When was the last time you connected men with both sex and spirit? The stereotype of men constantly wanting and needing sex still dominates our popular culture. And now we’re also getting the message that women are just as yearning for sex as men. Loud and clear!
It’s a least a good starting point for the genders finally to move beyond American Victorianism and admit that sexuality is a vital and important issue to discuss. The trouble is we’re still focused on the physical. What we seem to ignore is that EVERYTHING we do as humans includes our physicality, our sexuality, and our spirituality at the same time. We can’t divide these elements up into neat, self-contained packages. When we do so we do violence to our humanity as well as our divinity.
Yes, our divinity. We are spiritual beings living in human bodies. As such we are in touch with universal consciousness; let’s call it/him/her God. God is united with our spirit because by definition all spirit has a common source and is one in the universe. Our spirit speaks of the eternal, the infinite, that scary and incomprehensible concept. The fact that we can even conceptualize the possibility of eternity makes us part of it.
Despite that our major religious founders were male and that spiritual communities in both the East and West are dominated by men, some of our most influential spiritual guides have been women. Yet gender is not the issue in spirituality, faith, and religion. It is the willing participation of each person to bring to the table of the spirit both their masculine and feminine energies. In this men in the West especially have been cheated.
Deep down all men recognize they are not mere beasts, studs called upon to perform fertilization rites. They yearn to deepen their experience of spirit and sexuality, though they may not always know it. They don’t always focus on this because they haven’t been taught. Men continue to be funneled into narrow stereotypes where expectations burden them into thinking they are not real men if they are not in constant competition, if their testosterone does not dominate every moment of their waking lives.
Men want to have a spiritually satisfying sexual life. But they need a language and a community that will support this. Lest we forget, they won’t express themselves as women do, so women need to challenge men not merely to please them physically but to dig deeply into their souls. This is not done in the midst of or after an amazing session of sex. Rather it is gradually and slowly accomplished in the midst of daily mundane opportunities for listening to one another and hearing what each is truly saying in word and action.
Often, though not exclusively, the closest any man comes to touching the infinite in their spirituality and sexuality is when they have children. Most men already know they make the cut for passionate copulating. That’s what hormones provide. But men also know deep down, but don’t always have the language for, the fact that there’s more to sex than performance. They recognize that their fertility is a sign of infinity, of God’s spirit living in and through them.
The bonding necessary for a father to connect with his child as his own extension of the eternal takes time. Yet in so many families fathers are not even married to or living with their child’s mother. Paternity leave in most companies is still impossible. Many single mothers (and the courts) end up viewing fathers of their children as mere fertilizing agents and providers of financial support…and many men are living down to this expectation!
If we are to believe we possess the universal presence within us then we must believe that every fiber of our being, every aspect of our existence is an opportunity to make God manifest in our time and space. Yet our culture continues to rob men of the opportunity, language, and community they need to express this deep reality. Common venues that deal with sex usually don’t want to hear about spirituality. Conversely, religious organizations that do wonders for the spirit don’t want to hear about men’s understanding and experience of sexuality except as a sinful impulse to be controlled.
Men need small communities that bring it all together, that make possible the questions, the challenges, and the wisdom that bring spirit and sex to consciousness as one. It’s time for men to stop playing it cool about their spiritual and sexual core. They are not their bodies, their careers, their bank accounts, or even their passion for justice and the American way! We ought to provide boys and men what they really need: a challenge to “man up” by recognizing, reflecting on, and expressing the meaning of spirit and sex in their lives as one depending totally upon the other.
All artwork is copyrighted by the artist Michael Parise. See more at www.parisecoaching.com