Thursday, October 05, 2006

Spirituality and the Sexaul Self

Sexuality and Spirituality: What’s the Connection? The connection is everything.

Sexuality is a very basic part of the human condition. Therefore, if the sexual self is rejected, then the spiritual self suffers as well.

One basic message that we are given during life is that sexuality is somehow bad or wrong. For example:

  • Masturbation is bad.
  • Viewing pornography is “dirty.”
  • Finding a friend attractive can “ruin the friendship.”
  • You are not supposed to find people of the same gender attractive.
  • You are not supposed to find people below a certain age attractive.
  • Violating sexual norms can have catastrophic repercussions including losing one’s job, being sent to prison, public disgrace, etc.

The problem is that sexuality is one of the most basic aspects of being a human being. After basic safety and food, sexuality is often times the next most driving issue for a person. Just taking a look at the checkout isle at a supermarket the message is look younger, be slim and attractive, whose dating who, how to please your mate, etc.

Sexual feelings and expression is caused by hormones, organs, the nervous system and the brain. Such things cannot be stopped without physical changes. They are going to be there whether we want them or not.

On the one hand we are told that we must control and suppress our sexual natures: something that we cannot do. On the other hand, our sexual selves are expected to measure up to a standard that no one can consistently meet. Thus it is not surprising that someone might me suffering from some conflicting and harmful beliefs when approaching sexuality.

Approaching the spiritual self when one believes that the sexual self is bad or wrong cannot help but affect one’s perceptions and beliefs. If this is how we treat ourselves, having a callus attitude towards the conditions of others is a logical result. Who gives a damn about truth, beauty, right and wrong when you are walking around in a living hell day after day?

Now consider the same person coming from the belief that their sexual nature is OK. They think that they are attractive enough, that their feelings are normal and that they can express their sexuality without the world coming to an end. This starting point cannot help but change the perception of the spiritual world.

The world still may be a harsh place, but at least the perception is that it is the world and not the person that is at fault. Change the conditions and the world is downright pleasant. There is hope, the chance for justice, etc.

Thus sexuality and spirituality are connected at a very basic level. Change the sexual perception, and the spiritual one can be radically altered. Change the beliefs and expectations placed on the sexual self by the spiritual self, and the person’s sexuality changes.

The title of this article is a variation on Reverend Haffner’s excellent site: “Sexuality and Religion: what’s the Connection?” I tend to look at what I consider the larger world of the spiritual self rather than the significant but smaller portion pertaining to religion.

Never the less, the effects of religion and religious beliefs have a profound effect on a person’s spiritual and the sexual identities. Religion can be an accepting; affirming place for our spiritual and sexual natures, or it can be an endless source of problems. From my standpoint, depending on the significance that religion plays in society and with the individual as a whole the connection is extremely important.

Technorati: Sexuality, spirituality, religion, human condition


Shay said...

Things used to be a lot worse.

That's why Freud's work in the Victorian era was so important - but is also why people don't "get" him these days.

People during Victorian times were forced to suppress their sexuality so much that people were coming down with serious disorders and neuroses.

People would go blind, lose all the feeling in a hand or foot, or not be able to sleep at night - the cure? sex and/or masturbation.
(okay that's really simplifying things, but you get the idea - depriving yourself of your basic sexual needs can lead to very bad things - not that this is in any way an excuse for pedophiles or rapists; Freud had a whole other theory for these folks).

Whatever said...

Absolutely --- a lot of progress has been made in the last century. The notion of a therapist who talked about sex or a columnist who wrote about it would be unthinkable in the Victorian era.