In my last post, I talked about spirit sex – erotic encounters with ghosts, angels, and other spirit beings. I concluded that such things are not only possible, but that they can actually be quite pleasant and beneficial in some cases.
This leads me to the idea of erotic encounters with God. While many people find this idea absurd, more than a few mystics throughout history have described their relationship with God in romantic or sexual terms – and I don’t think they were just using exalted metaphors!
My own experience (as well as that of many others) suggests it’s possible to receive this sort of love directly from God, with no human mediators involved. Consider the following quotes from mystics who experienced God in a romantic way:
“Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free;
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me” (John Donne, Holy Sonnet 14).
“Now as the soul is more excellent than the body, and admits of far greater joy, so this spiritual union (with God) brings in more astonishing delights and ravishments than any other marriage relationship is capable of” (Thomas Watson).
“Our marriage union with husband or wife cannot be more clear, more sure, more matter of fact, than our oneness with Christ and our enjoyment of that oneness” (Charles Spurgeon).
If God is the creator of sexuality, then it stands to reason that God can interact with human beings in an erotic way. And Scripture doesn’t hesitate to describe God’s relationship with humanity in exactly these terms:
“As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you” (Isaiah 62:5).
“I passed by you again and looked on you; you were at the age for love. I spread my cloak over you, and covered your nakedness; I pledged myself to you and entered into a covenant with you, says the Lord God, and you became mine” (Ezek 16:8).
“For this reason (that man should not be alone), a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife; and the two will become one flesh. This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church” (Eph 5:31-32).
“Let us rejoice and exult and give (God) the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready” (Rev 19:7).
Some people have trouble with this concept because of the power differential. Since God is so much more powerful than any human being, it’s argued, a romantic or erotic relationship between the two could never be a healthy thing.
In truth, however, every relationship is somewhat imbalanced in this way. Indeed, everyone is more powerful than their spouse in one way or another, be it physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. It’s simply not possible to find two people who are equal in every dimension of their relationship!
We also need to remember that God is perfect in love, and would never do anything that isn’t for our good. Human beings may (and often do) use their power or influence to coerce, manipulate, and exploit others; but this is not the case with God. God’s power is always directed at love.
Others have argued that having an erotic relationship with God is improper because it “brings God down to our level.” People who make this argument are essentially saying that sex can’t be holy; that it’s something we can (and ideally should) eventually transcend.
This is essentially a Gnostic argument, favoring the spiritual over the material; and while many people think this way (including both Christians and pagans), it’s hard to reconcile it with the biblical doctrine that all of creation is “very good” (Gen 1:31)!
One final argument against erotic intimacy with God is that it involves an inappropriate mixing of roles. Since God is our spiritual Father (or Mother), it’s argued that God cannot also be our lover; this would be a spiritual form of incest.
The problem with this argument is that it judges spiritual realities by material ones. While incest is emotionally (and often physically) harmful on the physical plane, there’s no reason we should suppose this is the way it is on the spiritual.
Indeed, it’s quite possible to love someone in an erotic way and also a parental way without harming them; it’s only when this is acted out in a physical form (by an actual parent or sibling) that it becomes problematic.
As the doctrine of the Trinity makes clear, it’s very possible for God to relate to us in several different ways at the same time, without any necessary conflict.
Just as God can live within us and also beyond us at the same time, God can be our divine Parent, Sibling, and Lover all at the same time. It’s only when we try to conceptualize this in physical terms that it gets awkward.
While most people only experience the erotic side of God indirectly (through romantic/sexual relationships with other people), there’s nothing in Scripture, church tradition, or my own experience that would preclude feeling it in a more direct form.
If God can be experienced in a sexual way, does this mean that sexuality survives beyond the grave? My own suspicion is that it does.
I have several reasons for believing this. For one thing, the spirit of Christina (my girlfriend in heaven, who passed on in 2014) revealed this to me directly the first time I made contact with her.
Sexuality takes a different form here, she said to me, but we still have feelings and attractions of that kind.
Many Christians who object to this idea cite Jesus’ teaching that “those who are considered worthy of a place in (the coming) age, and in the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage” (Luke 20:35).
But Jesus never says that the resurrected dead have no sexual desires, or that they never interact in this way; He simply says that they don’t marry. The reason for this is simple: they are immortal, and have no need to reproduce (Luke 20:36).
We must remember what marriage in Jesus’ day was: a patriarchal institution aimed at the preservation of family lines.
Thus women (who were seen as the property of their fathers) were “given” to their husbands in exchange for some other form of property. A vestige of this tradition remains whenever fathers “give away” their daughters at the altar.
Among the resurrected dead, however, there’s no need for any of this. Since procreation is no longer necessary, the concept of marriage as a property exchange simply disappears.
In the resurrection, both women and men are free to express their sexuality for the sake of love alone. They no longer “belong” to one another in an economic sense, but are united in a cosmic love with God and all of creation. This love transcends sexuality, but also somehow includes it. I can only guess what this might be like.
One thing seems clear to me, though. Whatever form sexuality takes in the resurrection, it will not be less enjoyable than what it is now – it will be more so!
The biblical witness on this point is clear: all of creation is good (Gen 1:31); and in the age to come, all of it will be preserved and made new (Rom 8:22-23, Rev 21:5). This includes sexuality – which, at its best, is a foretaste of an ecstasy so amazing it strains the imagination.
(This concludes the “Jesus and Sex” series. Coming Soon – “Why Are You Letting This Happen?”: The Living God and the Problem of Suffering)