Intimacy, Emotional Harm, and Emotional Healing

November 24, 2011

Healthy intimacy heals people emotionally, allowing them access to higher levels of being (or deeper aspects of self), including the spiritual level. This process is akin to growing and tending to a garden that produces flowers and fruit. It produces self-wholeness and emotional well-being.

On the other hand, violent or destructive intimacy splinters the self, especially on an emotional level (which then blocks personal access to the higher levels of existence). This departure from wholeness produces emotional pain, a condition in which “parts” of the self are stuck emotionally at lower levels, depriving the person of the potential richness of life and relationships that characterize a healthy human being.

One irony of human existence is that we are born potentially whole, but all of us have been harmed and thus splintered in some way by harmful interactions with others. Intimacy, the uniquely human aspect of sex, is a powerful way to heal these emotional wounds through our interaction with the perfect other: a human, like us, who is yet basically different because of his or her different gender.

Indeed, we are driven, from the time of sexual maturity, toward the unity of Spirit which we all long for, and which is most closely achieved in true intimacy with another human.

In intimate moments, each partner gives and takes freely from the other. What is exchanged in these moments? Emotional energy circulates through and between the two lovers, and what is whole in one tends to produce wholeness in the other. This wholeness is a spiritual phenomenon, and it is more powerful than the splinteredness or hurt that the animal or fleshy part of existence has produced in us.

Thus, as they say, love really does conquer all.

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Male and Female Sexual Potential

November 22, 2011

The Biblical creation story says that “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them (Genesis 1:27, NIV, emphasis mine).” This statement seems to imply that the qualities of God are in some way divided between—or can only be found in communion between—the sexes: between men and women.

The importance of communion between the sexes is most obvious in the sexual act itself. Sex is primarily seen historically—and biologically—as the highest form of reproduction. Each parent contributes its own unique DNA to a new member of the species, which is more readily adaptable to environmental conditions and changes because of the variety of genetic material that sexual reproduction provides.

Sex as a biological mechanism for reproduction is an animal quality that does indeed serve its purpose of life and variety. Animals function largely in accordance with instinct—the biological “programming” that ensures their survival without culture and governs their sexual behavior. (Mammals, in particular, also have other “higher” functions that we sometimes consider to be uniquely “human,” such as emotions.) For animals, sex appears to be an instinctive means of pleasure that happens to ensure the continuity of life.

The biological aspects of sexual relation are not the primary function or benefit of sex in humans, though. Humans are not simply animals. C.S. Lewis said that humans are amphibians: half animal and half spirit. Although we possess animal qualities like the biological needs for food, shelter, and society, we are also uniquely capable of higher mental functions such as reason, logic, intellect, abstraction, free will, art, and spirituality.

Having said that, sex obviously does serve the purposes of pleasure and reproduction for humans as it does in animals. With our more developed capacity for understanding, though, in humans sex becomes (for the first time in the history of the known universe!) a means by which the male and female aspects of Spirit—the “God” at the center of our being—can approach wholeness again by reuniting with their other “half” in the flesh.

The unitive nature of human sexuality gives sex a powerful healing quality when a couple recognizes and uses its potential for intimacy. On the other hand, the energies that come into play on an intimate level are so strong and central to the cohesion of the self (perhaps especially for women) that there is great potential for damage when sexuality is used in an inconsiderate, violent, or harmful way.

Women and men have unique roles (and responsibilities, if you will) toward each other during sex and intimacy. Each of these roles provides a unique healing quality for the partner, in accordance with gender. When we examine this healing dynamic, it becomes apparent that men and women are indeed “made for each other,” despite the apparent problems that the Great Misunderstanding has created between the sexes.

What is the healing dynamic of intimacy and sex between a man and a woman? Through sex and intimacy, the male can “go into and touch” the physical and emotional center of the female. Likewise, the female is able to “bring a man out of himself” so that he connects with her in these ways. The male dynamic includes going out and giving; the female dynamic includes welcoming in and receiving. Together, they form a circuit of powerful healing—or destructive—energy.

The ways in which these effects are beneficial to each partner become more apparent when we understand the male and female principles, and their individual qualities.

To be continued…

(Written in 2008)


Why We Have Sex

September 16, 2011
There is only one distinction between humans great enough to divide us into two distinct groups: we are male and female.  Ultimately, we are male and female for many reasons—not just for making kids.
Most adults either have or are looking for a companion of the other sex. Such a mate can make our life experience more enjoyable and fulfilling, even though we often have more thoughts, feelings, interests, and activities in common with same-sex companions.

Some couples don’t want or plan to have children together, though, and yet they stay together.  That’s because there’s another facet to sex besides procreation and pleasure, which I think is even more important than either of these. We long for closeness with another person, and we want that other person to allow us to be that close to them.

Every human ultimately wants to be and feel accepted by another. The ultimate acceptance is to agree to join your body (and deeper parts as well) together with another person’s through the sexual act. When you have sex with someone, you say in a physical (and deeper) way, “I accept you.”

(This is true especially for females, who actually invite their partner into their bodies.)

Our genitals are very near our center of mass, the tanden in Japanese, which is located just below our belly buttons. A woman’s uterus is her body’s center of gravity. Maybe that’s why she typically feels a deeper connection than the man does when she has sex: the male literally touches the center of her.

There’s a reason why our genitals aren’t on our heads, or buttocks, or feet. When a man and woman copulate in the missionary position (or its variants), their tandens are pressed together. Their bodies are as close as they can be, and they share the same center of mass.

They are as close to being a single body as humans can get.

In this position, their bodies are mirrors of each other: eyes to eyes, mouth to mouth, pelvis to pelvis. This closeness (physical intimacy) is why our genitals are near our tandens, and it’s one reason why we desire other-sex companionship, even briefly.

It’s also why neither males nor females can have this same level and kind of intimacy with a same-sex partner. Other sexual positions and acts are less intimate than the male-female (vaginal) missionary position, and other bodily configurations don’t offer the same potential for physical—and thus emotional—closeness.

A true other-sex companion isn’t only an intimate sexual partner. The mate we seek also has some of the qualities of our same-sex friends: we share many of the same thoughts, feelings, interests, and activities. Sexual intimacy isn’t enough to have a fulfilling mate if we don’t share the rest, too.

Of course, it’s still important for both males and females to have same-sex companions. With them, we can share a mental and emotional connection that can be hard to find in the other sex. But having a partner who connects with you in other ways, too, is one of life’s great joys.

(Written in 2005 and freshly edited on December 19, 2016.)


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