The three Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, generally view sex and sexuality as a taboo: Private matters, restricted from the public sphere (both the practice and discussion of it).

The Abrahamic religions tend to sanctify sex and sexuality as a matter between a man and a woman in a private institution. Pornography is deemed sinful. There are also many restrictions on sexual actions and relations, for example incest, homosexuality, anal intercourse, and masturbation.

This tendency is not seen among other religions. For example, in pre-Meiji Japan (before strong influences from the West) shunga pornography is a common public consumption in urban areas. Sex is understood as a worldly pleasure and should be embraced - it could be seen on how in transaction among merchants, prostitutes is sometimes offered to smooth the deal. In pre-colonial Nusantara (contemporary Indonesia), the story of Prince Puger of Mataram who performed oral sex on his recently deceased uncle is widely believed among the masses as a legitimation of his rule. Practice of homosexuality was also common in Japan and Nusantara. Kamasutra, the popular sex manual which actually also includes sexual mores, originated from ancient India, is available for public consumption and didn't draw complaints from priestly authorities.

This makes me wonder: What was the social context that provided a background for this tendency? Why does it prevail in three different religions that arose in three different eras?

  • I would say that there is an assumption here in holding that only the Abrahamic religions keep sexuality as a "taboo" of sorts. The truth, I think, is that most religions and traditional societies have similar reactions in general, except for aberrant periods.
    – theodoulos
    Sep 19 '14 at 16:28
  • @theodoulos no no, I'm well aware that there are other religion and traditions that hold sexuality as a taboo (as Azande's society for example, if I'm not mistaken). But I see this peculiar feature on Abrahamic religion and I'd love to know why.
    – deathlock
    Sep 23 '14 at 8:12
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    your question is based on distorted premises - sexuality is not a taboo topic and in fact is discussed openly and in many contexts in each of the three 'Abrahamic faith'. Private practice of sex is normative for most cultures - relatively few cultures encourage public sexual activity. Additionally, almost all cultures have some boundaries around sexual activity that classify legitimate and illegitimate expressions (this is actually different from 'taboos')- bestiality is frequently regarded as illegitimate for instance, and necrophilia is nearly always regarded as illegitimate. Sep 26 '14 at 12:14
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    I think the taboo feel that you are describing has more to do with sociology than with the actual religions of those societies. However, those religions do certainly play a part in shaping mores and taboos. A secular sociologist would argue that, clearly, the societies before the advent of these religions, for whatever reason, view sexual activity in a particular way that encouraged the religion to agree with those views. The non-secular theologian would say that it is because God has designed it to be this way.
    – fгedsbend
    Sep 26 '14 at 17:39
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    Either way, the question is off-topic because it fits somewhere between general sociology and opinion based. Perhaps if the question stressed the history of the society that Abraham lived in before God came to him, then it might be on-topic.
    – fгedsbend
    Sep 26 '14 at 17:40