Sex, God, and Our Longing for Intimacy (Part 1)
Since their debut album Parachutes appeared twelve years ago, Coldplay has arguably become one of the most popular recording artists in the world. The band is well known for their lyrically rich ballads that drip with emotional content, as evidenced by the following excerpt from “A Message”:
My song is love
My song is love, unknown
But I’m on fire for you, clearly
You don’t have to be alone
You don’t have to be on your own
And I’m not gonna take it back
Oh I’m not gonna say I don’t mean that
You’re the target that I’m aiming at
And I’m nothing on my own
Got to get that message home
And I’m not gonna stand and wait
Not gonna be there until it’s much too late
On a platform I’m gonna stand and say
That I’m nothing on my own
And I love you, please come home
Driving the singer’s heartfelt plea to his former lover is a steady, pulsing rhythm, which colors his petition to reunite with her with a sense of urgent, almost impatient longing. He yearns to know again her love and to experience anew the intimacy that they once shared.
The drive toward intimacy is universal because we are relational creatures. Spirituality is the expression of our innate desire to connect with God in such an intimate relationship. While the variation within and plurality of the world’s faiths suggest that we do not intuitively know the identity of the Divine, the pervasive presence of spirituality within the world suggests that not only that we recognize in our experience evidence of a Presence beyond ourselves but that we also deeply long to be in relationship with that Being. Christians believe that that Being is Yahweh, the Creator.
Only in relationship with the Creator do we know ourselves as created beings who are radically dependent upon God. Martin Buber, renowned Jewish philosopher and theologian, notes that this “feeling of dependence” does not, however, diminish our agency or uniqueness in our relationship with God. Indeed, Buber observes that in prayer, worship, and sacrifice we creatively interact with God, who knows and values our expressed uniqueness. For instance, God was pleased with Abel, a shepherd who offered in sacrifice the finest of his flock and therefore gave everything he had in worship.
Today, when we give our all while using our unique gifts—whether it’s playing an instrument in worship, opening our doors in warm hospitality, or exercising administrative skills—God recognizes and celebrates our expressed individuality, and we come to know ourselves more fully as we express ourselves. In connecting with God, then, we discover who we are as we reach out for intimacy in our own unique ways of worshipping, praying, and sacrificial living.
To summarize, we all want to know and to be known in the context of intimate relationships with friends and family. When we uniquely express our desire for intimacy in relationship with God, we call it spirituality. We’ll soon consider how our innate drive for intimacy plays out in sexuality, but first, I invite you to consider your spirituality. What are your unique characteristics and talents, and how do you bring them into your spirituality?