Mid-life, aging, stressed, alone or surrounded by family—no matter where we are in life, sexuality is still integral to who we are. Research continues to reveal that in many aspects of our lives, how we function as sexual beings directly correlates to a happier, fuller life. Right along with that comes our spiritual life.
In the article, Sacred Fire, author Toni Weingarten reflects on standard religious teachings many of us experienced growing up. Sex basically meant don’t. In addition, our parents’ generation often was unable to teach us about sex, making us think of it as forbidden or dirty.
Sandra Lommasson, a spiritual director at Mercy Center in Burlingame, California, provides a fresher view: “Sexuality is the drive for love, unity, family. Sexuality calls us to new forms of partnership and creativity, to bring life into the world. Our soul isn’t something we have—we are our souls. The soul is life, the principle of energy. And the only sin is to dry up.”
Sr. Lorita Moffatt expands on the thought, referring to sexuality as the “juice of life, a desire for union, communion, and it’s in plants, animals and all of creation.” Approaching children with that concept of sexuality would be positive and life affirming.
Lommasson says: “…sexuality—erotic energy—is a powerful sacred fire.”
Both women are skilled in spiritual direction, a process where a mentor/counselor meets with a person who desires to blend daily living with a spiritual life, develop an inner life or clarify the path he or she is on. Both make the basic point that the spiritual part of us does not say don’t —though Lommasson stresses that: “We need to respect the sacredness of the fire.”
This respect lives in the relationship of two people who value the intimacy they have with one another. In families it is healthy for children to learn over time that their parents have a special relationship that occurs behind closed doors. It is that sexual relationship that brings children into the world and at its best sustains them in a family that is productive and happy.
Christine Gudorf writes in her article, Why Sex Is So Good for Your Marriage, that the “sexual desire created by marital sex is a source of tremendous energy in marriage—loving energy that overflows on others.” She relates that in her own marriage her children became aware of the sexual attraction she and her husband had for each other. They even learned that if one of their parents was tense or irritable, or an argument was ensuing, they could restore the comfortable home atmosphere by suggesting that their parents take a “little nap,” the euphemism developed for a retreat to their bedroom. When Gudorf was growing up, her own parents provided such a model. They touched each other with affection, enjoyed each other’s company and when they emerged from their bedroom, both smiling, their love for each other flowed out to their children and the rest of the evening was often warm and fun-filled. As my mother used to tell me, sex is the glue in a marriage.
The next generations would make stronger marriages if as children they experienced an honest openness about the sexual part of marriage—if sexuality was seen in its spiritual context and didn’t just shout out don’t. Being ignorant of the close bonds that sexuality and spirituality have promotes confusion, leads to an inability to communicate. Wives and husbands, boyfriends and girlfriends should be able to see their sexual lives as integral to human life—as a good thing—a sacred fire that we respect.
Gudorf writes: “For all these reasons, increased attention should be given in both the church and society to strengthening the role of sex in marriage by removing the ignorance of sexuality, the lack of communication skills, and the lack of theological appreciation for sexuality and sexual communion, all of which put marriage at risk.”