Saturday, December 24, 2011

What If Jesus Had Not Been Born!

A Meditation on the Meaning of Christmas

I have always thought the quickest way to get at the deepest meaning of Christmas day is to imagine how our lives woud be different if Jesus had not been born. Scripture speaks of a people who dwelled in darkness until Jesus was born. Jesus is the spiritual light of our world. If Jesus had not been born we would still be living in that darkness.

Darkness here is a metaphor fot a life withour ultimate meaning; a life of hopelessness and despair. As St Augustine observed in the third century: You made us for yourself, Oh Lord, and our hearts will never rest until they rests in Thee! At the deepest level of our self awareness, we are aware of a ferocious hunger and thirst for union with God.

The Psalmist expresses that hunger and thirst dramatically. In Psalm 42, we read: As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you. I thirst for God, the living God. And in Psalm 63 we read: O God, you are my God, I earnestly search for You in this painful and weary land where there is no water.

Every human being, if he or she opens his or her awareness to the spiritual depths of human consciousness, will experience the longing to be one in being with the divine being. That oneness is achieved through an exchange of love.

In his famous "kenotic" passage, Paul writes of Jesus Christ: "though he was in the form of God, he did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness, becoming obedient to death, even the death of a cross. (Phil 2:6-8)

As a result of Jesus entering into our world in human form, the possibility of fulfilling that longing in our psyche for oneness with the divine being became a real possibility for every human who lives a life of love! Following his death on the cross we are told in scripture that Jesus descended into hades where the souls of all humans who had preceded him and lived a life of grace were waiting for him to open the gates of heaven. At his resurrection Jesus entered heaven at the head of a crowd of millions who had said yes in their lifetime to God's invitation to oneness in love.

So Jesus' life was important not just to Christians who have the blessing to believe in him but to all humanity. If Hindus, Muslims, Buddists, etc., through a life of love can enter into union with God, although they may have no conscious awareness of Jesus Christ, nevertheless their entrance into that union was made possible by the God-man.

Thank you God, my Father, for the gift you made to all humanity by the birth of your son.

John J. McNeill

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sex as God Intended

Sexual Play

Almost two years ago I published my fifth book on lgbt liberation from a spiritual thelogical perspective. My God-given purpose in all five books was to try with the help of the Holy Spirit to free gay Christians from the lies of pathologically homophobic religion.

Hearing the news of so many teenage suicides gives a new urgency to get the news out about my books [confer] For that purpose I have summaized the message of my most recent book in the following blog.

Sexual Play: God's Gift To The Poor
In my most recent publication: Sex As God Intended: A Reflection on Human Sexualty As Play, I made the observation that scripture , especially The Song of Songs, makes it abudantly clear that God intended human sexuality to be an experience of play. As St Irenaus said: Gloria Dei, homo vivens. The glory of God are humans fully alive. That includes being sexually fully alive. It delights God to see the creatures he loves enjoying God's gift of playful sex within an intimate loving relationship with a spirit of gratitude.
But what makes sex play? The human experience of play, like love, is indefinable. We know what play is when we experience it, but we cant define it. Sociologists observe that a disturbed child ceases to play when it experiences the absence of love. Tht child can be freed to begin to play again only when it feels the security of uncondiional love. Simlarly, we adults are free to play only if we feel loved. Ultimately it is the human experience of God's unconditional love that frees us to totally indulge the spirit of play all our lives.
What makes a human activity play? Play is usually contrasted to work. The human activity of work is frequently based on anxiety. The child who does not feel loved will work hard to earn that love. When one is working what one is doing in the present moment takes its meaning from what the future will bring. Work empties the present moment of its meaning and renders the worker a prisoner to the tyranny of time.
What makes human activity play is the fact that platful activity has its meaning totally in the present moment. The perfect example of that is dancing. The activity of dancing takes its meaning totally from what is happening in the present moment with no reference to the future. The result is a joyful liberation from the tyranny of time.
If human sexual activity is undertaken for the conscious purpose of procreation , it become another form of work subject to the tyranny of time. In Gen 2 we read that God looked at Adam and said"It is not good that the human be alone. Every human should have a companion of his or her own kind" Obviously God intended human sexuality to be a cure for lonliness and help humans enter into deep intimate love relations.. In playful sex we must relate to our sexual partner as end in him or herself and not as a means to something beyond the partner him or her self. Adam and Eve enjoyed playful sex in the garden of Eden in the presence of God. By restoring our awareness of God's love, Christ wanted to restore human sexuality to the same joyful play it was in Eden.
St Augustine once wrote: Ama! Et fac quod vis! "Love and then do wahatever you want!" Exactly! Because what ever a lover wants will be in complete harmony with the spirit of God!

I will never forget several decades ago the first time I heard the famous British theologian, Norman Pittenger, make the statement: "Granting that we are dealing with consenting adults, there is no such thing as bad sex; there is only good, better and best sex!" A wave of laughter went through the room. You could feel the spirit of joyful liberation those words brought from decades of shame, guilt and self-hatred. And every time since when I repeated that statement I witnessed the same result.

We know from Revelation that God created us sexual beings and delights in our sexual play. Every human being has a God-given right to sexual fulfillment. In this article I speak primarily as a psychotherapist as I ask the question what makes sex good, better or best? Best sex is obviously two humans enjoying mutual sexual pleasure within a committed loving relationship. Where this kind of sexual relation can be achieved, it brings with it not only superb sexual pleasure but, as Genesis 2 said, on an even deeper level it brings with it escape from loneliness and isolation into the deepest experience humans can have of intimacy, and frequently opens the door to a mystical experience of intimacy with God.

I am aware as a psychotherpist with several decades of experience that many, if not most, human beings grow up with badly damaged psyches and a wounded self image that render them incapable , except with extreme difficulty, to enter into a committed relation based on mutual love. However, these psychically wounded humans still have a right to sexual fulfillment to the best of their ability. Ia distinction between alpha sex and omega sex. When we perform alpha sex we are entirely absorbed in our own pleasure. we use our sexual partner as a sexual obect in order to obtain our pleasure. In omega sex, on the other hand, we are entirely caught up in the pleasure of our partner. Our primary pleasure comes from the plesure of our partner. As humans, as we mature, we are all caught somewhere in the transition from alpha sex to omega sex.

If all one is capable of is a solitary act of masturbation, then that masturbatory act, undertaken with gratitude to God for the gift of sexual pleasure, is good sex.

Even better sex occurs when two wounded humans reach out to each other to share mutual sexual pleasure in a 'one night stand'. I always liked the joke I heard many years ago about an aging queen in the Bowery who went into a bar with a parakeet on his shoulder. Standing at the end of the bar he announced in a loud voice, "I will go to bed with anyone who guesses the weight of my parakeet!" One drunk looked up and guessed two hundred pounds. "Close enough!" responded the queen. What is happening here. Two psychically badly damaged human beings will share a moment of mutual sexual pleasure . That is all they are capable of and that is good, even better, sex. Even better still is the relation of two "sex buddies" that meet regularly for sexual fulfillment in the context of mutual friendship.

These reflections make it patently clear that no human being has the right to make moral judgments on the sexual activities of others. Only God knows if the person involved in a sexual act is living up to her or his potential. Humans are under an obligation to achieve the highest level of intimacy they are capable of. If you are blessed with a healthy psyche that opens the possibility of best sex for you, be grateful to God and refrain from any judgmentalism about the sex life of your neighor.