The Anthropological View on Gender, Sexuality and Religion

An Online Lecture by Dr. Elazar Ben-Lulu on the Anthropological View on Gender, Sexuality and Religion: Intersections, Challenges and Contradictions – 29 August 2020


In his online lecture on gender, sexuality and religion, Dr. Elazar Ben-Lulu from Ben Gurion University gave insights into his research exploring religious rituals, and invited us to think about social values, cultural norms and human behaviors.

Dr. Ben-Lulu explained that when we look at worshipper’s religious performances, we realize how much our body is a dominant actor in spiritual and religious experiences: by standing, sitting, touching or clapping, as well as other physical gestures, we deliver symbolic messages regarding God or community. Thus, the positionality of the body in the ritual structure is intersected with gender and sexualities matters.

Throughout history, gender and sexual issues such as homosexuality or sexual harassment were excluded from the religious sphere and discourse. Today, however, diverse liberal religious communities around the world invite members to celebrate their sexualities or other gender and bodily experiences. In this contemporary postmodern era, people have the opportunity to reconnect to their body and sexuality by using sacred texts, material objects and political items.

Feminist, LGBT and queer calls challenge the patriarchal realm and expose creative means to renew traditional customs, and create new ones. This egalitarian mission, which has crossed boundaries, cultures and societies, sheds light on religion as a social construction, and discovers new attitudes toward our own body as well as “other” bodies.

Dr. Ben-Lulu’s lecture was accompanied by texts, photos and video materials, and raised questions by the online audience about the relevance of rituals in today’s daily life, with a special focus on the latest developments in Israel.