Worship Materials: Sexuality, Sensuousness and Gender Equality

From the Celebrating Mystery collection

THEME          Path to life or path to destruction

THOUGHTS FOR REFLECTION

  1. Our senses and our use of them are part of God’s creation.  To attempt to deny our senses is as much an insult to God as is the misuse of them.
  2. Scientific studies show that sensory deprivation is at least limiting and at worst totally destructive of human beings.
  3. The boundary between healthy sensuousness and unhealthy sensuality is the fine line which only love can determine.
  4. To ‘make love’ is one of the significant ways in which love is
  5. To ‘make love’ seriously is a contradiction in terms.
  6. Within the psyche of each person there is both a feminine and a masculine dimension. Do not be afraid of your opposite for you need it to complete your personality.
  7. A relationship in which both partners are not treated as equals is a form of bondage.
  8. While reason universalizes, the senses encounter the here and now.
  9. The ultimate love letter is not that which is crafted with pen and paper but the message conveyed by the sensuous entwining of two human bodies.

 

PRAYERS

  1. O God who has created us as sexual beings, help us to use our sensuousness responsibly, that rejoicing in our bodies, our imagination and our senses, we may use them to nurture our love, to enhance our delight and to increase our awareness of oneness with all things.
  1. Loving Spirit, whose mothering we see in Elizabeth and Mary,
    enable us in this male orientated society to affirm with joy the worth of our intuition, compassion, creativity and nurturing, that we may feel your spirit leaping within us and the whole of creation.

 

HYMNS

Beyond all words which we can form (BL)

As flesh reveals a path. (BL)

I sing a song of the woman’s voice. (BL)

We sing of human loving’s starting point. (BL)

Within Christ’s complex heart and mind. (BL)

 

We are sisters of the earth.

http://www.methodist.org.nz/resources/hymns/the_mystery_telling

When the temple veil is torn in two. (STS1)

Rejoice, rejoice at Christmas time. (STS1)

Singing the Sacred Vol 1 2011. World Library Publications

 

POEMS / REFLECTIONS

 

OUR FLESH

Our flesh

is the temple

of the Holy Spirit –

therefore do not be afraid

to look at it,

delight in it

celebrate it,

for it is something to be wondered at

it is a seat of mystery

and it is worthy of all

the appropriate caressing

that can be bestowed upon it.

 

YOUR BODY IS A BOOK

Your body is a book that I would read,

With your permission,

As I invite you to read mine.

Part of the reading will be with my eyes

But most of it will, like reading Braille

Be with my fingers and my body.

I do not seek to read your body by myself

As if it were some object

But to read it in mutual dialogue

Of playful reverence.

Together we shall explore with wonder

The line and mass,

Texture and color

Of our sculptured complexity

And delineated simplicity.

In the exploration

Our spirits shall intertwine

Our life forces merge

Until with abandon

We shall dance within

God’s unfenced

Eternity.

 

SCULPTURE

It is my passion

to turn the whole of life

into one gigantic sculpture,

run my fingers reverently

over every mound and hollow

and indelibly imprint

its form

upon my mind.

 

THE ‘COMING OUT’ OF THE HETEROSEXUAL.

I look into the face of this woman and see a man.

I look into the face of this man and see a woman.

And what is more unsettling – I look into my own heart and see both a woman and a man.

If only we could return to the simplicity

of two clearly delineated boxes

of male and female!

Then all we would have to do

would be to bury the pain

of our complexity

and deny the reality

of our feelings!

Thank God for new understandings

new liberation,

new wholeness

that frees us from submissive

femininity

and overpowering

masculinity;

that acknowledges what has always been inside

earth and sky

egg and seed.

Now I am more than a man

I am myself

I am the entire human race

not just half of it.

Now the two have become one.

 

SHADOW SEXUALITY

Suddenly my search for the perfect woman

Ended without having found her

For instead

I discovered within me

An inner woman

As well as an inner man.

Emotionally

They made love to each other

And in the ecstasy

Life was whole,

Vibrant

And full of delight.

 

CLOUD AND SUN’S RAYS

The soft feminine forms of the clouds

And the straight masculine unwavering rays of the sun

Meet to produce the unparalleled brilliance of sunset

And sunrise

And the dancing of the light.

And so it shall be

That when we hold together

The masculine and the feminine

The brilliance of the mystery

Shall be seen by all.

 

THE BIBLICAL VIEW OF SENSUOUSNESS

(Sensuousness = of or pertaining to the senses)

The Biblical view of sensuousness has often been misunderstood because of the failure to understand Paul’s distinction between the Greek words soma, sarx and pneuma which are usually translated body, flesh and spirit respectively.

Paul does not use the word ‘body’ as we would use it to identify one aspect of the human person. Rather he uses it to refer to the whole person. Consequently, Paul cannot conceive of a future human existence beyond death without a body, hence the belief in the Resurrection of the Body which is an affirmation of the continuing value of the whole person.

‘Flesh’ is also not used in the contemporary sense of blood and tissue, but in the sense of the whole person in their frailty and weakness, and in their opposition to God, both as an individual and as part of a contemporary and historical social structure.

Like soma and sarx, the word pneuma or spirit does not mean a part of a person, but rather the whole person as a living being sharing in the life of God.

So the opposition in the New Testament between flesh and spirit is not between two parts of the one person but between two ways of looking at life, two ways of living – between on the one hand sharing in the limitless life of God, and on the other hand merely existing in a manner which denies the life force in human beings, denies that quality of living which is part of the life of God.

The linking of the apparently non-material side of the human person (which we call spirit) with what is good and the linking of the material side of the human person (which we call flesh) with evil, is an un-Biblical belief which has been accepted for far too long. Indeed this dualism lies at the heart of many people’s inability to value their own and other people’s sexuality.

The presence in the Bible of the Song of Solomon (which scholars have some­times tried to allegorize), and the fact that Jesus obviously enjoyed eating and drinking at the parties of sinners and publicans (Matthew 11/19), illustrate that the Bible encourages a sensuous approach to living, but condemns its misuse. It is significant that in the writings of Paul the abuse of sexuality is not regarded as the supreme sin, but listed along with a great many other human failings (Gal. 5, 19-21, Romans 1, 26-31).

 

 

ADDITIONAL NOTES ON SEXUALITY

THE IMPORTANCE OF TOUCH

According to both Biblical and psychological perspectives, the fundamental psychological need of human beings is to give and receive acceptance, affirmation and tenderness, i.e. love. Without an appropriate sensory communication, which often involves the use of touch, it is almost impossible to convey the non-verbal realities which lie behind these words.

THE SEXUAL REVOLUTION

The sexual revolution which is in process both inside and outside the church, has led to many people rejecting the old absolute standards. In the face of a wide range of alternative viewpoints, a new quality of mutual respect and understanding is called for. A theology of sexuality which poses Gospel questions rather than seek to impose rules may well be the most fruitful way forward.

A CHALLENGE FACING THE CHURCH

One of the greatest needs in the Church today is to help people rediscover their bodies as the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6/19): Something to be wondered at, respected, cared for, loved, shared and enjoyed.  It is only then that we will begin to discover the real beauty, wonder and spiritual potential of our sexuality.

 

FOCUS FOR ACTION

Instead of attempting to impose upon others our view of what is right and wrong in the area of sexual behavior, would it not be better to provide something like the following:

 

A LIST OF FACTORS TO BE CONSIDERED IN DECIDING WHETHER A SEXUAL ACTIVITY IN A PARTICULAR SITUATION IS COMPATIBLE WITH THE GOSPEL.

  1. Is the activity an expression of God-given love? (1 Cor. 13/13)
  2. Are both partners treated as equals; e.g. does each partner consent to the relationship being expressed in this manner? (Mark 12/ 13, Ephesians 5 / 33, 1 Cor. 7 / 4)
  3. Does it undermine any other relationship or hurt any other human being? (Mark 10 /9, John 8 /11, Galatians 6 /2)
  4. Should it be confined to a stable, trusting relationship?  (Genesis 2 /24)
  5. Does it have a detrimental effect on the wider human community; e.g. the transmission of known genetic abnormality? (Romans 14/13)
  6. Is it medically safe; e.g. would it lead to the infection of one’s partner or oneself? (1 Cor. 6 /19)
  7. Is it compatible with responsible Christian parenthood; e.g., is it good family planning and does it take into account the needs of any children involved? (Ephesians 6 /4)
  8. Is it part of a balanced rhythm of Christian living which enhances self-esteem and promotes mental health and personal development?  (Ephesians 5 / 28)
  9. Is it playful, life affirming fun instead of merely being a form of escapism or something which is regarded as a duty? (John 10 /10)
  10. Is it a joyful celebration of God? (Matt. 22/2 Song of Songs 2/4)

NB: Biblical and other mystical writers often use sexual images to describe union between the believer and God e.g. Rev. 21/2.

 

Celebrating Mystery Logo

LOGO NOTE: At the heart of the mystery all the separate boxes disappear and all is one, all is love.

Text and graphic © William Livingstone Wallace but available for free use.

 

 

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