A Theology of Sexual Justice – Musings on Sex, Communion and Justice …

 

Sacred Sex - Highlights Hebrew Style

On bread and wine

On people and place

On God and sex

On communion and justice

 

On Orcas Island reading:

Divine Communion – Jay Emerson Johnson

Erotic Justice – A Liberating Ethic of Sexuality – Marvin Ellison

 

Today’s questions – What do people want to say about the theological, spiritual and personal significance of deep human engagement –

When ones spiritual community feels deeply meaningful and sacred?

When one’s sense of home and land feels deeply meaningful and sacred?

When sexual intimacy feels deeply meaningful and sacred?

When the bonds of marriage and family feel deeply meaningful and sacred?

These questions are on my mind.  I would love to fill a room and hear people’s ramblings on these questions.  What comes up for you when you ponder these questions?  What thoughts, feelings, stories emerge? These are questions I think about a lot.  And I never come up with the same thoughts, feelings or answers.

My thoughts today …

I spent last weekend in a rural town in northwest Massachusetts celebrating the marriage of a sweet little girl who I had the privilege of watching grow into an amazing young woman.  Sometimes, life brings us blessings so rich, even the richest chocolate can’t compare.  My little family was surrounded by this huge extended family, much of which we have known for almost 30 years.  There were kids who had grown and developed through all playful and awkward stages, and many aunts, uncles, and friends who had witnessed it all. The vibrant kaleidoscope swirling around me was so much more than a wealth of beauty, love and sensation – even though that in and of itself, was magnificent. Something about our history, the depth of our commitment, the collective stories we had lived, the sacred pain we had shared, the grace we had extended, the miracles we had witnessed, the laughter that had danced between us and the textured canvas this had woven, seemed to be in the air around us.

It was communion – deep connection … deep pleasure … deeply sacred and set apart. There has been a profound love, trust, respect, and justice imbedded in our friendship that, while unspoken and undocumented, has been demonstrated countless times over the years.

This family had me over for Thanksgiving more than once after I was divorced and my kids were with their father.  They knew I would be distraught without my children, and before I could think about it, I was around their table. I was at the hospital countless times when their youngest was battling a rare form of cancer. And we held each other with a fierce and unrelenting love, when they were asked to do the impossible and say good-bye to her at eleven. My oldest son, who’s the same age as their middle daughter, the one who just got married, said he thinks he was over at their house nearly as much as he was home. We’ve camped together every summer on Orcas Island and taken countless other family adventures together.

What is it that allows some experiences to be communion and others to be ordinary?

The word communion predates its use in Christianity.  In the Ancient Greek it could mean anything from fellowship of life in marriage, to a spiritual relationship with divinity, to a comradely relationship between friends.  In Christianity the word communion is applied to sharing fellowship with God (or the manifestations of God; the Holy Spirit and Jesus). Webster defines communion as intimate fellowship or rapport; the sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings, especially when the exchange is on a mental or spiritual level; or the service of Christian worship at which bread and wine are consecrated and shared (Eucharist, Holy Communion, Lord’s Supper, Mass).

When Jesus, at the last supper, broke bread and passed it to his disciples, he said “Take this and eat it. This is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them saying “Drink from it, all of you, because this is my blood of the new covenant that is being poured out for many people for the forgiveness of sins.” Matt 26:27-29 ISV  Jesus is sharing a deeply sacred, intimate, embodied, culminating ritual with his disciples on this evening before being turned over to be crucified.  In the gospel of John, Jesus also washes the disciple’s feet at the last supper. Except for the fulfillment of the prophesy with Judas Iscariot, there was profound love, trust, respect, and justice imbedded within this circle of people. After Judas leaves, Jesus says this to his remaining eleven, “I’m giving you a new commandment … to love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Jn 13:34-35.

A Theology of Sexual Justice

Sexuality – broadly defined is our embodied capacity for intimate connection. This of course may include genital sex – but it is so much more. We are hard-wired for connection and pleasure, and the erotic within us seeks the physical, emotional and spiritual embrace of others and God.

Justice – is the ongoing attention to how people’s well-being is being enhanced or diminished by prevailing patterns of social power and powerlessness.

Christian Theology – the study of Christian belief and practice

When I return to the four questions that I began with – I find myself circling back to justice and love. What are the two factors that when attended to, abided in, respected, emulated, prized, valued, strived for, that seem to allow for the experience of communion to emerge in these relationships of deep commitment and investment – namely our relationship to community and spirituality; our relationship to home and land; our relationship to intimacy and sexuality; and our relationship to marriage and family?  It seems to me it is the constancy and protection of justice and love.

Yet social power is not evenly distributed and injustice distorts sexuality at every turn.

I believe the lens of justice and love needs to be the lens by which a more stable sexual ethic emerges. One where justice, inclusion, love, and value is seen in how all people are treated in their pursuit of a deep and meaningful connection to God, other, creature and land. I believe that those of us with privilege have a responsibility to advocate for those without voice and draw attention to those places where injustices are adopted as cultural norms both within and outside of institutions such as the church, medicine, education, workplace environments, and government. I believe we all must be brave and willing to go to the mat to see justice prevail.  This will undoubtedly be a vulnerable and courageous exercise in a world ripe with overt criticism, public humiliation and sometimes, violence, by those in power.

But I strongly believe those of us with privilege, who have experienced times of love and justice, need to work hard to see those who are oppressed and discouraged to find relief and eventually a community of inclusion, hope, value and communion. Our focus needs to be on helping people find connection and pleasure; on stopping injustice and building avenues of justice wherever we can, and to help each other be mindful of our own blind-participation in oppression.

I believe God wants to meet us in these sacred intimate places.

In our times of intimate loving – with a lover, with family, with dear friends. In our times with home and land – whether that is making your home a ‘home’ or walking on a special shoreline or hiking trail, or planting your garden. In our times with community and spirituality – whether that is a conversation with a friend that felt somehow ‘touched by God’ or a time alone that felt sacred. And in our times with our beloved or children where we have a sense of time and timelessness, and God’s rich blessing and sustenance. I believe God, our erotic, once bodied God, desperately wants to commune with us and by doing, teach us more about desire, communion, love and justice.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on these questions!

What DO YOU have to say about the theological, spiritual and personal significance of deep human engagement?

When ones spiritual community feels deeply meaningful and sacred?

When one’s sense of home and land feels deeply meaningful and sacred?

When sexual intimacy feels deeply meaningful and sacred?

When the bonds of marriage and family feel deeply meaningful and sacred?

Send me your thoughts to: info@NWIOI.com