Overcoming the Gap — Center for Action and Contemplation
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Overcoming the Gap

The Holiness of Human Sexuality

Overcoming the Gap
Sunday, June 6, 2021

Incarnation is the overcoming of the gap between God and everything visible and concrete. It is the synthesis of matter and spirit. Without incarnation, God remains separate from us and from creation. Because of incarnation, we can say, “God is with us!” In fact, God is in us, and in everything else that God created. We all have the divine DNA. Everything bears the divine fingerprint including, of course, the mystery of embodiment.

The belief that God is “out there” is the basic dualism that is tearing us all apart. Our view of God as separate and distant has harmed our relationship to food, possessions, and money, to animals, nature, and our own bodies. This loss is foundational to why we live such distraught and divided lives, particularly when it comes to sexuality, the subject of this week’s meditations. Jesus came precisely to put it all together for us and in us. He was saying, in effect, “The material and the physical can be trusted and enjoyed. This world and even this body are the hiding place and the revelation place of God! To be human, to have a body, to be sexual is good!”

The whole movement of Christianity is found in the Incarnation. Jesus was not satisfied to remain Word, he became flesh. Already in the first century, the New Testament speaks of the resurrection and redemption of the body. God did not play a trick on us humans, saying “I’m going to give you sexual desire, but don’t you dare really think, feel, or act sexually!” But that’s what happens with dualism and when we view God as separate. The word sex itself comes from the Latin sectare (to cut), so the original root meaning suggests that reality is cut or divided. We split matter and spirit into two and we are searching for union or our other half.

As the writer and Lutheran pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber puts it, “When two loving individuals, two bearers of God’s image, are unified in an erotic embrace, there is space for something holy. What was separate has come together. Two spirits, two bodies, two stories are drawn so close that they are something together that they cannot be alone. There is unity.” [1]

Jesus is the great synthesis for us, the icon of the whole mystery—all at once. “In his body lives the fullness of divinity, and in him you too find your fulfillment” (Colossians 2:9–10). We are clearly not very at home in our bodies, and Jesus came to show us that it is our human and this-world experience that we must and can trust. It is our necessary and good beginning point. After the Incarnation, we hopefully realize that the material world has always been the privileged place for divine encounter. What a surprise for most people! Most of us are shooting for the stars instead. We are looking for “higher states of consciousness” and moral perfectionism, while Jesus quite simply comes and “lives among us.”

References:
[1] Nadia Bolz-Weber, Shameless: A Sexual Reformation (Convergent: 2019), 20.

Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer, rev. ed. (Crossroad: 1999, 2003), 118, 138, 139; and

Gate of the Temple: Spirituality and Sexuality, disc 1 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 1991, 2006, 2009), CD, MP3 download.

Story from Our Community:
As a gay man, I believed I was damned and there was nothing I could do about it. Raised in an evangelical denomination I was welcome, but not accepted. I found the United Church of Canada, their affirming ministry, and a wonderful pastor who led me to CAC. I have found the Immortal Diamond and Franciscan Way courses to be life changers. I have learned that God created us all equal in God as one. There is so much more to learn, but now, with joy in my heart. Thank you CAC and Fr. Rohr.
—Richard P.

Image credit: Jenna Keiper, Impressions (detail), 2020, photograph, Bellingham.
Image inspiration: In its rainbow of colors, human sexuality can be many things: delicate, powerful, mysterious, beautiful. How might we foster a healthy relationship with the holy gift of sexuality?
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