a quick take on sex and religion


Two genius minds come together to save the broken lass, something happens, curses fly, and two schools of thought birth. This is a simplified plot of the recent A Dangerous Method, the movie telling of Jung, Freud, and the woman who came between them.[1] I will not spoil the plot here, but was intrigued by one of the scenes in which Kiera Knightley’s character (based on psychiatrist Sabina Spielrein) discussed her take on sex. Sex, she argued, was about death as much as it was life. In the act two individuals ‘kill’ their individual identities as they join into one communal new creation. The joy within the act comes from this dying to self, and becoming alive to this new creation.

All this talk got me thinking about the Christian Church.[2] What Sabina described could just as easily been the experience of the mystical ‘union’ with Christ as explained by the desert fathers and following; or well, many an Evangelical leaving a heightened worship experience. This is what got me thinking: perhaps there is a link between the two activities. We, in the Evangelical Church, have always looked upon the marriage ceremony as a mirror into God.[3] Perhaps the marriage bed also presents a mirror into the sacred as well.

If this is true, then both sides of the current culture wars have some ‘plaining to do. The sexual act is a lot more sacred than the “free love” movement grants it as being; and the Christian experience is a lot more secular than many conservatives give it credit for being. Here, sex becomes far more than some pleasurable act of fitness, boredom-killing, or animalistic affair. Here, the Christian life becomes far more pungent, earthy, and casual. It might also explain why both sides are so adamantly opposed to one another. Nobody does war like family, and nobody shares animosity like two people just like one another yet scared to death of being like one another.

Perhaps a new pairing: the over-Churched and the over-Sexed getting together, talking about their needs and desires, discovering they’re not so different, and learning from each other how to improve their lives. Couldn’t work, could it?


[1] The movie is a hard ‘R’ not so much for profanity (there’s some f-bombs), or violence (there’s none, well, in the conventional sense), but for the frank dialogue about the world’s oldest pleasurable activity / vice along with a few scenes showing the mischief of two main characters (warning: Knightley is reported to have resorted to vodka shots to fortify her nerves around one scene). If sex is a trigger you may want to pass.

[2] Messed up, I know. But I will say Speilrein’s thought is not so far off the teaching of Moses as collected in the Genesis 2 re-telling of the creation story.

[3] For the record, I would see this as a positive theological reason to be concerned about civil unions, and I wish more Evangelicals would default to this line of reasoning rather than some expressed or repressed emotional or psychological dissonance with LGBT people.

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