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.
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Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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.
Christian Religious Internalization Scale (Ryan et al. 1993)
Please read the following statements and then use the 4-point scale to indicate how true each statement is when applied to you. Simply write the number that corresponds to the correct response in the line provided.
1 = Never true
2 = Seldom true
3 = Often true
4 = Always true
I pray because I enjoy it. _____
I turn to God because it is satisfying. _____
I turn to God because I enjoy spending time with Him. _____
I share my faith because God is important to me and I’d like others to know Him, too. _____
I pray because I find it satisfying. _____
I attend church because by going I learn new things. _____
I share my faith because I want other Christians to approve of me. _____
I attend church because others would disapprove if I didn’t. _____
I turn to God because I’d feel guilty if I didn’t. _____
I pray because God would disapprove if I didn’t. _____
I attend church because one is supposed to go. _____
I actively share my faith because I’d feel bad about myself if I didn’t. _____
Revised Mosher Sex-Guilt Scale (Janda and Bazemore 2011)
Please read the following statements and then use the 7-point scale to indicate how true each statement is when applied to you. Simply write the number that corresponds to the correct response in the line provided.
1 = Very strongly disagree
2 = Moderately disagree
3 = Slightly disagree
4 = Neither agree or disagree
5 = Slightly agree
6 = Moderately agree
7 = Very Strongly Agree
Masturbation helps one feel eased and relaxed. _____*
Sex relations before marriage are good, in my opinion. _____ *
Unusual sex practices don’t interest me. _____
When I have sexual dreams I try to forget them. _____
“Dirty” jokes in mixed company are in bad taste. _____
When I have sexual desires I enjoy them like all healthy human beings. _____*
Unusual sex practices are dangerous to one’s health and mental conditions. _____
Sex relations before marriage help people adjust. _____*
Sex relations before marriage should not be recommended. _____
Unusual sex practices are all right if both partners agree. _____*
Note: Items with an (*) are reverse scored so that higher numbers indicate more guilt.
Please indicate the degree to which you agree with each of the following statements regarding your current relationship (circle an answer for each item).
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Hackathorn, J.M., Ashdown, B.K. & Rife, S.C. The Sacred Bed: Sex Guilt Mediates Religiosity and Satisfaction for Unmarried People. Sexuality & Culture 20, 153–172 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12119-015-9315-0
- Sexual satisfaction
- Sexual guilt