Different Paths, Same Destination

God as Us: Week 1

Different Paths, Same Destination
Friday, November 10, 2017

If we do not name the sacred character of gender and sexuality, we will keep naming it as we largely have, in the realm of sin. Most of us were not told our bodies and desires were sacred. Quite the opposite. We were told that our bodies would lead us to the devil or evil. When we repress desire, it shows up in addictive or abusive ways. Popular culture objectifies women’s bodies while many Christian denominations (including the Roman Catholic Church) will not accept women in priestly or pastoral roles. One in six American women has been the victim of rape; people who are transgender are sexually assaulted at a much higher rate than females who are not trans. [1] There’s still a great deal of work to be done to fully embrace, elevate, and empower women, all LGBTQIA individuals, racial minorities, and those with disabilities. Humans are so afraid and mistrustful of all otherness.

While we’re witnessing a gradual sexual revolution, I believe there’s another revolution moving us beyond either/or to both/and thinking. We are being drawn through and beyond mere equality into union with the divine, with ourselves, and with every other being. This is a relational wholeness, a synergy, and a life energy greater than the separate or combined parts.

For many years, I studied and led men’s rites of passage, which invited men on journeys of powerlessness. While men often need to experience powerlessness, it is rather clear in the New Testament that Jesus invariably assures women of their power. I do think there’s great value in men getting in touch with their feminine side (and for women to access their masculine side), but what really matters is that we’re all headed in the same direction, regardless of the path we take: union with God.

Gender is a combination of biology, psychology, and personal history; these are all good and necessary entrance points to the temple, but spirituality is learning how to live in the temple itself (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). [2] What makes spirituality “spiritual” is precisely that it has the power to connect us with our Core and the Center, and not just the circumference. Authentic spirituality brings us toward the essence and not just the accidents. Unfortunately, much of our sexuality remains on the surface, the externals, which is actually a form of materialism.

Masculine and feminine journeys may use different symbols, stories, images, rituals, and metaphors that get us to enter the temple. We must honor the need for action, movement, building, repairing, rescuing, and heroic hardship that men often enjoy. We must honor the community, relationships, empathy, intimacy, healing, and caring that many women usually value. In the end, however, the object and goal of all spirituality is finally the same for all genders: union, divine love, inner aliveness, soul abundance, and generous service to the neighbor and the world.

Gateway to Silence:
I am created in God’s image.

[1] See “Victims of Sexual Violence: Statistics,” Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), https://www.rainn.org/statistics/victims-sexual-violence.
[2] See Richard Rohr, Gate of the Temple: Spirituality and Sexuality (Center for Action and Contemplation: 1991), CD, MP3 download.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, God as Us! The Sacred Feminine and the Sacred Masculine, discs 2 and 6 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2011), CD, DVD, MP3 download; and
“Gender, God and Spirituality,” Huffington Post, 06/28/2012, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/fr-richard-rohr/gender-god-and-spirituality_b_1624932.html.

Image credit: Young Woman, Juarez, Mexico, 2009. CAC archives.