How sexuality and religion intersect in highly religious families: implications for clinicians


religion, sexuality, religious dualities, sex therapy, couples therapy, family therapy


Using data from interviews with 198 highly religious Muslim, Christian, or Jewish families in the U.S., we investigated how religion informs sexual relationships, sexual practices, and sexual beliefs in family life. Guided by Marks’ method (2015), a team-based coding approach, participants’ comments about sexuality and sexual relationships were coded and organized into four themes that illuminated how religion and sexuality intersect among highly religious couples and families. Themes included (a) boundaries and rules around sex, (b) purpose of sex, (c) navigating culture and media, and (d) concerns regarding children. Implications for practitioners are discussed including understanding the most common ways sex and religion intersect in highly religious families, and the importance of asking clients to what degree their faith influences their sexual relationships, practices, and beliefs.

Original Publication Citation

Clarke, R. W., Leavitt, C. E., Allsop, D. B., Marks, L. D., & Dollahite, D. C. (in press). How sexuality and religion intersect in highly religious families: Implications for clinicians. Sexual and Relationship Therapy.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Sexual and Relationship Therapy




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor