Archive for June 2012

The big masturbation post

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Not so long ago I sat in a room with a group of young Christians, no longer teenagers but rather young adults. We where talking about the bible and Jesus. Was it possible that Jesus could have sinned and what does it mean that Jesus felt every human emotion, did he then lust? Masturbate?

The disgust that went through the room at this point was palpable and when I put my foot down and said “Masturbation is not a sin”, I was met with “Well then we may as well go of and masturbate and sleep with anyone we want!”

This immediate jump to the slippery slope argument (which in it self is a fallacy whenever used) prompted a further discussion that in turn prompted this post.

In Christian circles today it seems that masturbation, while both natural and a part of the teenagers discovery of his or her own body, is even more stigmatised than sex. It is somehow even more shameful to touch yourself than to have someone else do it. Why is this? Where does it come from? What does the bible say about masturbation and how does that sync with the churches traditional teaching on the subject? What does science and society say?

Let’s consider a few different voices on this issue.

It is beyond contestation that both psychology, anthropology and medical science say that masturbation is a healthy way for young persons to discover their bodies and come to terms with their sexuality. Furthermore, sex-councellors worldwide would advice men with longevity issues to learn control by practicing on their own.

Science also tells us that the resulting orgasm is beneficial for our health in many ways. Consider the following scientific findings as presented in the book Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan:

men who had ejaculated more than five times per week between the ages of twenty and fifty were one-third less likely to develop prostate cancer later in life.

daily ejaculation dramatically reduced DNA damage to men’s sperm cells, thereby increasing male fertility—quite the opposite of the conventional wisdom.

Frequent orgasm is associated with better cardiac health as well. A study conducted at the University of Bristol and Queen’s University of Belfast found that men who have three or more orgasms per week are 50 percent less likely to die from coronary heart disease.

These are just a tidbit of information on what ejaculation and orgasm does for a man. For women there are a lot less research available (go figure) but here is one slightly off topic remark from the same book:

women who do not use condoms are less likely to suffer from depression than either women who do use condoms or who are not sexually active

So women who are sexually active are less likely to suffer from depression. On this note it is also interesting to recognise that one of the oldest documented pathologies is said to be female hysteria and the medical treatment was massage of the vulva, that is masturbation and orgasm. What may be even more shocking for some is that doctors around the world administered this treatment to women with an increased libido well into the 20th century and women lined up for the cure!

On a slightly less scholarly note, the book the 4 hour body has the following to say:

Nina emphasized, a woman has to be comfortable masturbating. “If she doesn’t masturbate regularly, she’ll be more trouble, baggage-wise, than it’s worth, unless you get off on being the fixer.”

While this sounds a bit of the cuff and misogynistic, science does tell us that body pleasure lowers aggression.

“deprivation of body pleasure throughout life—but particularly during the formative periods of infancy, childhood, and adolescence—is very closely related to the amount of warfare and interpersonal violence.” (also from Sex at Dawn)

Therefore we are told by the scientific corner to just chill out and not to be so uptight when it comes to these issues.

A reasonable relaxation of moralistic social codes making sexual satisfaction more easily available would also make it less problematic. (also from Sex at Dawn)

Hang on what about the Bible doesn’t the bible forbid masturbation? Well, thank you for asking, the short answer is no. The bible actually has no teaching on masturbation. The most cited passages are the story of Onan and a few remarks of Paul.

Let’s start with Onan. He married his dead brothers wife Tamar as the law instructed him but when the time came to consummate the marriage he practiced coitus interrupts (he pulled it out and spilled his seed on the ground) so that he would not give a child to his dead brothers wife that would not be considered his own, again according to Jewish law). Onan was then killed by god for not adhering to the Mosaic law. This story has nothing to do with masturbation and the fact that Onan’s name has become synonymous with masturbation in many languages in an attempt of controlling peoples sexuality is a serious abuse of scripture and power.

In Pauls first letter to Corinth there is a passage where Paul condemns a whole row of sexual deviations. Non of which are easily understood or translated the words used are porneo, malokos, and arsenokoites non of these words have anything to do with masturbation. Feel free to read my other commentary on these words here.

And even if Paul’s words had included masturbation, which they do not, I have to echo the sentiment of Marcus Borg in his fantastic novel “Putting Away Childish Things“: What if Paul was wrong? It sounds heretical, I know, but consider the fact that misinformation has been the norm on sexuality related facts throughout our known history. It was common to believe for example that masturbation caused both seizures, blindness and madness. Why is it that we assume that Paul to be an authority on every issue on the planet?

What we have left to consider is Jesus strong words on adultery: A man who looks upon a woman with lust in his heart has already committed adultery with her. If we assume that these are indeed the words of Jesus and that he recommends putting out our eyes to avoid it then every man I know should go blind immediately. For some men (I talk less about women simply because I have no experience in being one and do not presume to have an inkling on how female sexuality works) it may be that the act of masturbation preserves their fidelity and therefore their marriage.

It is interesting to note that hip youth ministers within the free churches will often be heard stating that masturbating together with your spouse can be a beautiful thing and part of a couples normal sex life. While this is a nice softening of the stigmatising view of masturbation it still leaves the ones in need of liberation, that is teenagers, sorely bound by shame and guilt.

Now let’s for a second consider how the bible supports and encourages sexuality and then maybe using the same inferring as the negative case is built on propose a more positive approach to sexuality and the topic at hand, masturbation.

First let’s again look at Adam and Eve or mythical hunter gatherer ancestors who lived in Eden, Naked and not ashamed. Right there is the first clue that sexuality understood correctly should not be a source of shame but rather a source of joy.

Moving on rapidly then to the song of songs (there are other more obvious examples in other OT narratives but it quickly gets oh so provocative and complicated to get into those) where unmarried sexuality is if not celebrated then simply a fact. The poetry in the Song is simply “not concerned” with the marital status of the young lovers.

From the song we can find a positive body image in regard to the young lovers genitalia and an exuberant celebration of their passionate sexuality. The following verses are from the CEB.

I have come to my garden, my sister, my bride!
I have gathered my myrrh and my spices.
I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey;
I have drunk my wine and my milk.
Eat, dear friends!
Drink and get drunk on love!

Here the lover has come to his garden, this garden was of course earlier the womans garden dripping with myrrh and spices sweeter than honey. We must understand that every word in the song is dripping with double entendre and the metaphors switch quickly as to leave you dizzy, the Song is probably more to be inhaled and experienced than read and understood.

Keeping the images of a garden dripping with myrrh lets move to the young womans bed room a few verses later.

“I have taken off my tunic—
why should I put it on again?
I have bathed my feet—
why should I get them dirty?”
 My love put his hand in through the latch hole,
and my body ached for him.
 I rose; I went to open for my love,
and my hands dripped myrrh,
my fingers, liquid myrrh,
over the handles of the lock.

Why is she naked in bed? Why is her hands dripping with myrrh? And let’s not even try to decipher the image of the hand through the latch hole ….

It seems to me that the bible is as capable of creating a positive and healthy image of both sexuality and the exploring of the same as it is in creating a misogynistic damaging and controlling one.

Fr. Richard Rohr makes an interesting comment about women being saved through childbirth, where he states that in childbirth women get the upper hand on the men as they are forced into body knowledge and self discovery through childbirth he also suggests that this is why male initiation rites often include arduous challenges and painful quests that will force the young man to get to know his body.

There is a certain composure and authority to a human being that is completely comfortable in his or her own body. There is a self awareness and confidence that only comes to those who know the ins and outs and limits of their own bodies. I suggest that a healthy exploration of ones sexuality, where masturbation is a part of that exploration, may help grant such body knowledge.

In conclusion I must also add that the gnostic notion of separating spirit and body, where the spirit is good and the body evil is one of those unspoken meta-narratives that derive from greek (Plato) philosophy hat stand in our way of a more holistic and healthy view of our own bodies. Those who desperately cling to it may benefit from stepping out of the spiritual and getting their hands dirty or as the case may be oily.

Sex at dawn …

I have just finished reading Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan. It may be the first time in a long while that I read a book that so persuasively and thouroughly deconstructs one of the often unspoken meta-narratives of our contemporary culture, namely the hetero-normative monogamy centred narrative of human sexuality.

I also realize that this leaves us in a precarious situation. It could be dangerous to deconstruct such foundational beliefs as how we view human sexuality without having a clearly defined narrative to take it’s place. Still, this must be a work in progress and we may, more likely than not, take a wrong turn and be forced to repent and retrace at any point.

Sex at dawn makes a really simple point, it is not in human nature to be monogamous. This is backed up with a thourough anthroposophical argument based on evolutionary theory. I realize that many evangelicals will stop reading at this point (if not already at the sentence before) as they will not be ready to recognise any argument based on evolutionary theory. This is sad, not only because the sciences have a lot to offer in the theological arena but also because I still think it is an important endaevour to question the standard narratives of sexuality, and how we look at the concept of marriage, no matter what the reason is to doubt that the current narrative may be flawed.

Any evangelical who is still reading after the E word may quickly conclude that, while the main point of Ryan’s book may be true that obviously depicts a human after the fall. I think maybe that Christopher Ryan may agree, or at least in part.

Ryan describes a hunter gatherer society that was structured by a “fierce egalitarianism” where promiscuous (as in many partners, not as in hooking up with strangers) sex was a normal social protocol governing friendships and social engagements. This hunter gather society lasted significantly longer time than all the following ages together and must therefore be seen as formative as far as our genetic coding is concerned. These findings are based on scientific studies of the bonobo societies (a primate that is as closely related to humans as chimps) and describe a society with completely free sexuality where the bonobo’s are “naked and not ashamed”.

Where Ryan may disagree with our post-fall assessment is that according to the scientific findings this longing for sexual liberty and sexual promiscuity is what defines us as humans. To restrict sex to only produce offspring as per the medieval/Christian paradigm is to, according to Ryan, be more like animals as most species on the planet cannot, and do not enjoy sex for sex itself. Let me say that again, our pre-occupation with sex is one of the traits that make humans human.

What if this free state is truly the image of god. What if the biblical description of Eden is really a mythologising of the hunter-gatherer society where we where naked and not ashamed. What if we, when we are praying for the salvation, the healing, the restoration, the ticcun olam of the world, what if what we are really wishing for,mlonging for is the deconstruction of the whole agrarian, urban experiment and a return to living closer to nature, naked and not ashamed?

What is ultimately clear is that monogamous marriage is not something that is difficult and straining for a select few perverts but it is actually a social convention placed against our genetic predispositions. Whether one then chooses to see this as brokenness or as holiness it does explain why we are having so much trouble as a species to make our marriages work and our sex-lives functional.

This means at the very least that we need to, as a church provide a safe environment where lust, desire, sexuality, eroticism can be discussed without stigmatising or demonising the drives and the desires of our church-members.

But how do we do this? How do we approach this subject with care and dignity when social convention pressures us to be ashamed just for thinking these thoughts.

 

Love is where the rubber meets the road …

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I recently received the following IM from one of my soldiers in the corps.

I can’t or don’t want to continue as a Soldier … I feel that I want to fall in love, love and feel loved back. Therefore I wan’t to become an adherent.

Personally this is one of the most heartbreaking messages I have ever received. What is wrong with our organisation, our membership form if one of our members feel they must step down and turn in the uniform so that they may be free to fall in love?

This person is gay, and loves the Salvation Army and respects the organisations rules and regulations. Choosing celibacy no longer feels like a viable option. Adherency, the other membership of the Salvation Army does not have rules and regulations attached to it and therefore functions as a compromise. And so I received this message.

This Soldier is on of the most devout, gentle, spirit filled, loving Christians we have in our corps. I am humbled and overjoyed to have such a beautiful role model of what it means to walk with god and seek god for ones life as a Soldier in my corps.

What would you do, if you where the corps leader? How would you reply?

This makes me feel stronger than ever that we must be able to council LGBTQ persons the same way we do any other member of our church. If another member of my corps would come and say that they longed to fall in love, I would simply say: Good for you, lets pray that you meet the right person. I can’t wait to bless the two of you together. No need to step down or resign. No need to feel bad about it, it is part of ordinary (albeit extraordinary, as it is fantastic to fall in love) life!

So, right or wrong that is what I said.

 

 

Jesus in drag

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Why are you doing this? Why do you take such an interest in the LGBTQ and sexuality? The question has been asked of me many times. By my leaders, by the people in my congregation and by my family. In fact I think it was my brother who asked the million dollar question one day just after I had come out with my LGBTQ and the church series: “How many LGBTQ people do you have in your church?”

The truth is that I somehow knew that this was an issue that we had to deal with. Already at our Officers training (like seminary but for Salvation Army Officers) I started asking the questions. How are we to deal with the LGBTQ community? It seemed no one was particularly interested in even broaching the subject and the ones that did either did so with a love the sinner hate the sin attitude and some even sneered at me “Why should we talk about this, it’s not like they will join your church, and why would they want to join a club where they are not welcome?”

After receiving my orders and moving to Malmö it took one week before I was caught like a deer in the headlights of an oncoming truck: “What if two men asks you to marry them what would you say?” This, asked by a group of teenagers hanging about outside during the Malmö festival. I had no coherent or thought through answer, I believe I stumbled through some kind of: It’s complicated kind of response.

I realised I had to get my theology straight I had to reconcile what I knew in my heart to be true and how I read the bible. It was fishing for help in these issues that I stumbled into Tim. We met in the chatroom connected to Doug Paggit’s radio show, I do not remember how the conversation started but I do remember how it ended. Tim asked me if I wanted to talk about this over Skype and I answered that I would love to, it seemed it was hard to get anyone to actually have a constructive conversation about this that wasn’t just regurgitating old evangelical sound bytes.

The conversation with Tim was great, the fact that he didn’t try to convince me of anything helped. Not once did he try to say: “This is how you should read scripture.” He simply directed me to some great resources (Andrew Marin: Love Is an Orientation among others). But then he shared story after story about how he had encountered deep spirituality and loving worship within the LGBTQ community, this I think was important for me to hear as a recovering pentecostal fundamentalist. But nothing could have really prepared me for the shocking turn the conversation took next.

After having to swear on the record that I wouldn’t be recording our conversation Timothy told me about his project. How he also had found himself on a lonely desert journey and had decided that he once and for all had to deal with the inner Pharisee. That he had done this by coming out as gay (even though he was straight) to his friends, family and church. Here are his words about it:

The thing that truly astonished me with Tim’s story was that he was willing to literally walk a mile/a year in the shoes of the other (please learn more about Tim’s experiment and support his indiegogo campaign) . It is this uncomfortable truth that seems to trip me up wherever I go in my spiritual walk like a pair of shoes carelessly kicked of on the hallway carpet (always tripping you up on the way to the restroom). I am committed to work day and night for the human rights of others but am I willing to walk in their shoes and more importantly am I willing to know their pain. Not just know of their pain but to actually feel it?

I recently stumbled onto this disturbing quote from Jim Palmer‘s Divine Nobodies:

“I uncovered something unsettling about myself. I don’t really want a “relationship” with God. Here’s what I want. I want to share with God all I feel, all I need, all that grieves me, all that makes me happy, the puzzling things, the fun things, and the hard things, but I would prefer that God keep his stuff to himself. I don’t want to hear about his pain and share in his grief.”

That rings so true with me, I really want a shoulder to cry on but am I willing to bear the burden of the other, and am I willing to bear the burden of God?

Are you? Would you be willing to undergo persecution, ridicule just to know others? Would you walk the valley of death not for your own sake but just to know the other, to love them and maybe to realise that the other is not so different than yourself? If you won’t take it from me, please read more about Tim’s experiment and let it challenge you.

My conversation with Tim was, for me the first real step of this journey. I had been planning it for some time, checking out the catalogues, admiring the post cards, packing the bag but now I was ready to walk the walk inspired by Tim’s courage!

 

 

Who is queer?

I am not underprivileged, marginalised or persecuted in any ways. I am a Caucasian, heterosexual male with a DipHE in Theology and Mission. I am employed as a full time minister, doing what I love to do: to teach theology; to build and nurture relationships; to be a sign towards a mystery I may never understand.

When I started this journey THEY where the queer (weird) ones, the sinners. After some time they where still the weird ones but I had come to realise I was a sinner too. Slowly the line between them and us was blurred until I today realise that “we are here, we are queer, get used to it.” Today I am not sure that sin has anything to do with it (it being sex and sexuality). Don’t get me wrong I believe that it is entirely possible to abuse sex and sexuality, just as it is possible to abuse nature or friendships, or trust. What I have come to understand is that sex and sexuality is probably abused just as much (if not more) in the heterosexual bedroom/closet than the gay or lesbian bed.

The Q in LGBTQ stands for the Queer, not weird but rather that which crosses the boundary of what is generally consider normal. Just as “queer theory” is about the breaking down of traditionally fixed boundaries and categories. So if we are to stick with the traditional boxes and categories we are stuck with LGBTQ persons on the one side and the heterosexuals on the other. However what is normal heterosexual conduct? When do we cross into the Q? Are you queer if you only prefer blondes? If you only want to have sex standing up? If feet turn you on? If you prefer oral to vaginal? When are you queer, really, who’s to decide? I think it may be prudent for us heterosexuals to follow Marcella Althaus-Reid’s suggestion and come out of our hetero closet. In most marriage courses and classes on intimacy there will be a section on sharing our sexual fantasies (it seems the biggest hurdle to a healthy sex life is to what degree we are still in the closet) to share our personal queerness.

Patrik S. Cheng defines the Q of LGBTQ as those who are queer or Allies. At first when my theology started to shift I saw my self as an ally, one who could help them, over there. As my understanding of the term and myself grew, I realised that as an LGBTQ ally I was quickly becoming queer myself. Not that any of my sexual preferences changed, what changed was my perspective. By knowing “them” I came to love them, and by loving them I realised that them was really us. And so the boundary between them and me was blurred out by this radical love.

I agree fully with Patrick S. Cheng wh wrote:

“Christian theology is fundamentally a queer enterprise. That is, like queer theory, classical Christian theology is about the breaking down of traditionally fixed boundaries and categories.

God is a queer god, who crosses all boundaries by becoming a human, born by a woman, raised as part of a human family. We follow a queer Christ, who continually challenged the fixed boundary between clean and unclean, sacred and secular. The queer spirit then completely blurry the distinction between god and me as the spirit enters into my life, penetrating every part of me, incarnating into me if you will and the border between the world we know and the spiritual becomes hard to distinguish. Everything is spiritual, and if that is true then all our sexual queerness is spiritual too.

So while I may be a heterosexual, Caucasian male with a good education and a privileged position within the church I am also queer not only by questioning the heteronorm status quo but also by recognising that heterosexuality is exactly that: hetero, it is diverse and different from itself. Heterosexuality is not homogenous in any way, not that homosexuality is homogenous either. Maybe we would be better of talking about heterosexualities and homosexualities, indicating that rather than homogenous states they are two points in a complex matrix of sexualities.

In the end we come to a point where we must ask, what is normal? What is natural? And in the asking we become queer, and maybe that is the truth of it, maybe we are all queer?

Getting down and dirty with god.

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“God is not sexual” my friend stated matter-of-factly. It is odd that he did because he also does not believe in god. How the god he does not believe in can be, or not be, anything is beyond me. It is a common notion though to separate the divine from the worldly. It is even more common to draw a strong demarcation line between the sacred and the sexual. It is therefore imperative that we recognise that eros is an integral part of love and that god is love.

In my last post in this series I hinted at the possibility of having an erotic involvement with god. I said that this is a common image used by Christian mystics and I think an important part in recovering a healthy view on sexuality.

So lets return to the trinity the self sufficient community of god. The basis of grace lies in gods self sufficiency that is, because god had everything god needed within the trinity, god did not need to create the world and therefore all (as in all god creates outside godself) is grace, a free and scandalous gift.

The interrelations of the trinity have been described in theological terms as perichoresis. This term describes an indwelling or interconnectedness that has often been described as a dance.

Here is the Wikipwedia entry on perichoresis

Although clear references to full-blown Trinitarian theology in the New Testament are rare, it can be seen between two persons of the Trinity in passages such as the following from John’s Gospel:“the Father is in the Son, and the Son in the Father.”[1]

The relationship of the Triune God is intensified by the relationship of perichoresis. This indwelling expresses and realizes fellowship between the Father and the Son. It is intimacy. Jesus compares the oneness of this indwelling to the oneness of the fellowship of his church from this indwelling. “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us (John 17:21).”

The theological tradition has viewed the indwelling as fellowship. John of Damascus, who was influential in developing the doctrine of the perichoresis, described it as a “cleaving together.” Such is the fellowship in the Godhead that the Father and the Son not only embrace each other, but they also enter into each other, permeate each other, and dwell in each other. One in being, they are also always one in the intimacy of their friendship.

I think there are a few notes to be made from this image of the trinity in perichoresis. The first is the language of “oneness”, “becoming one” and “cleaving” that mirrors our understanding of a consummated marriage. I write consummated because in biblical times a marriage that was not consummated was not a marriage at all. Even today there are many parts of the world where a marriage can be annulled if not consummated. The whole idea of oneness and cleaving together comes from the sharing of the marriage bed and entering into one another.

This of course is the next image of the trinity, the entering into one another, indwelling, penetrating each other, crossing boundaries and blurring out the edges to the extent that it is hard to separate one from the other. Like dancers blurred on a stage, like lovers in a bed. I think one of the most beautiful images of perichoresis is in the C.S. Lewis space trilogy.

And now, by a transition which he did not notice, it seemed that what had begun as speech was turned into sight, or into something that can be remembered only as if it were seeing. He thought he saw the Great Dance. It seemed to be woven out of the intertwining undulation of many cords or bands of light, leaping over and under one another and mutually embraced in arabesques and flower-like subtleties.

Each figure as he looked at it became the master-figure or focus of the whole spectacle, by means of which his eye disentangled a1l else and brought it into unity–only to be itself entangled when he looked to what he had taken for mere marginal decorations and found that there also the same hegemony was claimed, and the claim made good, yet the former pattern not thereby dispossessed but finding in its new subordination a significance greater than that which it had abdicated. He could see also (but the word “seeing” is now plainly inadequate) wherever the ribbons or serpents of light intersected, minute corpuscles of momentary brightness: and he knew somehow that these particles were the secular generalities of which history tells–peoples, institutions, climates of opinion, civilisations, arts, sciences, and the like–ephemeral coruscations that piped their short song and vanished. The ribbons or cords themselves, in which millions of corpuscles lived and died, were things of some different kind. At first he could not say what. But he knew in the end that most of them were individual entities. If so, the time in which the Great Dance proceeds is very unlike time as we know it.

Some of the thinner and more delicate cords were beings that we call short-lived: flowers and insects, a fruit or a storm of rain, and once (he thought) a wave of the sea. Others were such things as we also think lasting: crystals, rivers, mountains, or even stars. Far above these in girth and luminosity and flashing with colours from beyond our spectrum were the lines of the personal beings, yet as different from one another in splendour as all of them from the previous class. But not all the cords were individuals: some were universal truths or universal qualities. It did not surprise him then to find that these and the persons were both cords and both stood together as against the mere atoms of generality which lived and died in the clashing of their streams: but afterwards, when he came back to earth, he wondered.

And by now the thing must have passed together out of the region of sight as we understand it. For he says that the whole solid figure of these enamoured and inter-inanimated circlings was suddenly revealed as the mere superficies of a far vaster pattern in four dimensions, and that figure as the boundary of yet others in other worlds: till suddenly as the movement grew yet swifter, the interweaving yet more ecstatic, the relevance of all to all yet more intense, as dimension was added to dimension and that part of him which could reason and remember was dropped farther and farther behind that part of him which saw, even then, at the very zenith of complexity, complexity was eaten up and faded, as a thin white cloud fades into the hard blue burning of the sky, and a  simplicity beyond all comprehension, ancient and young as spring, illimitable, pellucid, drew him with cords of infinite desire into its own stillness. He went up into such a quietness, a privacy, and a freshness that at the very moment when he stood farthest from our ordinary mode of being he had the sense of stripping off encumbrances and awaking from trance, and coming to himself. (C.S. Lewis – Perelandra)

OK, so god’s agape, fileo and eros is expressed in this dance, what does this have to do with me?

This is where I think it gets exciting. In John 17, Jesus prayer for the believers, for us we are invited into this dance. Jesus is extending an invitation to “be one” with him as he is “one” with the trinity. This means unconditionally accepted in gods agape, respected and loved as a friend in gods fileo and passionately adored and loved in gods eros. Michael Jackson expressed it like this:

Consciousness expresses itself through creation. This world we live in is the dance of the creator. Dancers come and go in the twinkling of an eye but the dance lives on. On many an occasion, when I am dancing, I have felt touched by something sacred. In those moments, I felt my spirit soar and become one with everything that exists. I become the stars and the moon. I become the lover and the beloved. I become the victor and the vanquished. I become the master and the slave. I become the singer and the song. I become the knower and the known. I keep on dancing and then, it is the eternal dance of creation. The creator and the creation merge into one wholeness of joy. I keep on dancing — until there is only. . . the dance.    

Paul young calls it to be included in the trinity’s “circle of submission”. Where I submit to Jesus as Jesus submits to the spirit and the spirit submits to the creator and the creator submits to Jesus and Jesus submits to me and I submit to god. On and on the dance extends throughout eternity.

I think this is where St. Theresa of Avila paints the picture of intimate communion with god that is ecstatic and pleasure at the same time as it is passion and pain. I think this is also where lovers transcend when they climax in the bedroom if they have the presence to notice, I thing this is where the sexual act becomes worship, whether with a partner or alone with god. I think we are called to experience this “at-one-ment” with god not only as acceptance (agape) and friendship (file) but the bodily, physical, erotic experience of being loved by god.

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