Bisexuality and Religion
In considering this topic, I must recognize that in North American and Europe, the religious experience is primarily based in the Christian tradition. If we considered religions world-wide we would also include Islam and the religious tradition of Indian Hinduism which was profoundly affected by the occupations of first Islamic then later Christian conquerors that reshaped what was once a religion that embraced human sexuality to its modern form that represses human sexuality. Thus, the majority of religious people on planet earth share a similar view of sexuality, one that only gives spiritual blessing to heterosexual, monosexuality.
As a preface, I must say I reject the proposition that bisexual desire is a minority experience. There is ample evidence to suggest that if we include both human bisexual desire and behavior it would encompass a majority of humans. It is only when one posits that human bisexual desire is human nature, can we understand how bisexuality and religion interact.
Thus, the question is one about the flexible bisexual nature of humanity verses an inflexible religious structure that attempts to force human sexuality into a mold of their liking. If we looked at this in a historical manner, we can discuss how spirituality survives when religion condemns even the smallest attempts to discuss the inherent bisexual nature of humans. However, I will assume that this topic was put out referring to bisexuality and spirituality in the context of 21st century North America.
I would suggest that the overwhelming impact of spirituality, religion and bisexuality is one of denial. Most spiritually attuned people in the US, are part of some sort of formal Christianity. As such, when same sex romantic or sexual desires surface they are kept in careful check, often attributed to their sinful nature or to temptations by Satan. Thus the idea that they are bisexual is quashed before it ever has a chance to have a name. Worse yet, the pro and anti-homosexual hype lead people who cannot easily quash a persistent desire for intimacy with both men and women to mislabel their desires as gay/lesbian.
In such a world, the bisexual nature is seen as an enemy of their spirituality, leading to a lifetime of internal conflict. For some, the answer lies in leaving their religious traditions and either identifying as “spiritual but not religious” or to identify with one of the modern incarnations of ancient religions that embrace sexuality of all forms as spiritual. Indeed, outside of the monotheistic world, most global religions either take no stand on sexual pleasure between two people with the same genitalia, or openly embrace the joys of sexuality without regard if the participates have a penis, a vagina or parts of both. Sadly, the power of the monotheists has been so powerful though, that religions like Hinduism have thoroughly adopted the strictures of invaders who colonized and oppressed them. Thus, most of the free-love religious practices are efforts to resurrect ancient practices that had all but disappeared; yet even in many of these new spiritual practices, the homosexual/heterosexual binary is adopted.
While efforts to reframe spirituality outside of the confines of America’s Puritan heritage might be easy or applauded on the West Coast, it is not so easy for those who live in many parts of the US. Such a move brings as much social stigma and cost as coming out as bisexual (which would be substantial). Thus, even when people have the language and will to acknowledge their bisexual nature, it stands in opposition of the normal and generally acceptable way to practice their spirituality.
All this leads to the proposition that the combination of spirituality and religion serve as the first line of bisexual erasure, one that takes place inside the mind of people. Then for that minority that identify their bisexual nature it poses often insurmountable problems, best solved by quashing and hiding their bisexual desires. For the rarefied few who embrace their spirituality and bisexuality they either live a double life, or they abandon the security and community they have with the majority religious community.
I do not say all this out of anger or pessimism. As a Christian, I recognize that Jesus lived in a sexually repressive enclave of a sexually permissive (but otherwise oppressive) Roman world. Yet he did not choose to complain or pine about the oppressions, rather he promoted a spirituality of the heart. His model and that of the very early Christian church was one of a quiet underground religion that existed to promote inner peace in the mists of many layers of oppression. We as bisexuals can take that model and use it to give solace and self-understanding to those around us. To be spiritual and to be morally right, we do not need the approval of the over culture. We only need to live out an inner spirituality and be open to help those around us. In this way I live out both my bisexuality and my spirituality.