Sex, Gender and the Sacred

The road to the sacred runs through the carnal. Not only the Bible but Life itself reveals that sexuality is more spiritual than biological. The erotic is God's poetry of love calling us out of ourselves to awareness of beauty and to an expansive creativity and giving of ourselves. We go to God through one another, via loving, not apart from one another. --Paschal.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

MARITAL INTIMACY AND SPIRITUALITY

MARITAL INTIMACY AND SPIRITUALITY

Many years ago I did my doctoral research at University of Pennsylvania, on “Intimacy in the Conjugal Relationship: A Description Analysis of the Felt Experience.� (Dissertation Abstracts, Vol XXIX, No. 1, 1968, Order N. 68-9862). I set out to discover the components of the phenomenon of intimacy as it existed in the social unit of happily married couples. Here is a summary of the central findings from the Abstract.

“Brief Categories of felt experiences found were a sense of: (1) acceptance, (2) respect and admiration, (3) understanding, (4) friendship and companionship, (5) ease in communication,
(6) sharing, (7) caring and concern, (8) wanting to please, (9) striving for mutual goals, (10) interdependence, (11) pride, (12) trust, (13) belonging together, (14) similarity of thought, feeling and reaction, (15) indebtedness, (16) gladness and peace, (17) expansion, (18) reciprocity and, (19) sexual relations express and aid their total relationship.

“An extended analysis of the remaining statements revealed the experience of "love" as having developed over the years. Expressions indicated that closeness was satisfying, sought, compensating and contagious. More frequent occasions of closeness were activities together, children, adversity and religious activities.

“Statistical treatment of the Q set with Group II found significant relation between sex groups (p<.01), with both groups ranking high: respect and admiration, sharing things, pleasures and religious outlook, concern for each other's spiritual welfare, and wanting to make each other happy. Differences were found in the husbands' rating of a sense of trust, pride, planning together, etc., as more characteristic; and, for the wives, a sense of gladness, peace, sharing, and belonging together (p<.05). Husbands and wives agreed on what was more and less characteristic of their felt experiences significantly more often between themselves than they did with randomly selected spouses (P<.OOI). An idiosyncratic paradigm of the phenomenon for each couple and each partner was evident.�

DISCUSSION. I propose that the above 19 characteristics of intimacy listed above are an operational definition of what we mean by loving. Now if all the mystics, prophets and scripture writers describe Love as the core or central mystery of what we call God, are not couples living in this kind of loving already living inside the mystery we call God. In other words, this experience of intimacy is already spiritual in itself, without external reference to any being, or prayer to an ultimate being.

Loving of this kind, then, is already Relational Aliveness, already spiritual, because it is where agape, self-giving love prospers. Since these were married couples, proof seems evident that Eros draws us into agape, relational giving. We can say then that the purpose of sexuality, our erotic nature is relational and spiritual before it is biological or reproductive.

Therefor, the teaching of the Roman Catholic church on contraception, masturbation, and homosexuality, (whereby the seed being prevented from being planted makes the act intinsically immoral, thus with the unilaterial imperative of a biological determined Natural Law), is simply wrong. More than simply wrong, it is the exercise of unhealthy power over laity, with many consequent abuses.

Paschal Baute, Feb. 23, 2005