Is the urge toward sex the
as the urge toward God?
What is the
sexual urge and why are people crazy about sex?
one form or another, does
make us crazy. The Bible speaks often of religious ecstacy—that moment
when you united with God and brought your personal, limited human
identity into the Godforce. It was powerful and for onlookers
terrifying—religious ecstacy, the sense of dancing with God as your
partner was easily mistaken for insanity; or sexuality gone crazy.
Among the early gay writers known as "Uranians," sexual
ecstacy became united (and concealed) under an ecstatic union with
unleashed Nature. Especially among them, the repressed poet-priest
Gerard Manley Hopkins became besmitten with Nature’s force and beauty,
while trying to express what he could of his own same-sexualized
nature. Nature became the powerful Male Figure, the throbbing urge
toward completion, unleashed in the presence of the wild. To the
Uranians and other earlier queer writers, Nature was no longer Mother
Nature, it was Father Nature, and he was a hunk, a creature of huge
submission and attraction. D. H.
Lawrence, a "straight" writer who was extremely attracted to powerful
men, literally worshipped this union with Nature revealed in the
Although Western commercialiasm extolls sellable
heterosexuality and shopping center religion, it is terrified of
tracing sexuality back to its roots in the sexual urge—the “urge to
merge” as we used to call it—and also sometimes the "impolite" urge to
come out of yourself and into a larger sphere.
Today this urge, as something organic,
uncontrollable, and physically present, is cosmetized like a corpse
gooey Hallmark-greeting-card images and ideas. Jesus is either the
sexless shepherd who’d never come on to one of his followers, or the
strapping Oxford undergraduate, always shy and rosy cheeked. The idea of God Itself, as an immense, creative,
mutable Force (something Hindus see as organic to the Godhead), is
terrifying to us. And yet it is almost impossible to completely repress
it and even the attempt to do so creates neurotic violence and damage.
It creates an atmosphere of the Inquisition, fundamentalism and
repression, which only sees in religion what is repressive and
exclusionary, spawning religious warfare. A perfect example of this is
seen in the words and actions of contemporary religion's most obvious
closet case, Pope Benedict XVI, who is literally destroying the
Catholic Church from within with his rampant, only too defensive
homophobia and sex phobia.
Going all the way back through history, gay men and
lesbians have always been
the wild cards in any revelation of a religious ecstacy that
cannot dismiss sexuality. Homosexual priests were associated with
sexual rites in the early cults of Astarte and, later,
Aphrodite, whose temple male prostitutes often associated with women
and “serviced” men as a way
of submitting to God. This form of temple prostitution was hated by the
Hebrews; still it resurfaced time and time again in Biblical accounts
of the Jerusalem Temple.
In turn, this idea of men submitting sexually to
other men (as a possible way of submitting to God) follows a basic
primate pattern seen in “alpha males” who establish their rights for
sexual satisfaction, a pattern other primates quickly recognize. The
presence of alpha males and their mates, alpha females, brings a sense of tribal
harmony and stability that still carries over, psychologically, into
I find this most apparent in the gay need for
hierarchy (that is, seeking out powerful or attractive men) for
protection, and to allow us to express our own submission to other men.
Our needs to be the followers of great divas; the
stylish courtiers of royalty; the suitors of powerful, “hot”
working-class men, all make me feel that hardwired into our own queer
brains is this sexual connection through energy and power to a force
that is both greater than us, and also responsive to us.
We seek the Eternal Mother and want to bind the
wounds of the fallen, as Walt Whitman did. We also seek the big Alpha Male: Jesus, Zeus, Mr.
Leather, Tom of Finland, WWF demi-gods—and in our engagement with this
kind of not-always-covertly-sexual power find a satisfaction that
eludes most heterosexual men who cannot submit to the opposite sex
without losing some of their own, well-defended masculinity.
This has brought heterosexuality into a constant
"War of the Sexes" that now appears at close to atomic level; it has,
unfortunately, made any kind of heterosexuality outside of marriage, in
many repressive, fundamentalist cultures, always on the verge of rape,
because the real religious roots of sexuality cannot be honestly
recognized and explored.
In our commercialization of sex, we have brought it
so far away from one of its own deepest roots, its ritual as a merging
with God, that the only thing left of it has become TV's The Bachelor, Blind Date, and The Pussycat Girls.
It's sad, and I feel the loss of these wondrous
roots all the time.
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