God and Desire

A friend recently told me about a sexual encounter he’d had that he felt God’s presence in. It was an intense encounter, something he’d always wanted but was afraid would feel shallow. Instead, it was nurturing for both parties. I get the sense that it was something about the care shown between the two people that allowed my friend to feel God.

That day I’d had a similar question going around in my head about where God fits into my sex life. Obviously if you read my last post, this is something I think about a lot. But there are always new desires or new circumstances that make me question it.

I live in Chicago. I’ve been here about a year and a half, and I’ve had a hard time finding consistent romantic partners. So I date a lot, and I have a hard time approaching God about casual sex. When I’m getting to know someone and we’re not committed to each other yet. When I simply need to be touched. I can talk to my friends a lot easier than I can pray about being horny. I can tell God I’m lonely, but then not want to acknowledge God when I’m walking out the door on a date I’m hoping will lead to the bedroom.

I believe there are two stages to a meaningful relationship between God and sex.

  1. Simple approval—I’m still ok in God’s eyes even though I enjoy such and such.
  2. Intimate conversation and guidance.

How does one ask for God’s guidance about sex?

I just started Richard Rohr’s book Wondrous Encounters: Scriptures for Lent. In the first meditation for Ash Wednesday, Rohr writes:

It is the Holy Spirit doing the desiring at your deepest level. Therefore you will get nothing less than what you really desire, and almost surely much more . . . Make your desires good and far-reaching on this Ash Wednesday of new beginnings. You could not have such desires if God had not already desired them first—in you and for you and as you!

My continual challenge to myself is to remember that my desires—for connections to others, for seeking pleasure in the world God created, for moments I’m grateful for, for ways of using my body that make it come alive—are ways of having a deeper relationship with God, because I understand myself, others, and the world better because of them.

I’m not saying all desire is God-given. I do believe desire can become corrupted. But I also believe that Holy Spirit is at work through our desire. Approaching God without shame about what I desire is a way of honoring the workings of the Spirit. And the more I speak to God about it, the richer that desire can be manifested in my life.

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