Sacred Sex – Highlights Hebrew Style

Photo by Melvin E

Photo by Melvin E

A Blog Series – God’s Hope in the Gift of Sexual Desire and Sexual Expression
Blog Eight of Eight – Highlights Hebrew Style

This is the eighth in a series of blogs which share powerful SEX POSITIVE stories from our Judeo/Christian heritage. God gave us the delicious experience of sexual desire and sexual expression on purpose – with the intent that we would experience greater understandings of his abundant and extravagant love. He also hoped that we would experience abundant aspects of what it is to love deeply – both the giving and receiving of love. To have our own experiences of loving a beloved other.

Highlights Hebrew Style
In this blog series we have covered a good deal of Hebrew and Christian history contributing to spiritual understandings of sexuality. Let’s highlight some of the wisdom about sex and sexuality from our Jewish ancestors. Throughout ancient history we see in Hebrew writings a God that is both hierarchical in nature—Creator, Almighty, Omniscient, Omnipotent, Sovereign, and on a horizontal plane, passionately desiring a close intimate ongoing relationship with His people. One that is achieved in intimate communion as God’s Beloved.

• The Mirror story teaches us God sees our committed, loving and conscious love-making as symbolic, or a mirror reflection of an aspect of His great love and desire for His people.

• The Holy Tabernacle story teaches us when we as a committed couple want to share intimate sexual touch we are to see it as sanctified, sacred and holy; just as if we were priests preparing to enter the Holy of Holies and commune directly with the presence of God. It has the capacity to be both dangerous, if not taken seriously, and ecstatic and mysterious when entered with preparation, holy intention, and reverence.

• The Cherub story and the Song of Songs teach us God longs for us the way lovers long for each other. He longs for us to be lost in Him and He in us. He longs for us to receive His love and open our hearts fully to Him. Like two lovers filled with love and trust, there are no walls between them. And in love-making they become lost in each other, one with the experience while fully present—not lost at all but found and known in this mysterious holy place. This longing finds its satiation when a kind of oneness occurs between creator and His creation, and the human image used to remind us is two lovers, fully embodied and filled with passion and desire——together, making (creating) love. At its best, sexual embrace is about the deepest connection to the one we have chosen for the rest of our lives … and God wants that with and for us.  It moves our heart, soul and body transcending pleasure escorting us into the presence of God.  Anything else, pales in comparison – and fails to give us this intended holy gift.

• The Vow of ‘Onah and other Jewish guidelines in committed partnership remind us of a few important aspects of sexual fulfillment:

o In fulfilling the vow of ‘Onah, the responsibility is given to a husband to become the lover of a woman—to study how to pleasure and love her. This is a wise request that invites both men and women to grow in areas that often do not develop until mid-life—but are areas that need to grow for a marriage to stand the test of time. We see this talked about in other ancient eastern spiritual texts as well. Men tend to lead from their place of drive, purpose, accomplishment and competing. This is not only culturally supported, but is supported in how the male brain is structured. Symbolically they lead from their pelvis. We see this in most young boys who turn sticks into swords and in teenage boys who see sexual expression as a conquest. A young man’s growing edge in marriage is to learn to see, hear, learn, study his partner in order to meet his lover’s needs. Loving well relies less on competition, conquests or goals and more on learning the nuances of his beloved. In loving well, husbands are not competing with other men, they are learning to grow their relationship and loving skills. This practice of truly learning their wives helps men to connect their pelvis to their heart. The sooner men learn the value of their relationships to ground their life purposes, the less mistakes they make, pain they inadvertently cause, and less meaningful time they lose with kids and spouses.

Women on the other hand tend to lead with their heart. Their brain structure and hormonal capacities reveal God’s created intentionality in the gender differences. We see this in little girls who often turn two sticks into a mommy stick and a daddy stick. We see this in adolescent girls who are often tangled in relationship drama. In this ‘Onah command, a woman must learn to communicate what she wants, learn her body, her pleasures, her desires and she must learn to communicate these in clear, overt ways. She must let go of driving the relationship and let herself fully receive and fully be known. She must develop a voice and drive for herself—in essence connect her heart to her pelvis. The Jewish law of ‘Onah sets up the arrangement so marriage, and particularly the pleasure relationship, helps both the man and the woman grow in their natural areas of weakness while learning interdependence. This helps to balance the growing and the relationship – and keeps desire sparking.

In American culture, men are taught through secular and religious channels that sex is about intercourse (the penis) and that they are entitled to this after marriage. How much and how often are based on their wants. They are the drivers, they are in charge. They are the winners. This reinforces the tendency for men to lead from the pelvis and reduces their sense of their need to learn about the skills of the heart and the skills of how to love a woman — how to be her great lover. Women on the otherhand learn from religion and culture that sex is about intercourse and about the man’s sexual drive – and they learn they are obligated to provide for his needs. They learn that it is not about them, that they do not have to know or communicate what brings them pleasure. The focus on intercourse and a man’s pleasure inadvertently teaches women to ignore their sexual pleasure while focusing on the rest of the relationship. This is where our traditional American culture and our traditional Christian sexual ethic actually sets couples up for a dissatisfying sexual life. When women try to drive the relationship alone and men try to drive the couple’s sexual life alone, desire will burn out … for her, for him or for both. At best this leads to a life-less sex life.

o In the vow of ‘Onah the sexual relationship is seen as a wonderful erotic gift and an invitation into your most vulnerable sanctuary. It is to be entered into mutually, thoughtfully, carefully and when both seek to be fully present to give and receive love, joy, and pleasure. It is not to be entered into lightly, selfishly, when angry, distracted, or chemically influenced. And it is never to be used as a tool to hurt, manipulate, or coerce. It is recognized as entering the sacred holy of holies at the heart of each person and at the heart of the relationship where each will be fully open, exposed, and ready to meet each other and their creator.

o Finally, but of no less significance, in the Jesus story, the God of the Hebrew people — the God of all creation sent His son, to be God incarnate and dwell among His people. This was done so all could experience an embodied form of God’s love. Jesus reminded the people of God’s values – love, grace, justice, forgiveness – for all. Humans are of the nature to forget – to lord over instead of serve, to take instead of give, to speak falsely instead of speaking truth, to judge instead of offering grace, to fear instead of offering love. Jesus reminded in word, deed and touch who God was, what was valued, how much all were loved … and then knowing people’s nature to forget – became their atonement, so they could, with care, enter into loving communion with God.

Just as we saw time and again with the Hebrew people, God in sending Jesus, reminded us what it is to live by love, to live in love and to be love. Marriage … a lifetime beloved partnership … is the crucible where we daily practice how to live, act and be love. If we allow it, committed partnership will teach us to love and pull us into the center of God’s powerful and sensual love. But it takes courage, vulnerability, intention, grace and humility. Lifetime partnership is not for the faint of heart … but neither is sacred ecstatic sexual communion. It is a spiritual practice.

[1] The Male Brain by Louann Brizendine, MD. Broadway Books 2010.

[1] The Female Brain by Louann Brizendine, MD. Broadway Books, 2006.

About Tina Schermer Sellers, PhD

Dr. Tina Schermer Sellers is a recognized scholar in the integration of spirituality into a multitude of areas represented in family and career life. As a behavioral scientist, licensed family therapist, medical family therapist, and certified sex therapist, she specializes in helping to craft relationships, organizations and lives that flourish. In the area of sexuality, Tina has spent a career helping people discover what culture has failed to teach them about their bodies, their hearts, their capacity for intimacy and their erotic potential.
This entry was posted in God, intimacy, marriage, Relationships, Sex, Sex, God, and The Church, sexual health, sexuality, spirituality and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Sacred Sex – Highlights Hebrew Style

  1. dherivel says:

    Tina, I love you. Thank you for writing so profoundly and with such grace and wisdom.

I would love to hear your musings!

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