SS 103: Sex & God – Religion, Swinging, Polyamory, & Sin with Darrel Ray


“Hey Cooper… tell us how you really feel!” “Well alright then.”

We've discussed organized religion and how it's affected our own relationship with sexuality, how it influences our community as a whole and… at times, indelicately pointed out where we take issue with its monopoly on morality and its right to judge what's acceptable and what's not.

We finally said fuck it, threw up our arms, and invited Darrel Ray, author of the books The God Virus: How Religion Affects Our Lives and Culture, and Sex and God: How Religion Distorts Sexuality to join us for a discussion on how we really feel, what we see on a day to day basis, and how we can move forward and still live and love those who believe, even if we disagree.

Check out the Smitten Kitten Online and use our discount code, “swingset” for a 10% discount! Check out the Feeldoe!

Come see us at Catalyst East! RSVP via Facebook and let us know you're coming! Use Discount Code: swingset for 10& off your ticket!


Follow Darrel Ray (Dr. Dray as we prefer to call him now)  on Twitter at @drdray132

Sex and Secularism, The Report at

Study: Non-monogamous couples are as happy as other couples –

Want! Will… Won't. Chart



A podcast about swinging, polyamory, open relationships, and "the lifestyle" from the trenches. A diverse group tackles many issues involved with non-monogamy and what it means to be a swinger or polyamorous from the point of view of educating and illuminating what, for many, is a confusing journey to start on. Subscribe on iTunes Subscribe on Stitcher Subscribe via RSS


  1. Had to write. I particularly enjoyed this podcast. I’ve always been fascinated by the disastrous intersection of religion and sex. This is an episode everyone needs to listen to, wow. So I mentioned it on my podcast #33 (iTunes or blog) and linked to it on my blog and twitter as well. Darrel Ray, thank you! Cooper, Shira and Dylan, you guys seriously rock.

    One thing – Your mention of the feeldoe I need to comment on. About 90% of women cannot use a feeldoe to peg a guy without a harness. Anal sphincters will almost always win when competing with lubricated vaginal muscles, no matter how strong. A woman using it on a woman is another story. That works fine and is what the toy was designed for. The toy is much enjoyed by many heterosexual couples for pegging but almost always WITH a harness. Since I write about pegging a lot, hearing the feeldoe put out there as a “harness-less” dildo for pegging is frustrating for me because newbies try it without a harness and end up in a world of frustration – sometimes even discouraging the woman who may have been a little reluctant to begin with… Okay – rant over!! Thanks for listening.

    Thanks for everything you do.

    All the Best,

    • Thank you Ruby, I agree…I simply got sidetracked with the pegging stuff while talking about its design. My wife uses it harnessless with her girlfriend, but whenever it becomes a pegg(er?) it’s used with the Joque Harness from Spareparts. Thanks for the comment! (and the podcast on pegging! AWESOME!)

  2. I love this podcast! I just finished reading Darrel Ray’s book “Sex and God,” and it was a revelation for me. My husband and I are in the process of opening our marriage. I have taken to Swinging with little difficulty and absolutely zero guilt. I feel free and alive. However, my husband is struggling mightily with a history of societally-imposed religious and cultural baggage. Darrel Ray’s book has been instrumental in helping my husband recognize and work through his particular challenges as they relate to religious and socially imposed ideas about sex. Thank you for bringing Darrel Ray on your show. And THANK YOU to Darrel Ray for writing this thought provoking book.


  3. Great episode! Congrats on tackling a complex and perilous topic. You guys did a great job. I think it’s my new favorite episode.

    I empathize with those of you who would toss the whole religion mess out. Sitting through an average service, of any religion, is a punishing assault of gibberish and ritual, that completely misrepresents the knowledge that it is supposedly drawing on. The political actions of these organizations is cruel, destructive, and let’s face it, fucking evil. On top of that, these institutions attract sociopaths and all the suggestible, frightened people they could ever need.

    The problem we face though, is that the knowledge that these institutions are holding hostage is the most ancient, evolved, knowledge-base we have about how to free our minds from fear and open our hearts to love.

    It’s fucked up.

    Anyway, I would caution not to throw the baby out with the bath water. Just my opinion.

    To let you know where I’m coming from, I was raised in the mid-west by agnostic parents. The drive to search for spiritual truth was pounded into me from a very early age, and it led me on a quest that lasted more than 30 years. Personally, I have found what I was looking for in Advaita Vedanta (an atheistic spiritual study), based on the Hindu Vedas. I’m not trying to convert anybody, I just figured I should put my cards on the table.

    Thanks again for the great podcast,


    • Thanks Andy! And it makes me happy to hear that you have discovered something that works well for you!

      For me, the final nail in spirituality’s coffin was reading Carl Sagan’s The Demon Haunted World, which proclaims the beauty, complexity, and all around TRUE awesomeness of the universe that surrounds us. Reading that book changed my life. I would worship Sagan as a god. 🙂 But not religiously.

      Thanks for listening

  4. I don’t care that this is over 6 years old, I don’t care if none of you ever read this, I need to get this off my chest.

    I recently discovered your podcast (no personal sexual experience but very interested in sexuality and ethical non-monogamy) and been going through the archives, and while I am largely enjoying it, this episode just made mad.

    Yes, I am a practicing Christian, and I also am sex positive. And trust me, I probably hate the rigidity, closemindedness, and hypocrisy of the Catholic Church and fundamentalists even more than you do, because I still have mental scars from when some of them (not from the church I grew up in) tried to put the fear of Hell into me as a small child. So it makes me furious that you are playing directly into their hands and strengthening their position.

    Don’t follow? Allow me to explain as someone who knows several fundies on a personal level, being surrounded by them all my life. Yes, the shame cycle is very much a part of many religions and Christian denominations, however that is fairly easily combated, as even a cursory read of the Gospels show that Jesus preached love and salvation, not hate and damnation. So, they have a second tool to keep people in line, the claim that sexual and intellectual freedom are directly opposed to religion. They say that things like sexual liberation and free thinking are fundamentally incompatible with a belief in God, and so that to embrace those positions they have to become atheists. This drives many people away from religion entirely, as they make that decision, but those on the fence or with a stronger sense of faith are more scared to break free because the fundies have put them in an imaginary cage, with God on the inside and freedom on the outside, and never the two shall mix.

    So, when you, in the course of advocating for sexual freedom and personal choice in how to live an ethical life, make statements like “Religion is complicit in killing people,” when discussing the actions of horrible individuals and institutions, or punctuate the talk with “God does not exist” as a statement of indisputable fact, you are playing into the fundies’ hands. You are sending the message to any religious person trying to break out and interested in ethical non-monogamy who comes across your podcast that religious people are not welcome in swinging and poly, and they slink away disappointed, having seen “proof” that their faith leaders’ claim that freedom requires turning your back on God is correct.

    Don’t get me wrong, we need to call a spade a spade and call out the Catholics’and fundies’ bad faith manipulation of people, but when you make the case, either explicitly or implicity, that religion itself is inherently wrong or evil or opposed to sexual freedom, you are giving the institutions and individuals who use the shame cycle the false dichotomy they want, portraying that there are only two sides, and drowning out the religious people and institutions that want to support you. I mean, Ray even points out religions and denominations that are sex positive but then dismissed them as not counting because their numbers are dropping, which is nonsensical both on its face and when one considers that the Ur example of manipulative Christianity, the Catholic Church, is also losing members worldwide so by that logic they shouldn’t count either.

    The problem isn’t religion, its power. None of the shit you see in many branches of Christianity, (the subordination of women, sexual repression, the shame cycle, etc.) were present in the first three centuries after Jesus’s ministry when Christians were persecuted. But once Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire and became strictly hierarchical, they started doing everything and anything to hold onto power over everyone’s lives. They adopted Roman cultural norms, they taught that Paul’s highly personalized instructions were to be followed by everyone always, and injected the dogma with Aristotelian “natural” inequality and teleology. NONE OF THIS arose from Jesus’s teachings. Pretty much the only things Jesus said about sexual issues were “Don’t prostitute yourself,” “Divorce is not something to be taken lightly,” and “It is wrong to commmit adultery,” (which any reasonable person would recognize doesn’t apply to ethical non-monogamy since women are no longer men’s property and no one in the lifestyle is betraying their partner’s trust). The Church inserted or magnified those morally reprehensible beliefs and practices not because it was God’s will or was just inevitable, they just wanted complete power over people’s lives.

    You even touched on this when you brought up how similiar patterns of abuse and coverup exist in other highly hierarchical institutions, but then never make the connection that religions don’t have to be structured like that and therefore its the structure and power dynamics at fault, not religion itself.

    As for the suggestion of why those of us who say “our religion/ denomination isn’t like that” don’t reject the religion label altogether, its because we are religious. We do believe in a higher power. Why should we have to pretend that we are just a philosophy or forsake God just because the fundies have bought and bullied their way to having a monopoly on the public image of religion? We are trying to show that they do not speak for all of us and if anything are outright violating the faith they claim is so important to them, but between their financial and political clout and people like Darrel Ray saying that religion is inherently evil and shouldn’t exist, its practically impossible to get our voices out.

    So please, if you put any stock in your perception of the lifestyle being welcoming and inclusive, don’t imply it is for atheists only. All you are doing is “converting” the people who most likely already didn’t believe and telling the ones who do believe and want to escape the fundies to get back in their cage.

    • I don’t claim the lifestyle, or any nonmonogamy, is only for the non-religious.

      The words of the bible, Jesus’ teachings, yes, they all sound great and we should have all aspired to heed his word, but the bottom line is the way Christianity is practiced these days, it is not that. “The problem isn’t religion, it’s power.” “therefore its the structure and power dynamics at fault, not religion itself.” Isn’t it interesting that organized religion through through its mandated hierarchy wields significant power over its members and followers. If you were to point to a community of devoted followers who practice what they preach and leave people who don’t believe what they do alone, I’d grant you your argument, but communities like this are unfortunately not the norm.

      We can speak to the reality of world including how religion is actually practiced these days without insulting people who consider themselves religious and devoted who don’t attempt to hold others to the standards their beliefs set.

      Belief is not the problem. Believers are welcome… as long as they don’t press their beliefs on others and don’t shame or condemn those who practice the way they do or at all.

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