Thursday, June 24, 2010

RECONNECT: Is there a link between sexuality and spirituality?


Heads: Sexuality - Tails: Spirituality
Guest Blogger: Brad Sumner
What connection exists between sexuality and spirituality?  Put another way, how does what I do with my body relate to what I experience spiritually?

Early twentieth century French philosopher, Pierre Teilhard said it well when he observed, “We are not physical beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a physical experience.”1  What we do in our physical bodies affects our spiritual lives and what we do spiritually (prayer, impulses of compassion or love) must be expressed physically.  They are intimately connected.

Admittedly, part of the challenge in exploring any meaningful link is that organized religion is mainly seen to be against sexuality.  Christianity, in particular, has been painted as having a history of repression and prudishness when it comes to talking about sexuality.  The images that come to mind include, well, the entire middle-ages (think clothes designed to ward off potential suitors), or contemporary religious people that are pretty famous for (and pretty good at) setting up boundaries without ever explaining or clarifying origins, purpose and other elements of the truth.  And the truth is that God invented (or should we say, created) both sexuality and spirituality.  In one place in the Old Testament, the text says, “Didn’t the one Lord make us…?  In body and spirit you are His…  So guard your heart and remain faithful...” 2 Since the physical and the spiritual are both created and ordered and blessed by God, it makes sense that sex and spirituality would be inexorably connected.3 

Sexual acts cement people together in ways that nothing else can.  Sexuality expresses something of a deep and abiding commitment of body, soul and spirit to another individual.  But as such, it is not designed as solely a physical event or a solely private experience.  Author Phyllis Bird notes that, “sexuality is the primary means of self-transcendence on which all community depends.”4  Understood this way, we begin to see that sexuality is perhaps the most sacred experience that two people can share – the deepest means of expressing our desire for connection with another.  And just like spirituality, sexuality can be misdirected, misused, twisted and manipulated if it is taken out of context.  And so when it comes to spirituality and sexuality, if you really want to know how both work, you may want to ask God.  Because ultimately, He wrote the book on both of them.  
2. Malachi 2:15 – New Living Translation. 
3. The discussion of sexual union being reserved for marriage due to the depth and irreversible connectivity that occurs is beyond the scope of this article but is a wise and passionate tenant of belief that this author agrees with.
4. Bird, Phyllis,  Missing Persons and Mistaken Identities: Women and Gender in Ancient Israel.  “Genesis 1-3 as a Source for a Contemporary Theology of Sexuality”, p. 155, Overtures to Biblical Theology Series.


Brad Sumner is father of two cute kids and husband to one amazing wife.  He lives in Willoughby, is part of the team at Jericho Ridge Community Church and loves Starbucks’ Christmas Blend.



 Pastor Brad Sumner
The title RECONNECT on this blog entry represents a project my team and I did in our area to self publish a magazine to reconnect youth culture to the rest of culture. Printing costs have killed us so I will occasionally add this title to my blogs as a way of getting this great content into the hands of the people that would benefit from reading it.
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