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THE HOLY SPIRIT AND SEX
EDITED BY GLENN PEASE
Thentheycame to Jesus,andsawthe one who hadbeendemon-possessedandhadthe legion,sitting
and clothedandinhisright mind.Mark 5:15 NKJV
Whenthe demoniacbecame converted,he wasclothedandinhisrightmind.Sotoday,the closerwe
come to Jesusthe more appropriatelywe dress.InGenesis3,whenAdamrealizedhe wasnaked,he
triedto make a garmentof figleavesandworkouta wayto coverhisnakedness.Asalways,man’s
worksfailed.GodcoveredAdam’snakednesswithanimal skins,meaningananimal hadto die tocover
hisshame.ThispointedAdamtothe cross, where Jesuswoulddietocoverour nakedness.
I believewe grievethe HolySpiritwhenwe refuse toacknowledge ournakednessphysicallyand
spiritually.The demoniacwasphysicallynaked(Luke 8:27) and so wasAdam(Genesis3).Whenthey
bothmet God,theyboth became clothed.Sophysical clothingisapart of the gospel.One way we show
the HolySpirithas convictedusof our needof a Savioris bydressingappropriately.
Whenwe letJesus’righteousnesscoverournakedsouls,we alsocoverournakedbodies.Thisiswhat
happenedinthe Bible withAdamandthe demoniac.
Jesus’message toLaodiceadrawsa close parallel betweenphysical nakednessandspiritual nakedness.
… you are wretched,miserable,poor,blind,andnaked— Icounsel youtobuyfromMe goldrefinedin
the fire,thatyou maybe rich;and white garments,thatyoumay be clothed,thatthe shame of your
nakednessmaynotbe revealed.Revelation3:17-18 NKJV
Whenthe Holy Spiritconvictsusof the needof a Saviorto coverour spiritual nakedness,we dress
While the Bible usesmeninillustratingthe needformodesty,we usuallyuse womentoday.We talk
abouthow menare stimulatedbysight;sowomenneedtobe careful how theydress.Indiscussionson
modestly,Icanalwayscount ona womansayingshe dressesmodestlytokeepmenfromlustingafter
her.To me that soundsa bitarrogant and assuming.Itplacesafocus onsex rather thanJesus.Ihave
listenedtoChristianpeopletalkingaboutmodestyinawaythat wouldmake youthinksex wasthe focus
of theirlife insteadof the crossof Jesus.
Whenwe accept the HolySpiritand acknowledgeourneedof aSavior,we dressappropriately,because
we sense the presence of God.Trulymodestpeople don’tassume theirbeautyisastumblingblock.
Whenwe are trulymodest,meekandpoorinspirit,we coverup,because we realize people needtosee
lessof us and more of Jesus.Ourdressis notin response towhomayor maynot be turnedon.Our
dressisin response tothe HolySpirittellinguswe needaSavior.Afterall,the HolySpiritglorifiesJesus,
and those whohave the Holyspirit,glorifyJesusintheirwords,actionsanddress.Whenwe doso we
make the HolySpirithappy!
Postedin2017a HolySpiritandSpirituality,Feature TaggedGrowinginChrist,modesty,the HolySpirit
WilliamEarnhardthasbeena Bible Worker,literatureevangelistandlaypastorinOklahomaandTexas,
before comingtothe Tampa Bay area, where he hasbeena Bible instructorandlaypastorfor the past
15 years.He has alsoheldrevivalsandevangelismseminars,aswellassoul winningworkshopsfrom
Peruto Connecticut.Youcan findWilliam'sstudyguidesanddevotionalsatwilliamdearnhardt.com
No wordsinthe Englishlanguage couldpossiblydescribe the lookof paniconmymom's face as she
pulledintothe drivewaytowitness5-year-oldme standingbarefootinthe dew-coveredgrass,holdinga
fallenelectrical lineinmytinyhand.I'dbeenwatchingSesame Streetwhensuddenlythe TV wentdead,
alongwithall of the lightsinthe house.Iwentoutside toaskmy dad to investigate butstumbledupona
potential explanationwhenIsawthe severedblackcordlyinglimponthe frontlawn.So I pickeditup,
as if somehowIcouldreconnectitto itspowersource and restore everythingtothe wayit was
In manywaysthisarticle ismy attemptto do somethingsimilar—toreconnectus,the bodyof Christ,to
our original PowerSource,particularlytorestore energy,passionandcreative freedominthe marriage
bed.HopefullyI'll getbetterresultsthistime(andavoidanyshockedfacial expressionsinthe process!).
Is there anyreal connectionbetweenoursexualityandspirituality?Isthere adirectconnectionbetween
our bodiesandourspirits?What happensif we severthe connectionGodintendedthroughaddictionor
ignorance,orif it's severedthroughabuse ortraumainflicteduponus?
The Energy Equation
First,let'sthinkof our spiritasbeingthe energywe're givenashumanswhoare made in the image of
God. Let'sthinkof our bodiesasthe conduitthroughwhichthatenergyflows.Withoutthe conduit(the
body),there wouldbe nowayforus to experience thatenergyandletitflow fromourselvestoanother
humanbeing.Butwithoutthe energy(the spirit),ourbodiesalonecan'tmusterthe deephuman
Oh,many try. Theyfindhumanoutletsfortheirwarpedphysical sexualdesires,whichcanleadto
manipulativeseduction,childmolestation,sexual abuse,sexual addiction,prostitutionandhuman
trafficking,toname justa few.Itwearsall kindsof uglymasks.
But sharinga physical connectionwithsomeone withwhomwe alsoshare astrong spiritual and
emotional bond—that'ssomethingelse entirely.That'spure love,romance,passion,intimacy,ecstasy.
Whenwe're expressingoursexualityinthe wayourDesignerintended,there isanenormousand
undeniablypowerful connectionbetweenoursexualityandourspirituality. Like twosidesof the same
coin,bodyand spiritare intertwined.
So,since we can't separate bodyfromspiritorsexualityfromspirituality,how aboutlookingtosee what
we can learnfrom fullyintegratingandcelebratingthe synergybetweenthe two?
A Most ShockingQuestion
"How isour relationshipwithGodsexual?"
Thiswas the questionaprofessorposedtooursmall groupin a humansexualityclassatLiberty
University.Translation:Whatdoesourspiritual relationshipwithGodhave incommonwith oursexual
Here are justa fewanswersthatsurfacedduringthislivelydiscussion,aswe discoveredboth
Giventhatthere are so manymore possible answerstothe question,perhapsthere'sagreater
Whenwe pause to reallyponderit,we have toadmitit's quite fascinatingthatGodwouldcreate us
bothin Hisimage and as sexual beings—simultaneously.It'seasytowonderwhyGodmade us thisway.
DidHe designsexualityasaburdenor a blessing?
You be the judge.What else inall of creationcan:
Calmyou whenyou're anxious?
Provide anoutletforexpression whenyou're excited?
Helpyouforgetyour currenttrialsand tribulations?
Provide intense,guilt-free pleasure?
Helpyoufeel deeplyconnectedtoanotherhumanbeingandto God?
Erase feelingsof lonelinessandisolation?
Give youan interestingbreakfromyourdailyroutine?
Enhance your overall healthandvitality?
Fulfill yourhopesanddreamsof parenthood?
Sendsparksthroughyour brainand shiversdownyourspine?
Make youfeel sogiddy,sospecial,socherishedandsocelebrated?
Onlysex can doall that—anditdoesall that quite well!
So,what wasGod thinkingwhenHe createdsex?IbelieveHe wasthinking, "I'mgoingtomake theirday
I alsothinkGod createdsexual intimacytoprovide uswithapeekintoHisowncharacter and nature.As
we understandoursexualitymore fully,we understandGodmore fullyandvice versa.Here are a couple
thingswe learnaboutGod throughour sexuality:
1) He getsgiddywhenHe has our attention.A coachingclientonce askedme,"WhydidGodcreate usin
such a way thatwe have physiological responsestoouremotions?WhenI'mattractedto someone,why
do I getbutterfliesinmystomach,sweatypalmsand a racing heart?Why doI get all giddy?"
At firstI responded,"Ihave noidea!"Butthenitwas like Godopenedmybrainandpouredthe answer
in,like liquidDranotounclogmythoughts.He said,"Shannon,Icreatedhumansto respondtolove like
that so they'dknowhowI feel whentheyturntheirheartsandattentiontowardMe."
I sat there,blownaway,fora fewseconds.WhenIsharedthe epiphanywithmyclient,she wasblown
away too.The God of the universe getsgiddyoveruswhenwe turntowardHim?Yes,He does.AndHe's
givenyoua glimpse intothatfactthroughthe thoughtsandfeelingsyouhave towardthe objectof your
2) He's givingusa foretaste of heaven.One dayIwas contemplatingwhyGoddesignedthe humanbody
to feel suchintense pleasurewhenwe experience the heightof the sexual experience.Seriously,sex
feelsplentygoodwhileit'shappening,anditcreatesbeautifulbabiesandbondsa couple in
extraordinaryways.Sowhygive ussucha stunninglyripe cherryontop?
Justlike a fungame of peek-a-boo,ourheavenlyFathergivesusthroughthispeakof pleasure justa
glimpse of the "bigfinale"we face aheadinheaven.
I mean,let'sthinkaboutit.Is there anymomentinexistencewhenwe feel amore primordial delight,a
greaterlossof control (ina goodway) or a greatersense of absolute euphoriathaninthose sacred
momentsof extreme,intense pleasure?Ican't help butbelievewhenChristreturnsforussomedayand
ushersusintoour heavenlyhome,the intensityof the heavenlypleasurewe encounterisgoingtobe
evenmore mind-blowingandsoul-stirringthanthe mostamazingorgasmicexperience we've everhad.
The joy anddelightof sexual intimacyismerelyaforetaste of the intimaciesandecstaciesthatawaitus
LettingGo of Sexual Legalism
While Godintendedoursexualitytobe fullyenjoyedinthe contextHe provided,it'sunfortunate that
the church has historicallyfocusedonfear-inducingsex-negative messagesinsteadof empoweringsex-
positive messages.Asaresult,manywalkonsexual eggshells.Some Christianshave evenoptedoutof
sexual intimacyforthe mostpart.Theyfear displeasingGodwith anysexual thought,feelingoraction.
But doesa marriedcouple thoroughlyenjoyingsex withoutanyguilt,shame orinhibitiondisplease God?
DoesHe roll Hiseyesindisgust?Absolutelynot!Ibelieveacouple delightinginthe giftof one another's
bodiesbringsourheavenlyFathergreatjoy,like aparentwatchinga belovedchildexcitedlyopen
Do youknowwhat doesupsetGod?The same thingthat upsetJesus:legalisticreligiouspeople putting
wordsin God's mouthandspiritual burdensonpeople'sbacksthatHe nevermeantforthemto carry.
While Ican't speakdirectlyforGodor Jesus,I,too,get prettyupsetwhenIhearthingsfromwithinthe
Christiancommunitythatsoundalittle somethinglikesexual legalism—thingssuchas"Women
shouldn'twearsexylingerie fortheirhusbandsorelse itwill awakentheirappetite tolookat
pornography"or"The missionarypositionisthe onlyholywayfora marriedcouple tohave sex"or"Oral
sex isanimalisticbehavior"or"A man shouldn'texpecthiswife tohave sex more thanonce a weekor
else she'll feel putupon."WhenIhearcommentssuchas these,Ican't helpbutthink,Wow!I don't
recall readingthatanywhere inmyBible!
These viewsandsentimentsmaybe well-intentionedandmaycome fromverysincere Christianswho
deeplylove the Lord,butone can be trulysincere yetstill sincerelywrong.Ibelieve thismightbe one of
the reasonsthe worlddoesn'tlooktothe church as a source of real wisdomwhenitcomestosexual
If we are evergoingto re-establishChristiansasauthoritiesonthe topicof healthysexuality,we must
move beyondoursexual andreligiousbaggage,studyScripture carefullyandproclaimthata married
couple'schosensexual repertoire isentirelybetweenthe husband,the wifeandGod.Barringany sexual
activitiesspecificallyforbiddeninScripture (suchasadulteryorprostitution),there iscomplete freedom
inthe marriage bedto mutuallyexperiment,exploreandenjoyall of the manywondersof human
The Powerof a CleanSlate
My guessisthat some are readingthisandthinking,How can sex be a sacredactivitywhenit'sthe
motivationbehindsomuchevil inthe world?
I can understandthatconcern.It's true that sex usedforany purpose otherthanmarital bondingis
incrediblydegradinganddestructive.Someof ushave beenvictimsof rape orother formsof sexual
abuse.Othersof us have beenharmedbythe proliferationof pornographyinourimage-drivensociety,
perhapslearningof aspouse'saddictionandfeelingata lossandto blame fortheiraddictioninsome
Let me say this:You are not to blame forsomeone else'ssexual wrongdoing.The otherpersonis
responsible before Godfortheiractions,andtheyare alsoresponsible fortakingthe appropriate actions
to be made well.God'sreal hearttoward youis to heal youforthe waysanotherperson'sactionsdid
youharm. I urge you to seekshelterinthe comfortingarmsof the God who lovesandcherishes
everythingaboutyouandlongsforyouto experience yoursexualityinthe wholeandfulfillingwayHe
What aboutthose of uswho weren'tvictimsof anotherperson'scrueltybutratherplayersinastory not
reflectiveof God'sbest?Premarital sexualactivity,forinstance,candoa lot of relational damage,and
that damage oftendoesn'tsurface until longafterthe honeymoonphase isover.ManyChristians
bemoanthe fact that theystill struggle withguiltoverpremaritalsexual involvementyearsoreven
decadeslateror thattheystill holda grudge againsttheirspouse because theyfeeltheywere
manipulated,coercedortakenadvantage of while dating.
If that's you,you can beginthe sexual healingprocessbyinitiatingtwosmall steps:
1) Take responsibilityforyourpartinthe dance of sexual dysfunction.
2) Start witha cleanslate by forgivingyourself andyourmate completely.
Duringone of myWomenat the Well intensive workshops,awife wasmourningthe lossof hervirginity
priorto marriage. Eventually,Icompassionatelyasked,"Didhe holdagun to yourhead?"
She was shockedatthe questionbutsatwithitjustlongenoughforsomethingtoclickinher brain.The
hard linesonherface meltedasshe lookedme andcourageouslydeclared,"No. No,he didn't."
I couldtell itwas a much-needed"Aha!"momentforher,asI thoughtshe mightstand upafterwardand
shout,"Hooray!I don't have to playthe victimanymore!"Intruth,the responsibilitywasonboththeir
shoulders,notjusthis.She couldhave saidnojustas easilyashe couldhave.
Unlesswe are beingforcefullyraped,we alwayshave asayin the matter.Perhapswe saidnowithour
wordsbut our reciprocal andresponsive actionsspoke louderinthe heatof the moment.We mustown
up to the powerwe willinglysurrenderedandgive upthe victimmentality.Itservesnogoodpurpose.
Whenwe recognize we weren'tvictimsbutratherinitiallyreluctantyetultimatelywillingpartners,
It's amazinghowmuch easieritisto forgive anotherpersonwhenwe realizehow muchwe ourselves
are inneedof forgivenessforthe exactsame infraction.Throwingastone isn'tsomethingwe're aseager
to do whenwe realize justhowmuchwe belonginthe middleof the stone-throwingcircle.
The Powerof Prayer
If there'ssuch a powerful connectionbetweenoursexualityandourspirituality,perhapsinvestinga
little more spiritualenergyinpreparingforsexual encountersisawise move.
Wouldyoulike toguesswhatmy husbandand I have foundtobe the bestaphrodisiacavailable?Prayer!
Whenwe snuggle uptogetherandholdeachother,thenpour outour heartsto God on behalf of one
another,itcreatessuch an intense bond.Infact,it'ssometimesimpossible tojustroll overandgo to
sleep.We can't helpbutwantto followthe "Amen"withawhole lotof goodlovin'!
Go ahead—give itatry tonight,andsee if drawingclosertoGod doesn'tdraw you incrediblycloserto
ShannonEthridge isa best-sellingauthor,speakerandcertifiedlifecoachwitha master'sdegree in
since 1989 andis the author of 21 books,includingthe million-copybest-sellingEveryWoman'sBattle
seriesandherlatest,The PassionPrinciples.Tolearnmore,goto shannonethridge.com.
Watch ShannonEthridge explainwhyGodmade youa sexual beingandhow to embrace Hisdivine
purpose forthisat sex.charismamag.com
A Journal of Practical Theology
How Doesthe HolySpiritFeel AboutHumanSexuality?
In the fifteenthchapterof Acts,leadersinthe churchgatheredtoaddressthe conflictthatarose
betweenJewishChristiansandGentile believers. Some teachershadgone outamongthe new gentile
converts/ churchesandtoldthem,essentially,thatif theyreallywantedtobe “saved” – if theywanted
to be righteous,they’dneedtofollowall of the Torah.This causedno small frustration.
There wascalleda conference inJerusalemforthe eldersandapostlestoresolve thisissue.They
deliberatedthe matteruntil affirmingthatsince the gentileshadreceivedthe HolySpiritinthe same
waythe Jewshad,andthat to place a burdenonthe gentilesthatthe Jewswere unabletobearfor
generations,thattheywouldrequire gentilestoobserve onlyahandful of the elementsof the Torah.
meatand blood,andthat theyshouldabstainfromsexual immorality.
What isimportant,absolutely,tograspisthat these were the thingsthatwere tobe carriedoverthat
were unique tothe Torah.Murder and theftwere noton the “list,”butthat doesn’tmeanthatit
seemedgoodtothe HolySpiritthat nowthose thingswere fine,andthatanyreference totheminthe
Torah were antiquated,obsolete.Rather,whatispresentedisanaffirmationof thingsunique tothe
Torah that the HolySpiritpressedasnecessaryforrighteousliving.
Prohibitionsagainstmurderwere notuniquetothe Torah,nor lawsagainsttheft.Bythe time of the
Jerusalemcouncil,these typesof regulationswere notuncommoninanyorganizedsociety.But what
was NOTunlawful wasvariousformsof sexual congress.Norwasidolatryillegal (justthe opposite,in
fact it wasprescribedinmanyplaces).So,whatthe leadersinJerusalemaffirmed,underthe affirmation
of the HolySpirit,were the unique elementsof OTlaw that were germane torighteousliving.
Amongthe requirementssetforthbythe leadersinJerusalemwasthatbelieversshouldabstainfrom
sexual immorality.Remember,theseare regulationsbeingimportedfromthe Torah.Therefore,one
mustkeepinmindthat these Jewishleaders,prohibitingsexual immoralityinall Christ-followers,hadin
mindthe contextof sexual immoralityasdelineatedbyMoses.Forthe Jew,sexual immoralitymeant
any sexual relationshipwithanypersoninanywayoutside the sacredcovenantof marriage betweena
man and a woman.Anythingelsewasfornication.Thisiswhat“seemedgoodtothe HolySpirit”to
It ishipto redefine sexual immoralityinthe contextof contemporaryculture.Todaysexualityis“moral”
if it isconsenting.Violentsexualityisstill consideredwrong. So,whatissexuallymoral isnolongera
matterof the actual behavior,butthe intent.If the intentismutual stimulation,orevenone-sided
stimulationmetwithacquiescence,thenit’sall fine.More thanfine,infact,itiscelebrated.Itisinsisted
upon.Practitionersof experimentalsexual congressbuildforthemselvessmallmole-hillsandplantin
thema flagof moral high-ground.Andtheydemandagreementthattheirbehavioris normal,
normative,andinsome cases,theyrequire ittobe recognizedasholy – ordainedbyGod Himself.
But no matterhowloudtheircry, no matterhow many timestheyrepeattheirclaim, itisstill absurd.It
Many claimthat theiraberrantsexual expressionmustbe right – because itfeelssoright.Itfeelsgood;
it’sfulfilling;it’spleasantandevenhelpsthemfeelclose totheirsexual partner.None of thisisevidence
for righteousness.There isnothingmeritoriousaboutanorgasm.
The abilitytoclimax isnot sacred.It’snothingtobe proudof,march in a parade over,or celebrate.In
fact, the chemicalsinthe braingenerate feelingsof desireandcommitmenttosomeoneafter –because
of – sexual releasewiththatperson.Literallythe braincanbe trainedviasexual expressiontobondto
almostanythingoranyone.Sopowerful isthisbond,thatvictimsof abuse whounwillinglyexperience
sexual arousal mightretainfeelingsof desiretowardthe experience. Itispreciselybecause of the fragile
nature of humansexualitythatitissoimportantto regardit as sacred,to protectit and use itas
Human sexuality,asdesignedbyGod,to be sharedinlove,ina monogamous,heterosexual relationship,
issacred. Anythingelseisfornication.Anditispleasing(seemsgoodto) tothe Holy Spiritforbelievers
The Educated Hick
As I write this,mydenomination,the UnitedMethodistChurch,isinthe thirdday of its quadrennial
General Conference. Itisalsothree daysbefore Pentecost,whenthe churchcelebratesthe giftof the
HolySpirit. Ashas beenthe case for the past 44 years,probablythe mostcontentiousissuebeingfaced
by thisGeneral Conference isthe matterof how the church regardsLGBTQI persons: whether
homosexual practice iscompatible withaChristianlifestyle,whetherpracticinghomosexualsshouldbe
allowedtobe clergy,whetherpastorsshouldbe allowedtoofficiateatsame-genderweddings.
Althoughmuchof the landscape aroundthisdebate haschangedinthe past 44 years,the denomination
has continuedtofightaboutthisissue,andsofar has notchosento be more opentoLGBTQI persons.
Legislationaroundthissubjecthasnotyetcome to vote thisyear,butthe prospectsforchange are
It seemstome that much of the debate aroundthisissue concernswhatthe Bible doesanddoesnot
say,and alsoabout whatthe rulesshouldbe. The HolySpirithas beenpeculiarlyabsentfromthis
There are alsothose whowouldlikelysaythatthe HolySpiritwouldnevercontradictScripture. They
are mistaken. Whenone readsthe Bookof Acts,one findsseveral instanceswhere the HolySpirit
contradictedthe HebrewScriptures(whichisall the earlyChristianshad,since the New Testamenthad
In Deuteronomy23:1,it iswritten: “If a man’stesticlesare crushedorhispenisiscutoff,he may not be
admittedtothe assemblyof the LORD.” (New LivingTranslation). YetinActs8:26-39, the Spirittoldthe
apostle Philiptoapproachachariot where anEthiopianeunuch(whichmeanshe hadbeen
emasculated) wasreadingfromIsaiah. Philipproceededtouse the prophecyof Isaiahtotell of Jesus
Christ.The eunuchrequestedbaptism,Philipbaptizedhim, andthe eunuchrejoicedtohave been
receivedasone of God’speople.
It was alsowidelyunderstoodinthe Judaismof the time,basedonanumberof textsinthe Hebrew
Scriptures,thatGentileswere notpartof the people of God,and were notto be eatenwith. Butin Acts
10, the Spiritgave the apostle Peteravisiontellinghimitwasall rightto violate the Jewishdietarylaws,
then,whensummoned,wastoldbythe Spiritto goto the house of a Gentile,aRomancenturionnamed
Cornelius,andtell himandhishouseholdaboutJesus. Theyheardandbelieved,the HolySpiritcame
Of course,some of the JewishChristiansdidnotapprove of whatPeterdid,norof the ministryof Paul
and Barnabasto the Gentiles,especiallyinnot requiringcircumcisionof them. Thisledtoa conference
inJerusalem,describedinActs15, inwhichPaul and Barnabastoldof whatGod was doing,givingthe
HolySpiritto Gentileswhobelievedwithoutthembeingcircumcised. Atlastthe leadersof the
Jerusalemchurchdecidedthatthe Gentile believersdidnothave tobe circumcised,saying,“Forit
seemedgoodtothe HolySpiritand tous to lay nogreaterburdenon youthan these few requirements:
You mustabstainfrom eatingfoodofferedtoidols, fromconsumingbloodorthe meatof strangled
animals,andfromsexual immorality.If youdothis,youwill dowell.”(Acts15:28-29 NLT)
In John14:26 Jesusisquotedassaying:“But whenthe Fathersendsthe Advocate asmy representative–
that is,the HolySpirit–he will teachyoueverythingandwill remindyouof everythingIhave toldyou.”
(NLT) Is the Holy Spiritdone teachingusandremindingusof Jesus’commandmenttolove Godwithour
whole beingandlove ourneighborasourourselves? Surelynot,forwe still haven’treallylearnedhow
to do that to the fullestextent,especiallywhenwe rememberJesus’definitionof neighborincludes
people whoare verydifferentfromus,peoplewe mightnotevenlike,people whose wayof livingwe
may notagree with. The one Jesusdescribedasagood neighborinone of hismostfamousparables,
afterall,wasa Samaritan,a memberof a people whomJewsof histime despised.
I am alsoremindedof whathappenedinActs5. The apostleshadbeenarrestedforpreachingabout
JesusinJerusalemandhadbeenbroughtbefore the Sanhedrin,the Jewishcouncil,whoorderedthem
to stoppreachingaboutJesus. The apostles’responsewas: “We mustobeyGod rather thanany human
authority. The God of ourancestorsraised Jesusfromthe deadafteryou killedhimbyhanginghimona
cross. ThenGod put himinthe place of honorat hisrighthandas Prince andSavior.He didthisso the
people of Israel wouldrepentof theirsinsandbe forgiven. We are witnessesof these thingsandsois
the HolySpirit,whoisgivenbyGod to those whoobeyhim.” (Acts5:29-32 NLT) The HolySpirithad led
the apostlestodefythe authorities,defythose whomade the rules,anddare topreachChristcrucified
The council was preparedtoput the apostlestodeath,butRabbi Gamaliel,arespectedPharisee,
offeredthiscounsel,whichwasheeded: “Menof Israel,take care what youare planningtodoto these
men! Some time ago there wasthat fellow Theudas,whopretendedtobe someone great.About400
othersjoinedhim,buthe waskilled,andall hisfollowerswenttheirvariousways.The whole movement
came to nothing. Afterhim,atthe time of the census,there wasJudasof Galilee.He gotpeople to
followhim,buthe waskilled,too,andall hisfollowerswere scattered. Somyadvice is,leave these men
alone.Letthemgo. If theyare planninganddoingthese thingsmerelyontheirown,itwill soonbe
overthrown. Butif itis fromGod, youwill notbe able to overthrow them. Youmayevenfindyourselves
The movementforthe inclusionof openlyLGBTQIpeople inChristianityhasbeengoingonformore
than 40 years. It has notgone away. Indeed,ithasbecome stronger,eventothe pointof moving
beyondthe Protestantmainline andstartingtoimpactconservative ProtestantismandRoman
Catholicism. Coulditbe thatbycontinuingtooppose thismovement,the churchisactuallyfighting
God? Coulditbe that the HolySpiritistellingustowelcome themastheyare,justas the Spirittoldthe
church 2000 yearsago to welcome Gentilesandeunuchs,andmore recentlyhastoldthe churchto
welcome the giftsof womenasleaders?
Who has the presense of the holyspiritandhassex withyourwife?
whohas the holyspiritsurroundingyouwithjoy,andyouare full inthe spiritand havingsex?
I am not talkingspeakingintoungeseitherwhile youare havingsex,justyousense the presense of God
inyou and youhave yourwife?
Update:not that I wouldbe thinkingaboutGodwhile Ihave mywife,justyouknow he isthere.
Update 2: I planon becomeingaveryholyman,that iswhyI ask thisquestion.
BestAnswer: I do,as can everyChristianmarriedman.
Nope.Sex isa beautiful gift,becomingone fleshisdevine.Iwouldthinkthoughthatif youwere
wrappedupin the holyspiritthatperhapsyoushoulddevote thattime toGod.That makessense to me.
But if youhave a wife,youshouldnotneglecther.itisselfishtogetmarriedif youknow youwould
rather devote all yourtime toGod.The love sharedbetweenhusbandandwifeisverybeautiful andI
findthatit isverymuch a small reflectionof ourrelationshipwithGodinthe future
If you wantto be a holyman,have you considerednotgettingmarried?Imaginethe time youcould
devote toGod! If thisis truleyyourgoal,thandon't getmarried.If you feel youneedtogetmarried than
do it.But youwill sacrafice some aspectsof yourrelationshipwithGod.Imyself ammarried,andI enjoy
havinga companion.ButI knowmy life couldbe enrichedevenmore if IhadonlyGod to focuson.
A Christianhusbandandwife inunionisnot evil.HoweverIsense youhave aproblemorhangupabout
sex fromreadingyourquestionswhichare verytelling.Talktoyourminister.Disturbing.
Intimacyisone of the giftsthatGod blessesmarriedcoupleswith - otherthanthat yourquestionisodd
and notveryclear :}
well itdepends,ifyourare marriedtoher bychurch if youare take that as a blessinganda goodthing
thenhe is tryinto tell youthatyou are blessed.
idyoure not he is tryinto tell youthatyou are doinwrong andthat u need to getbaptized,andbcareful
bc whenthishappenusualysomethingwill happentouandhe mightbe warningyouto turn to him
the holyspiritisthe bringerof life.
God made us like this,soyou'll have tofigure itout.
If you haven'treadthe book of Tobit,you're inthe dark.
Sexual AddictionandFreedom –The Powerof the Holy Spirit
March 23, 2016 / Devotional,FreedomFromSexual Sin&Shame,Healing,Pornography,Relationship
withJesus,Sexual Addiction/1 Comment
Freedom.We wantit,we crave it,yetwe thinkit’simpossible tohave.
Evenas believers,there are alotof uslivinginchains.Slavestoourdesires.Slavestooursin.We have
heardof the conceptof freedom,butwe have neverexperienceditforourselves.
Most days we thinkwe can earnthisfreedom.Maybe if we praymore,do more,or workmore,thenwe
will experience freedom,buteventuallywe runoutof steam.ThissemesterIhad the opportunityto
workwithDirty GirlsMinistry,aministryprovidinghelp,hope andhealingforwomenwithpornography
and sexual addiction.Fortenweeks,Imetwiththe same womenonlineforaface toface supportgroup.
Some of these womenwere inrecoveryfromapast addiction,some hadrelapsed,andotherswere knee
Duringour tenweekstogether,Ilearnedalotaboutaddiction,healing,andrecovery.Here are justa
fewof the lessonsGodtaught me throughthese women:
Satan usesourslaveryto addictionstomake usquestionoursalvation.
Most sexual addictionissuesare reallyintimacyissues.
It ishard to rememberGod’struthinthe midstof addiction.
The church needstotalk aboutporn and masturbation.
Whenwe don’ttalk aboutit,Satan thrivesinourisolation.
These issuesare notjusta man’s problem!
Those inbondage trulydesire tolive infreedom.
We believe the lie thatlastingfreedomisnotpossible.
We blame oursexualizedculture forouraddictions.
In orderto heal,we mustrestore ourview of God.
Lastly,we can’t experience freedomonourown.
These womenwere constantlytryingtobreakfree fromthe cycle of addiction,butalwaysfeeling
defeated.Asagroup,we discoveredthe keytofreedomisthe HolySpirit.
The onlyway to experience freedomisthroughthe powerof the HolySpirit,notbyour ownstrength.
Are you strugglingwithsexual addiction?Doyoulongforfreedom?
You can experience freedom.
Freedomfromthe chainsof sexual sin.
Freedomfromthe thoughtsof shame andguilt.
Here are 3 waysthat the Spiritgivesusfreedom:
1) The Spiritconnectsusto God inthe most intimate waypossible.Once youbecome aChristian,the
HolySpirittakesroot inside of you.Nothingismore intimate thanone thinginsideanother.Thinkof the
intimacyof sex.The intimacywe have withGodisevenmore intimate thansex.Thisintimacywill fixthe
intimacyissuesof sexual addictions.
“Do you notknowthat you are a temple of Godand thatthe Spiritof God dwellsinyou?”1 Corinthians
2) The Spiritplantsinusthe verydesiresof God.We may desire the pleasuresof sex outside of
marriage,butwe have the livingGodinside of us.God’sdesiresare livinginside of ustohelpusfind
“I will putMy Spiritwithinyouandcause you towalkin My statutes,andyou will be careful toobserve
My ordinances.”Ezekiel 36:27.
3) The Spiritenablesustobattle the fleshbygivingusGod’spower.The same SpiritthatraisedJesus
fromthe deadisthe powerthat liveswithinus.
“But if the Spiritof HimwhoraisedJesusfromthe deaddwellsinyou,He whoraisedChristJesusfrom
the deadwill alsogive life toyourmortal bodiesthroughHisSpiritwhodwellsinyou.”Romans8:11.
The Holy Spiritisour lifeline tofreedom.We have togive attentionandcare to the Spirit,spendtime
withGod and constantlygetfilledbyHiswordinorder tofightthe flesh.
The Holy Spiritwill helpyoulive outfreedom.
I knowthat freedomishard,butyou are not fightingalone.Youhave the Spiritof Godinside of youto
give youthe desire tofollowhimandtogive youthe powertobattle all temptations.
ThisFridayis GoodFriday – the day Jesuswascrucifiedonthe cross.I can’t thinkof a bettertime to
share thismessage because the onlyreasonwe gettoexperience freedomisbecause He died.
You can be free because Jesus’sdeathonthe crosswas forall of yoursins.Jesusdiedtogive you
freedom.He tookonall your shame andguiltinorder to make youwhite assnow.
Rightnow,you mightbe filledwithshame…youcanexperience freedombecause of Hisdeath.You
mightfeel guilty…youcanbe free because of Hisblood.
Jesusisour Savior,redeemer,andloverandbecause of thiswe are free.
Once you become aChristian,youhave a new identityinChrist.Youare setapart. Sinno longerhasa
holdon youand isno longeryouridentity.Thisdoesn’tmeanwe won’tsinanymore,butnow your
identityiswithChrist.Everythingisdifferent.Youmaynotfeel it,butthat isthe reality.Itisnot about
prayingmore or doingmore,it’saboutwhowe are in Christ.
“It isfor freedomthatChristhasset us free.Standfirm, then,anddonot letyourselvesbe burdened
againby a yoke of slavery.”Galatians5:1.
Sexual Intimacy,Spiritual Belonging,andChristianTheology
 Sexual intimacycanserve asa resource forspiritual transformationandrenewal inourlives.
Throughit, we can experience arestoredsense of healing,joy,personalpowertoaffectandbe affected,
passionate relationship,creative potency,andwondrouspleasure.Whensexualrelatingfunctionsthis
wayin our lives,makinglovecanbe one of life'smostdelightful meansof grace.
 Thisisnot to say that sexual intimacyisthe onlymeansof grace available tousor thatit
automaticallysolveslife'sproblems. The goodnessof sexualitycanbe skewed,denied,oreven
destroyedbyanynumberof means. The use of sex inan act of overpoweringorcoercinganother,
sexual abuse of childrenbyadults,orthe manipulationof sex asa tool of exploitation are examplesof
 Thispaperaddressesthree issues: First,the principlesthathave structuredthe traditional Christian
sexual ethicare articulatedandsome problemsanddeficienciesare highlighted. Second,sexual
intimacyisdefinedandlinkedwithspiritualbelongingbyareflective applicationof the incarnation.
Third,the Gospel narrativesare usedtocritique anyimpliedlinkbetweensexualpurityandaccessto
God's grace, salvation,ormembershipinthe church.
ProblemswithTraditional ChristianSexual Ethics
 Historically,Christiancommunitieshave followedlooselyathree-foldstandardforthe moral
judgmentof sexual acts: Theyshouldbe done withthe rightperson(one'slawfully-weddedspouse),in
the right way(heterosexualgenitalintercourse),andforthe rightpurpose (procreation).Those who
followthissexualcode oftenare consideredsexuallypure,thosewhodonotfollow thiscode oftenare
 The inflexible qualityof traditional Christiancommunitiesinregardtosexual moralityservesto
restrictcritical reflectiononitsownpresuppositionsregardingpropersexual conduct. ManyChristians
assume thatthisveryparticularstructure for sexual expressionisthe onlycorrectwayto engage in
natural and lovingsexual relationshipsregardlessof the particularcontextinvolved. Thisapproachto
sexual moralitylocatesemphasisonthe form(rightperson,rightway,rightpurpose) of sex,ratherthan
the substance andqualityof the sexual relationship. Inthisform-orientedframeworkthere islittle
concernwithissuesof consent,love,mutual pleasure,chastity,tenderness,intimacy,andjoy. Rather,
the concern iswiththe purityor impurityof the sex act itself,i.e.,isthe couple married,attractedtothe
rightgender,andis there procreative potential?
 There are elementsof the traditionalethicthatare worthpromoting. Forexample,marital
heterosexual sex isfineandwonderful inmanyinstancesandiscertainlyone of the appropriate
contextsforsexual relating. Butthere are some problemswiththislimitedapproachtopropersexual
 First,the terms"marriage"and"heterosexual"are semanticallyexclusive. The termsassume that
everyone isgoingtogetmarriedandthat everyone isgoingtobe ina heterosexual relationship. This
excludesthe experience of those whohave beenmarriedandare now divorced,whichisroughlyfifty
percentof all firstmarriages. It alsoexcludesthe experience of gaymenandlesbianwomen,forwhom
marriage to the personwhomtheywouldchoose,apersonof theirownsex,isnota legal possibilityin
moststates. And of course,it excludesthe situationof those whobychoice oraccidentnevermarry.
The veryterms "marital"and"heterosexual"excludeswhole groupsof people andexperiencesthatdo
not fitthe terms.
 Second,the terms"marriage"and"heterosexual"are normativelysuspect. Marital sex maynot be
the bestnorm. Whenwe lookat marital sex inour culture we learnsome verydistressingfacts. Strause
and Gellisestimate thatone thirdof all wivesinthe greaterU.S.populationare batteredinthe course of
theirmarriage andthat wife rape accountsfor 38 percentof all rape inthe UnitedStates(Borrowdale:
68). The veryplace where womenhave assumedtheywouldbe safe isinfactnota safe place formany
women--orchildren,forthatmatter. Marital sexualityissometimesviolentandabusive justlikenon-
marital sexualityissometimesviolentandabusive. The assumptionthatmarital sex alwaysfitsahealthy
norm isa false assumption. Otherrelevantfactorsneedtobe incorporatedinanappropriate sexual
 Third,ChristianethicistKarenLebacqzarguesthatthere are people whoare livingtheirsexual lives
accordingto church polity(heterosexual marriage),butthattheirsexual livessimplydonotexpress
whatGod wants people toexpressintermsof qualityof relationship(113-133). VirginiaMollenkott
Withthe blessingof churchandstate,I livedinsinforyears'in a state of permanentestrangement'with
fornicationwithmyhusband,deniedmyownnature,anddebasedthe holyinstitutionof marriage.
Now,forthe pastelevenyears,withoutthe blessingof church,state,or society,Ihave livedinahealthy
and holycovenant-relationshipwithawomanwhoencouragesmyspiritual questandsupportsmy
ministry.Mymarriage was suicide byinches;mylesbianpartnershipisthe peace,joy,andblissof
Thisstory couldbe repeatedmanytimeswithothercasesof repressedorcondemnedgayandlesbian
sexuality,orwithcasesof batteringor marital rape. The point,whateverthe particularsituation,isthis:
Livingoutour sexual livesinaccordance withchurchpolicydoesnot,necessarily,bringintimacy,joy,
and right-relationshiptosexualrelating. Heterosexual marriage isaholyandwonderful institutionfor
some,butfor othersitcan be "suicide byinches."
 Fourth,a common theme inChristiansexual morality,particularlystronginthe CatholicNatural Law
Tradition,isthe viewthatthe major,if not the onlyvalid,purpose of sexualityisreproduction. Sexual
activitiesnotopentoreproductionare saidtoproduce negative moral andspiritual consequencesfor
people whoengage inthem. Therefore,the potentiallinkbetweensexual activityandreproduction
shouldnotbe blockedbythe use of birthcontrol. Non-procreativesexual activities,suchas
discouragedas'forbiddenfruit'anddetrimental tospiritual development.
 A typical historical trendinChristiansexual moralityistodistinguishbetweensexual sins"in
accordance withnature"andthose "contraryto nature." Natural sexual sinsinclude heterosexual
fornication,adultery,incest,andrape. Unnatural sexual sinsincludemasturbation,gayandlesbian
sexuality,andsodomy. These unnatural sinsdonothave procreative possibilities. Inthisorderingof
sinsmasturbationmaybe consideredworse thanrape andgay andlesbiansexualitymaybe considered
more sinful thanincest.
 Clearlythere are problemswiththe traditional criteriaforevaluatingsexualrelationships. An
sexualityleave out? Amazingly,itexcludesthe qualityof the sexual relationshipitself. Inthe traditional
frameworkthere isverylittle concernwithissuesof interpersonal relating,self-respect,the fullnessand
diversityof humanlife,orevenissuesof appropriatesexual expressionsuchasmutual pleasure,joy,
 Quite frankly,we needtobegindevelopinganew Christiansexual ethicswhereinthe qualityof the
sexual relationshipitself isaddressedasfulfillingandempoweringordegradingandcoerced. We needa
sexual ethicthatincorporatesthe potential forexploitationandabuse andaddressesbasicissuesof
powerandconsent. The traditional approachfocusesalmostcompletelyonexternals(whatgoes
where,withwhom,when)anddoesnotseemtobe concernedaboutthe intentionandmotivationthat
groundsthe relationship. Christianyoungpeopleare oftenaddressedwithsilence concerningissues
regardingthe sexual bodyandsexual desire ora seriesof don'ts:don't have sex,don'ttake pleasure in
it,and don't talkaboutit. Christianchurchesmightconsiderengaginginmore positive ethical dialogue
where youngpeople are encouragedtotalkopenlyabouttheirsexual desires,frustrations,indeed,their
sexual liveswithoutfearof immediatecondemnationorguilt.
 Perhapsone wayto beginsucha dialogue mightbe todiscusswhatismeantwhenthe terms
intimacyandsexualityare linked. The termintimacy,accordingtoWebster'sNew WorldDictionary,
stemsfromthe Latin word'intima,'whichliterallymeans"the inner-mostlayerorlivingmembrane of an
organ,artery, or vein." Therefore intimacyrepresentsthe verybiological core thatgiveslife,vitalityand
agencyto our bodies. Totalkabout intimacyistotalk aboutthat whichsustainslife,thatwhichserves
to create,nurture,andcare about the wholenessandwelfareof humanbodies.
 In startlingcontrastto the definitionof the termintimacy,popularculture oftenusesthe term
"intimate"onlyintermsof the sex act. A more fundamental understandingis,however,thatsexual
intimacyrequiresmore thansimplyhavingsex. Forsex to involve intimacyitmustbe mutually
empowering,intentionallyconsensual,andmotivatedbyloving-kindness atthe veryleast. Anyhintof
abuse,manipulation,coercion,orviolence negatesthe presenceof sexual intimacy.
 Anysexual ethicthatisconcernedonlywiththe external contextof the sex (marital ornon-marital,
heterosexual orhomosexual,procreativepossibilitiesornot) isnotan ethicthat is concernedwith
sexual intimacy. Traditional Christiansexual ethicsare concernedfundamentallywithexternal purity
boundariesandlargelyignore the substanceandqualityof the sexual relationship itself.
Incarnational Theology,Spiritual Belonging,andIntimate Sexuality
 "In the beginningwasthe Word,andthe Word was withGod,and the Word was God . . . Andthe
Word became fleshanddweltamongus,full of grace and truth"(John1: 1, 14).
These versesspeaktothe core of Christianfaith,the embodimentof Godinhuman,flesh-and-blood
encounters. Jesuswasembodiedinaparticularhistory,aparticularculture,anda particularbody. That
Jesusshouldbe alaughing,crying,sweating,bleeding,sensuousbundleof fleshjustasall humansare
seemsincomprehensible. Yetthe incarnation,the embodimentof JesusChrist,isatthe core of the
Christianmessage. The liberationthatJesustalkedaboutwasa liberationof bodies. The significance of
incarnational faithisthe importance of ourbodies. Itisas bodiesthatpeople share creative,
intellectual, ethical,emotional,andspiritual power. Incarnationsuggeststhatitisinthe particularityof
embodiedexperience andembodiedrelationshipthatwhateveriscommonamongpeople canbe
 ChristiantheologianDorothee Soelle arguesthatsometimeshumanbeingsfearanddistrustthe
God of the incarnationbecause Jesuswasnotthe kindof God that wasdesiredandexpected: Godthe
all-powerfulandsovereignKing. Itisnotpowerand control but a notionof God's vulnerabilitythatisat
the heart of the incarnation. God takesthe riskof beingmisunderstoodandunrecognizedinJesus
Christ. In the incarnationGoddoesnot act as an independentall-powerful agentbutseeks
 AndJesussaid,"Behold,the Basileia(Kingdom) of Godisin the midstof you"(Luke 17:21; Matthew
12:28). With thisproclamation,Jesusannouncessomethingquite startling;thatthe BasileiaorKingdom
of God isalreadyat hand,experientiallyavailableinthe midstof humanhistory. New TestamentEthicist
Throughhisministry,Jesusbringsthe effectual presenceof the Basileiaof Godintothe realmof
historical reality. The involvementof the Basileiawithactual experience of the worldmakesit
impossible tolookforthe substance andimportof Jesus'message inthe difference betweenGodand
the humankindanda consequentseparationfromthe world(20).
The thrust of Jesus'message isnotto announce the comingof a transcendentfuture Basileia,butto
proclaimthatthe Basileiaof Godisat work inthe midstof embodiedacts of lovingkindnessexperienced
inthe here andnow. Jesusannouncesthatthe transcendentGodbecomesthe immanentGodthrough
visible actsof hospitality. Jesusstatesthatwhenyoufeedthe hungry,clothethe naked,visitthe
prisoner,andcare forthe sick "youdo itto me" (Matthew 25: 40). Concrete acts of hospitality,care,
and healingare recognizedasembodiedworksof the Spirit,embodiedworksof grace.
 The incarnationinvitesthe Christiancommunitytoexperience God'sspiritandGod'sgrace in
concrete acts of lovingkindness: "the blindsee,the lame walk,the lepersare healed,the deaf hear,the
poor are cared for" (Matt.11:4 and Luke 7:22). An incarnational theologysubvertsthe notionthatthe
soul and bodyare distinct,thatgrace and embodiedloveinthe here andnow are distinct. The message
of Jesusisclearinspite of the strong elementsinthe historyof Christiantheologythathave created
dualistictensionsthatpitthe soul againstthe body,the sensual againstthe spiritual,andsalvation
historyagainsthumanhistory. The Christiantheological emphasisof "beinginthe worldbutnotof the
world"hastoo oftenbeeninterpretedintermsof "beinginabodybutnot of a body." Many Christian
churcheshave not fullyconnectedthe humanbodywiththe HolySpirit,openlyacknowledgingthat
compassionate response topeople'sspiritcomesthroughcompassionateresponse topeople'sliteral
 If God ispresentinthe midstof humanhistory,if God's spiritandgrace can be experiencedin
embodiedactsof loving-kindness,thenthe connectionswithoursexualitybecomequicklyapparent.
Bodilylove maybe an expressionof God'spresence. Becomingabetterlovermaybe part of becoming
a betterdisciple andvise versa. Atissue iswhetherornotwe will recognize the spiritof Godthrough
the giftof sexual intimacy. Atitsbest,sex isa positive,empowering,joyful,creative,life-givingforce
whereinthe grace of God isrevealedandembodiedinhumanaffection. Inthiscontext,sexualitytakes
on a sacramental quality,aqualityof bringingGod,spirit,andgrace intohumanrelationship. A sexual
theologytalksaboutGodin a physical,intimateandembodiedmannerandlocatesmutual physical
pleasure asa fundamentallygoodanddesiredstate of being-in-the-world.
 An incarnational faithrecognizesthattheologynotonlyspeakstothe humansituation,butthat
theological understandingarisesoutof the humansituation. Incarnational theologyrefusestomake
humanbeingsintopassive receptors,orwaitingvesselswhocannotactivelyengage butonlypassively
respondtoGod's initiative. WhenGod'sgrace isnot acknowledgedinembodiedactsof lovingkindness
and God isconsidereddistantandotherworldly,thenGodisnolongerexperiencedasvital,indwelling
presence permeatingthe stuff of everydaylife. Incarnational faithdoesnotattempttoseparate
spiritual belongingfromembodiedactsof sexual intimacyandpassion.
 In the Christiancontext,it seemstome,asexualizedspiritualityshouldnotbe completelycontent
withphysicallygratifyingsex done foritsownsake. Sexual expressionatitsbest,reallygoodsex,
shouldbe bothphysicallygratifying,and,atthe same time,be a source of inspirationthatmovespeople
to expandbeyondthe realmof private pleasure toincorporate amore compassionate approachto
people inall spheresof life. Inthiscontext,sexual intimacymightserve asapowerful resource inthe
buildingandmaintainingof the humancommunity;sometimescalledthe "bodyof Christ." Sexual
intimacyviewsthe bodywithpassion,soitalsomay view the bodypoliticwithpassion. Sexual intimacy
may helptocreate a passionforjustice because social justice issuesare atroot material andbody
 Sexual intimacy,perhapsespeciallyforwomen,isassociatedwithcreative power: the powerto
give birth,the powertoproduce life,the powertobringjoy,energy,andpeace intorelationshipwith
self,lover,neighbor, communityandworld. Sexual intimacyisrecognizedasone of the manyfruitsof
the spiritinour personal andinour collective lives.
 The traditional Christiansexual ethicdoesnotconsiderthese issuesbutisconstructedaroundbasic
puritycodes: Heterosexual,marital,andprocreative sex isconsideredpure while homosexual,non-
marital,andnon-procreative sexisconsideredimpure. However,anincarnational theologysuggests
that the signsof God spirithave to do withthe qualityof the way people holdeachotherdearinthis
Sexual Purityandthe Gospel Narratives
 Jesusdidnotcall hisdisciplestoseparate fromthe worldinordertoestablishsectarian
communitiesmarkedbybarriersof physical,cultural,andsexualpuritycodes. ForJesus,the Basileia
was representedmore byinclusive wholenessratherthanexclusive holiness. Biblical ScholarElisabeth
The salvationof God's Basileiaispresentandexperientiallyavailable wheneverJesuscastsoutdemons
(Luke 11:20), healsthe sickandthe rituallyunclean,tellsstoriesaboutthe lostwhoare found,of the
uninvitedwhoare invited,orof the lastwhowill be first. The powerof God's BasileiaisrealizedinJesus'
table communitywiththe poor,the sinners,the tax collectors,andprostitutes-withall thosewho'do
not belong'tothe 'holypeople,'whoare somehow deficientinthe eyesof the righteous(120-121).
Jesusdid notconformto a decisive ruleforPhariseesthatsaidthatGod's powerwaslocatedintemple
and Torah. Rather,Jesuslocatesthe presence of God'spowerasembodiedinthe peoplethemselves,
particularlyinthe presence of hospitalityandacceptance of marginalizedpeople.
 The mark of the Jesusmovementisitsinclusiveness,notitspurityregulations. Indeed,the Gospel
narrativesportrayJesusasone who regularlypreferredthe companyof the impure tothatof the
religiousauthoritiesof hisdayspeakingparticularlykindlyaboutthe destitute poor,the sickandthe
crippled,andtax collectors,sinners,andprostitutes. Jesusstates:"TrulyIsayto you,the tax collectors
and harlotsgo intothe Basileiaof Godbefore you"(Matthew 21:31). Jesusremovedthe boundaries
establishedbyphysical andsexual puritycodesandcreatednew possibilitiesindiverserelationshipsand
inclusive communitybywelcomingthose whowere traditionallyexcludedbythe Phariseespurity
 The Basileiaof Godwasand isimmanentinpresentmomentsof embodiedhealingandthe mission
of the Basileiaistobringembodiedhealingtoothers. The Gospel writersrejectedastrictcode of
physical purityinanattemptto breakdownthe barriers that purityruleserectedbetweenhuman
communitiesandagainstthe marginal people of agivensociety.
 Whenwe applythe Gospel teachingsaboutpuritycodestoissuesconcerningChristiansexualethics
the implicationsare quite clear. The Gospel writersabolishthe linkbetweenphysical purityanddivine
favorand rejectanyconnectionbetweensexual purityandaccesstoGod's grace. The practice of purity
was andis wrongbecause of itsexaltationof one'sownreligiousexcellence atthe expense of others. In
the Gospel narrativesphysical purityremainsoptional,butitisirrelevanttograce,salvation,or
membershipinthe church. Biblical scholarWilliamCountrymanwrites:
The Gospel allowsnorule againstthe following,inandof themselves: masturbation,nonvaginal
heterosexual intercourse,homosexual acts,oreroticart and literature. The Christianisfree tobe
repelledbyanyor all of these andmaycontinue topractice hisor herown puritycode inrelationto
them. What we [Christians] are notfree todo isimpose ourcodeson others(243-44).
Jesus'critique of physical puritycodesdidnotfunctionasa rejectionof cultural distinctivenessand
diversity. Whatit didwasto abolishanyperceivedlinkbetweendivine grace andphysical purity.
 It is the Christiantraditionandnotthe Gospel narrativesthatmake sexual purityof primary
importance. Countrymanarticulatesthatsexualpurity"originatedmore inthe spiritof the age than in
that of the Gospel"(140). Sexual puritymaybe importantintermsof individual Christianidentity;
however,itisnotimportantintermsof Gospel identityandChristiansshouldnotconfuse the two.
 In conclusion,letme saythatthe journeytowardssexual wholenessandcommunitysupportfor
diverse sexualexpressionsisnotan easyroad forChristianchurchestowalk. But it isa journeyon
whichChristianchurchesmustembarkforthe integrity,indeed,the survival of the churchassanctuary,
a place where membersfeellove,safetyandacceptance.
 In searchingfornewapproachestosexual relationsthatstressissuesof sexual joy,mutualpleasure,
intimacyandspiritual belonging,Idonot suggestthatsex isthe be-all andend-allof life orthe onlyor
eventhe bestmeansof experiencingGod'sgrace. On the one hand, there are otherimportantmeansof
grace: worship,rituals,meaningfulwork,friendships,the arts,andthe worlditself,toname a few. On
the otherhand,there are timeswhensex isnota rewarding orappropriate partof our lives. Sexual
overagain. Sexual intimacycanbe one of life'smostdelightful meansof grace. Sexual intimacycanbe
a source that propelspeople tonurture notonlythe bodiesof self andpartnerbutalsothe broader
humancommunitysometimescalledthe bodyof Christ.
 Perhapsintime all Christianchurcheswill be able tospeakandembodythe wordsof James
Baldwin:"Tobe sensual,Ithink,isto respectandrejoice inthe force of life,of life itself,andtobe
presentinall thatone does,fromthe effortof lovingtothe breakingof bread(62).
1962 The Fire NextTime.NewYork:Dell PublishingHouse.
1988 Dirt,Greedand Sex:Sexual Ethicsinthe New TestamentandTheirImplicationsforToday.
1989 In Memoryof Her: A FeministTheological Reconstructionof Christian
1990 Sex inthe Parish.Louisville:Westminster/JohnKnoxPress.
1992 SensuousSpirituality:OutFromFundamentalism.New York:
1988 The Ethicsof the NewTestament.Philadelphia:FortressPress.
1970 BeyondMere Obedience.Minneapolis:AugsburgPress.
A Prayerfor Your Sexual Intimacy
WhenI startedthisseriesonPrayingMore foryour marriage andyour sexual intimacy,IadmittedthatI
didn’tknowexactlywhatitwouldlooklike.How wouldhave awhole yearof blogpostsaboutpraying?
But God keptnudgingme thatthiswas the directiontotake,so I steppedoutinfaith.Okay,okay,I
Today I have thisstrongsense thatI justneedto write aprayer.One that you andI can bothsay for our
marriagesandour marriage beds.I hope you’ll joinme.
I reallydidn’tknowwhatIwas gettingintowhenIgotmarried.Yes,of course,I preparedinsome ways,
and eventriedtofigure outsome thingsaheadof time aboutwhatsex wouldlooklike inourmarriage.
But, as You know,Lord,it’sdifferentgoingthroughthe experience anddealingwithmyunique husband.
Also,Icouldn’thave foreseenthe seasonswe’dgothrough — timeswhensex wasgood,andtimes
whensex wasa struggle.
I wantto bring myconcerns,my hurt,my longingsall before Youandlaythemat Your feet.Icast all my
anxietiesonYoubecause IknowYou care for me (1 Peter5:7). Guide me to the path I shouldtake and
teachme Your way(Psalm25:9).
Nowlet’sstartwiththisbodyYou gave me.It’s an amazingcreation,able toaccomplishsomuch
automaticallyandatmy will.Ithankyoufor all the workingsof my bodythat allow me togo throughmy
daysand do whatI needto do.But whenitcomesto sex,it’snotalwaysbeenaneasyroad. At times,
gettingarousedwithmyhusbandcanbe difficult,andatothertimes,mybodyis readyto go whenthere
isn’ta chance inthe worldthat we can have sex.How fair isthat?!Orgasms can be like mybestfriend,
eagerto hang outwithme,or my nemesis,avoidingme ateveryturn.I don’tadore everyinchof my
appearance, mybodydoesweirdthingsincertainangles(like whyismystomachhangingdownlike
that? — blech),andflexibilityfeelslike athingof the past.
I needtosee myself howYousee me,how You designedmybody,andhow Youblessedme tobe with
my husband.Ialsoneedmore understandingof mybodyand how to helpitcooperate withthe sexual
intimacyIneedandwant to have inmy marriage.Helpme to identifyreal issuesthatneedaddressing
throughmedical assistance orcounselingorexercise,andtohave the purposefulnessandpersistence to
followthrough.Place before me the rightresourcestodeal withthose concerns.
Helpme to feel beautiful.Givebothme andmy husbandanacceptance and appreciationof mybody’s
ownsexualityandhelpuslearnhowIcan experience bothpleasureandintimacyinthe marriage bed.
My God,I alsostruggle withmybackground.I broughtbaggage intomy marriage — teachingsaboutsex
that weren’tinline withYourWord,experiencesthatcoloredmyperceptionof sexuality,andlabelsthat
I carriedin mymindaboutmyself andaboutmen.Please washawayall the debrisandreplace itwith
Helpme stepby stepto replace the negative self-talkinmymindwithmessagesthatalignwithYour
designforsex inmymarriage.Helpme to demolisheveryargumentandpretensionagainstYourwill for
my marriage bed,totake captive of everythoughtandmake itobedienttoChrist(2Corinthians10:5).
Transformmy mindsothat I will knowYour will forme,eveninthe bedroom(Romans12:2).
You are a God whoheals,soI alsopray that You will heal anyriftsbetweenme andmyhusband.Itis
indeedgoodandpleasantwhenYourpeople live togetherinunity!(Psalm133:1).Where my husband
and I do notsee eye-to-eyeonsexual intimacy,Ipraythat we can move towardunity.Helpusto listen
to one another,to communicate aboutdifficultissues,andtomake the personal changeswe needto
make to findcommonground.
Andthisweekend,today,evennow,Ipraythat you’ll openupmyheartand mybody to takingevenone
stepinthe rightdirection.While Ilongfora RedSeamoment,whenYouperformsome greatmiracle
that makesmymarriage and marriage beda perfectreflectionof Yourdesign,Irecognize thatmore of
my Christianlife iswalkingfaithfullywithYou.WithYourWord isa lampto my feetanda lightto my
path,showingme onlythe bitof roadahead thatI needto see (Psalm119:105). Helpme take my next
stepinthe rightdirection,andthe one afterthat,and the one afterthat. Until I am stridingalongonthe
road You wantme to be on,and my husbandandI are movingtowardgreaterintimacyandmore honor
to You, ourFather.
Lord, whatI haven’tsaidhere,You alreadyknow.Where Idon’tknow whatto pray, the Spiritintercedes
for me (Romans8:26). You are, andwill alwaysbe,mySavior.
Sex as a Spiritual Exercise
ChristianityhasshapedWesterncivilization.Inlightof thathistory,the title of thisarticle mayseem
strange indeed.Christianityaffirmsthe Incarnation,thatinJesusChrist,Godactuallytookonhuman
death.Christiansfindspiritual nourishmentbysharingthe Eucharist,HolyCommunion,the bodyand
AndfollowingJesus,Christianslookforwardtoresurrectionof the body:Heavenisnotjusta spiritual
state,but a bodilyone,aswell.Nonetheless,fromChristianity’searliestbeginnings,inmostChristian
thinking,the bodyandthe spirithave beenseenasenemies.
In Galatians5:17, Paul wrote,“Whatthe fleshdesiresisopposedtothe Spirit,andwhat the Spirit
desiresisopposedtothe flesh;forthese are opposedtoeachother.”Tothe Hebrew mindof the Bible,
“flesh”stoodforall that isweak,passing,creaturely,andperhapssinful.“Spirit”stoodforall thatis life-
giving,lasting,andof God. So,understoodaccordingtothe usage of hisday, the teachingof SaintPaul
was merelythatevil andgoodnessare atodds,that the worldlyandthe godlyare intension.Obviously!
But rippedfromitscultural contextandmisunderstoodintermsof ourcurrent usage,Paul’sliteral
wordsare takento refertosex and to pitit—the flesh,the body—againstspirituality.
In fact,the sex negativitythathascharacterizedChristianitydidnotcome fromChristianity’sJewish
heritage,norfromthe teachingsof Jesus,norevenfromthe lettersof Paul.Jewishteachingtothisdayis
sex-positive.Jewishcouplesare supposedtohave sex onthe Sabbathto hallow the day.The Genesis
commandwas to be fruitful andmultiply.Andwithoutreference tomarriage,children,orfamily,the
collectionof poemsinthe Songof Songsisa paeanto sexual love andromance.
Jesus’remarksaboutsex mentiononlyadultery,divorce,andsexualobsession(lustinginthe heart).In
addition,some argue that,inhealingthe centurion’sservant,Jesusrestoredathreatenedhomosexual
SaintPaul doesnot deserve the badraphe gets aboutsex.AsI reportin What the Bible ReallySays
aboutHomosexuality,L.WilliamCountrymanarguedcogentlythatthe intentof Romans1was not to
condemnhomosexuality.Rather,thistextopposesthe splinteringof the Christiancommunityover
irrelevantdifferencesaboutJewishpuritylaws—includingthe “abomination,”thatis,the ritual taboo,of
male-male penetrativesex.In1Corinthians7,Paul doesdiscourage marriage butonlybecause he
believedthe worldwouldsoonend;andflexible inhiscounsel,he isstill opentothe varietyof sexual
practicesof his day.In Galatians3:28 Paul dismisseseventhe difference betweenmaleandfemale
because “all of youare one in Christ.”Paul wasno misogynist.The commandin1 Corinthians14:34–35
that womenbe silentandsubordinateisnotfromPaul himself butwasaddedbyhismore conservative
disciplessuchasthose whoalsowrote 1 Timothy2:11–15 inPaul’sname.The final chapterof the
genuinelyPauline lettertothe Romans,forexample,mentionsbyname twenty-nine disciples;among
these are tenwomen,three of whom—Phoebe,Prisca,andJunia—heldpositionsof honorandauthority
inthe earlyPauline churches.Initsbeginnings,Christianitywasnotsex-negative.
The negativityof the ChristiantraditionderivedfromStoicismandNeo-Platonism,secularphilosophies
that were prevalentduringChristianity’sformation.Thesesystemsof thoughtwere suspectof pleasure
and were overlyrationalistic.Shortsightedintheirappreciationof humansexuality,theyfocusedon
biological functionandarguedthatsex wasfor begettingchildrenandanyother use wasmistaken.This
“mistake”wasquicklyturnedintosin,andintothe twenty-firstcenturywe all live withthe result:
The most brilliantmindsof the Christiantraditionrationalizedthatmisunderstanding.SaintAugustineis
the theological favorite of Protestantism,andSaintThomasAquinasisthe greattheologianof
Catholicism.Bothunderstoodrationalitytobe the crowninggloryof humanity,andbothwere waryof
sex.Atthe pointof orgasm,theyreasoned,one momentarilylosesrationality,andthe riskof suchloss
can onlybe justifiedforaseriousreason.The desire toconceive achildwouldbe the onlysufficient
Warinessaboutsex throughthose earlycenturiesisunderstandable.Before modernmedicine,perhaps
a quarter of all womeneventuallydiedinchildbirth.Noeffective contraceptive wasavailable.Children
born outof wedlockwere social pariahs.A non-virginwomanwouldbe hardpressedto everfinda
thoughtto reduce people tothe levelof ananimal.Onmanyfronts,sex wasthoughtto be,and infact
But whyhas religionremainedrabidlysex-negativeeventoday?Repeatedstudiesshow thatthe more
religiouspeopleare,the more opposedtosex theytendtobe.A nearlyhysterical religiousop- position
to sex—forexample,the enlistmentof hundredsof millionsof Americantax dollarstopromote sexual
abstinence nationallyandglobally—makesone wonderwhatisreallygoingon.
There isno easyaccountingfor thisreligiouscuriosity.Toexplainsocial attitudesisdifficultinthe bestof
casesand, perhaps,impossibleinatime of rapidchange,like ourown.Yale historianJohnBoswell
arguedthat Christianityhasbasicallyfollowedsecularmoresregardingsexual matters.Farfromsetting
the pace,Christianitytendedmerelytogive itspiritual approval.Today,whenatrulytheological
discussionof homosexualityhasarisen,Christianityfacesanovel challenge:tosortout sexual issues
theologicallyinthe face of mushroomingnew evidence.Infact,suchsortingout has alreadybeendone.
Theological argumentstolegitimatesexual diversity—biblical,historical,biological,medical,
psychological,sociological,anthropological,ethical—are there foranyone whowantsthem.Yetthe
religionsrefuse toadjusttheirteaching.Whyso?The causesare multiple,complex,andintertwined.A
listingof likelyoneswill shedsome lightonthisconundrum.
• Ignorance isa major factor.Sexualityhasbeenatopicof studyfor barelya century.SigmundFreud’s
notoriousemphasisonsex wasnota personal quirkbuta reflectionof the buddinginterestof hisday.In
the past centurywe have learnedmore aboutsex thanduringall of prior humanhistory.Sexual
orientation,transsexualism, transvestism, intersexuality—these topicsneverfitintotraditional notions
of sex,yettodaytheyare known as relativelycommon,non-pathological,natural variations.Religionists
are caught upshort to have to face these issues,and,despite theirweightymoral obligationtoprovide
competentspiritualleadership,manymembersof the clergysimplydonotknow,orare unwillingto
• The powerful emotionsthatsurroundsexualityare anotherfactor.Emotionscloudthinking.If truthbe
told,the heartusuallyrulesthe head.Sosome religiousleaders—especiallyseniors,whotend tohold
the influential positionsbutwhogrewupinformergenerationswithdeeplyengrainedrestrictivesexual
attitudes—mayactuallybe humanlyincapableof transcendingtheirprejudices.Besides,mostyounger
clergyalsogrewup insexual repression. Itwill take generationsbefore comfortwithsex becomes
typical of our society.
• Emotional restructuringof the humanpsyche isaslow process.Deeppsychological healingoften
requiresyearsof psychotherapy.Yetthe emotion- allyladensocial changesthatassaultourerahave
come quickly—divorce,chemical contraception,racial equality,women’srights,accessforthe
handicapped,gayliberation,transsexual andintersex liberation,gaymarriage,the Internet,the
breakdownof national boundaries,the growthof aglobal community,andterrorism.The humanpsyche
isnot builttosustainsuch rapid-fire assault.Byanyhistorical standard,the achievementsof sexual
liberation,evenif haltedtoday,wouldremainremarkable.Infact,then,itisnotto be expectedthat
people ingeneral ortheirreligionswill change theirsexualattitudesquickly.
• Guiltisanotherfactor.Sexual explorationisanormal aspectof adolescence.Inthatexplorationmany
as true,withoutdebate,thatsame-sex experimentationisanormal facetof theirculture.Butgiventhe
societal andreligiousguiltsurroundingsuchsex acts,adultbelievers,convertedandrepentant,are likely
to wage a battle againstsexual “sins,”theirownandeveryoneelse’s.The factthat eventhese true
believershadonce “fallen”providespersonal proof of the needtovigilantlyoppose pernicious
• Reactionformation—the Freudiandefensemechanismwherebyone opposesinotherswhatone
sensesbutcannotadmitin oneself—alsoplaysoutinotherways.Carl Jung notedthathomosexual
people tendtobe spirituallysensitive.Sotheyare likelytobe overrepresentedinthe ministry.Estimates
of homosexualCatholicpriestsrange from30 to 60 percentandmore.Because of the all-male structure
of the Catholicpriesthood,thisincidence of homosexualityisprobablyhigherthanthatamong non-
Catholicclergy.Still,despitethe de factorequirementof marriage forProtestantministers,the
incidence of homosexualityamongthemisalsolikelytobe high.Besides,arecentstudysuggestedthat
“heterosexual”menwhobecome more sexuallyarousedbyhomosexual pornographyalsotendtoscore
higherthanotherson a scale of homophobia.Overall,then,some clergysurelyoppose homosexuality
because theycannotaccept the tendencyinthemselves.
• Changingsexual moresshake the veryfoundationsof Westerncivilization,sofearalsocatalyzes
religiousleadersintheiroppositiontochange.Suchchange isinherentinthe “sexual revolution,”and
such change iscolossal,sooppositiontoitisnot whollyirrational.Onthe choppingblockof historical
change lie the rule of patriarchy,the relation- shipof manandwoman,the notionsof femininityand
masculinity,the mythicallypowerful andfinanciallyencumberingheterosexual wedding,the popular
understandingof marriage,andthe Norman-Rockwellianmythof family.The threatalsoincludesthe
fictionalizedenergyof “free sex”unleashed,the powerof romance todilute the workethic,andthe loss
of easygovernmentalcontrol overpeople becausetheylove.The movementtowardaglobal
community—builtonthe axiomof “humanrights”and respectful of all peoplesandculturesyet
manipulatedforeconomicgoalsbymultinational corporations—isanotherentangleddimensionof this
intricate scenario.Underdiscombobulatingcircumstanceslikethese,itisunderstandable thatreligious
leaderswouldtendtowardconservatismand,impotentasanyone torestrainthe historical trends,
wouldfocusonindividuals,theirprivate sex lives,andtheirfear-riddenrelationship withGod.Evidently
and unfortunately,religiousfaithisnotstrongenoughtoallow thatall people couldbe themselvesand
still live togetherinpeace,joy,andmutual respect.We are still incapableof conceivingatrulynew
• Philosophically,aswell,the bottomhasfallenoutof Westerncivilization.Radical postmodernism
discreditsthe verynotionsof truthandgoodness,andmoderate postmodernismhas,inthe least,
demonstratedthe difficultyof approachingthesetraditional ideals.No consensuswhatsoeveron
epistemologyorethicsexistsinourday.Eventhe possibilityof correctknowinghasbeen—self-
credible exitfromthisquandary.Thus,religion’seasyclaimtoknow the truthfromGod and to
announce the goodappearsas a fictionfroma bygone era.Nonetheless,bettertohave a dubious
ethical teachingthannone atall.So religionholdstoitstraditional position.Thistendencyisblatant in
RomanCatholicism,whichcontinuestoinsistthatineverycase sex mustbe opentoconception.Other
religionsare notasexplicitintheirteaching,butlogical analysisof theiroppositiontosexual variations
because of a supposed“complementarityof the sexes”leadstothe same firstpremise.Thus,forwant
of a coherentalternative,religioninsistsonthe falteringstatusquo.
• Appeal tothe Bible shouldnotsustainoppositiontolesbianandgayrelationships,yetitdoes.As
cogentlyashistorical researchiseverlikelytodo,biblical scholarshipshowsthat,understoodintheir
original linguistic,historical,andcultural settings,the biblical textswere notaddressingthe questionsof
our day anddidnot evencondemnsame-sex actsperse in theirday.Althoughnotall allow solucida
conclusion,inthe veryleastanhonestpersonmustadmitthatthere isseriousquestionaboutthe
meaningof those texts.Thisdoubtshouldfavorsexualdiversity.Standardandlong-standingreligious
principlesapplyinsuchcases.Forexample,Catholicteachingholdsthatitisnot rightto impose amoral
burdenona personif the needforthat burdenisquestionable:Lex dubianotobligat:A doubtful lawhas
no bindingpower.Similarly,Baptistsadvocate “soul freedom,”the rightof everybelievertopersonally
holdtheirowninterpretationof the Bible anditsrequirements.Yetneitherof these religionscutsslack
for lesbianandgaypeople.Evidently,justaspossessionisnine-tenthsof the law,soestablishedmoral
teachingoutweighsrecentinsight.Thus,forall the reasonsalreadynotedandinoppositiontotheirown
traditional ethical principles,religionscontinuetocomfortablyopposehomosexuality.
• Blatanthumanperversity,downrightwickedness,isalsoafactor that shouldnotbe overlooked.It
showsitself inscapegoating:the easyblame of lesbiansandgaysforall the illsof society;inan
repressive political agendas;andinthe lucrative appeal tohomophobiainreligiousfundraisingefforts.A
similardynamic,lessdeliberatelyculpable,isoperative withinpastors’andhierarchs’fearsof splitting
congregationsandwhole religiousbodiesover acontroversial change inemotionallychargedsexual
• Finally,fairnessrequiresthatwe allowthe goodwill of those whooppose homosexuality.Undoubtedly
and disconcertingly,manyreligiousleaderssincerelybelievethatsexual variationsare harmful,wrong,
godless,andsinful.Theirreasonsmightbe anun-self-consciousconglomerate of those listedaboveor
othersthat pertaintogeneralizedreligiousallegiance—suchasbelief inaparticularreligion,the voice of
the pope,or the wordof the Bible,the Koran,or the Bookof Mormon.Althoughothers— myself
included—mightsee theirstance asa fictionof blindconviction,the nobilityof theirspiritual
Obviously,forthe mostpart,religiousdiscussionof homosexualityisnota rational affair.Iknow no
othertopicwhose mere mentioncanmake some people loseall perspective,succumbtoamygda- loid
rage,and go bonkers.The inevitable change of religiousbeliefs,judgments,andattitudeswillbe
difficult.While the slow processof change goeson,otherspiritual leaders—open-minded,questioning,
honest,andgoodwilled—needtoforge a new visionof the relationshipbetweensexualityand
spirituality.Suchavisionwill provide conservative religionistsacoherentandethical alternative.This
theycan embrace ingood conscience whentheyfinallybegintoletgoof theirsex negativity.Tosucha
vision,thisarticle turnsonce again.
The human as body,psyche,andspirit
In theirconcernto limitsexual experience, AugustineandAquinaswere correct:Sexualexperiencedoes
entail amomentarylossof rationality.Butwithmore profoundpsychological awareness,the wisdomof
our age assertsthat such a temporarylossmightbe to the good.The psychoanalytictermthat could
applyis“regressioninthe service of the ego.”Sometimesitisuseful toexperience abreakfromourtoo-
headyrationalism.Such“regression”allowsourmental structurestoregroupina healthier
configuration:one stepbackwardforthe sake of twostepsforward.Justas a neededvacationletsus
returnto everydaylife withanewoutlook,so,too,a respite fromouroverrationalizedandover
intellectualizedpursuitscanbringa newsense of wondertodailyliving.
To be humanisto be everbecoming.Throughoutourliveswe create ourselves.Inthe endeachof us
will be the one andonlyeditionof ourselves.Ourbecomingdependsonashiftingbalance inthe various
facetsof ourmake up. Asa pause thatgivesnew life,sex canprovide anoccasion toshiftourinner
balance.Butwhat doesthisshifthave todo withspiritual growth?
Religionhastraditionallyconceivedthe humanbeingasa combinationof bodyandsoul.Similarly,
psychologyspeaksof bodyandmind.The difference betweenmindandsoul isnotworthaddressingat
thispoint.Bothconceptsare sufficientlyfuzzythatcomparingthemwouldbe awastedeffort.Still,this
much remainsclear:A two-partmodel of the humanbeingistoosimple.There ismore goingonininner
humanexperience—soul ormind—thanjustone thing.
In hismajorwork,Insight:A Studyof Human Understanding,BernardLonerganspeaksof twofacetsof
the mind.The one constantlyurgesusinto new frontiersandtowardfurthergrowth;the otherseeks,
rather,the comfort andsecurityof a stable statusquo.Lonergancallsthe firstintentional consciousness
or the human spirit,andthe other,psyche.Thus,he projectsatripartite model of the humanbeing:
Spiritisthe self-transcendingdimensionof the humanmind.We experience itmostfundametallyas
wonder,marvel,awe.Itpromptsusto be aware,to be self-aware,andeventobe aware of our
awareness.Itsverynature is“question”—outward-lookingdynamism, raw curiosity,thatwould
understandevermore andmore and encompassevermore andmore.Open-endedinitspurview,its
ideal goal iseverythingthatthere istoknow andlove.Itis,in fact,that by whichwe do come to know
and love.Itguidesourwonder,ourquestioning,ourjudging,andourchoosing.Gearedtoembrace the
universe—evenas,inthe ideal,we wouldwanttounderstandeverythingabouteverythingandinthe
processbecome one withitall—itisabuilt-inhomingdevice forourlife’squest.It“knows”whatis
requiredforwholeness,oneness,coherence,unity— justas,whenwe aska question,we anticipate
whatkindof answerwill satisfyourquestion.Likewise,it“senses”whenwe verge off track—justas
withoutactuallyknowingthe correctanswer,we recognize whenwe’re givena“snow job”and a
proposedanswerdoesnotreallyaddressourquestion.Followingthe leadof thisinnerguidetothe
extentthatwe are able,we wouldcontinuetochange,move,andgrow until we reachedthe fullnessof
the positive growththatispossible inourparticularlife situation.
Thisinnermental drive hasuslivingina worldof understandingsandlove,of meaningsandvalues,of
ideasandideals,of visionsandvirtues.Variouslynamed,these mattersare clearlyspiritual;theyare not
of time andspace.Because of thisdimensionof ourminds,remainingrightwhere we are,we can
transcendspace and time.We can grasp abstracts—suchasa2 + b2 = c2 and t’= t√1–v2/c2—which
applyeverywhere andalways.We canhave experiences—mysticism—inwhichwe seemtoattaintothe
unityof all things.Thisdimensionof ourmindsisrightlycalledspirit.Itisthatbecause of whichGenesis
saysthat we are made in the “image andlikeness”of Godandthe Psalmistsaysthatwe are made a
“little less thanthe angels.”Itisthat because of whichSaintAugustinesaidinprayer,“Lord,youhave
made us foryourself,andourheartsare restlesstill theyrestinyou.”Itisthat whichmakesuspersons,
inpart spiritual beings,ratherthanbrute animalsorinanimate things.
Withouteverexplicitlytalkingof Godor of a relationshipwithGod,Ihave beendescribingafacetof our
mindsthatis spiritual.If Iam correct inso doing,thisveryaspectof our mindsisthe basisof human
spirituality.Because of itwe knowwonderandawe,we questionourexistence,we contemplate the
stars, we reachout inlove—andanticipatingthe answertooureveryquestionandprojectingthe
fulfillmenttoourdeepestlongings,we conceive of God.The humanspiritisthe real foundationof all
spirituality.Theologicalconsiderationsare secondary;theyare derivative.
To the extentthatwe allowthe humanspiritto guide ourliving,tothe extentthatwe integrate its
urgingsevermore intothe verystructure of ourbeing,we grow spiritually;we become more spiritual.
However,thisself-transcendingdimensionisnotall there istoour minds.There isalsopsyche.It
supportsthe out goingspirit;it“houses”the spirit.Butbythe same token,the psyche alsolimitsthe
The greatestobstacle toour spiritual growthisourselves.Althoughourspiritswouldsoar,facetsof our
mindspreventsuchself-transcendence.Forreasonsalsobuiltintoourbeing,we cannotbe fullyopen-
minded,we limitourwonderandawe,we fearto strike outon new adventures,we selfishlyattendonly
to ourselves.Ourself-limitingself-defenserestrictsourpotential forunlimitedgrowth.
Psychologistsandcounselorsworktofree upthe limitingaspectsof the self.Theseprofessionalshel pus
heal our pasthurts,give up festeringresentments,enhance interpersonal relationships,putaside
counterproductive defenses.The focusof suchhealingisemotions,memories,images,andhabitsof
Hence,there isa tug and pull inside of us.The urge togrow and the urge to stagnate are at war within
us—perhapslikethe “spirit”and“flesh”aboutwhichSaintPaul wrote.The goal of growthisto integrate
these innerforcesandtoletspirittake the leaduntil,throughrepeatedself-adjustment,ourwhole
being—body,psyche,andspirit—movesharmoniouslyinone direction.Suchisthe pathof spiritual
growth.Understoodfroma psychological pointof view—thatis,ahumanisticornaturalistic,notyeta
theological,pointof view—spiritual growthresultsviathe processof integrationof the humanspirit.
The mechanismof spiritual growth
Nowit comesclearwhata pause inroutine hasto do withspiritual growth.Itissometimesuseful to
breakout of our routinizedworldinordertoallow ourspiritstotake the lead.Thisisnota matterof
goingon retreatso as to allowGodintoour lives—asif Godwere notalreadyalwaysoperatingthrough
natural causesin andaround usand, as Christianitywouldadd,throughthe supernatural giftof the Holy
foremostacommitmenttoreleasingthe self-transcendinghumanspiritthatiseveralreadypartof our
ownwondrousbeing.Accordingly,like meditative practice,sex canalsobe a path towardpersonal—
and,therefore,spiritual—integration.Bymovingusoutof our workadayworldand intoa more creative
mental space,like meditation,sexual experiencescan fosterthe transformationof the psyche.Such
psychological healingisthe God-givenmechanismof spiritual growth.
Whereasa formerage emphasizedoppositionbetweenbodyandspirit,contemporarypsychological
not.This psychological lessonissure.Pressure-cooker-like,bottled-upfeelingsandinclinations
inevitablybreakout;butwithrespectful attention,innerforcescanbe unearthed,understood,and
responsiblychanneledintopathwaysof personal growth.Thus,insteadof attemptingtosequestersex,
to restrict,control,andrestrainit,our age wouldrecognize sexualdiversityandineachcase helpbody,
psyche,andspiritenterintoa unique,life-enhancingpartnership.Insteadof conceivingthe spiritual
ideal tobe escape fromthe physical bodyandworld,ourage wouldfindspiritual growththrough
personal fulfillmentinthe body—inalife of wonder,awe,honesty,gratitude,love,service,andgood
will.The other-worldlyspiritualityof aformerage istoday givingwayto“incarnational spirituality,”a
this-worldlypathof wholenessandintegration.Grantedthatone facetof humanwholenessisthe
humanspirit,personal integrationentailsipsofactoincreasingactualizationof ourspiritual potential.
Ratherthan oppose sex,contemporaryemphasiswoulduse sex toelicitandintegrate thispotential.This
effectcanoccur ontwo levels:bodilyandpsychic.
TibetanBuddhism haslongusedphysical sexual arousal toachieve transcendentexperiences.We know
thistraditionasTantric sex.Inour ownsocietyinterestin“eroticmassage”ispopularizingthissame
approach.It usesfull-bodymassage,includingsexual stimulationbutwithoutorgasm, toinduce intense
and prolongedstatesof physiological arousal.Especiallywhenaccompaniedbydeep-breathing
exercises,thisarousal caninduce profoundalteredstatesof consciousness,which,like psychedelic
drugsusedreligiouslyorpsychotherapeutically,facilitate the restructuringof the psyche.Similarreports
are made aboutkarezza,prolongednon- orgasmiccopulation,whichwaspioneeredinthe Oneida
memories,andlongingsthatoffernewoptionsforlife.Inhumans,forwhomthe brainisthe largestsex
organ,orgasm isinseparablylinkedtothe workingsof the mind.
Because the bodyisthe foundationof the psyche,anysexual arousal loosensupthe psyche.The
relaxationthatsexual arousal requiresfreesupthe mind.Fantasyroutinelyaccompaniessexual arousal:
images,memories,andemotionsrise upoutof the psyche.Thisshake-upof the psyche opensthe way
to personal transformation.Thus,sexualarousal canserve asan access to the spiritthroughthe body—
justas other,more standard,body-centeredspiritual practicesdo,suchasfasting,sleepdeprivation,
yoga,ritual postures,movement,andsacramental intoxicants.
A passingsexual encountercansometimesbe abeneficial experience—thelegendaryweekendtryst
that leavesbothpartiesgrateful foreachanotherandrestoredtofaithinlife.Still,onthe levelof
psyche,sexual arousal has itsmostpowerful effectwhencoupledwithromance andongoing
The emotional powerof relationshipsislegendary.Loversinterminablychallenge eachotherastheyjog
to and froin a dance of on goingcompromisesandadjustments,some stepswelcomedandothers
resisted.Sometimesthe powerof interpersonal relationshipscanbe explosive;but,tosome extentin
everycase,theypryopenthe psyche.Fallinginlove andbeinginlove are excitinganddisrupting
experiences.Whenpeople are inlove,fromtheirpsychescome pouringoutmemories,joys,andfears—
as well ashopesandschemes:the dreamsandpromisesof lovers,the meaningsandvalues,the ideas
and idealsthatare the hallmarksof the human spirit.Thispsychicupheaval turnsoverrichmental soil
and makeswayfor newgrowth.Withthe breakdownof habitual patternsof behaviorandresponse
comesthe possibilityof reconfiguringthe self inahealthierform.Inthissense peopleinloving
relationshipsare “goodforeach other.”
Sex can be usedto facilitate self-transcendentexperience.Havingsex seducesloversintodreaming
dreamsand makingpromises:Humansex engagesthe psyche,which,inturn,releasesthe humanspirit.
Bringinga purifiedmindtosex alsotransformssex itself.Therefore,comparedtothe unaware,people
whomeditate regularlycanbe more personallyengagedinasexual encounter.Theycanapproacha
partnerwithclarityof focus,knowingwhytheyare there;withintensityof action,beingfullypresentto
everymovement,touch,andgesture;withemotional attunement,flowinginsynchwiththe partner;
withresponsivenessof presence,attendingspontaneouslytothe other;andwithprofound
identification,findingthemselvesinthe otherandthe otherinthemselves.
At the same time that the regularmeditatorbringsaricherself tothe sexual encounter,the bodilyand
psychiceffectsof the encounteralsofurtherintensifythe meditator’spersonal presence.This
reciprocitycreatesasnowballingeffect.Multiple systemsconspiretoincrease personal—andnow
interpersonal—integration.Bodies,psyches,andspiritsflow inthe transcending,ever-renewingcourse
that isdeterminedbythe open-endeddynamismof the humanspirititself.A unitiveexperience—a
sense of onenesswithoneself,the other,andthe universe—maysometimesresult.Thisisto say, in
sexual sharingorinreflectiononit,one canknow a momentof mystical ecstasy.Asdoesevery
“religiousexperience,”thismomenthelpstofurthertransformthe psyche,openingontothe possibility
of still furtherexperiencesof self-transformation.Inthisfashion,lovingsex canbecome apathto
The ideal andthe real inperspective
However,mydown-to-earthsenseof life requiresthatIadd a qualification.Itmustbe recalledthat
mostoftensex isa rather prosaicevent.Peopleusuallyendupenjoyingsex notbecause itcanopenthe
door to mysticismbutforthisor that more mundane reason.Aswithspiritualityitself,we mustbe
careful notto idealize sex.Itisoftenlessthanitiscracked upto be.Sex is,afterall,a human affair,and,
more oftenthannot, humanaffairsfall intothe grayrange,not intoblackor white.
Be thatas itmay, sex andspiritualitycanbe integrated.Theycanmutuallyenhance eachother.
However,asthe close relationshipbetweensexualityandspiritualitybecomesatopicof popular
discussion,misleadingoversimplificationsemerge.Iexplainedthe inherentrelationshipof sexualityto
spiritualityonthe basisof afacet of our humanmakeup—namely,the open-ended,self-transcending,
encounterisspirituallyuseful.Initself,of course,assheertitillation,sex hasamagic of itsown.But this
merelyphysical andemotional excitementisnotthe self-transcendingwonderof the humanspirit.Not
justany sexual arousal leadstospiritual fulfillment.
Drugs can induce spirituallyuseful alteredstatesof consciousness,andmanyindigenousreligious
rituals—nottomentionChristianity’suse of communionwine onanemptystomach—utilize
psychedelicsforthispurpose;butpeoplealsouse drugsonthe streetand endupin enslaving
addictions.Similarly,sex canbe usedforspiritual growth,butitcan alsobe usedfor escapism.Initsown
waysex can also become anaddiction.Itwouldbe a compoundedillusiontobelievethataninsatiable
pursuitof sex has spiritual growthasitsmotive oritslikelyresult.
The spiritual pathfollowsafine line.Itisthe narrow gate of whichJesusspoke,the razor edge that the
bodhisattvamustwalk.If a formerage fell off the edge intoanother-worldlyextreme,advocatinga
spiritual fulfillmentthatrequiredthe denialof sex,ourownage tendsto fall off the edge intoathis-
worldlyextreme,ignoringthe spiritual andtoutingthe value of physical pleasure.Findingandexpressing
a balance isnot easyto do. But worse thanmissingthe balance istonot evenattempttofindit.
Integrationof sexualityandspiritualitymaycall forsome experimentation,andalongthe wayone may
make some mistakes.One onlyhopesthatwe all have the goodsense nottomake irreparable
scandalousbetrayalsof solemncommitments.Itreatthe integrationof sexualityandspiritualityindetail
inSex and the Sacred.
The integrationof sexualityandspirituality
Spiritualityisaquest.Composedof body,psyche,andspirit,we livepulledinmanydirections.The
challenge eachdayisto pursue a newbalance aslife inevitablychangesandmoveson.The keyto the
balance isattunementtoourown spirit,forthe spiritholdsavisionof unity,anorientationtoward
transcendence,andafountainof wisdomthatare beyondourdeliberate control.
For that veryreason—because ourownspiritseemstooperate frombeyondourselves,because we are
more than our small,conceptualizedselves—peopletendtoattribute spiritual experiencestothings
outside of themselves,mostcommonly,to“God.”I have attributedspiritualitytoanaspectof ourown
outgoing,gearedtothe universe,orientedtoall thatis true and good.Fidelitytothe humanspiritcould
One advantage of thisapproach isthat it easilyexplainsthe close relationshipbetweenspiritualityand
sexuality—andmanyotherfacetsof humanliving,aswell.Anotheradvantage isthatitcountersthe
centuries-longembarrassmentof Christianity—thereligionthatbelievesGodbecame fleshbuthas
Despite intenselypiousbeginnings,Daniel Helminiak hasalwaysbeenfascinatedwithscience andgiven
to optimisticengagementwiththe secularizedworld.He enteredthe seminaryandcompletedanS.T.B.
and S.T.L.in Catholicdoctrine atthe Pontifical GregorianUniversityinRome,Italy.Afterleavingthe
Catholicpriesthood,he completedaPh.D.insystematictheologyatBostonCollege (where he servedas
teachingassistanttothe Jesuitphilosopher,theologian,methodologistBernardLonergan) andAndover
educational psychologyatthe Universityof TexasatAustin.HeliminiakiscertifiedasaFellow of the
AmericanAssociationof Pastoral Counselors.Hisspecializationisspiritualityasa psychological
phenomenonanditsrole of spiritualityinaglobal society.He teachesandwritesaboutspirituality,
MeditationWithoutMyth(Crossroads,2005), and Sex andthe Sacred (HaworthPress,2006). His
bestseller,Whatthe Bible ReallySaysaboutHomosexuality,hassoldmore than50,000 copiesto date.
Holy Spirit:YourBest Friend toKill SexualSin
by TimConway of Grace Community ChurchonMay 26, 2017
The Holy Spiritmustbe the believer’s bestfriendinthe battle tokill sexual sin.Youcannothave victory
againstsinunlessitisvictory thatis hadby wayof the Spiritof God. We don’thave the powerin
ourselves andsowe needthe powerof the Holy Spirittoovercome sin.
Douglas Francis Mitchell
Kingsland, Texas 78639
The Spirituality of Genderial Relations
Among the many non-religious and so-called scientific concepts put forth whichattempt to explain
the origin of all things (such as the Big Bang theory, and the theory of Evolution,etc.), none address
the most fundamental phenomenon of life— that is, the reason for,or the cause of gender and love.
For those whothink to embrace said Creator-less theories, here are some questions.
Why do gender and love exist?
What caused the primal elements and forces(whatever they are conceivedto be) to take forms
whereby they could perceive and be perceived by means of sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch,
and evaluate said information in a mind, and have said mind influenced by emotional feelings (the
Was it something wholly within each element or force(as though they created themselves – each
one having an almost prophetic awareness of the others it would eventually be formed together
with producing something greater than each alone)?
Why did the so-called Cosmic Ooze(or whatever) decide to take on gender, fall in love with other
Cosmic Ooze (actually,a part of itself, since it is Cosmic), experience the sensations of emotional
attraction, procreation, and multiply itself thereby and thus become a family of Cosmic Ooze?
Though vast multitudes have experienced loveand have enjoyed the pleasures of gender, the
reason why things are the way they are has remained a mystery for most. Even Darwinwas at a loss
to explain how and why eyes came into being. The Big Bang theory offers no hypothesis as to why
things became beautiful to behold and why this has such an important influence in procreation and
the continuance of life in the many species.
In this study we will,by God's grace, see the higher meanings and significance of our dealings in
regard to our sexual natures, and see that our creation as gendered beings was the result of the
outworking of God's eternal principle of loving self-sacrifice.We will also see that the way in which
we regard this divine principle (which is the foundation of true love) is revealed in the way in
whichwe deal withour ownsexuality and that of others, and that our regard towards such is the
direct product of the knowledge, beliefs, and/or presumptions we hold.
How we understand the origin and purpose of love and sex is directly related to our sex/love lives
and interactions with others. If we believe that loveand genderial relations are the product of
chance alone, and not the specific design of a creative Intelligence, then our relationships will
reflectthe random uncertainty and instability of our theories. If we believe that our gender and
natural desires are curses fromGod, then our relationships willbe clouded by an unstable,
It is written in the Bible, “My people are destroyed forlack of knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6) This tells us
that even believers, God's people, are being destroyed because they too have a lack of knowledge
concerning life giving principles. According to the rest of the above quoted text this mournful lack
of knowledge is not due to the unavailability of that life-preserving knowledge, but rather because
of the willfulaction on the part of the some, forwe read, "because thou hast rejected knowledge, I
will also reject thee ..."
Though there is certainly a mystery surrounding gender, such is not the end of the matter. "It is the
glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter." (Proverbs 25:2)
Therefore, with honorable and noble intentions, may we now proceed with humble hearts as we
explore this age old mystery.
Safe Sex? Holy Sex?
Mirriam Webster's Dictionary defines safe as: "freed fromharm, injury, or risk: no longer
threatened by danger or injury: unharmed, unhurt." Our English wordcomes through French from
a Latin wordwhich means whole, healthy; and a Greek word whichmeans complete, entire; and
from a Sanskrit word whichmeans unharmed, entire. Therefore,safe sex would be that whichis
whole, healthy, complete, unharmed, entire.
The word safe implies a judgment, a determination, a distinguishing between one condition and
another. The so-called primal elements and forces,in the common conceptions of their natures,
display none of the intelligence necessary to know or care about anything being safe. Gravity
doesn't contemplate whether or not its effectresults in something safe. But as wehave intelligence
and the powers of discernment above the base elements and forces wecontain which influence us,
we have to lookelsewhere forthe explanation of why something is considered safe, and what it is
The word safe has an interesting relationship to the wordholy. And that is, in their root definitions
they both convey the idea of whole, entire, complete. The "w"in the word wholehas only been in
use forabout fivehundred years. It was added to the wordwhich meant holy,and whichis also the
root of the wordhealth. So wholeness, healthiness, and holiness are qualities of that whichis safe.
And, as holiness is a quality of the divine – the creativeinfluence of life – to such wemust look to
understand the why and whereforeof things being safe.
It is written, "Godis love."(1 John 4:8, 16) In the realm of human experience, love is God. That is,
the outworking of the intellectual principles of love,with its emotional attachments, is the
motivating forcein human actions. Many of those who have experienced pure love identify it as
divine. As the singer Bob Dylanputs it, “Loveis all there is, it makes the world go round. Love,and
only love,can’t be denied. No matter what youthink about it, youjust won'tbe able to live without
it. Take a tip from one who has tried.”
Bottom line: something is considered safe and holy if it promotes and preserves life and love.For
sex to be safe and holy (wholly safe) it needs to be free of anything whichdiminishes love, or fails to
nurture it and make or keep it whole, healthy, complete, unharmed, entire.
If,therefore, loveis the standard, the all-in-all, and love is God, and "God is love,"what then is God's
(Love's)reason for creating genders and sexual interactions? Though there are elements of the
revelation of God's (Love's)character and purposes in the various religions and philosophies of the
many nations, the fullest and purest revelation is found in the Bible. It is therein written:
"And GODS said, Let US make man in OUR image, after OURlikeness... So GODScreated man in HIS
OWNIMAGE, in the IMAGE OF GODS created He him; MALE AND FEMALE,created He them."
The Hebrew word Elohim, whichis translated "God" (singular) in most Bibles, is, in fact,plural in
Hebrew, not singular. This hidden truth is somewhat revealed by the factthat the pronouns used in
direct relation withit are all, themselves, plural. Actually, there isn't any one English wordwhich