Why does sex play such a large role for fringe sects?

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The polygamous sect that recently regained custody of its members’ children in Texas isn’t the first fringe religious group to come under scrutiny because of its sexual and marital practices. Indeed, many new religious movements-NRMs in scholar-speak-are distinguished by sexual practices that outsiders consider unusual, even abhorrent. And that frequently brings unwanted attention from law […]

  • Silas Pinto

    That is a gigantic mystery that perhaps the most we can do is to speculate. But there might be some non sexual elements that contribute for their sexual practices.
    1. Much of sexual addiction is not about sex, but unmet and distorted emotional needs. To this people, sex seems to be a short cut to meet those needs.
    2. Love is we are the most vulnerable and therefore where evil can cause the most damage. There is also much confusion between love and sex.
    3. Strange as it may sound, spirituality and sexuality are close to each other. A highly spiritually sensitive individual seems to be more vulnerable to sexual temptations. Some says spirituality make sexual desire more acute. No wonder in monasteries/convents to this day they use “mortification” practices.
    4. Sex and power often walk together. Sex can be a form of power for the leader.
    5. A trait common to cults throughout the world (voodooism, santeria, etc) is the use of sex. It seems that those cult at the far end of the spectrum, resource especially to homosexuality and orgy. It is more evident in movement with non-Christian roots, like the cult prostitutes in Delphi, Greece or Pompeii, Italy
    6. Romans 1.24, 28: “therefore God gave them over in the sinful desire of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another… Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind”
    7. Humans are in general curious about the possibilities of sexual adventures
    8. Cults are by definition isolated. History show that when a group of humans are left to be accountable only to themselves, strange things happen. Sex is often highlighted, because it brings pleasure.
    silas pinto

  • Silas Pinto’s answer is pretty good. One thing to note is that the NRMs that wind up getting this kind of publicity are usually authoritarian. Sex is an age-old way people, especially men, have exercised power. In terms of the FLDS, this power element is pretty easy to see.

  • anonymous

    That is the very reason why they are/remain fringe sects.