Spirituality & Sexuality - Why Such a Split?

Monday evening's Coed Coffee Chat was about "Do Spirituality & Sexuality Go Together? How?" Twenty-two women and men sat outside at a local coffee shop and first hashed out the basics, such as:

  • What does spirituality mean?
  • Why is there often such a split between spirituality and sexuality?
  • Does that have to do with our definitions and understandings of "sexuality"?

And then the discussion delved into a a breadth of issues that group members found relevant, such as:

  • Non-monogamy and how this challenges some people's understanding of a spiritual and sexual union.
  • The power of sexual energy and how this is controlled by religions, cultures, etc.
  • The need to objectify women for a man to be able to orgasm.
  • Whether sexual activity early in a relationship can interfere with spiritual bonding or truly knowing someone.
  • Whether we are all spiritual beings having a human/physical experience.

A particularly poignant observation was about how we learn at a young age that it is not OK to be human. We're not allowed to be human. We are embarrassed to be human. We are ashamed to be human. I think when we take this perspective towards understanding our experiences of pleasure, it makes a lot of sense. In terms of the split many of us experience between spirituality and sexuality, this may be because we learned that the mind should be elevated over the body, and spirituality is something to aspire to by forsaking bodily pleasures. Enjoying our bodies is wrong, because we should be embarrassed by what makes us like other animals (e.g., defecation, sex, bodily secretions).

I like the concept that we are all spiritual beings having human experiences. I think that is an empowering shift in perspective to bring us into an appreciation of our bodies, pleasure, and intimacy as it is all part of our spiritual journey.

Jennifer Gunsaullus, PhD

Sex Therapy & Relationship Counseling in San Diego