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Monday, April 5, 2010

Sex and the Sacred

Rich Heffern in the National Catholic Reporter:
Why is sexuality so precious? “Because it is the great enabler,” writes Diane Ackerman, “that allows us to commune with every aspect of being alive, with people and objects, landscapes and cities. One needs love to feel harmonious, to feel part of the rich landscape of one’s life.”

To say that sexuality is just an animal instinct, an obstacle to holiness, is to say that sexuality has nothing to do with our humanity. But in fact our sexuality is an integral part of our personal and interpersonal identities. From childhood it looms large in our lives, and we must deal with it one way or the other. Thomas Moore, in his best-selling book The Soul of Sex, writes:
We have a habit of talking about sexuality as merely physical, yet nothing has more soul. Sex takes us into the world of intense passions, sensual touch, exciting fantasies, many levels of meaning and subtle emotions. It makes the imagination come alive with fantasy, reverie and memory. Even if the sex is loveless, empty or manipulative, still it has strong repercussions in the soul, and even bad sexual experiences leave lasting, haunting impressions.
There is an ancient wisdom, even within the Judeo-Christian tradition, that maintains that sexuality is primarily spiritual, possibly the single greatest source of spiritual vitality in the human psyche. Sexuality is a mode of interaction with divinity.

The Old Testament’s Song of Songs describes the relationship between Yahweh and humans in the most gloriously sensual and erotic images and poetry. Catholic mystic St. John of the Cross used sexual intimacy as the effective analogy for understanding intimacy with God. St. Augustine referred to the cross of Christ as a marriage bed, intimating that our sexuality has infinite redemptive dimensions. . . .

In short, our sexuality is a rich source of religious experience, a great and holy mystery that brings beauty, meaning and divinity to our lives. Human love is a shape taken by the love of God.

Honk to Andrew Sullivan.

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