Do Eroticism and God Mix?

Eros with label

“God designed us for love and beauty, and that includes beautiful sex.” Deb Haggerty,

Where is God when it comes to passion and eroticism? Is pleasure part of God’s design for healthy sex? Are there options for sexual satisfaction, and if so what are they? When intimacy has turned cold in a long-term marriage, what about the spouses who are suffering in a sexless marriage?

The word “erotic” is based on the ancient Greek god Eros, their deity of love, sexual desire and beauty. Besides sexual passion and carnal appetites, the wider concept of Eros includes enthusiasm for work, play, art, friendship and other pursuits that bring heightened pleasure. So, does the God of the Bible embrace all these facets?

Questions like these arise in a scene from my novel, All of Me Wants All of You. Dean Nelson, the frustrated husband in a sexless marriage of 24 years, is sitting with his two best friends, Hal and Trevor, eating breakfast. He has just admitted to separating temporarily from his wife Kate after a fight over their chronic lack of intimacy, and has moved to a local motel. Trevor, the men’s pastor at their suburban church, is startled to hear Dean’s news. Hal wants to know if Dean is considering divorce.

Excerpt from Chapter 10 . . .

…. Hal continued, “Are you thinking of the D word? Has it gone that far?”

Dean shook his head. “It hasn’t. But I can’t pretend it has never crossed my mind. A few times, yes. Right now, though, it’s off my radar.”

Hal nodded. Dean barreled ahead. “I need your perspectives about our stalemate, guys. Because that’s what it is.”

“Interesting you should put it that way,” replied Trevor. “I just picked up a book about eroticism in the Bible. It makes some unusual points that seem relevant here. The author says God Himself is erotic.”

“Wow,” said Dean. “You mean to say somebody out there thinks God approves of passion instead of disapproves? That God thinks sensuality and spirituality aren’t opposites, or in conflict?”

“Basically, yes. The author is a theologian who cites a number of biblical passages where historical interpretations by church elders have misconstrued God’s view of human sexuality. His premise is: Whatever harms a person’s sexuality also harms a person’s spirituality, and vice versa.”

“Boy, this is great,” said Dean. He sensed a strong affirmative connection from both men, so he kept up the momentum. “How can something so foundational to marriage—intimacy between spouses—be neglected? It’s illogical. If sex isn’t part of marriage, where God wants it to be—after all God prohibits it anywhere else—then where does it belong? I’m not a monk in a monastery, guys. I didn’t sign up for a celibate life.” He wondered if, and how often, wives struggled with the same issue and felt as powerless as he did.

Trevor looked down at his plate then up at Dean. “I didn’t sign up for celibacy either. But here I am, forty and single. Abstinence is my daily challenge. It goes with being a single Christian, especially clergy. Obeying God’s guidelines in this area is tricky and hasn’t always been a bed of roses, let me tell you.”

Dean sympathized. “So, where do you go for release?”

“A conversation stopper of the first order,” quipped Hal. They all laughed.

“Probably the same as you,” Trevor continued. “A man has to do what a man has to do, alone on his own, if necessary. And not be ashamed about it.”

“I’m with you one hundred percent,” Dean said. “That’s another thing nobody ever talks about. Not in church, that’s for sure. When is it ever preached about?”

A quiet pall hung over the booth. None of them made eye contact. “Maybe it’s some kind of test,” ventured Hal. “Some kind of testing of character. Could God be asking you to blindly obey, like Abraham did when he faced the absurdity of sacrificing his son Isaac? Something extraordinary like that?”

Dean shrugged. “It could be, I guess.” He looked at Trevor. Trevor looked at him. Their eyes displayed similar tensions. “To remain faithful ‘till death do us part’ during a long drought, during a famine, is definitely a test alright.”

“A test of character and patience over passion,” echoed Trevor. “Amen to that.”

From All of Me Wants All of You, p. 96-97

What about you? Are these questions familiar to you? Are you in a sexless marriage or committed relationship? In your opinion, do God and eroticism mix?

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One thought on “Do Eroticism and God Mix?

  1. I am reading and enjoying the book referenced here. I am a mental health professional who has always sought, and fortunately found the most leading edge understandings with which to help people and humanity as a whole. I have evolved into an “integral” perspective in which all things are connected and interrelated in one universal or “divine” energy and intelligence. As such, J.Z.’s attempt to describe and integrate eroticism and spirituality makes perfect sense to me and is well needed in today’s constricted and fear-based world. Kudos and gratitude.