Saturday, May 17, 2008

Mike: Response to Rami's 5/16 Post

Before responding to your take on sexuality, I need to say a word about "Fall."

Christians typically think of the human condition as one of fallenness. We differ considerably over the degree of fallenness. The options range from "the image of God within us is marred" to the total depravity of humankind. Some Christians would agree with you that fallenness is psychological rather than ontological, though such distinctions get a bit fuzzy when dealing with something as complicated as a human being. Most, though, think fallenness is a real element of human life, both for individuals and for the human community. From this perspective, we do not so much imagine ourselves alienated from God as attempt to deal with the reality of alienation.

That being said, you and I agree about the necessity of "working with brokenness and the shadow-side of humanity and our institutions" being "vital to a truly redemptive, healing and transformative spirituality." So...on to sexuality!

While you recognize the universe as "God's body,"..."an extension of the Creator just as sunlight is an extension of the sun," I see the universe as God's creation. We've covered much of this ground in earlier posts, of course, so I'll not backtrack. For Christians such as myself, the universe in all its complexity, simplicity and discreet parts is sacred in that it is God's work. To put it another way, creation is sacramental--through it God may touch us and we may touch God. This includes other individuals, so that "every encounter," indeed, is sacred.

Our capacity to love each other, to break through to deep and genuine intimacy, to feel at one with another is a gift from God. Sexual love, like any sensual experience, may be a means to this end, and ideally it should always be so. When we experience "at oneness" with another, we may at least sense that love is the unifying power of all God's creation.

Westerners, I think, do not so much reject Hebraic sensuality and embrace Neo-Platonic asceticism, as fall for simple materialism, which ultimately leads us to treat both the universe at large and other persons in impersonal ways.

Taking a cue from you, I might recast the Seventh Commandment as follows: "You shall pursue the fullest possible union with your wife or husband, and through such union learn to enjoy union with God."

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