NPR is doing a fascinating three-day in-depth biography of Farouk Abdulmutallab, the "Christmas Bomber" who hid bomb ingredients in his underwear and tried to blow up an airplane. And once again, I was struck by how truly perverse some religious beliefs are, especially regarding sex.
"I think this loneliness leads me to other problems. As I get lonely, the natural sex drive awakens and I struggle to control it – sometimes leading to minor sinful activities, like not lowering the gaze [around unveiled women]. ... This problem makes me want to get married to avoid getting aroused. The Prophet advised young men to fast if they can't get married, but it has not been helping me much..." – Farouk AbdulmutallabIslam, Christianity and Judaism have perverted natural, healthy sexual urges into something ugly. They first pretend that good, moral people don't have these urges (a lie). Then they teach that you are immoral when you have a healthy sexual arousal (a cruelty). And finally, when you (like Abdulmutallab) still have these feelings, they teach that you are weak and inadequate, because after all, look at everyone else, they're controlling their urges, but you can't! Of course, those other "exemplary" young men are not controlling their urges, they're just afraid to speak out, for the same reason you are.
So Abdulmutallab, a perfectly normal young man, felt alone and isolated, sinful and dirty, and his anger and self-loathing turned into hatred of others. Surely sex wasn't the only thing that shaped this sad young man – a strict father, the stark contrast of his rich family to the poor of Nigeria, the wars against Islamic countries – these things surely contributed.
The natural, humanist view teaches that sexual arousal in a young man is a sign of good health and vigor. Sex and love are part of that wonderful circle of life that makes all life go forward. Any young man who doesn't feel these things has a serious problem.
The sexual-guilt meme, one of the most powerful ideas in the history of religion, the one that tells you that suffering is good, that the wonderful attraction men and woman feel for one another is somehow perverted, and that yielding to our most basic, healthy instincts is a terrible thing.
Here's a brief excerpt from my upcoming book, The Religion Virus, which will be published next month (preorder now!):
Although this excerpt is about Christianity, it really describes how all of the "Abrahamic" religions (Islam, Christianity, Judaism) view sex. And it's a terrible thing.