What is sexy to God? What turns God on? And where does it go from there? What is intimacy for God? Who is God intimate with? And how? Is God’s orgasm masculine or feminine or both? Does God need sex organs to orgasm? From what does God derive pleasure—personal, intimate, exciting pleasure?
Faith is made of questions, not answers. Doubt, not certainty. God is a person, but what kind of person? Whether or not that God is good is, after all, what matters more than God’s existence. But the Christian faith does more than assert that God is good. It asserts that God created us as embodied creatures. The physical and the spiritual are not distinct, but ever intertwining. Ever in communion. In . . . intimacy?
I promise here and now not to get “too graphic” on you, my Christian sisters and brothers. Like you, I am wildly uncomfortable with this line of questioning. I received the same messages about how dirty and gross our bodies are and how private and quiet sex is supposed to be.
But we know now how untrue that is. How beautiful our bodies are and how rightit is that we enjoy them, love them, and find pleasure with and in them. How much harm is caused by keeping sex private? How many marriages silently destroyed and individuals crushed? What areas of our lives and theology are being stilted by shame? Where are the lies about our bodies controlling the ways we think and act?
I have fierce, heart-weakening memories of people making fun of orgasms, particularly female orgasms. I can’t tell you if they were real teenage boys or ones from TV, but I remember they mocked the panting and moaning of a woman enjoying sex. That mockery joins me in my pleasure, though I work hard to banish it. Perpetuating shame in pleasure—especially pleasure in those we expect to be pure—is our heritage.
Why do we expect God to be sexually pure? As a woman, it’s fun to realize God and I have that in common. Are we not made in God’s image, and are we not sexual beings? There is danger in beginning our theology with people and not with God, but the only access we’ve ever had to God is through our bodies—our ears listen, our eyes see, and our hearts collide with what God offers us. Why not other parts of our bodies?
God came to us in a body, all those years ago. A few daring souls are willing to remind the world that Jesus was a man who pooped and sneezed and farted like all of us poop and sneeze and fart. But how much have you thought about him orgasming? Did he orgasm alone? What was his first orgasm like? Did he know what it was when it happened? And I know I’m not alone in wondering about the years after that moment: did Jesus masturbate? How did Jesus know pleasure on earth?
Or consider the other members of the Trinity. (Since the whole Trinity is a mystery of mysteries in our religion, the “sound of three hands clapping,”  why not add another element of mystery?) Is there ever that tension in God-the-father’s life, that time of build-up, before the orgasm is complete? Or is God’s whole being engaged in ecstasy forever? Perhaps when we humans orgasm—at orgasm’s best—we are tasting what it is to be divine?
Who is God’s partner? Is it us, through the power of the Holy Spirit? Or is that what the Trinity is all about? Does their communion with one another bring them intimacy? Does it take them to orgasm? Do they pleasure one another? (Why do you feel dirty right now, ashamed of thinking that? Is it because you hold on to the metaphor of God as father and God as son too tightly? Is it because pleasure is still dirty?) Is there ecstasy in that union?
And how can we explore—theologically, physically—these questions? Barbara Brown Taylor, “Three Hands Clapping,” from Home by Another Way.
Elaine Schnabel (’11) spent her twenties traveling, blogging, and earning various master’s degrees. Now earning her PhD at the University of North Carolina in organizational communication, Elaine researches and writes at the intersection of religion and communication. You can find her blogging at Religious (Not Crazy).