At times of transformation we live with the simultaneous existence of deconstruction and convergence. Today, there is a resurging interest in spiritual practices in many circles, and also a breakdown of patriarchal, hierarchical church structures. The spectre of clergy sexual abuse intermingles with a worldview promulgated by the church about the nature of relationships and sexuality that no longer has meaning for people today--men and women, young and even middle-aged. The gender roles that seemed so clear during the 1950's have broken down and blurred. The image of nuclear family as mom, dad and 2.4 children has been superceded by a far greater spectrum of family possibilities. Bisexuality, androgyny, gender fluidity and polyamory are more and more common.

One thread that emerges is a hunger and longing, both spiritual and erotic. Our cultural models are built on a sex-spirit split, where we have taught to be sexy but not how to be sexual, and we are inundated with disembodied sexual images, yet short on models of an integrated sexuality. The disconnections between love, sex and intimacy, and between sex and soul have created sex as an out of body experience. Neither gender is given the tools, the experiences or the support to develop a personally fulfilling sense of sexuality. We experience heart woundedness and sexual woundedness including:

Disapointment in the relationships we are in (including a wall of unspoken or unresolved resentments)
Spiritual divorce (remaining together in a shell of a relationship where emotional, physical, sexual and/or spiritual intimacy are gone)
Sexless marriage
Mutual abandonment
Lack of empathy and communication skills
Asking our partner to be the cosmic tit
Sex addiction and sexual anorexia
Sexual abuse

How do we heal the sex-spirit split in our relationships and lives and move towards a more integrated sexuality?
1. Emotionally safe sex
2. Reconnecting with our bodies and coming to our senses
3. Touch with permission and respect
4. Expanding our understanding of sex beyond just intercourse and the quest for orgasm
5. Improving sex education to include experiential learning
6. Respecting differences
7. Thinking about developing our sexuality as a process
8. Recognizing that sex, like food, comes in many different packages
9. Getting to know our sexual and spiritual needs
10. Embracing our shadow side
11. Healing our wounded child's hearts and developing our sense of adult man/woman

Chapter 8 in HEALING THE WAR BETWEEN THE GENDERS discusses the material introduced here in more detail.

Resources include: The Human Awareness Institute and its Love, Intimacy and Sexuality Workshops, The Boston Area Sexuality and Spirituality Network (BASSN), Spirituality and Sexuality Journal, Building Bridges Conferences sponsored by the Institute for 21st Century Relationship, The Body Electric workshops and Polyboston.