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The Real Original Sin is Sexless Spirituality

The Real Original Sin is Sexless Spirituality
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Any experience of submission or domination – if I were to play that way – are for pleasure’s sake, not to get the Church off, writes the author in an essay that challenges the power structure of sin, sex and spirituality.

  Scarlet Letters

Your experiences might mirror mine to some degree, or be vastly different. The point is that our reactions to sex, the having of and the discussions thereof, are rooted in our culture at large, which still responds as if the distant Puritanical umbrella (if you are an American) needs to protect us from any stormy weather we might encounter in the messiness of libidinous urges. Our sensibilities are easily ruffled. Scarlet letters continue to imprint our collective psyche in the form of slut-shaming; substituting information about reproductive biology for real sex education; and the pervasive tendency to discuss sex in hushed whispers whenever we are in polite company.

It doesn’t matter how many lovers we’ve bedded or how many wicked deeds we’ve committed in the pursuit of illuminating sexual awakening. Our secret erotic selves, through their sublime, hushed, hurried, languid, empowered and vulnerable natures, bring us to the edges of humanity’s comfort zones. Those who were raised in religious homes know this Gremlin even better than secularists. That is because the split between sexuality and spiritual has been the bane of the Abrahamic faiths, though Christianity expressed this more outwardly than its forbearer, Judaism.

One could even argue that the original sin was the invention of sexless spirituality.

In an essay on the topic, David Crawford writes, “in the early Christian era a ladder image of spirituality emerged. True virtue was associated with movement upward, away from the earth.” Crawford further states that, “bodily mortification and celibacy were elevated as particularly honorable. Even among married Christians, those who abstained completely from sex were deemed more virtuous than those who had intercourse with the intent to procreate.”

This resonated true for me based on the mixed messages I got growing up. A part of me has often felt less ‘meritorious’ for enjoying sex and believing it the ultimate form of shared affection. Over time, this dissonance has diminished, though it rears up when I’m willing to admit to myself that there are things I’d still like to do, and people I’d like to do them with, given half an ounce of a certain type of courage.

I also believe this split between the sacred and profane is one reason for the re-emergence of Goddess culture, the popularity of Tantra and schools of Sacred Sexuality, and other sensuous and body embracing worship modalities. Deep in our guts is an awareness that sex is the rare and ultimate human experience, and not just for pleasure, but for knowing the unknowable.

Orgasm and spirituality are twin pillars of transcendence. I am convinced that regardless of what dogma imposes upon our minds, the body knows differently. The body remembers at the cellular level what a millennium of perverting our natural urges has failed to eradicate: we are sensual, sexual, co-creative divine beings.

  Consciousness and Carnality

If modern religions aren’t going to validate that for us, and I’d argue that is largely happening from the perspective of many believers and non-believers who toss all religiosity aside, then lovers will turn to sources that encourage a healthy relationship between the mind’s consciousness and the body’s carnality. There’s only so much shaming a person can tolerate, only so many restrictions against what we know to be true to ourselves, before rebellion sets in. This happens at individual levels and in communities and is well documented so I won’t dig deeper on that point.

I’m more intrigued by something else. Maybe not all is hopeless for organized religions, and as Crawford writes, there’s another illuminating option: reinterpreting religious texts and what they say about human sexuality. He points out that sex for spirituality’s sake is, “more authentic to both Jewish and Christian heritages,” and looks to the Song of Songs to make this point.

“Here is a biblical love poem celebrating the joys of erotic love between a woman and a man. Although much of Christian interpretation over the centuries allegorized this poem into a symbol of ‘the purely spiritual’ relation of the soul and God, devoid of any carnal reality, it is, in fact, a sexual story. The setting is an erotic garden. The lovers delight not only in each other's embodiedness, but also in the sensuous delights surrounding them: flowers, fruits, trees, fountains.”

The non-theologian in me prefers this joyful view to the austerity of conventional ones. My body responds viscerally to a higher truth that there is no split between the body and the spirit, and that if there was ever a sin perpetuated upon the whole of humankind, it was the one that said: what you yearn for is wrong, dirty or perverse.

We are now beginning to realize that “repressed sexuality and repressed human development does not bode well for the human divine relationship,” writes Crawford. “We are beginning to see that the bodily dimensions of feeling and emotion, longing and desire, are not foreign to but rather essential to a healthy spirituality.” Granted, it’s easier to own this when thinking about small sexual shifts and more unnerving when it comes to digging deeper into our private fantasies. That’s where the real exploring begins, and the stuff that must have inspired stories of vengeance, wrath and brimstone ala’ Hawthorne’s Hester Prynne.

  Chaste isn’t Necessarily Pure

“Flesh and desire are not inherently evil,” says Crawford, but the idea that what we do with our bodies lacks spirit, or that spirit requires us to forgo pleasure, might very well be. When God created sex, I believe she smiled. The divine within us lusts to experience life, and sometimes in that process, we behave shamelessly. How unsettling that must have been to those who continue to set dogma in motion. How unsettling it is that so many perpetuate the view that spirituality must remain chaste in order to be pure.

My journeys have helped me try on other points of view from those I learned in childhood. They have also helped me find purpose in desire to unsettle me in my wildest dreams. God/dess didn’t make us in a divine image only to have the devil slap on the genitals. Sexist dualism serves no purpose. We are created equally and with separate, whole and complete identities, and that means that what we do (between consenting adults) is in God’s image too. Fearing how this might destroy our souls allows ignorance to consume us, and perpetuates private hells. Giving up sex for the sake of spirit is the disembodiment of our power.

Alternatively, we have the option to maintain reverence for how sexuality in all its beautiful messiness brings us closer to knowing freedom and love. I finally get that. Any experience I have or will ever have is as it should be. Submission or domination – if I were to play that way – are for pleasure’s sake, not to get the Church off.

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Comments

Philip Knight  

Great article, as usual, Tinamarie. I'm surprised there aren't more comments so far, but then this whole spiritual + sex subject can be a bit new or foreign to many. Especially due to personal experiences of uber-dogma and artificial chasm between body and spirit woven over eons.

I was going to write a comment beginning with...

"And now for a DIY sexercise for the readers of Tinamarie's article here...

SEX AS PRAYER

“May all beings be happy.
May they live in safety and joy.” ~ Metta Sutra

(...)"

I got about three or four paragraphs in when I realized it wasn't the time for me to do so and that it may be best as an article/essay on its own (part of this is the craftsman-scribbler in me needs time to polish something like this).

The point was to give your readers a literally hands-on way to experiment with one application of experiencing sex as a sacred or spiritual thing with oneself and/or a partner through the niche suggestion/practice you are familiar with at my site, CompassionSensuality.Net.

As you know, it's dogma-less soul freeware and while a bit unusual, there may be some interest in trying it out for her or himself. A kind of Song of Solomon 2.0 experience of sorts :o)

And speaking of which, I have strange but totally true anecdote about that Biblical passage that is part of the long and winding road of my own discovery, exploration and experience of sex-as-prayer. I won't get into the details here, but it was a turning point in my life back in 1983 when I knew nothing about sacred sex. Not only that, I was in jail accused of a gruesome crime I never committed, and it involved a woman at the ashram I had been living prior to my arrest.

Reading that passage may have led to my very first conscious sacred sex experience as what eventually became what I call Compassion or Metta sensuality.

But that will be for another day.
In the mean time, one can visit my site below.

Whether one is a woman or man and irregardless of one's orientation or relationship status (or seeming lack thereof), my artsy "Yoni Metta" video on the homepage will give your reader's a sense of what this approach is about. Then they can click through to the page with the suggestion of how to try this, "The Simple Heart of Compassion Sensuality."
_______________________

OK, dude's gotta go, sister T.

Keep on widening that breadth of writing on all of this.
It's fun watching you keep expanding your wingspan de Muse d'Amour.

Philip Steven Knight
CompassionSensuality.Net
[http://www.compassionsensuality.net]

01/29/2012
Diana Daffner, Intimacy Retreats  

Yes... sacredness lives in the beat of our hearts, the shiver of sexual joy, the bliss of divine connection with another.

01/30/2012
Lynn Paterson  

Really good article Tina Marie - thanks for sending it to me. I like the way you have clearly expressed things here and think that it reads very well and many people will find it very interesting and helpful indeed. As Phillip says, the whole subject is still a tricky one and even those who are open about sexuality shy away from this angle!

I feel you are really getting to the roots of things with your insights here and I know that it does take a considerable amount of courage to follow this particular path of self-inquiry. All will eventually have to reconcile thes apparent opposites for it is here that the sacred or primal wound is.

My own experiences have shown me that all of our history, conditioning and beliefs are the effect of our projections onto Source/God/All That Is and are a result of the perceived split in our Being. In other words, if we did not believe ourselves to be separate from Source, then we would have no need to make up reasons for it.

Blessings,
Lynn

01/31/2012
www.Spiritualhedonist.me  

Great Article. I wanted to add that the entire debate between religions' take on sexualty can be boiled down to one singular concept: Control. Sexuality is the single most potent force within us, which superceeds even our survivial instinct. This is an energetic force which can be used for creative purposes beyond just procreation.

By controlling this primal force, religions have been able to control their gullible followers since their inception. Only Tantra has allowed for freedom of expression in the physical realm removing the childish notions of sin, guilt and shame from an experience which can be transcedent and one which alters consciousness effortlessly.

There exists now a school of thought which for the first time fully embraces sexuality and spirituality even beyond the tantric domain by not just acknowledging the fact that we are both humans having a spiritual experience AND spirits having a human experience but by actively celebrating it. Its called Spiritual Hedonism. Check it out for yourself [http://www.spiritualHedonism.Me]
Cheers,
Armand

02/09/2012

I like this article

02/13/2012

nice

07/29/2012

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