Sex, it's a very touchy subject with most people, particularly the religious community. Pagans tend to be very open-minded when it comes to sex and sexuality. In this article I will explain how the modern Pagan community views sex; dispel myths about Paganism and sex; and explain how Pagan relationships tend to work. As always these are my own opinions based on my own morality and experiences.
Pagans tend to view sex as a normal part of human existence, not as a dirty or immoral act. Some Pagan traditions even hold sex to be a sacred act, and a portrayal of the union of deity. Because sex is not seen as immoral or limited to married couples the Pagan community as a whole is often accused of being immoral by more traditional faiths, however if you read my article, "Morality, A Pagan View," you will see that sex is the exception not the rule. So why do Pagans share other moral standards with the more traditional religions, but not their opinions on sex?
Perhaps the most basic explanation is that Paganism is a nature-based group of religions. Sex is a natural means of procreation, thus it cannot be dirty or evil in any way. Some people would argue that while sex is procreative humans use it for other purposes, thus perverting it. However, love and developing a loving relationship is an important part of the human procreative process. In order for a couple to develop a loving and meaningful relationship they must be closely tied spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. Sex when taken seriously, creates a bond between two people and renews their bond in a way nothing else can.
In certain religious groups within Paganism, particularly Traditional Wicca, Sex is seen as the sacred union between the Goddess and God. In this case sex is held to be very sacred, creating a strong spiritual bond. It is not taken lightly, however. When sex is a sacred act, it becomes even more meaningful. To waste a sacred ritual for manipulation or any other negative act is to harm yourself greatly. Though Wiccans do not consider sex to be immoral outside of marriage, I still consider it to be a very large step towards a serious relationship.
Pagans are often accused of a wide variety of sexual perversions, I'm going to attempt to explain the myths and dispel some of the mystery. One of the most common is that orgies are held regularly at our religious ceremonies. This is not at all true. While Pagans do consider sex to be a natural moral act, we also see it as a bond of love. To have sex without love degrades the act itself, which is held sacred by many of the groups. Casual sex has a great deal of potential harm associated with it, particularly when one person bonds during the act and the other doesn't. Thus while casual sex (when agreed to be such by both parties) is not considered immoral by most Pagans, it's certainly not considered to be appropriate for a religious ceremony.
The second myth is that Pagans are all homosexual or bisexual. While there is a large homosexual and bisexual community inside the Pagan community because Paganism is accepting of alternative sexual orientations, there are quite a few heterosexual Pagans as well. This is not really a morality issue for Pagans as we don't see anything wrong with homosexuality, however many groups do see both Paganism and Homosexuality as immoral and thus attempt to classify the two groups as one and the same. There are quite a few non-Pagan homosexual and bisexual people as well.
The last myth I will discuss in this article is that Pagans do not have "normal" heterosexual relationships. This one takes many forms, from the belief that all Pagans have open relationships (where sex with outside parties is mutually agreed to), to all Pagans being in Poly relationships (with more than two people). While both of these types of relationships occur in the Pagan community, it is not uncommon for Pagans to have what would be termed "normal" relationships, one man and one woman. Many of the Pagans I know are in committed marriages or long-term relationships.
This myth carries into the last subject I wish to discuss, Pagan relationships. Many Pagan traditions believe in a ceremony called a Handfasting, which is similar to a marriage. This is a spiritual bond between two or more people that may or may not be linked to a legal marriage. A Handfasting includes a ceremony where the lives of the people involved are tied together for as long as they choose, a year, a lifetime, or many lifetimes. The main difference between traditional marriage and a Handfasting is that in a Handfasting it is acknowledged that people sometimes grow apart and change. Thus there is also a Handparting ritual that removes the knot than bound the two lives together. Pagans even in committed relationships understand that while it's important to have commitment particularly for the raising of children, people have to grow and develop separately, and sometimes they need to go their own way.
Pagan relationships, as I discussed in my article, "Pagan Marriage, and why it works" actually last very well for a variety of reasons. The most important reason, is that Pagans who share their faith and their worldview, get along very well, are honest with each other, and go into their commitment knowing it is a choice not a necessity.
Pagans and sex are both very delicate subjects, I hope that this essay has dispelled some myths, opened some minds, and made us all think about both a little differently.
Love and Light!