In Paul’s letter to the Galatian churches he makes the outstanding assertion that in Christ all religious-ethnic differentiation has been replaced with humanity now being incorporated into the Person of Jesus, baptised into his death, raised with him in his resurrection. No longer is humanity defined according to ‘Jew or Greek’, ‘slave or free’, “male and female”, but are now a new creation, a new-creational community whose identity is found and determined in and through Christ.
Irenaeus saw creation on a journey, created good with the goal and orientation towards perfection. So even humanity, “male and female” created ‘very good’ and for relationship with one another, were never seen to be the finished article, the goal in and of themselves. Sin, violence and death lead us away from this telos, we were thus disorientated and lead astray. Yet perfection was never found in the “male and female” and the distinctions we have. Rather it is found in Christ, the goal and perfection of humanity found in relationship with the living God. Whereas before Christ our relationships were determined by the Law, differentiations determined by social and ethnic distinctions, now, in Christ, our relationships are a sign of redemption, a glimpse of the redemptive power of God, a ‘new creation’ where the old order of things have passed away.
This is truly good news for the LGBTIQ community.
Gregory of Nysa said that what we hope for is nothing else than God. For Gregory and his sister Macrina, humanity is on a journey towards ultimate perfection that is found in Christ, and so all desire is a reflection of that ultimate desire, even when our desire is disorientated. In other words,
‘…the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.’ Romans 8:21-23
‘…he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.’ Colossians 1:18b-20
Humanity is waiting, waiting to be made truly human by the True Human, waiting to be fully incorporated into his resurrection life, waiting for all things to be reconciled to himself. Sexual desire is, then, a glimpse at divine desire. For in our sexual desire we are expressing a longing for intimacy with God. All desire, no matter how disorientated and destructive it is, springs from a desire within humanity for the ‘transcendent good of the universe’. We are created to be in relationship with our Creator, so we search and scratch and seek to be incorporated into that Life, often with very little awareness that this is what we desire. In our sexual desire there is a waiting and a longing, and then in our erotic ecstasy where unconditionality is present, we discover something of the divine life breaking into the moment. We leave our solitude and our own space and invite another to join us there, sharing in the loss of all boundaries. At the reconciliation of all things humanity will discover at last what it means to truly love God and love each other because all boundaries and diving walls will have vanished, creating the space and intimacy for total relationship. We will be ‘sharers in the divine nature’ and have an intimacy with God that will go beyond all previous intimate and loving encounters. We will be fully known.
Sex is rightly seen then in light of the Trinitarian Life of Self-giving love, unshackled from selfishness and disorientated desire. Our calling is to seek that the Spirit might bring our desire into God’s own desire. Dionysius said that God loves his creation so much so that, ‘This divine yearning brings ecstasy so that the lover belongs not to self but to the beloved.’ Sex then is a reflection of God’s continued outpouring love of himself to his creation, to humanity. Our yearning springs from the fact that God yearned for us first. True love, a love that flows from God’s own nature, will be expressed well through sexual desire and practice and will enable us to discover our humanity, rehumanising us from all the ways sex has been used to dehumanise us. Ultimate ‘human oneness with the One’ will not happen through our human binaries which themselves quench the Spirit, but rather through the embrace of the Spirit’s leading into self-giving, non- violent, non-coercive, grace-filled, unlimited forgiving loving relationships.
Jesus Christ is the One we are called to imitate in all things, so we are each invited to share in the Oneness of relationship that the Trinity has. Jesus’ prayer, ‘I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one…’ is the prayer for humanity, that in our identity we may know oneness with one another, united in love, redeemed in our relationships, one day perfected in God.