Whole wounds

Here we are again - it is Wednesday which is a very special time of the week in college, where we get to explore a little more about the nature of our amazing God and our relationship with him.

Last week we learnt about embodied ministry and with Tim Hull we have learnt about the platonic split between the body and the soul, which is, of course, not the biblical picture.

How has our discomfort manifested itself? In disparagement of the body, the oppression of women...? What do you think?

Rowan Williams talks about the body in the Holy setting and its integration.

David looks at the proportional imbalance between the way we venerate men and women (the saints) in our common worship. We need to redress this balance - here is his challenge to us!!

We are reflecting this morning on how sexuality can be a very divisive topic within the Church. I wonder if we even have to invent a new language for its discussion. This topic has frayed ends. How are we going to live with the unfinished nature of this garment with which we are clothed so completely, it is part of our very make-up? We can not catagorise sexuality which functions within singleness and marriage and of course, as we are aware within many other relationships.

Angela Tilby explores the openness and the vulnerability of sexual expression.
Recommended reading:

Tilby, Angela. 1997. "When Harry met Sally: Orgasm, Morality and Mysticism". In Intimate Affairs: Spirituality and Sexuality in Perspective. Edited by Martyn Percy. London: Darton Longman and Todd, 42-51.

I would like to read this sage article.

Angela Tilby has spoken about it being a 'purging of our pride' experience.

Sexulaity transcends our physicality and spirituality is bound up with the physical, therefore there is an overlap, a huge overlap between prayer and spirit and community and relating to another.

Last week we thought about the spirit struggling against the body with which it is often unacquainted with the often very obvious manifestations. Do our sexualities and spiritualities similarly struggle against one another?

Christianity has often used the language of sexual intimacy to explore its relationship with God and yet caught itself up in an unhealthy abstaining from the act itself. Taking on rules of abstainence within marriage, is this biblical? Sexual expression was good in the original creation. There is some place inbetween. At this point we think about the need for a new language.

Reference is made again to Jim Cotter who speaks in terms of a 'love-maker' triune God.

When we perceive of Adam and Eve we miss the corporate coming together of two communities in one flesh.

Paul, of course, takes the image of the union of a man and his wife and as an image for Christ and the church.

God's is a passionate love - I get this. Both are drives to LIFE! Sexulaity without spirituality can be very empty. I wonder, do you invite the Holy Spirit into the intimacies of your marriage bed? Emm...now there's one to ponder.

Loving others for themselves should be our drive. Sexual expression is not so spiritual when it is about self-satisfaction.

Realities and temptations and boundaries is a sub-heading under which David Runcorn explores some of the following ideas. He imagines that denial sought enables all our energies to concentrate on the love of God and know him completely (or as completely as we can) in all his loving holiness, so even in denial there is a seeking of the passionate, vital life, the intimate life. At least this is how I have spun off with this idea.

But what about shared life?
David challenges us to construct a vision statement about what we want the world to know about what we are celebrating and seeking.

David Runcorn explores, as Rosemary Lain-Priestley did, in the Times Online article on 15th January the vulnerability. She talked about discernment.

If we are drawn to someone and understand that there is a yearning there that might express itself inappropriately, we perhaps need to look at what that relationship is giving that perhaps is lacking elsewhere. We can not just kill, murder, negate the feelings, they will not disappear. We have to be disciplined enough to explore what is going on so that we can look for opportunities to learn about God and other people and ourselves and our deepest needs.  We need to seek God's grace.

Our culture doesn't help us to develop intimacy in friendship. We will explore this more next week.

Jim Cotter is very sensitive in his exploration of wounded sexuality. At these times we need to discover a sacred in the touch first, a gentle tenderness. When the wounds are healed, passion can occur again.

Christ's 'This is my body which is given for you' - we have a passionate and a tender God. Cotter explains how we have been created as sexual beings - be glad in it!

It is 'fundamental and ordinary and exceptional'. (Jim Cotter)

So much to think about.

Thank you.

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A little background reading so we might mutually flourish when there are different opinions