And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very
Sexuality is a basic human element. Appropriately embracing this capacity is another spiritual milestone. In facing this challenge, we turn first to the Bible. Jesus' sexual ethics can be discerned only by reading between the lines--observing the context of his limited expressions and the patterns of his living. His most widely quoted statement relative to sex concerns adultery: "Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her bath committed adultery with her already in his heart" (Matthew 5:28). Commonly this is interpreted to mean that it is just as bad to think about it as it is to do it.
Based on this conclusion, popular Christianity has historically condemned sexual desire and activity in all but the most carefully restricted relationships, circumstances, and positions. Generally these have included heterosexual marriage, sex activity hidden in the night (primarily for procreation), and the missionary position. Anything beyond these severe limitations has been considered evil. In accord with almost all societies and religions, Christian cultures have maintained the incest taboo. Self stimulation has also been wrong: Good boys and girls don't play with themselves. Remnants of the masturbation-will-drive-you-crazy idea still persist. Pre-marital sex has been condemned. Chastity and virtue have been synonymous. Keep your virtue means do not have sex before marriage.
Homosexual activity has been condemned: this "abomination" in the Old Testament (punishable by banishment) has continually held its position as a big sin. Adultery, or extra-marital sex (meriting a place as one of only ten ancient Hebrew commandments) has also maintained high priority on the sin list. Though the older practice of punishment by stoning to death (usually for the woman only) has been dropped, the verbal stoning by most churchmen has continued unabated until today. Jesus has been commonly drawn into this stream of condemnation by the popular church to support its suppressive practices.
However, a closer look at his life and teachings makes this identification at least questionable, and probably impossible. To begin with, the oft-quoted adultery statement is lifted out of context in order to support the prevailing condemnation of extra-marital sex. It occurs in a list of other examples Jesus used to point to the limitations of the law insofar as righteousness is concerned. The overall message is that no legalism (rule-keeping) can lead to right standing with God. Jesus' concern was fulfilling the law through human completion or maturity; it was not a mere amplification of legalism.
The common interpretation would negate his entire message. By having him expand legalism from the hand to the mind--strengthening the law by pushing it beyond activity to feelings as well--he is made to out-do even the farfetched Jewish legalism which he neither obeyed or promulgated in his ministry. His response on another occasion confirms his refusal to support the theme of righteousness through sexual legalism. To a woman taken "in the very act" of adultery, and about to be stoned by the legalistic scribes and Pharisees, he replied after dispersing the crowd, "Neither do I condemn thee" (John 8:4,]1). This would be an illogical response for one who considered thinking to be as bad as doing.
In the next recorded encounter with perhaps the same Pharisees, Jesus said, "You set yourselves up to judge according to the flesh--by what you see; you condemn by external, human standards. I do not set myself up to judge or condemn or sentence anyone" (John 8:15 Amp.). This hardly sounds like one who had out-legalized the Jews by extending law to the level of desire.
Furthermore, his life style cannot be reconciled with the harsh legalism attributed to him by later churchmen. He often associated with loose women (adulterers and even prostitutes). Had his attitude been as restricted as has been attributed, these associations would be highly improbable. His openness to feminine companionship outside of marriage is further attested in numerous other, recorded encounters and friendships. Such close female contacts at least imply a sexual openness which would be highly inconsistent with the modern sexless image of him. Although no recorded statements seem relative to homosexuality, Jesus also maintained an obvious close relationship with numerous men including an all-male group of disciples. I conclude that the historical Jesus bears an unreasonable projection from later sexually-repressed churchmen. His popularly conceived stance is hardly consistent with the limited facts available to us.
The suppressive attitude prevalent in popular Christianity seems inappropriate for other, more current reasons. Sexual repression, though religiously virtuous and socially practical, often has disastrous personal consequences. The resulting inner-division and conflict are well known in the modern church. Two familiar results are self-righteousness and debilitating guilt. Those who succeed in maintaining the virtuous ideal of a no-desire-outside-of-marriage stance, almost inevitably fall victim to an intolerable degree of pride. Since curtailment of passion is best achieved through the repression of all desire, the marriages of such self-righteous saints are often equally sterile.
Those who do succumb to the "evil desires of the flesh" commonly suffer such pangs of guilt and remorse as to render normal living ineffective. A pervading sense of guilt about sex is perhaps the most common earmark of the diligent church member of today. The all-too-familiar result of the church's repressive sexual stance is a "damned if you do) damned if you don't" kind of fatalism. Virtue, according to popular theology, can best be achieved through a negation of humanity. Mental illness among the religious is not an uncommon result.
A second, current problem with the prevailing ethic of negation is its eroding social effectiveness. The old legal system of repression is due vast credit as a stabilizing force in the organization and maintenance of societies, families, and personal lives. Even the Old Testament commandment against adultery seems primarily designed to protect the property rights of fathers and husbands--an essential structure in the early Hebrew society. The modern-day idea of adultery is far removed from this ancient understanding. In earlier days the application was primarily to maidens, who were considered the property of fathers who expected dowries when their daughters were sold in marriage, or to wives who were then the property of the husbands who had bought them. This adultery law apparently did not apply to unfaithful husbands. Men were free to have sexual relations with unmarried females, with prostitutes, or even to have as many wives or concubines as they could afford to purchase. Solomon is said to have had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines.
I believe that this law against adultery has also been effective in keeping "women in their place" and consequently stabilizing societies based on the overt dominance of females by males. Later interpretations that give more attention to men have been equally useful in stabilizing societies based on monogamous family structures. The long-term success of the nuclear family can be partially credited to the diligence of organized religion in condemning adultery and divorce.
On the personal level, the utility of rules against sexual expression is unquestionable. Even the condemnation of desire is effective in stabilizing social life. Potentially disruptive deeds are obviously curtailed when nipped in the bud at the level of desire. Personal legalism in the sexual area reduces the necessity of faith in everyday living. If one has already ruled out sexual response, no faith is required in regular decisions. The long-term tragedies can be easily ignored in face of the immediate advantages of living an essentially non-sexual life .
Changing times, however, threaten the historical values of sexual repression. The advent of the automobile, drive-in movies, and the pill, as well as increased personal freedom (including the women's and gay liberation movements), have all served to undermine the old system. Psychiatry has revealed the inner price of repression; even religion itself has unwittingly trained us for greater liberty. Consequently, many now face the challenge of a new era in which an old ethic, though respected, is progressively outmoded and increasingly ignored.
Beyond the practical advantages and disadvantages of the ethic of suppression, the greatest tragedy has, in my opinion, been an unfortunate by-product. The deeper fact is that salvation lies through the path of embraced humanity, one element of which is sexuality. Effective negation or limitation of sexuality, though socially expedient, may be eternally damning. As Jesus was attempting to teach, in the previously cited discourse, we please God only in fully becoming who we are, rather than through legal exactitude. Salvation is through the perfection of completion and maturity, not the perfectionism of total human negation.
Although Jesus never expounded a doctrine of omnisexuality, I believe this stance is far more consistent with his life and teachings than the popular image of a sexless Christ. Furthermore, this stance seems reasonable in the light of current psychological knowledge, as well as practical in this post-repressive age. I believe it to be an essential milestone on the serious pilgrim's path to the kingdom of God in the here and now.
What is omnisexuality? First, the reference is to an inner condition (a state of being), rather than to external activities. It is a way one becomes, not something he does. Commonly, the word sex is used to refer to the physical act of intercourse and related grappling. I define it here in an expanded way which may include overt acts as an expression but is certainly not limited to them. In fact, this inward condition may fully exist without any form of outward activity. One may be sexual in this sense without doing anything. Conversely, so-called sexual activity may occur without one's being sexual--as I use the term. One might have sex withoug being sexual (make love without being loving), or be sexual and yet remain chaste.
What then is the nature of this existential condition? To be sexual is to exist in a state of open responsiveness, to be inwardly turned on. The word sensuous, understood literally, is descriptive. When one is being sexual, his senses are openly operative. He is responsively in tune with the surroundings via his senses; he sees, hears, and smells what is around him. Furthermore he responds inwardly to the stimuli received by his senses and allows himself to be pleased or excited. The capacity might be graded from mild pleasure to extreme excitement and on to passionate joy or spiritual rapture. One being slightly sexual might say, "I am delighted." With total activation of the capacity he might say, "I am in ecstasy."
Stimuli perceived while one is in such a state are commonly described as beautiful or attractive. If one has responded in this manner to the sight of a person, he may say, "She is beautiful," or, "He is attractive." If the stimulus has been a sunset, one may say, "It turns me on." Because we most easily see ourselves in reflection (projected on outside objects), we may even conclude that it literally "does it to us"--that the perceived object actually "makes me excited." This, of course, is projection. Beauty really "is in the eye of the beholder." We must choose, awarely or unawarely, to respond positively to any stimulus. This favorable response, which may be made in many degrees, is what I refer to as being sexual.
In ordinary living, we have the option of embracing or negating (suppressing) this human capacity. We may exist turned on or turned off--or at many stages between the two. Commonly, sexuality is carefully curtailed by a severe limitation of accepted external stimuli. For instance, one may only get turned on by particular members of the opposite sex who conform to a narrow range of requirements (facial and/or bodily proportions). This is called heterosexuality. If one gets similarly excited by beautiful scenery, music, art, or poetry, it is called "love of nature" or "appreciation of art." When the list of acceptable stimulation is expanded to include members of one's own sex, the response is called homosexuality. When the arousing objects are mentally imagined in organized religion, the same inward condition may be named "love of God" (or Jesus).
Whereas society chooses to define and regulate this existential state according to the external stimulus (love of God is good, homosexuality is bad), our present concern is the condition itself. Although this state is commonly perceived in relation to the stimulating object, our definition refers to the inward state, regardless of the focus of its projection.
Omnisexuality is this positive, inner condition of delight, whatever it happens to be focused on. Omni means all. The implication is that the pilgrim is to become all-sexual, that is, able to see the beauty in all things--people (men and women), plants, animals, and nature. His goal is to become fully sexual--sensually responsive to the entire continuum of creation. No element of reality is to be beyond eliciting his passionate response. Some may see no beauty at all, others only in specifically proportioned males or females, while still others only in intangible religious images; but the pilgrim reaching this milestone will find everything beautiful in its own way. He will perceive God as revealed in every aspect of creation. Accordingly he will respond to the omnipresence of the ultimate in an omnisexual way. Everything will turn him on; he will exist turned on, or fully alive.
This expansive human capacity has traditionally been split into two major parts, with sexual intercourse (biological sex) at one end of the scale and worshiping God at the other. The two have been assumed to be unrelated. Being sexy is commonly considered the very antithesis of icing godly. One is low or earthy; the other high or heavenly. Although the same word, love, is used for both ends f the scale, the understanding is entirely different. caking love and loving God are seen as diametrically opposed. The first is called animal, the second Platonic. the traditional Christian goal has been all of the second nd none of the first, or at least with the animal love (sex), limited to legal marriage. In either case, no connection is perceived between the conjugal bed and the church altar. The idea of worshiping God through sexual intercourse would be completely irrational to traditional thought. One might have some religious association with appreciating the beauty of nature, but appreciating a beautiful body would seem unrelated or even contrary to religion. At church we might sing, "In the arms of my dear Savior, oh, there are ten thousand charms," but the charms of dear Suzy or Sam would seem obviously sacrilegious.
Not only have sex and God been viewed as unrelated, but they have often been thought to be mutually exclusive, as though one is at war with the other. Sincere churchmen have sought union with God through sexual negation. In turn, religious dropouts have tried to rebel against God by acting-out sexually. Between the extremes, average churchgoers have often understood the two to be in opposition. Sexual misbehavior is commonly taken to be against God, while conformity to repressive codes is assumed to please God.
Whereas a valid distinction exists between mere biological rutting and the climactic experience of union with God, the difference, I conclude, is one of degree rather than fundamental opposition--a matter of quality, not quantity. Making love and the love of God are divergent points on a single continuum, not contradictory types of experience. Love making, which at its lowest common denominator is only an animal function shared by man with other creatures, becomes, at its zenith, one of the purest forms of communion with God. Whereas God can be met in the vision of a sunset or the beauty of music, total involvement of body, mind and heart in sexual intercourse offers one of the most natural avenues to His presence. The same capacities, minimally required for orgasm, are fully required for worshipping God.
Any attempt to know God through sexual negation is, I believe, ultimately destined for failure, since successful negation of any capacity also kills the human elements essential in knowing God. Abstinence may prove useful for those who have become absorbed in sexual fantasy, since it allows attention and development of the deeper sexual capacities. After a certain point, however, denial of biological desire phases into negation of the basic capacity and thereby defeats the seeker. Finally, to try to love God while hating sex is to place oneself in a double-bind which at best makes a mockery of religion, and at worst promotes mental illness.
Omnisexuality is based on the premise of the wholeness of man, the unitary capacity for sensuality, ranging from intercourse to worship. It assumes that we cannot appreciate the beauty of nature without being sexy; that Platonic love, though valid as a name for love without intercourse, is literally impossible; and that true religion is sexuality fully activated rather than totally negated.
The pilgrim's goal is to completely embrace this part of humanity in a responsible way, realizing that it is one element in his avenue to God. If he has completely repressed sexuality, he will begin the pilgrimage through heterosexuality, homosexuality, and finally omnisexuality, until he learns that "everything is beautiful in its own way,'' Being sexual as an inward condition of responsiveness is obviously to be distinguished from any particular outward act. The capacity is to be fully embraced, yet all behavior is to be conducted in a responsible manner.
After one becomes sexual in the universal sense, he perceives and responds inwardly to
ever-present beauty, but he always acts outwardly in a judicious manner. Physical
intercourse may never be in order, or perhaps occur only in a marriage relationship. In
either case, the pilgrim learns to exist as a continually passionate person, responsive to
beauty wherever and whenever it appears, at the same time functioning responsibly in every
WHAT TO DO
Again, the first issue is your thinking. Can you accept omnisexuality as a goal in your pilgrimage? Aware that lost social pressures, including traditional religion, will e directed to suppressing rather than embracing sexuality, :an you tolerate the idea of moving in the opposite direction? Alert to the pragmatic values of being relatively non-sexual, can you risk the faith required to become this art of yourself also? Do you have the courage which may often be necessary to both feel responsive and yet act responsibly? On the other hand, are you willing to pay the eternal price of negating this human capacity? Realizing that the path of repression is trod at the eventual cost of your own salvation, that denying sexuality is erasing one element in the path to God, are you willing to choose otherwise?
The decision is vastly significant with both temporal and eternal consequences. First, decide on your goals. If you do choose to face this spiritual event which I consider a milestone on the strait and narrow, then the following steps may be practical.
Review your present state. Where do you now stand on your path toward omnisexuality? Are you essentially nonsexual? Heterosexual? Homosexual? What is the range of your currently-embraced sexuality? How frigid or passionate are you in the world where you live? A current evaluation will be useful in planning your work. What you do can best be charted with a clear picture of your present status.
Are you free in certain areas and hung up in others? Chances are, you have already embraced certain of your sexual capacities and learned to respond openly to portions of this beautiful world. Which ones? What now turns you on? Beautiful music? Beauties of nature? Beautiful people? In what other areas do you need to learn to lay aside your repulsions, stop your negative judgments, and see the beauty in what you have previously considered to be ugly? See where you now stand, so you can determine where to go.
Get busy activating your potential. First, stretch your faith. Remembering that pilgrims live by faith rather than answers, see if you can give up your omniscient knowledge of what is right and wrong in the area of sex. Probably you have learned to judge various elements in the sexual realm--thoughts, desires, attractions, wishes, or deeds--as inherently good or evil. Such omniscient opinions are signs of your own false godhood. They allow you to live by your answers rather than your faith, yet at a cost of your salvation. You will need to relinquish each such godly conclusion as you proceed down the path to omnisexuality. Begin now to exercise your faith by letting go of your certain knowledge about right and wrong concerning sexual matters.
Next, stretch your pretty. Already certain things and joule are attractive to you. You probably classify others as ugly. Consider extending the realm of your pretties and reducing your uglies. For example, you may say "black is beautiful," but can you truly respond to a beautiful black animal, night, or person? If you have excluded those of other races from your domain of pretty, seek now to include them. If you have considered flowers pretty but eve condemned all weeds as ugly, look for beauty in weeds also. Look for beauty in all creation. Work toward eliminating all your ugly, not by changing it to suit you, but by changing yourself to perceive the beauty in it. Perhaps your greatest challenge will come in accepting the beauty in yourself. Knowing your faults and blemishes, can you concede that you too are one of the "beautiful people"? Stretch your pretty wherever you go. Be mindful of your opacity to respond positively to ever-increasing portions f this wondrous world.
Then begin stretching your tolerance of feeling sexual and turned on. As illogical as it may sound, many who think they want to feel better are deeply afraid that they can't stand it. Most of us have more experience with being turned down (or off ) than with being excited. We unconsciously strive to maintain the familiar balance, and wittingly thwart any moves toward expanded sexuality. The primitive fear is sometimes "that I may burst" (explode) or be otherwise unable to tolerate the excitement associated with being sensual.
Expanded tolerance for pleasure is one of the challenges facing many pilgrims who move toward this milestone. If this challenge is one of yours, begin working to stretch our present limits. See if you might be able to stand more excitement than you realize. Even if you were weak when you were younger, perhaps your strength has increased. Approach your current borders of pleasure. Without taking excessive chances, reach for new degrees of ecstasy. As you stretch your faith and your pretty, exercise your tolerance also.
Increase your responsibility. Many fearful souls evade the challenges of increased sexuality by dissipating the generated energies in irresponsible activities. Unconsciously assuming they can't stand it, they seek relief by acting out, for instance, in harmful affairs or dependent relationships. Ignoring the consequences of their acts, they rush pell-mell down paths of destruction.
If you have been among such persons, resign from their ranks. With expanded sexuality comes increased responsibility. Accept it graciously. With constant alertness to your own limits, society's tolerance, what others can take, and all the predictable consequences, move only with integrity. The pilgrim's challenge is to be fully sexual while acting appropriately at all times. Dare to become responsibly omnisexual on your path to the kingdom of God in the here and now.