I am not one to gradually ease into a pool of cool water on a summer day. Once I have made up my mind, I am all in. It is pretty much the same way in all other areas of my life. So, I see no reason to approach this blog differently. In my first post (See, “So, We Begin…”) I explained my desire to integrate the spheres of faith and sexuality and to talk about sexuality in light of faith and spirituality. So, here we go. Let’s talk about it.
I absolutely love sex. I love what it is. I love talking about sex. I love reading about sex. I love thinking about sex and, yes, I love having sex. I suspect many of you, dear readers, feel the same way. However, many people have grown up in homes where sex wasn’t discussed much, and if you grew up in the church, most of the time all you were told about sex is that is wrong before marriage and something that shouldn’t be openly discussed, as it might “awaken desires that should be kept comatose”. My friends in high school used to joke that we weren’t allowed to read Song of Solomon until marriage because it was just too steamy a read and would lead us to all kinds of impurity in our hormone-ravaged teenage selves. It is such a travesty that the beauty of the sexual relationship is often ignored within the sacred walls of our sanctuaries. Individuals are not often welcome to discuss the importance of sex, yet television, movies, social media and the internet have an awful lot to say on the subject.
I believe that it is time to open the conversation about sexual pleasure. Right now, I don’t want to talk about sin, infections, unplanned pregnancies or any of the other negatives about sex that get far too much airtime in comparison to the amazing benefits of sexual pleasure… I know, I know… so many would want to caution me right now about getting too carried away. I might cause some flames to ignite. I’ll risk it. It is time to acknowledge the beauty of sexual interaction and how it contributes to our overall health as individuals and as partners. We will talk about the science of this in a minute, but right now I want to talk about the holiness of it. Yes, the holiness of it. I believe that God absolutely created sex to be enjoyed by human beings. Of course, procreation is part of sex and inherent to its nature. But the reality is that for most of us, 99% of the sex we enjoy has absolutely zilch to do with procreation. We have sex for pleasure, we have sex to feel joined to our partners in body and mind, we have sex to relieve stress, we have sex to relieve pain, we have sex because it’s a fantastic thing to do on a Saturday afternoon. There are so many reasons – most of them centered around pleasure in some way. I know with certainty that this incredibly pleasurable activity was given to us by a God who desired unity in its most extreme forms. Most Christians find guidance, encouragement, wisdom and even authority in the scriptures of the Bible. Embedded deep within the texts of the Old Testament exists a book which is, arguably, one of the most erotic and beautiful pieces of text ever authored. Shrouded in symbolism, the Song of Solomon can be picked up and read by a child who would, more than likely, be lost and confused in the symbolic sexual references. For an adult who can think in the abstract, there is poetic imagery that portrays very explicit sexual acts. This erotic story of sexual union between these two lovers in this book reveals, what I believe is, the true nature and desire of God for sexual intimacy for humankind. In fact, we are encouraged to engage and enjoy all the feelings, emotions and ecstasy that comes with sex.
“I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride, I gathered my myrrh with my spice, I ate my honeycomb with my honey, I drank my wine with my milk. Eat, friends, drink, and be drunk with love!” (Song of Solomon 5:1, emphasis added).
Wow!! I don’t know about you, dear reader, by it suddenly feels a little warmer in this room. How can you not be enticed by such erotic imagery and with the encouragement to consume, get lost in and be intoxicated with the sexual expression of love?
So, it appears that sexual pleasure is important to God and, in fact, is something He specifically created for us to partake in and enjoy to its fullest.
Science says so too. There is a deep literature on the connection between well-being and sex. But let’s just take a look at a few of the health benefits we get from engaging in sexual activities. Studies suggest that sex is a good source of cardiovascular exercise in men and women and other health benefits include:
- Lowering blood pressure
- Burning calories
- Increasing heart health
- Producing powerful endorphins (powerful hormones produced in the central nervous system and pituitary gland in the brain that inhibit pain signals and can also produce feelings of euphoria) as a result of orgasm
- Strengthening muscles
- Reducing risk of heart disease, stroke and hypertension
- Increasing strength of the immune system
This is not a comprehensive list by any stretch, but it should communicate to you how beneficial the role of sexual pleasure can play in our lives and in our overall health and well-being.
It is unbelievably sad to me that such a valuable part of health, well-being and unity is often left out of spiritual conversations or that the focus of sexual pleasure within church congregations is often a tone of extreme negativity and darkness. This, in my opinion, is one of the worst perversions of sexuality. For centuries, people of faith have allowed the pendulum to swing far in the opposite direction of embracing the pleasure of sexuality created by God for us to fully enjoy.
So, to you my dear readers, “ Eat, friends, drink , and be drunk with love!” Your life will be better for it.