The Herb Of Grace

Theology and Poetry, Politics and Prose

Sex and Philosophy May 12, 2010

Filed under: philosophy,public theology,sex,Spirituality — Joel @ 10:58 pm
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When the life of the mind is given up, as we see that it is in daily discourse, the life of the body attempts to take up the slack, and fails.  Our culture esteems sex as bearing on its passionate waters a singularly spiritual aura of things like “love,” “freedom,” “passion,” and “pleasure.”  The Christian community, with its obsession with the marital power of sex, is as guilty of this as any secular community.  But sex cannot bear the weight of this compliment (though it thanks you very much and blushes, curling its hair in bashful fingers).

Sex is a physical activity that does have a spirituality, but it is not a certain and unchangeable spirituality.  Sexual spirituality, like all other kinds of spirituality, is contingent on the kind of philosophy one holds.  If philosophical conversations are no more in style, then I think that no good kind of sexual spirituality can ensue.  I think our culture has wanted sex to hold within itself all the philosophy, all the good thoughts about the world, that we will ever need.  But sex doesn’t think.  The human mind thinks.

It is the worst and most ironic of philosophies to hold that philosophy is abnormal, too complicated, and therefore unnecessary.  We give up wisdom in hopes that our biology, our bodily urges, will tell us correctly what it is that we should do.  This is indeed incorrect if only for the reason that we have been given such amazing capacities of intellectual and emotional rationality.

Perhaps my point can be made by imagining the cultural swing going the other way (as it has in times past).  Let us imagine that in our society sex is seen as much too complicated, messy, and therefore not worth engaging in (much less being engaged for).  Not being completely dumb, we realize that these biological longings must be assuaged somehow.  Not being completely smart, we decide that a passionate dedication to philosophy and the cultivation of wisdom will serve this purpose.  We no longer need sex as we have figured out how to orgasm in our brains.  This does seem silly.  It is the same ideology in reverse to the one we live in today.

The most important sexual reason to engage in amateur philosophy is that sex happens between two humans, two people made in the image of God, stamped with love, intelligence, longing, and relational matrices.  If we want our lives to be good, and I assume we do, these attributes should be made the subject of common sense reflection.  Only as we recommit ourselves to the life of the mind, that is, to our natural tendency and ability to philosophical investigation, will we find sex knocking at our doors with a thank you card, signed “I never wanted the CEO job, thanks for demoting me.  sincerely, sex.”