“Dionysian surrender to life includes an ego-relaxed receptivity to sexuality, a willingness to let life be shaped by desire and by sexual inclination. Yet when this Dionysian spirit is linked to the compassionate eros of Jesus, it takes an unusual form, becoming an emotional oxymoron – carnal chastity, promiscuous compassion, or, in the perfect phrase of Mary Daly, pure lust.
The Dionysian spirit is usually seen as a sexually expansive force, and so it is not obvious in some portraits of Jesus…Ruether concludes that ‘Jesus appears to be a person unperturbed by sexuality because he relates to both men and women first of all as friends.’ …
The image of Jesus suggests a way of placing limits that derives from joy and pleasure rather than fear and anxiety, limits determined by a positive choice in life. Jesus seems to suggest joyful celibacy and then to tolerate the struggles of others to establish their ways of being sexual and their ways of finding limits. …
The sexuality of Jesus consists in his openness to strangers and friends, the physicality of his healing, the sacramentality in his approach to food, the tolerance he displays in the face of sexual transgression, and his espousal of a philosophy based on love. Only a worldview mired in materialism could fail to see the sexuality in this expansive and inclusive erotic philosophy. The sexual teachings of Jesus, told best through his example, present a soul-centered eroticism in which friendship and a compassionate heart are not only included but placed at the center.
We have a strong tendency to think of sex as emanating from the sex organs or from the purely physical body, but Jesus demonstrates a quite different notion – sexuality rooted in compassion and in the capacity for friendship. It is a more broadly defined but no less sensuous sexuality, in which love and pleasure are joined integrally. There is no need to import affection to what is thought to be a plain physical expression or to justify sex with love. In the sexuality of Jesus physical lifea nd compassion are two sides of a coin. In him we find that the heart is an organ of sex, as surely and effectively as any other private part.” – Thomas Moore, The Soul of Sex
Some could consider this “sacreligious” but it resonates for me, deeply, since I’ve been examining the impact of fear-filled religious dogma on my own concept of myself as a sexual being. Marriage. Divorce. Dating. Sex. Motherhood. Academia. Writing. Art. What breathes life into any of these realities? Love. But going deeper into love, what “type” of love? Can I identify one that feeds all relationships with innocence and grace? What infuses everything? I keep landing on one: Eros. When fear melts away, when shame fizzles out in the light of the sun, when power struggles are stripped of their inferior control-frenzied gropings, eros is given the room to express and infuse itself into every layer of living as that pure lifeforce, erupting in poetic spill or artistic flow, feeding the motions of care-taking in all its forms, impassioning the goals for fitness or achievement of any form. Erotic love is not about fitting into a role as a married person or a saint or a sex symbol or a captured image of acceptable (or taboo oo oo) sexual functions. It is the infusion, the flow, the glow of surrendering to being alive with pleasure no matter your status.
Right now my status is boiling over a cauldron of change and growth and and and. I just might be late for class if I don’t kick it in. But I’m going to do it making love to life every step of the way. Jump and jive…
14 thoughts on “Stirring It Up – Pure Lust”
I need to check this out before may is over…been a bit inundated here. Thanks Ji… Hugs…
such a top in depth,
wonderfully entertaining, insightful dialogue. I refrain from jumping in, but thoroughly enjoyed both viewpoints as much as the simple fact that dialogue IS taking place. thanks to you both!
yah. we do gas on and on… :0) thanks for the kind words…
Loved your entire post, including your entire exchange with Gryphon. I think Jesus wishes only that we “do no harm” to others in any way. If sex is celebrated without harming another, then I say he’s all for it. 🙂
I know. Stated with all the compexity of a 2nd grader, but I wanted to say it. 🙂
Amen sister… 🙂 That’s definitely where we apply “do unto others…” and it all works out. And gee, out of the mouth of babes…
lovely to see you ’round here…oxo…
you very nearly rendered me speechless. I in no way consider the idea sacrilegious. Jesus could not help but be a sensual being as he was 100% male and born with all the sexual equipment and chemicals as any other male. I think if I was to try to pigeonhole the “type” of love I would not be drawn to constrain it to erotic or “Eros.” I tend to list it as Agape love–unconditional, self sacrificing, altruistic and not seeking a return of the same.
Some of this might be redundant. I prefer to call it the type of love that can be summed into a word but still not inclusive enough as “Parental.”
It survives gender differences, racial differences and does not exclude those who might be our enemies. It is an all inclusive love for everyone that is human. Eros could and certainly does come under this wider definition.
When all else falls away, unconditional love remains. When the body dies the Spirit whose very name is love remains if it is present at the moment of death. “faith hope and charity (love) the greatest of which is . . . ”
The People become the wife of the Christ and in the final solution they enter into a holy union as such, speaks to me of this eros that you speak of. When he enters into us completely it involves the taking of our innocence. we are penetrated by his fullness and are changed in ways incomprehensible to our pre-penetrated psyches. Who knows while still a virgin what the implications of loss of virginity entail?
Once again though, while I certainly see not only the real nature of Jesus in his full humanity I also see the Spirit that was left for us as an asexual entity and one that embraces all humanity regardless of biological differentiation with pure unconditional love.
Concluding, Agape love has become a buzz phrase for certain types of “religious” organizations. It is not in that context whereof I speak. It is the simple yet complex translation signifying unconditionality.
I feel agape love, for example, for my children. There is NOTHING they could ever do to erase my love for them. They may hurt me emotionally or physically or turn away from me altogether (as one of them has) but my love for them is still as strong as it ever was and ever will be. If they shun me, then they cannot know the strength and promise of my love for them, but it remains there all the same.
Wow! Not as speechless as I thought, eh? 🙂
well well well…mayhaps it rendered you speechless (cough) that i would think some might consider this sacreligious? ha. 😉
how to respond without making this an epistle? i can say that you articulate a belief i was raised in. the bride of christ. but, for me, this passage has value on many levels but particularly in that it pulls away from the notion of the “flesh” as sinful. “flesh” being the real pulse of our humanity as well as just that wonderful reality of being human. skin and song (story) are or can be ultimately free of a pervading sense of shame (not dismissing truly shameful happenings in a whitewash, mind you). and this passage does so using Jesus. so, perhaps i am the truly sacreligious one (shamelessly so).
agape. phileo. eros. these can be woven into a braid, if we must be discrete with their imprint. or we could say that eros is a river and when you swim in it and/or it wells up within and spills into your fields there is no sense of “sex” as much as fullness of life and pleasure. i feel eros can infuse every action of our lives and there need be no other distinction of love. i absolutely adore the words fromm uses (quoted in my quote quest page) on love and particularly erotic love.
as for jesus. i have had to part ways with the doctrine you espouse here. but i appreciate the layers of transformation in it. ultimately, i don’t believe one must believe in jesus to be “saved.” the notion of salvation is a tricky business, at once personal and yet claimed by many as a distinct experience with a set and fixed process. i will contend that we may, each one of us, become divinely inspiring and inspired and can penetrate others with our essence in ways that breathe newness of life and even some layers of “redemption” (i could write a book on that concept/word/process) within. i see us all as sharing in the bride and groom energy. some of us more groom than others, some of us more bride than others. the marriage is internal and, yet, we can be married to life, to humanity, to a cause. so many possibilities. within resonating without. here resonating to beyond. deep calling to deep.
as one who claimed christianity for over 25 years i have to say that your description of a loss of innocence does not resonate for me except as something that lays guilt where none should rest. i don’t see such as a work of love but as a work of fear. but we all have unique ways of expressing our spiritual evolution and i may not understand what you mean here.
i’m with you on the love of our children. love lives on in our hearts whether our children hurt or bless us. love is not just that devotion of the heart. it is the action of the life, seeking to earn the respect and affection of those we claim in love.
no guilt was implied in my statement of the loss of innocence. It is a guiltless experience and I have a hard time seeing the inference that was taken from it. I too believe that Jesus was a man (100% human) as I stated and therefore subject to all the desires of a man. I don’t recall saying that “belief” in him was necessary for “salvation.” I did say that unless the Spirit was present whose name is “Love” at the time of shuffling off this mortal coil then it cannot by definition be left when the body ceases to exist. Nothing can be left if not there to begin with — just a decaying carcass. I also said that it was a Spirit which he left but that does not necessarily imply that it could only come from one source. A little “between the lines” reading?
It is the Spirit of the Creator of the universe, whose name I call God and whose name is ultimately Love. That Jesus possessed it is beyond doubt to me. That others could not also possess it as well, is also without question in my book. Do I believe that Jesus possessed the Spirit of God? Yes. Do I believe that others cannot do the same? No. That is what I have been ranting about in streets. Hey, if even a big schmuck like ME can embody Love, then certainly anyone else can. It’s there for the asking.
Jesus did not say believe that I will be raised from the dead and you will have “salvation.”
He said, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”
That to me, is the key to salvation.
my response to your loss of innocence comment is an honest conveying of the way i could fathom a loss of innocence associated with christ. this is not unusual. so it goes…christ comes into our perception and we no longer feel innocent. and we (if “we” are believers or “embracers” or whatever word you use) rely on his work to bring us to a new place of innocence. loss of innocence is rarely associated with anything wonderful or positive. for my children to be told about christ, in the traditional universal recognition of christ as put forth by christian dogma, they will have to hear that christ loves them, and that they need a “savior” and then they will have to find out “why” and then they will have to ask “am i guilty of something?” this is a natural progression, is it not? christ is usually seen as the one who saves us from “sin” not only as one who commands us to love one another. so, it must be that when we meet christ, we meet, along with love, the awareness of the sin-filled self. or maybe we meet christ because we feel guilty already and need to find forgiveness. but either way, innocence is lost in some way and guilt is involved somehow (typically speaking). we are guilty of what? it doesn’t matter in this instance. i am simply explaining how it is not out-there for someone to associate loss of innocence with a sense of guilt. i mean, really? meanwhile, i can imagine a loss of ignorance but innocence need not be lost in a penetrating reality unless it is a violating, raping encounter. so, maybe now you see how such could be inferred? in any case, it is not unusual for inference to occur when two or three or more individuals attempt to communicate. and, gee, it is not unusual for me to respond from my perspective of what someone has said and my perspective does not require the presence of an inference since i have my own mind. it’s simply my perspective because i do, after all, exist here with thoughts and responses to life beyond your own responses. and so it follows…
when someone espouses christ (no pun intended!) as one to which “the people” are bride, it is not unusual to read a belief in christ as part of the process of this marriage and it naturally follows for most people to expect a requirement of belief in christ for salvation since that is the foundation of christianity ( i don’t know where you’re getting this idea i said salvation is an ultimatum from christ to believe he will be raised from the dead and can only assume you are reading between the lines. but hey, it’s ok. i can nip and tuck the lines whenever they gape open even if only in projection.). so…
i took the opportunity to make sure it not be assumed i’m a believer in that sense. i attract enough christian viewing here for me to feel concern that there not be some confusion as to where i stand. so, if that’s reading between the lines, then yes. and it will continue whenever i feel so compelled by such inevitable correlations.
Really nice post!
This comment brings back flashes of a great book I read “Eros, consciousness, and kundalini”By Stuart Sovatsky.
Here is a link to the googlebook:
(If you want to give it a look see)
I’ll give it a look see…thanks for sharing… :0)
ah. now i have to have this book too. i checked out the link and wanted to add my thumbs up. not that i choose celibacy but i do experience regular bliss states without any activity specifically understood to be “sexual” in the traditional or typically understood sense of the word, but beautifully erotic and fulfilling. any book that expands the mind and the experience of what eroticism truly is/can be has my devout interest. alexander lowen has some great input on this subject – without the kundalini or tantric focus. thanks again for sharing…