Do you ever wonder why Lots of People think Sex is a dirty word? Its Meant to be a beautiful word and linked to the Spirit of Life!
“Please permit me to promote discussion on questions about sex and God.
Recently a friend of mine gave a talk about sex and Christianity in a church as part of a series organized by a social worker. She said afterwards that, despite being involved in fostering human well being throughout her career, she had never connected sexuality and spirituality. Her response is not unusual – sex and money seem to to be the two areas that church people most compartmentalize away from their faith.
However, in the last few decades there has been an explosion of interest in the link between sexuality and spirituality. Roman Catholic theologian Joan Timmerman, on Sexuality and Spiritual Growth, Crossroad 1992, argues that sexuality can function in human life as a sacramental reality, integral to spiritual growth: Both sexuality and spirituality are about personal relationship; both are involved in identity, both can touch transcendence; both may enable us to become moral agents, capable of responsible and ethical action in the world. The integration of sexuality and spirituality is a life journey. Ministerial sexual misconduct and abuse demonstrate that knowing the rules is not enough. Rather, the journey is about accepting and integrating these two intimate parts of our being. Our acceptance and responsible expression of sexuality fosters spiritual growth. Timmerman observes that our sexuality provides rites of passage that also contain spiritual tasks and achievements. Consider these parallel developmental tasks:
The awareness and acceptance of our sexual being relates to the self- knowledge and self- acceptance fostered by a healthy spirituality; perceiving the capacity and need for intimacy and allowing oneself to be vulnerable and open to another are important in sexual and spiritual maturity. Choosing committed love, celibate or partnered, to another person is akin to choosing committed love of God. She argues that moments in sexual development are not just indices of change, but rather they can cause the shift from child to adult, alone to connected, consumer of the emotional resources of humanity to generator of life and love. Our sexuality, in other words, can call forth our growth into mature and faithful adulthood.
For many people faith has been a handmaiden to sexual development despite the sex- negative messages that the Church has given over the centuries. For others religion has made integrating a healthy sexuality and spirituality difficult, sometimes causing shame and pain particularly to people who find themselves outside of the traditionally accepted categories of heterosexual or married. The sociologist Sonya Sharma has shown that young Christian women continue to struggle to live their gender and sexuality in a healthy way. Some people have to leave the Church in order to find sexual and spiritual wholeness. l have found that young people who struggle with their sexuality not fitting “the norm” have a higher incidence of suicide idealization and attempts.
Defining Christian sexual ethics as a set of “Thou shalt not” is particularly problematic. There is evidence that highly restrictive, rigid attitudes to sexuality can make it difficult to control one’s sexual behaviour. What can a Church do to foster sexual – spiritual integration? For starters, we need to learn to break the silence and shame that surrounds the topic. The link between sexuality and spirituality may provide the beginning of some answers, and a new way of looking at what the Church can offer a hurting world on the topic.
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