DISCLAIMER: This post has been tagged Deep Waters because is discusses human sexuality.
I personally do not believe avoiding the topic of sex or that teaching sex-negative messages is advisable. I think the hope is that doing so can keep people from having sex — but all that it appears to have done is keep people from having good sex: From asking questions about it, from communicating with their partners about it — and from being fulfilled by it.
I also think avoiding it or teaching a negative/shame-based view of it blurs the line between sex and rape by making all human sexuality this one, undifferentiated mass of “bad”. If we’re taught to repress ourselves sexually, it doesn’t just go away. The “uncontrollable” horny boy and the “good girl” syndrome are all caused by our current approach of teaching young men and women about sex. It leads to either rampant breaking of the law of chastity — or depression and unhappy sexuality within marriage [which is why an LDS couple wrote And They Were Not Ashamed], both of which are exactly what Satan wants us doing.
In any event — there’s the disclaimer, so now I’ll start.
The unity of marriage:
Adam and Eve were married before they were ever aware of their nakedness or their sexuality [see, Intimacy as the Opposite of Sin]. The marriage union was in response to loneliness – not lust.
The sexual union is the chief means of physically expressing an existing connection of Love between two people. Sex for both procreation and pleasure is not unique to being human — it is common to all other animals. Our unique experience in sexuality is the bonding or social adhesion between two people.
When acting as animals, we may experience the two dynamics common to all life [procreation and pleasure], we conceive children and it can feel good – but only when acting as humans may be partake of the third [or ideally all three at once].
Reproduction and sexual union are distinct events:
The genitals have three distinct purposes:
Thus, they may be considered as conduits of three things:
- Nitrogenous waste
- Reproductive gametes
- Social adhesion
These three are all physiologically distinct from each other. Sexual union and reproduction are considered just as separate from each other as reproduction is from urination.
- The testes and the ovaries/uterus [reproductive organs] are not the ones involved in the sexual union
- Just as the urethra is not the organ involved in producing new life
The pleasure of sex arises entirely within one’s own body. This is why the pleasure of it can be generated in solitude. Thus, this aspect is better considered as the sequel to a sexual union, or the end-result of one.
Disconnected the pleasure from the union:
Often, a person who is going out for a “hook-up” is said to be “lookin’ for a woman” or “out to get a man”. Nothing could be further from the truth.
A woman is exactly what a man like that does not want. What he wants is the pleasure for which a woman happens to be a desirable apparatus for obtaining. If a bona-fide union with the other person is not the end you are seeking – then he/she is just the means to the end you’re really seeking, your own pleasure [just as if you were producing the pleasure in solitude].
This is not Love. Actual union did not take place. The other person will be regarded about the same as a drug addict would regard the used syringe after he is done injecting.
and Amnon said unto Tamar
bring the food into the chamber
that I may eat from thine hand
and Tamar took the cakes which she had made
and brought them into the chamber
to Amnon her brother
and when she had brought them unto him to eat
he took hold of her
and said unto her
come lie with me my sister
and she answered
my brother do not force me
for no such thing ought to be done in israel
do not commit this folly
and what of me?
whither shall I cause my shame to go?
and as for thee
thou shalt be as one of the fools in israel
I pray thee
speak unto the king
for he will not withhold me from thee
howbeit he would not hearken unto her voice
but being stronger than she
and had sex with her
then Amnon hated her exceedingly
so that the hatred wherewith he hated her
was greater than the love wherewith he had loved her
and Amnon said unto her
Union is a “sacred-act” — or “sacrament”:
The “sacrament” of sex arises from the fact that, in Love, we are not merely our Self anymore. We become representatives or proxy of the universal Male and Female. In the temple, we are considered as if we were Adam and Eve. In the pagan mysteries, the man acts in the role of the Father Sky-god and the woman the Mother Earth-goddess. All that is masculine and feminine in the whole universe – all that exerts and all that yields – all form and matter, all spirit and element – is momentarily focused and present in that singular event [see, Masculinity, Femininity, and Gender].
The word “naked” originates as the past tense of the verb for peeling or stripping – meaning it referred to something that had undergone a “naking”.
In this sense, each of us are more our Self when we are dressed. The naked person is not one who has abstained from wearing clothing – but is one who [for a specific reason] has undergone the specific process of removing clothes. Nudity emphasizes the common human image we all bear [or would that be bare, pun intended].
Like the story of Inanna descending to the realm of the dead, passing the seven gates, removing an article of clothing at each [or Mary, being freed from seven spirits] – we strip off all that it means to be our Self, and put on nakedness as a ceremonial robe to re-enter the garden as the universal He and She [Adam and Eve] to re-enact the drama of creation.
Sacred symbolism in LDS temple liturgy:
In BiV’s post at Wheat & Tares, The Sacred Embrace as Five Points of Fellowship, she describes how [before this aspect of the ceremony was removed] the initiates were not allowed to enter the presence of the Lord until they had conversed with Him embraced in the Five Points of Fellowship. The closeness symbolized in that act was to represent our oneness with God — a complete embrace of our Self into Him — and was presented as the way through which we all passed from death into celestial Life.
The Five Points of Fellowship were described as:
- inside of right foot by the side of right foot
- knee to knee
- breast to breast
- hand to back
- mouth to ear
In Wicca, there is a ritual of the “Fivefold Kiss”, which is another form of the Five Points of Fellowship. The ritual involves kissing five parts of the body — each kiss accompanied by a blessing.
- Blessed be thy feet, that have brought thee in these ways
- Blessed be thy knees, that shall kneel at the sacred altar
- Blessed be thy womb / phallus, without which we would not be
- Blessed be thy breasts, formed in beauty / breast, formed in strength
- Blessed be thy lips, that shall utter the Sacred Names.
Greeting or saluting [aspazomai, "to draw into one's self"] with a “holy kiss” was an early Christian practice referenced in the epistles of Paul [Rom. 16:16; 1 Cor. 16:20, 2 Cor. 13:12, 1 Thes. 5:26].
And not only did the Five Points of Fellowship get cut from the LDS temple ceremony — but so did the complete ritual blessing of the naked body done part-by-part:
- The head, ears, eyes, nose, lips, neck, shoulders, back, breast, solar plexus, arms and hands, genitals, and legs and feet.
The ritual established by Joseph Smith was performed in a bathtub — washing with water and spiced whiskey [strong drink for the purpose of ritual washing, D&C 89:7] and anointing with olive oil:
Oliver Cowdery gave even more detail about one of these temple preparation meetings, noting how the Latter-day Saints followed Old Testament patterns in washing and anointing priests for temple service.
Oliver wrote that he met with Joseph and others at the Prophet’s house:
“And after pure water was prepared, called upon the Lord and proceeded to wash each other’s bodies, and bathe the same with whiskey, perfumed with cinnamon. This we did that we might be clean before the Lord for the Sabbath, confessing our sins and covenanting to be faithful to God. While performing this washing with solemnity, our minds were filled with many reflections upon the propriety of the same, and how the priests anciently used to wash always before ministering before the Lord.”
Admittedly, these acts were obviously cut from our temple rituals because participants felt uncomfortable with the intimacy they suggest. This was especially the case for women — who were not allowed to have priestesses ministering at the veil ritual for them, but had to be received by a male priest to whom they were not married.
Much like the intimacy suggested in the ritual washing and anointing of Jesus’ feet by Mary [without which He was not prepared for His death and burial] …
then Mary took a pound of ointment of spikenard
and anointed the feet of Jesus
and wiped his feet with her hair
and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment
and did wipe them with the hairs of her head
and kissed his feet
[...] Jesus said
seest thou this woman?
she hath done what she could
she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying
amen I say unto you
wheresoever this gospel shall be preached
throughout the whole world
this also that she has done
shall be spoken of for a memorial of her
… many felt some “indignation within themselves” when presented with such ritual acts that were quite sexual in nature.
The reason these sacred acts were removed:
These rituals are inherently intimate in nature because they express the unity between men-and-women, humanity-and-God — that the gospel is designed to achieve. Zion requires great intimacy and connection among the body of believers who comprise it. The church currently lacks this intimacy and connection — so these rituals felt strange for most of the people who participated in them.
However, the leadership addressed the genuine feelings of discomfort in the wrong way. Instead of getting at the reason why we all still feel like strangers at church and are not comfortable with the level of intimacy required to be comfortable in the temple rituals — they just axed the intimate parts out of the ceremony.
The only way to achieve Zion, or even a Zion-like atmosphere at church, is for the men and women to all be connected to each other through covenants. As it stands, we are connected to Christ through covenants, but not to each other. As long as we remain unfettered by covenant relationships with each other, we will never achieve Zion and our conversations [and actions] will never approach the level of intimacy and sharing required of that ideal.
Knitting the estranged back together:
The experience of ecstasy [ekstasis, "to stand outside yourself"], the complete unification of two people expressed through the sexual union — is what exists beyond the concepts of separateness, beyond the concepts of God-and-humans, Self-and-neighbor, man-and-woman, or any of the other this-and-that’s we might split existence into.
This is the transcendent “mystical experience” present in nearly every religion or spiritual path. One might immediately think of the New-Agey, Eastern religions [Zen, Yoga, Hinduism, etc.], but even the big three Abrahamic faiths have their own ecstatic, mystical sects [Kabbalah, Sufism, Gnosticism].
The fervor for which some Christian writers have described being given over to the ecstatic worship of God border on the sexual:
Only in God is everything pure, beautiful, and holy; fortunately we can dwell in Him even in our exile! But my Master’s happiness is mine, and I surrender myself to Him so He can do whatever He wants in me.
I saw an angel beside me toward the left side, in bodily form. I saw in his hands a long dart of gold, and at the end of the iron there seemed to me to be a little fire. This I thought he thrust through my heart several times, and that it reached my very entrails. As he withdrew it, I thought it brought them with it, and left me all burning with a great love of God. So great was the pain, that it made me give those moans; and so utter the sweetness that this sharpest of pains gave me, that there was no wanting it to stop, nor is there any contenting of the soul with less than God.
A common monoplot in all human myth is this sacred act of the interplay between the aspects of God considered as a man and as a woman. Their interplay manifested in: Birth, Puberty, Marriage, Sexual Union, Death — cycling back to New Birth [or Resurrection]. It has been considered in various ways across human culture:
- YHVH and His covenant people Israel
- Christ, the bridegroom and His Beloved, the church
- Jesus and Mary Magdalene
- Sky-God and Earth-Goddess
- Inanna and Dumuzi
- Isis and Osiris
- Yin and Yang
- Shiva and Shakti
- Krishna and Radha
- Pan and Selene
But right now – The Father and Mother are estranged. The exalted Man sits up in the sky upon the throne. While the Woman is locked away in the tower. As such, they can never be friends.
The Mother is nature and all of the physical elements – but that’s become everything we are supposed to deny in order to be “holy”. Most religions go about separating the very things that is the purpose of religion to bring together – body and spirit, man and woman, sexuality and holiness, humanity and divinity.
I think people are scared of natural because it doesn’t seem as “self-sacrificing” — like the Catholic priest who feels his life of sexual restriction is “more holy” than a family-life. Or a Buddhist who would run away to “find himself” on a mountain top, leaving anything “worldly” behind. Or the monogamist who would insist that a polygamist ought to “deny their natural man” and get with one-on-one monogamy instead of a natural state of polygamous families.
But “natural” and “supernatural” need not be considered as separate things. Let us bring back together the things that shouldn’t ever have been separated in the first-place – or perhaps it would be to realize that they were never separate in the first-place. Just that a hardened mind, conceived in sin, perceives this-and-that, good-and-evil, heaven-and-earth, mental-and-physical, spirit-and-flesh, gods-and-humans, etc. as these separate and exclusive things – and our minds just need to be soften, or broken.
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