Sexuality & Culture

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 153–172 | Cite as

The Sacred Bed: Sex Guilt Mediates Religiosity and Satisfaction for Unmarried People

  • Jana M. Hackathorn
  • Brien K. Ashdown
  • Sean C. Rife
Original Paper


The relationship between religion and sexual satisfaction has long been debated. Oftentimes, previous research on the relationship between these two constructs has been directly contradictory. The current study sought to provide more detail, or perhaps clarify the way that religiosity may relate to sexual satisfaction. Past studies have shown that high religiosity is connected to lower sexual activity, lower desires, and more conservative values. Thus, the current study examined sexual guilt, resulting from sensitivity to internalized religious beliefs and teachings, as a potential mediator between the two constructs. Participants completed an online questionnaire that included measures of religious identification and internalization, sexual satisfaction, and sex guilt. Results suggest that sex guilt mediates the relationship between religiosity and sexual satisfaction for unmarried individuals, but not for married individuals. We suggest calling this finding the sacred bed phenomenon because the difference between the models for married and unmarried samples may be due to a belief in the sacred marital bed.


Religiosity Sexual satisfaction Sexual guilt Marriage 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Standard

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jana M. Hackathorn
    • 1
  • Brien K. Ashdown
    • 2
  • Sean C. Rife
    • 1
  1. 1.Murray State UniversityMurrayUSA
  2. 2.Hobart and William Smith CollegesGenevaUSA

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