Most religious traditions have been profoundly ambiguous about sexuality. At times, sexual acts are regarded as having almost a sacred quality, as the ancient Hindu temple architecture at Khajuraho illustrates. At other times, it is regarded as inherently sinful, as the Apostle Paul seems to imply and the early Christian bishop, Augustine, affirms. Codes of modesty (tzniut) in Orthodox Judaism are meant to diminish sexual desire. In Muslim mosques, women pray at the back of the room so that men will not be sexually distracted from the sight of women bending over in prostration during the prayers.

Though the subject of religion and sexuality is a topic different from that of gender roles and how they are treated within religious traditions, notions about sexuality can affect ...

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