May 22, 2017

Spirituality and Sexuality - Part 1

For some days now I have been thinking about writing on the topic of love, but instead I am going to try to tackle a much more intense topic that is rarely discussed from a Christian spiritual frame of thinking.   It will probably take more than one post to really begin to unpack this topic, because there are a lot of variables that can play out, both naturally and spiritually.

Sex is not often talked about by Christians as a positive. Most of the time when it is discussed in church, it is from the list of dont do.  So even when Christians get married, they enter into marriage not knowing much about how sacred the sexual act of intercourse really is for both of them.

There needs to be more clarity given to the difference in the sacred act of intercourse in marriage and the physical sport of casual sexual behavior that is so common in our culture today.  The bible is constantly talking about the flesh in the New Testament. This is for a very good reason.

You need your senses to be aware of the natural world around you as well as to be aware of the spiritual world around you.  If you allow your senses to control you, then you will become desensitized to what is going on around you, both naturally and spiritually.  You have to be the controller of your flesh, you can not allow your flesh to control you.

In the context of a monogamous marriage, the senses are strengthened and not depleted. This is because the man and the woman are sharing a sacred sexual experience. They are becoming unified and this level of unity manifest in every aspect of their lives as individuals and as a couple.  This is why you will hear married people begin to use the same vocabulary and phrases, and even begin to communicate much more non verbally, as they become in tune with each other.

Pastors can look at the couples in their congregation and see which couples are truly unified and which couples are trying to pretend to be unified.  When a couple is not equally yoked it is obvious, it shows in many ways, but most importantly it shows in what they are able to accomplish in their walk with Christ, and in their individual callings.

Sexual intercourse is not only the sharing of the physical body, but it is also the sharing of that person's spiritual self.  So the person who has multiple sexual partners is becoming sexually schizophrenic. When you share your essence with someone, you are basically giving and receiving. You are giving away some of who you are spiritually and receiving some of who that person is spiritually.   So when you are sexual with a person who does not view their own body as sacred and spiritually connected to God, then you are devaluing your own body and spirit.

In church, the message is to avoid being 'unequally yoked',  or a more modern way to say it to say dont be tied to someone who is not a spiritual match.  The yoke is an apparatus that is used to tie two working animals together so that the strength of them both can be used to increase the productivity by powering the load to be pulled by the strength of the unified effort.   If one is too much stronger than the other, the stronger one will tire too quickly from taking too much of the labor load, and will eventually be dragging not only the weight of the load, but of the other animal too.  This will not only make the progress take longer, but will eventually bring the work to a complete stop, much sooner than if the two animals are more equal in strength.

Take that and apply it to a marriage, and you can have two people who are on the same path and level of awareness spiritually and they can accomplish much more, and much faster than they could as individuals working solo.  But if one of the people in the marriage is spending all of their prayer life and the spiritual awareness trying to drag someone along the path to spiritual growth, they risk becoming tired and unable to accomplish very much for the Kingdom because their spouse is lagging behind and as a team, they cant go any faster or any farther than the weaker, slower person is able or willing.

In seminary, one of the counseling classes that I had to take was Spirituality and Sexuality.  This class was a lot of information about the functions of the body and how to minister to people who were dealing with various sexual issues and concerns.  But when the instructors started talking about how you must understand that you are who you share your body with because you are sharing spiritually because sex is a spiritual act, I realized that in my upbringing this had not been discussed, but on some level it made total sense.

This is why those who are the most depleted as individuals are those who have given themselves away freely, and who are also the most empty spiritually and emotionally.  The constant search for what can only be found in God is what the they are actually trying to find in another empty person.  And two empty people can only share their emptiness.  And the more empty the individual feels, the more they seek after someone to make them feel better, to feel full. It becomes a sad and dangerous cycle.

For a person to value your body, they must value their own.  The person must see their sexuality as a sacred expression, not to be shared with just anyone and not to be shared with someone who is not on the same spiritual path.  If a person shares their body with some who is spiritually schizophrenic, then the individual is welcoming all of those spirits that the other person has into their being as well.  When this happens, all the spirits become familiar. When the spirits all become familiar, then the senses dont become alarmed and are no longer alert to the danger.  As a matter of fact, because the spirits seem familiar, they will also seem to be safe.  In other words, the spiritual attack is not an aggressive or violent one, but a gentle sensual one.

The bible lets us know that the marriage bed is undefiled, because the expectation is of respect for the body as sacred, and respect for the sexual experience of the marriage to be free from the residue of other people's spiritual residue.  Therefore sacred sexuality is in the context of a monogamous marriage between spiritual equals. Even if they are not equals, they become equally what each person brings into the covenant bond. In this way , the marriage changes both the man and the woman into the version of self that is enmeshed with what they share with their spouse.

May 16, 2017

Success is Relative

Success is relative. Each person has their own idea of success and each person has their own measure for where one is in the journey to accomplishment.  One of the biggest mistakes that anyone can make is to measure one's own level of accomplishment by someone else's accomplishments in a different area or field.

Most of the time when envy and jealous occur it is because of comparing apples to oranges, not comparing the same skills and the same types of success to each other. One thing that I have noticed is that people who are striving for their own excellence dont really have the mental energy for such comparisons anyway.  The most critical opinions come from the most stagnant people. And when I say stagnant, I dont mean this to imply that the person or persons have not accomplished, but that they realize their own limitations and have some sort of regret because of how their own life choices created those limitations.

The choices that a person makes can totally shift the events of the rest of one's life.  The truth is that we can not see into the future and at the time that we make the decision, we feel it is the best decision or the right decision based on the current information that we have at the time.  And in most cases, there are ways to adjust or modify the decision, but some times the decisions that we make just have to walk out and live with, accepting what it brings with it.

A spirit filled Christian should always be prayerful about major decisions. In this, one must be willing to be obedient to what the Holy Spirit is guiding one to do. When it comes to living out one's calling, this really cant be determined by anyone else.  We live in a world that says that you must get the approval of others, but in truth, people may not always understand or agree with your calling.  This can be challenging for the person who needs the affirmation of others to feel comfortable taking certain steps in life.  It is normal for each of us to want to be loved and accepted, but we may not always get this from the people that we look to provide it for us.

Finding the love and support that one needs to nourish one's human need for affirmation and a sense of community can be challenging for us all, and especially for those who dont fit in with mediocrity.  So may people who have gifts and callings to go farther and higher in areas of success dont do so because of the need for a sense of community, and the fear of being isolated in the process of reaching for more within the context of one's goals.

The truth is that one can not truly flourish and reach the fullest potential of one's own goals until one is really ready to let go of the atmosphere of mediocrity.  Getting uncomfortable is what pushes one forward, gives one the determination to proceed regardless of the opinions of those who are comfortable in mediocrity.  Along the way, one begins to meet others who are on similar journeys, and this provides a more natural and organic sense of community, a community of people who can understand and affirm the journey.

Let's be honest, everyone is not built for the same types of success. And some dont have the drive to go out into the unknown with the courage that it takes to face what others cant imagine.   Most of the time, the people who discourage others from working toward their vision do so because it is not their vision.  You cant expect people to understand what they cant see or imagine.  Anyone who does not understand the vision will have a hard time being a part of your journey towards accomplishing it.

It is my prayer that the God given vision will take you into the fullness of following the calling and the gifts that God has place in this time and space for a reason. I pray that God surround you with people who understand what it is like to step out of the routine and reach for all that God has for you. True happiness is living affirmed in what God created you to do and to be.