Sexuality and Spirituality | Patrick F. Cioni | Homiletic & Pastoral Review
An Attempt at Integration for Sexual and Spiritual Health
Abstract: This paper attempts to show the relationship between sexuality and spirituality, and ways to attain profound union between husbands and wives. Incorporating spirituality with sexual behavior enhances the capacity for satisfaction and unity between the man and the woman. Bringing sexuality and spirituality together promotes harmony between the sexes and can result in a closer relationship with the Creator. The theme of unity between married couples and with God is proposed throughout. The purpose of the article is to show that profound blessing and true unity in marriage are powerfully promoted by adding the spiritual dimension to the physical relationship.
The paper introduces two battlefields in the journey toward oneness in marriage: 1) the struggle against the inner evil of lust in the human heart, and 2) the struggle against extrinsic evil, a counterfeit spirit; corresponding remedies are presented. The deceiver, the evil one, is also a divider—he seeks to divide and conquer. Victory involves overcoming spiritual attacks by spiritual methods. Shame and fear also isolate and divide, hindering intimacy, which requires an absence of defensiveness and a willingness to be open with one’s spouse.
Marriage is being assaulted from several directions at once. Nevertheless, God made man and woman to enjoy a peaceful, edifying union of body, mind, and spirit capable of approaching, to a degree, the joyful unity of intellect, will, and desire experienced in the Godhead. To a certain extent, men and women can aspire to the holy, deeply satisfying union that the first man and woman enjoyed before the fall. Mystical union is presented as God’s inestimable gift when a couple invites him into their marriage.
“The man and his wife were both naked, yet they felt no shame.”1 “Original innocence”2refers to “the common beginning of man and woman” that involved “immunity from shame. …”3 This condition is further described as “… the original innocence of knowing,” a knowing without shame and “… a fullness of interpersonal communication…”4 promoting unity between the man and the woman. There were no hindrances to the man and woman knowing each other fully and unashamedly, no blocks to communication, no fear of judgment. Such knowledge in the state of original innocence was full and complete, existing on physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual levels.
This unity, growing out of intimate knowledge between the man and the woman, reflected the unity in the Godhead. “The whole Old Testament is mainly concerned with revealing the truth about the oneness and unity of God … unity in communion,”5 a communion between and among the persons of the Trinity, most fully revealed in the New Testament. And God said, “Let us make man in our own image, in the likeness of ourselves … so God created man in the image of Himself, in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them. …”6 Together, the male and female in communion are a physical sign representing the unity in the Triune God. “Man becomes the image of God, not so much in the moment of solitude, as in the moment of communion … sex is a surpassing of the limit of man’s solitude …” given to man as one result of God’s conclusion: “It is not good that the man should be alone.”7
So God intervenes, and the man is relieved, for he says, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman because she was taken out of man. Therefore a man … clings to his wife, and they become one flesh.”8 In the “integration of what is masculine and what is feminine,”9 one can catch a glimpse of divine unity.
The Fall and Shame
God intervened on behalf of the man, yet his creations, the man and the woman, failing to communicate with their Maker, chose to seek knowledge in an illicit way.