God and Sex

The only thing that would get me higher Search Engine Optimization on that head line is if I could somehow add the words “illegal immigration.” Alas, not this morning.

Today’s post is brought to you by the Letter P, for “perspective.” According to some interesting reading I’ve been doing of late, perspective has a lot to do with how people look at God (and sex, but that’s further down in the post). That perspective – or perhaps, a lack of it – is what makes some people really, really, REALLY angry at religion and/or people of faith. These people, sometimes called the “new atheists” by atheists of a more polite vein, confuse belief with religion and hop, skip and jump from a little old lady praying the rosary to lunatics killing each other in the name of a god they’ve made to fit their own political, ideological or tribal leanings. Like those in a fundamentalist religion who are ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN they know what God thinks, these atheists are ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN they know what all believers think. That certainty is what gets humans in trouble, in my experience.

For instance, if I say I believe in God, I am speaking from my own perspective and my own experience of the sacred, which may very well be different from yours. The God I imagine when I say that word may not be the God you imagine when you say that word. A million arguments could be avoided if we just asked each other to define our terms. As a really smart scientist I know has said, “When someone tells me he doesn’t believe in God, I ask him, ‘Tell me about the God you don’t believe in.’ Often, after hearing the description, I say, ‘Well I wouldn’t believe in that God either!’ ” It is all about perspective and experience.

Like a parent with multiple children relates differently to each of her offspring, so too it is with the Almighty – He/She reveals himself/herself to each of us differently. That truth bugs many people, including practioners in the more fervent or conservative branches of the three major monotheistic faiths, but their irritation does not negate the veracity of that claim. We would rather believe in a God who thinks like us than open our spiritual imagination to a God who is bigger than all of us and our petty little thoughts. We would rather, I’ve found, remake God in our own image than be remade in His/Her image because in that remaking, we might have to throw away some of our long-held beliefs about who is right and who is wrong and where we fit in the grand scheme of things. (And, God forbid, we might actually have to be nice to people with whom we disagree.)

Two stories: When I lived near Dallas, there was a feature that ran in the Dallas Morning News one Saturday about children’s experiences with God. These were very, very young kids, 3 and 4 years old, and the stories had a similar thread running through them regardless of the kids’ socio-economic status, race or religious upbringing. In fact, in two cases, the children were being raised without any spiritual influence by parents who were agnostic.

One story of children in an agnostic home has stayed with me for 15 years: A young mother had recently given birth and her 3-year-old son wanted to be alone with the baby, saying he needed to talk to her. He kept trying to get the mother to leave the room. She was afraid he might hurt the baby so, naturally, refused. The requests became more and more demanding and finally, when the baby was about 8 or 9 months old, the mom turned up the baby monitor microphone to full blast, put it right by the crib with the baby, and left her son in the room while she took the other part of the monitor into the room next door. She listened carefully to the monitor receiver, worried. She heard her son push a chair to the crib and climb up on it, then heard him say to his little sister: “Tell me what God looks like; I’m forgetting.”

Story number two, something that has floated around the Internet for a number of years, but was recently claimed as having happened in an elementary school run by Dominican nuns: An teacher was giving a drawing class to a group of six-year-old children. At the back of the classroom sat a little girl drawing carefully for more than twenty minutes. She was so absorbed in her work, that the teacher went and asked her what she was drawing. Without looking up, the girl said, “I’m drawing a picture of God.” Surprised, the teacher said, “But nobody knows what God looks like.” The girl’s reply: “They will in a minute.”

When people talk about – or more likely, argue about – God and belief, I often think of these stories. So the question for people of faith is paramount: What does God look like to you?

And, speaking of different perspectives, what about different perspectives on sex? According to Marnia Robinson at Huffington Post, there is a “little known sacred sex technique” that involves foregoing climax in favor of “generous affection and relaxed intercourse.” While giving the names of the technique from various cultures, Robinson doesn’t actually describe the technique. Rather she describes the results of the technique, which include keeping the spark of care, attraction and affection alive in marriages by making sure the biology-driven satiation doesn’t occur. Apparently, when men (and women?) experience the “all done” feeling, they are biologically programed to look for the “new” – as in new partners. Read all about it at the link above, and if you’re interested, you might want to email Robinson and check back for when she’ll update with more information.

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19 thoughts on “God and Sex

  1. You know it isn’t that much of a hop, skip and jump from little old ladies praying the rosary to lunatics killing each other in the name of god.
    The little old ladies are the ones that cough up the cash that the Bishop uses to attack gays and now the President’s healthcare reform, for instance.
    Those “new atheists” are not new – they go back at lest to Voltaire – and they are simply pointing out that “religion” as we know it in the West (and middle east) is a backwards ideology which causes great harm.
    “Moderate” christians simply refuse to make this hop, skip, and jump in defense of their ideology and instead make up straw man arguments attacking “new athiests” for having the nerve to point out the true consequences of their ideology.

    1. i am so glad that we have individuals to enlighten us ignorant followers of God on how we and our beliefs are the root of all evil.

      “to attack gays and now the President’s healthcare reform”

      i guess no one is allowed to have a dissenting opinion. we have to accept all or we are racists or sexists or homophopic or killers …… the root of all evil.

    2. Patrick (tip): The term “new atheists” is used by older atheists to describe what is the more vocal, argumentative trend in atheists such as Dawkins. The “new atheists,” it is argued, are aggressive in going after people of faith via the printed word, whereas the atheists of yore might have debated believers here and there, but not aggressively in print. That’s what I meant – I surely didn’t mean atheists are some new idea.

      Funny you say infer that Catholics are giving money to the Bishop and the Bishop attacks health care reform. As I wrote last week about HCR, leaders in all the major faiths have come out in support of it. People in the pews might not like it, but the church leaders do.

  2. It isn’t that you aren’t allowed to be evil – it is that you and the author get upset when “new atheists” point out the evil that you do – you refuse to take responsibility for your own actions, and the actions of your churches.

    1. Patrick – I think, if you read through my posts, you will see that I call various faith groups (including my own) to task for hateful and/or criminal actions. Stating that they don’t believe in gay marriage isn’t hate – it is stating the fact that they, as followers of their religion, don’t believe in it. Catholics weren’t told to vote for or against propositions for or against gay marriage – in fact the only religion I know that did that was Mormonism.

      And as I pointed out above, all the leaders of the major faiths SUPPORT health care reform, but their adherents may not.

    2. what “evil” would that be?

      to not be in favor of HCR is evil ….. no one has a right to a dissenting opinion

  3. Renee, I have no problem with whatever people choose to believe until it begins to have an effect on the rest of us.  Have a church, light some candles, speak in tongues, handle deadly serpents; whatever.  But I will fight when someone attempts to make their beliefs (or a moral code based on those beliefs) into law for the rest of us to follow.  This means outside of your home and your temples, no consideration can be given to what your gods tell you to do.  

    Also, one would have to be predisposed to believe your two stories before reading them.  I mean, honestly Renee, I could post a story wherein Zeus came down from Mt. Olympus and handed the text to “The Communist Manifesto” to Marx and it would have the same credibility.     

    1. Hey Leftfield (you gotta give me your real name so we can talk like people 🙂 ) — thanks for writing. Two points: Many of our laws did come out of religious practices. Murder, for instance. What about an atheist who is against abortion and fights to get it restricted – would you have a problem with that? What laws exactly do you think religious people should not push? Also, what if someone just thinks something is wrong – no matter where he/she gets that idea – is that person not allowed to fight to end that wrong?

      As for the two stories – the second is just something that’s been around for a long time, and I have no idea of the veracity. The first however, was something that was reported in a major newspaper about kids and their approaches to life/spirituality and the kid was being raised in an agnostic home. It seems quite interesting that he felt some sort of “otherness” … and called it God, when that wasn’t in his frame of reference. I don’t think it compares to someone just posting whatever they want on the internet. It was a reporter doing a story and interviewing a parent who was a little freaked out about what she heard via the baby monitor. Different level of credibility. But I’m not trying to prove the existence of God – it can neither be proven nor dis-proven through science – I was just asking people what their image of God would be.

  4. “… these atheists are ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN they know what all believers think.”
    Do you find this statement ironic, given that you are asserting what “these atheists” think?

    1. It is referred to as the “straw man” argument – you portray someone you want to attack as saying something that he isn’t saying, and then attack the argument that you have put in their mouths.

      1. Patrick, please see the above reply. I am speaking specifically of two quite vocal and prolific atheists who write in broad brush strokes about many religions only from one side. I guess you could say they are using a straw man argument.

    2. Good point …. I should say, from what I’ve read of Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins (and I’ve read their books on God), those two – who claim the mantle of new atheists – make large generalizations about what believers of the three Abrahamic faiths believe. And they say it with certitude.

  5. Renee, I think you’re fighting a losing battle here, as least insofar as the commenters are concerned. Let me be a comments dissenter and say, “Thank you for saying it.” I think believers and non-believers alike are guilty as charged of thinking they know the thoughts of the other. Shame on all of us for acting like school children on the playground. It’s time we got beyond ourselves and started loving one another.

    1. “I think believers and non-believers alike are guilty as charged of thinking they know the thoughts of the other”
      Perhaps but it is irrelevant – the objection to some religions is not related to what it’s followers believe, but how they behave.
      I have no objection – I don’t care – if a Muslim believes that to die as a martyr will send him to heaven with 50 concubines, as long as he doesn’t achieve martyrdom by blowing someone up.
      It is the pretense that the beliefs of Christians and Muslims are just “beliefs” , like a belief in astrology, that misrepresents the objections of “new athiests” to what we legitimately see as a violent and oppressive ideology.

      1. Patrick: You are absolutely right that there are tenets in certain religions that justify violence. Christianity, however, is not one of those. The whole of the New Testament is based on love of neighbor. Now, if you want to take the homosexual argument, it is true the St. Paul hammers on that, but never does he say to do anything bad to homosexuals. He just says homosexual sex is a perversion. (I could write an entire post on what that words means…). When Jesus caught people stoning a woman caught in adultery, he stopped it. Modern Muslims interpret the Quran in a modern manner and don’t believe in violence either. It is a small percentage of muslims who hold to the Wahhabi interpretation and those are the people who need to be stopped. Atheists who argue that ALL religion causes violence are not arguing facts.

  6. “When someone tells me he doesn’t believe in God, I ask him, ‘Tell me about the God you don’t believe in.’
    My reply would be, the gods I don’t believe in the just like all rethe gods you don’t believe in, plus one more.

    1. problem is that beleiving in God has become, in the eyes of many, as evil by default.
      i told some that i was anti-infantcide (pro-life) and he said, oh , you are one of those Christians aren’t you? i siad yes and he said, it figures. all you guys to is hate anyone different.

      so since i am Christian and am not in favor of abortion, i hate.

      so i guess you can only accept everything to not be a hate monger. no limits. no bondaries. be tolerant of all.

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