Sex and its relationship to a meaningful spiritual life is a topic largely ignored, greatly disparaged by organized religion, and largely misrepresented in the media and society. Nonetheless, this disconnection is a burning issue that exists just below the surface of our consciousness, confronting us all, whether religious, spiritual, or unbeliever.
We live in a society where we are bombarded by sex and, unfortunately, religion has failed to put sexuality in any useful context (outside of marriage and procreation), while our communities and societies are ravaged by AIDS, unwanted pregnancies and widespread sexual abuse and dysfunction. The media has taken the sexual disconnect created by religion and has made it a psychologically loaded abstraction and absurdity. Sexuality has been reduced to body parts and sexual acts.
The tragedy of this is that many apply these media induced frames of reference to their lives and relationships which has resulted in the sexual pathology that surrounds us. We are living in the eye of a storm! Can we talk about it? As quiet as it’s kept, sex fails to drive relationships, it is the meaning that we bring to the sex and sexuality that does not affirm and honor our highest selves that currently dominate our relationships.
The disconnect between sex and spirituality had its beginnings in the Greek philosophy which has heavily influenced early Christian thought and continues to this day. In the book, Sexuality and the Black Church”, author Kelly Brown Douglas says:
…Christianity gradually became influenced by the aspect of Greek thought that denigrated the body and fostered a profound split between the body and the spirit.” She goes on to say that in Greek philosophy, “…the body [was] the home of the irrational passions of man.” “Sex was viewed as corrupt when it emerged from passion.”
This divide was further compounded by misogynist, sexist messages, fueled by religion that vilified women and has created the flagrant double standard that exists in attitudes regarding the sexual expression of men and women.
We are sexual beings. This is an acknowledged fact from the cradle to the grave. This is whether we are abstinent, celibate or sexually active. Our sexuality is an expression of our humanity. Sex and sexuality, I believe, was not created to be as an albatross, a trap, or an impediment to spiritual growth. How ignoble a concept of The Creator does this foster? This is man creating God in his own image with all of man’s prejudices and irrationalities. Ms Douglas explains:
Spirituality concerns a person’s connection to God and, thus, inevitably involves her or his sexuality. “…sexuality is that fundamental dimension of human beings that governs intimate, sensual, affective, emotional, and sexual relationships. Human sexuality and spirituality are inextricably linked because involve a person’s relationship to God”
We live in a society where our humanity has been relegated to strictly defined compartments causing too many to lead lives of desperation struggling to fit in. Reconciling the sexual/spiritual divide, discovering the sexual “you” is part of the human development process, a realization of who we are as a unique individuals made in the image and likeness of the Creator. Ms. Douglas again comments:
“Human sexuality is what provides men and women with the capacity to enter into relationships with others. Sexuality is the dimension of humanity that urges relationship. Sexuality is a gift from God that, if properly appreciated, helps women and men to become more fully human by entering relationships. Sexuality thus expresses God’s intention that we find our authentic humanness in relationship.”