As the Nickel City BYOB Theology is ramping up to tackle issues of God & Sex over beer for the second time in a row (last months discussion was quite popular, apparently), and as I’m going to miss the conversation for a second time for the same exact reason (I’ll be marrying people in the District of Columbia, again) I decided that I needed to talk about this with as many people as I could manage.
I mean, who doesn’t want to talk about sex?
Okay. Bad question. Many people, apparently, don’t want to talk about sex, but I’m not asking them. I’m asking you, and I happen to know that most of you out there that manage to find your way to my blog have no problem enjoying at least certain aspects of sex. I know you like to read lemons. I’m guessing you enjoy sex, either with a partner, a toy, or your hand – or all three. But you also know, or you have blithely skipped over the knowledge, that I’m a priest, which means I am a de facto expert in God. Now, this too is debatable. Priests and ministers debate it all the time, and we can debate all we want, but the truth is that the rest of the world, with good intentions and bad, understands this to be at least moderately true, so I’m just going to go ahead and own it, and try to be down to earth about it. It’s an imperfect system, but that’s where I’m going.
We’ll say I have a deep love for God. Lots of people do. Some take it up as a profession, for others its a favorite hobby. Also, I have a deep love for sex. So, let’s talk.
My dear friend Huw recently asked me, all along this vein, whether I thought sex was salvific. I said, yes, sure, maybe. But then I started thinking about it. We were going back and forth on Twitter at this point, and I got to thinking that the strength of the orgasm does not necessary correspond in a direct fashion (recall those statistic courses!) to the salvific nature of sex.
Oh, but let’s back this train on up, because what do I mean by ‘salvific‘?
Salvific – from Salvation. If something is salvific, it saves you. Edward’s ability to zippity-do-da across the parking lot and stop Mr. Crowly’s van from smooshing the Ever Lovely Bella Swan turned out to be salvific, at least for her pelvis. Or if you like, in that moment, his actions were salvific. Edward saved Bella. So, okay.
Is sex salvific? Can it be? Could it be sometimes, but not others? So okay, let’s break it down again. What are we getting saved from? Obviously, not our impending doom via overdramatic car accident from which only a Shockingly Beautiful Vampire can save us. If that were the case, most of us would be dead. (I say most – I don’t want to limit the Universe. Perhaps someone out there is actually dating a Shockingly Beautiful Vampire, in which case they are totally safe from out of control vans.) But to make a long story short (too late?) the sort of salvation we’re talking about is one of two things, depending on your point of view. Either way, we’re talking about Kingdom of Heaven stuff. So, either we’re talking life after death, here – whatever that means; an afterlife of bliss over eternal torment, that sort of saving – or we’re talking the here and now; getting out of the hell of your own self-centered downward spiral and achieving bliss, nirvana, Enlightenment. Both can be termed ‘Kingdom of Heaven.’ It’s all a matter of your perspective. Now isn’t the blog post to argue perspective, because whatever your view the salvation in question is the thing that gets you from point A to point B whilst avoiding point Hell, however it is you define hell.
Some Christians are firmly and happily on the bandwagon that boasts that the only, and I do mean only, thing that can get you from point A to point B whilst avoiding point H is the person of Jesus. Okey dokey, then. We clearly know where they stand on the ‘is Sex Salvific’ debate. But don’t worry – we’ll have another question that even these Christians can weigh in on in a suitably fun and fabulous way just a little later on. But the thing is, not all Christians are on that bandwagon, and you can’t usually tell them apart just by looking.
So, can sex – some sex, or all sex, or no sex at all – actually be the thing that takes you from point A to point B whilst avoiding point H? Can sex make you a better person? (All sex, some sex, no sex?) Can sex, or let’s extend this, a sexual relationship be the thing that kicks open your awareness and breeds so much compassion, so much love, so much aliveness in your very being that you do, in fact, and not just in the Moment of Orgasm see and understand the divine love as all around you at all times and in all ways? According to romance novels, the answer is yes. A standard plot line in romance novels is to see a disreputable but essentially good character brought to their senses through the loving and very specifically sexual relationship that they have with the hero or heroine of the novel. Sex acts as a spontaneous moral corrective, in these stories. Sex – with the right person, in the right circumstance – is… salvific.
But what if our answer is no? No, sex is not salvific. Not ever. Sex may not be horrifically evil, but neither is it the thing that is going to save us from ourselves. So, okay. I have another question for you, brought up by my friend Vicki. Could sex be sacramental?
Gaah! ‘Sacramental.‘ More fucking church words. Let me translate. So, a sacrament is an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. Or to put it another way, a sacrament is a living, moving, breathing symbol of God’s presence within you and the world right now. A Sacrament is usually an action. So, while your wedding ring might be one of many symbols of your marriage, and the day you take it off, that is the day you feel it is really over, the act of eating a nice dinner together once a week might be a sacramental part of your marriage – it’s the living, breathing, action that symbolizes your marriage, it’s the normal regular thing that is made… wait for it… sacred because you decide it is sacred, because you decide it is important and because you decide it, it ends up being far more important than you could have ever imagined. Actions are like that. Intentions are like that. Sacraments are like that.
Now, I know you’ve noted that I didn’t take the obvious way out: I think sex is a fine example of one of the sacramental bits of marriage, but that’s what we’re here to discuss. Marriage aside, is sex sacramental? Could it be? Sometimes and not others? Never at all? Could sex be, at least occasionally, an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace? While it may not be the thing that saves you, in that moment of orgasm when the veil between this world and The Divine thins and parts even so gently… does that move you? As your muscles tense and you moan – or refrain from noise all together – and ‘get a little closer to God’… I do think that at least orgasms are sacramental. And sex might be, too.
What do you think?