“An Erotic Encounter With the Divine” is the title of a post by Eric L. Hays-Strom atJesus in Love. (Eric has a Masters Degree in Catholic Life and Worship from St. Meinrad School of Theology). In his post, he has a moving account of how deliberate prayer immediately before making love with his husband has led to intensely spiritual experiences – especially on one notable occasion in particular.
It would be unfair to copy too much of this personal story here, but some things are worth noting. Eric’s journey in combining the sexual and the spiritual came after listening to some tapes prepared by Michael B Kelly, who is a noted spiritual director and writer, specialising in the contribution that gay men’s erotic experiences can give to the the church’s fuller understanding of spirituality:
…..we discovered a tape series about spirituality and sexuality, “The Erotic Contemplative” by Michael Bernard Kelly. I was immediately intrigued. On our two way drive home from Los Angeles to Omaha, we started listening to the tapes and discussing the questions that came in a guide with the tapes. It was probably amongst the most intimate conversations of sex, sexuality and spirituality I have ever had.
Through the years our lovemaking has risen to an entirely new level when we intentionally invite God to be present to and with us. That is, when we prayerfully invite God’s Divine Presence to bless our lovemaking and to join with us in our lovemaking.
In my blog (http://scottneric.com/ontheroad) I have written about several experiences in my life in which I have known God’s presence, either as God or in the person of Jesus or of the Holy Spirit. So, in my own heart, and in my own soul, I know what the ecstatic experience of the Divine is like.
(Here Eric recounts a particularly intense experience. To read it in the original, go to An Erotic Encounter With the Devine at Jesus in Love).
This is an important experience, and not uncommon. It gives the lie to official teaching, as do all other such experiences. If we are able to find God in our lovemaking, how can it possibly be wrong?
With their pathological aversion to any form of sexual expression, the Catholic hierarchs insist that any from of lovemaking outside of marriage, and not open to the possibility of procreation is sinful, and gay lovemaking in particular is “fundamentally disordered.” Anybody who has experienced the sheer joy of giving oneself to another, of whatever the gender, in an intimate loving relationship will know how disordered is the teaching – and not the action.
“The joy of God is humans fully alive”, said St Ireneaus. Many people would confirm that the experience of this kind of intimacy is about as fully alive as two people can become. It is not surprising that many priests and ex-priests, writing about their experience of celibacy, have described it as dehumanising. Thus, the celibate theologian’s teaching on sexuality, by trying to impose their own restrictive standards on the rest of us, is leading us not towards God but away. Fortunately, many Catholic theologians outside of Vatican control our now joining their Protestant counterparts in correcting these misunderstandings – for example John McNeill, Daniel Helminiak and Michael B Kelly among the Catholics, joining Chris Glaser and many others among the Protestants.
It is basic to theology that consciously inviting the Lord into any activity will make it into a prayerful and hence spiritual one. It is natural that this should also apply to lovemaking, which is one of the most basic of all human activities. Writing about our experiences of finding the divine in love, sharing the truth, sharing the truth about them, helps to dispel the destructive poison of official teaching.
Recommended Books (Queer Spirituality):
- Boisvert, Donald: Out on Holy Ground: Meditations on Gay Men’s Spirituality
- Cleaver, Richard: Know My Name: Gay Liberation Theology
- Cotter, Jim: Pleasure, Pain & Passion: Some Perspectives on Sexuality and Spirituality
- Glaser, Chris: Coming Out to God: Prayers for Lesbians and Gay Men, Their Families and Friends
- Glaser, Chris: Coming out As Sacrament
- Glaser, Chris: Come Home!: Reclaiming Spirituality and Community As Gay Men and Lesbians
- Helminiak, Daniel: Sex and the Sacred: Gay Identity and Spiritual Growth
- Johnson, Toby: Gay Perspective: Things Our Homosexuality Tells Us about the Nature of God & the Universe (Revised)
- Johnson, Toby: Gay Spirituality: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness
- Kelly, Michael B: Seduced by Grace: Contemporary spirituality, Gay experience and Christian faith
- L’Empereur, James: Spiritual Direction & The Gay Person
- McNeill, John: Sex As God Intended
- P. Sweasey: From Queer to Eternity: Spirituality in the Lives of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual People