‘Spirituality is not a domain solely owned and operated by religion. We are born spiritual beings and we have concomitant spiritual needs to have meaning, to have purpose, and to see the bigger picture of contextualizing even our most intimate moments, maybe especially those intimate moments.’
The group became speechless when he exploded out of his chair at our weekly session. Extending his finger like a prophet from the Old Testament, he stepped forward to make sure I got the point as his voice rang out, “You do NOT bring GOD into the bedroom!”
The other men in his group were stunned and even the atheists wondered aloud, “If there’s a God, how would you keep him out?” I nodded my head smiling at my client because, what else was there to say? Today was not his day to begin integrating his sexuality with his spirituality.
When my clients are presented with the challenge of integrating these two parts of their lives they’re invariably confused. It’s as if the religious part of their brains had never said, “Hi!” to the sexual part. The atheists often earnestly protest, “But I don’t have any religious beliefs.”
For them, it’s news that spirituality is a far vaster topic than religion, predating religion. For my religious clients, their notion of “integration” shrinks down to no more than a mere recitation of their beliefs, which, when it comes to sexuality, is never more than a series of rules. Don’t have sex before marriage, don’t have sex outside of marriage, don’t have sex with same-sex partners, don’t touch yourself and for God’s sake, get away from those farm animals!
Spirituality deals with the invisible, immaterial world as opposed to the physical one. Spirituality tries to answer questions like, “What is the meaning of life?” or “Why am I here?” or “How should I live?” or “What is love?” Spirituality provides meaning and context to our lives—including our sex lives. And, going once more into a very politically incorrect zone, some forms of spirituality do a better job than others when it comes to illumination and guidance to human sexual relations. When it comes to sexuality, a whole lot of spirituality is useless at best and, at worst, horribly misleading and abusive.
But is integrating sexuality and spirituality a human need? Do we need to do this? Revisiting our thought experiment from my textbook on sexual needs, “We’re All Like This,” try to see if you can imagine the perfect sex life, perfect in every way. Now imagine that very same perfect sex life stripped of all meaning, context, and depth—is it still perfect? Of course not. A sex life entirely limited to the physical will inevitably become boring as it depends on the two dimensions of titillation, the same song over and over again. At some point, we’re ready to move on.