Let’s talk about sex baby!
I was reading the Essential Kabbalah: The Heart of Jewish Mysticism and was drawn to this extract from Orot ha-Qodesh by Abraham Isaac Kook on sacred sexuality:
“Sexual union is holy and pure, when performed in the right way, at the right time, and with the right intention. Let no one think that there is anything shameful or ugly in such union. God forbid! The right kind of union is called knowing. It isn’t called that for nothing. Unless it were very holy, it would not be called knowing.
This matter is not as Rabbi Moses Maimonides, of blessed memory, imagined and thought in his Guide of the Perplexed, where he praises Aristotle for stating that the scene of touch is shameful. God forbid! This matter is not as that Greek said; what he said smacks of subtle heresy. If that Greek scoundrel believed that the world was created with divine intention, he would not have said what he said. But we, who possess the holy Torah, believe that God created everything as divine wisdom decreed. God created nothing shameful or ugly. If sexual union is shameful, then the genitals are too. Yet God created them! How could God create something blemished, disgraceful or deficient? After all, the Torah states: ‘God saw everything that he had made, and behold: very good!’
The evidence is clear. In the account of Creation we read: ‘The two of them were naked, the man and his wife, yet they felt no shame.’ Before they ate from the Tree of Knowledge, they were contemplating the pure forms, and their intention was entirely holy. To them the genitals were like eyes or hands or other parts of the body.
When sexual union is for the sake of heaven, there is nothing as holy or pure. The union of man and woman, when it is right, is the secret of civilization. Thereby, one becomes a partner with God in the act of Creation. This is the secret meaning of the saying of the sages: ‘When a man unites with his wife in holiness, the divine presence is between them.’”
As my own understanding is grounded in the same sources, the sacred texts of Genesis and Song of Songs, I find that it is very similar in very many ways despite the obvious differences in our respective spiritual pathways.
This is an area where I clearly part ways with many of the medieval Christian mystics who, to my mind, granted way too much to the ascetic teachings of Plato and Aristotle. Their approach was probably understandable in their cultural context, but that was then, this is now. I think a Christian mysticism that is critically contextualized for our era needs to be much more grounded in an earth and body and sex embracing spirituality, a spirituality that funny enough, is more in tune with the ancient Hebrew approach.
On a practical level, consider this, how would you disciple a former tantra devotee in Christian spirituality? I’d suggest the Rule of Benedict would not be the most helpful starting point.