All Worked Up about Spirituality


Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

One day during Sunday School, the teacher asks her students, “When someone goes to Heaven, which body part gets there first?”

Little Timmy raises his hand and says, “Your head, Teacher.”

The teacher says, “Interesting answer, Timmy. Why do you say that?”

Little Timmy says, “Because Heaven is up and so when people go up, they go head first so the head gets to Heaven first.”

The teacher says, “Very clever, Timmy. Does anyone else have an answer?”

Little Susie says, “I know, Teacher! Your hands go to Heaven first.”

The teacher says, “Why do you say that, Susie?”

Little Susie says, “Because when you pray you hold your hands out and put them together, so your hands are the first things to go up to Heaven, teacher.”

The teacher says, “Very interesting, Susie. Does anyone else have an answer?”

Little Dirty Johnny says, “I know, I know, Teacher! Your feet go to Heaven first, Teacher!”

The teacher says, “Why do you say that, Johnny?”

Little Dirty Johnny says, “Because, Teacher, I was hiding in my mommy’s closet watching her and the mailman on her bed and her feet were in the air and she was yelling, ‘Oh, God, I’m coming!’ and if the mailman wasn’t lying on top of her, she’d have floated up to Heaven right then and there!”

Thank you! Don’t forget to tip your waitresses!

Seriously, though, when you think about it, spirituality and sexuality really fit like a hand in a glove. Although, for that matter, the fit might be better described as being like a penis in a vagina, or if you prefer, a penis in a mouth, or a tongue on a clitoris, or a three-speed vibrating dildo in a…never mind. I’m getting distracted.

Where was I? Oh, yes. Sexuality and spirituality go together more easily than one might think.

Consider, for example, some of the terms used to describe both spiritual and sexual enjoyment: rapture, bliss, sublime pleasure, delight, high spirits, and so on.

Any student of comparative religions and mythologies can’t help but notice the essential role that sex plays in virtually every belief system known to mankind. Pick up any book of mythology and read about how this god fornicated with that goddess or this mortal and produced a great hero or a terrible villain and launched a thousand adventures. Babylonian myths, Chinese myths, Hindu myths, Japanese myths, Greco-Roman myths, Native American myths, and on and on and on.

I bring all this up for two reasons. First, this month’s theme on the ERWA email list is “Mythology,” and I’m sure you’ll enjoy the resulting mythologically themed stories that will appear in the July edition of ERWA’s erotica gallery. (Shameless plug, here).

Secondly, I’m discussing sexuality and spirituality this month because I got into it with one of my conservative friends a few weeks ago about the current state of sexual affairs (pun intended) that has been hitting the news recently.

We were discussing the Tiger Woods scandal and my friend (we’ll call him Mitch) said he approved of something FOX News commentator Brit Hume said last January. Namely, Mr. Hume said that Woods’ Buddhist faith was inadequate for him to adequately atone for his numerous infidelities. Mr. Hume said, “The extent to which he can recover seems to me depends on his faith. He is said to be a Buddhist. I don’t think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. My message to Tiger would be, ‘Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.”

Mitch’s opinion was that Mr. Hume’s commentary was spot-on. Only Christianity would adequately address Mr. Woods’ sexual issues, or those of anyone who strayed because “only Christianity puts sexuality into its proper place.” That is, sexuality’s only proper role is to create families and to bring babies down from Heaven. Sex for anything other than procreation was, in Mitch’s opinion, abhorrent, and the Bible reflects that, he added.

To which I retorted, “Which Bible do you read?” The Bible is chock-full of sexy, lustful, carnal stories of every type in which reproduction plays no role whatsoever. David and Bathsheba. Tamar and Judah. Samson and Delilah.

“Yes,” said Mitch. “But all those stories are about physical lust. And people are punished for their lusts.”

“What about the Song of Songs,” I answered. “That one’s all about sex.”

“No it’s not,” said Mitch. “It’s describing the love God has for the Church.”


My friend was as serious as a heart attack. “The Song of Songs is a metaphorical love poem between the bridegroom, which is God, and the Church, which is His bride.”

I whipped out my copy of the King James Bible, which I keep handy for just such an eventuality. I said, “Seriously? Listen to some of this language. ‘1:13. A bundle of myrrh is my well-beloved unto me; he shall lie all night between my breasts.’ 5:4. My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him. 7:2. Thy navel is like a round goblet, which wanteth not liquor: thy belly is like a heap of wheat set about with lilies.'” I said, “This book is about sex. Two lovers are describing their feelings about each other. They’re talking about each other’s body and about how they look and feel and smell. If this is about how much God loves the Church, why does God bring up the Church’s breasts over and over and over? 4:5 ‘Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins.’

Mitch looked at me with thinly veiled disgust. “Leave it to you to find a way to put sex into everything.”

I said, “And leave it to you Holy Terrors to TAKE sex out of everything. This is a poem about two young people, in love and in lust for each other. They’re basking in each other’s presence, each drinking in the other’s sexual identity. This book is in the same vein as Romeo and Juliet’s conversations with each other.”

Mitch said, “If this book is about sex, then why is it in the Bible?” He folded his arms in triumph, indicating that he had me boxed into a corner.

I said, “Maybe it’s serving as a reminder that love isn’t all about devotion to a divine being that can’t be touched or seen. It can be about physicality as much as it’s about spirituality. It’s about embracing the feeling of touching the divine not just with the mind, but with the body, too.”

Mitch looked at me with disgust.

One more story.

There was this Buddhist monk who’d spent years and years trying to obtain enlightenment, which is the highest state of consciousness or awareness, the ultimate goal of Buddhism. He stayed in his monastery with no contact with the outside world. While his fellow monks sometimes snuck out of the monastery and cavorted in the nearby city, this particular monk maintained his discipline. He studied and meditated and pondered for more than a decade, with no satisfactory result.

Finally, the monk decided that he was getting nowhere, and he decided to quit. He would announce his decision to the head of the monastery in the morning, and then leave. However, before he did so, the monk wanted to enjoy the same things his fellow monks had enjoyed, the pleasures of which he’d deprived himself all those years. So, after night fell, he snuck over the monastery wall and into the city. He went to a brothel, met an attractive girl, and went to bed with her. Long story short, at the very moment of his climax, the monk obtained enlightenment. He’d reached the ultimate degree of understanding.

Frankly, I know how he felt.

J.T. Benjamin
May-June 2010

“All Worked Up” © 2010 J.T. Benjamin. All rights reserved.

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