When Christians put the words “God” and “sex” together in the same sentence we usually want to say something about ethics. Or more specifically, something about policies and rules. What we need to do first and often is to say something theological and spiritual.
So what can sexual intimacy tell us about God? Why and how has this question been downplayed in Christian formation and neglected in Bible study? What dimension of Christian faith have we tossed under the bed and how can we restore the link between food, sexual intimacy, and the longing for God as the hoped-for promise of Divine Communion?
Those are some of the questions I tried to address with my new book, Divine Communion: A Eucharistic Theology of Sexual Intimacy.
It just so happens that this book has been published as I mark twenty-five years of ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church. I’m celebrating both on Saturday evening, November 2, with a Celebration of Sacred Desire and Table Fellowship – food, music, and a book signing! If you’re in the Bay Area, please celebrate with me! (Use the contact form below for more details.)
To entice, lure, and seduce you into reading the book, here’s a bit of Q&A helpfully compiled by my publisher with some excerpts from the book itself:
What prompted you to write this book?
“Christian communities have been wrestling with sexual ethics for decades but without saying nearly enough about sexual theologies. The hesitancy of modern Western churches to address embodied sexual relations in spiritual practice explicitly highlights a critical gap between today’s Christian communities and historical traditions that I aim to bridge with this book. As I attempt that bridge-building, I imagine both biblical writers and Christian theologians over the centuries teetering on the brink of making the truly audacious claim they longed to make but could not quite bring themselves to do: erotic energy sits at the heart of Christian faith and practice.”
So, sex plays a role in faith?
“Love lies at the heart of the Gospel. I do not mean the sanitized or sentimental versions of love that proliferate in greeting cards. I mean, rather, the many forms love can take, all of which exhibit an erotic character, the hope for encounter and intimacy. Christians can claim even further that this deep desire for love originates with God, whose longing for intimacy not only shines forth from biblical texts and theological traditions but also in every elegant, fumbling, joyous, and disappointing or even traumatic encounter we have with sex and sexual intimacy. Divine eroticism shines forth from all these moments precisely because God created their physical and material conditions. God has done something else as well. By making human bodies, with their complex physiology and all their various parts and organs, God has planted in each of us a carnal pathway for encountering divine love.”
What’s your goal with this book?
“Overall, I hope this book will encourage Christians to find fresh and invigorating ways to talk with each other about their own experiences with erotic desire and their longing for union with God. That conjunction describes the One Story of Christian faith and its kernel of good news for all those who ponder sexual ethics and who seek to live in a world of reconciliation and wholeness, with each other and with this planet of God’s creation. Christian communities enact and proclaim this startling story every time we gather around a ritual table to share a simple meal of bread and wine—a remarkably erotic and hopeful performance of Divine Communion.”
Contact me for more information about the celebration on November 2: