trans-asexual-pagan
September 19th, 2014 at 7:59 am
[…] Spade made a linkspam on religion and asexuality. […]
October 20th, 2014 at 9:13 pm
I realized that you missed M.’s “Back Pew” posts, which were some of the first posts I read on asexuality and Christianity: http://mhypomnemata.wordpress.com/2011/07/13/the-back-pew-asexuality-christianity-part-1/
October 21st, 2014 at 11:17 am
October 31st, 2014 at 10:21 am
its good to know how religious people have said about asexuality. thanks for sharing these links! really helpful.
February 3rd, 2015 at 12:40 pm
[…] of what importance is it to nonreligious aces that many popular religions don’t make room for us? Better question: why is being associated with asexuality and sex aversion something that any […]
November 14th, 2015 at 3:43 pm
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April 28th, 2017 at 3:02 am
I can contribute thoughts and feelings on Judaism and Asexuality if you like!
April 28th, 2017 at 6:52 am
Sure. I’ll update this post with a link if you do.
July 5th, 2017 at 11:55 am
[…] condensing stories I’ve heard from primary sources, such as the Aces in the Church zine and various bloggers. I worry that maybe I shouldn’t be talking about it at all, except to boost other […]
September 12th, 2018 at 4:29 pm
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December 7th, 2018 at 2:40 pm
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January 23rd, 2023 at 6:54 am
Hi, glad I found this! There was a quite a lot on here that I hadn’t come across before. I also have a few resources that could potentially be added here:
January 23rd, 2023 at 1:09 pm
Yeah this post is pretty old, and I haven’t kept it updated. I don’t have the energy to vet these links at the moment, but I’ll leave them here in case other folks want to check them out.
January 23rd, 2023 at 2:27 pm