The Erotic Word: Sexuality, Spirituality, and the Bible

The Erotic Word: Sexuality, Spirituality, and the Bible

The Erotic Word: Sexuality, Spirituality, and the Bible

The Erotic Word: Sexuality, Spirituality, and the Bible

Synopsis

Historically, the Bible has been used to drive a wedge between the spirit and the body. In this provocative book, David Carr argues that it can--and should--do just the opposite. Sexuality and spirituality, Carr contends, are intricately interwoven: when one is improverished, the other is warped. As a result, the journey toward God and the life-long engagement with our own sexual embodiment are inseparable. Humans, the Bible tells us, both male and female, were created in God's image, and eros--a fundamental longing for connection that finds abstract good in the pleasure we derive from the stimulation of the senses--is a central component of that image. The Bible, particularly the Hebrew Bible, affirms erotic passion, both eros between humans and eros between God and humans. In a sweeping examination of the sexual rules of the Bible, Carr asserts that Biblical "family values" are a far cry from anything promoted as such in contemporary politics. He concludes that passionate love--our preoccupaton therewith and pursuit thereof--is the primary human vocation, that eros is in fact the flavoring of life.

Excerpt

The Bible. Sexuality. What word next comes to mind? Few people I know would say “spirituality. ” Yet in this book I will be arguing that the Bible, particularly the Old Testament can help us bring our sexual and spiritual lives together. Biblical garden texts will be our orientation points. Starting with the paradise garden in Eden and continuing to the New Testament, we will examine often overlooked sensual aspects of the Biblical tradition. Many Biblical texts testify to how love can go wrong. Yet I will be arguing that we can read the broader Bible as a call to a life of erotic passion: passion for others passion for God passion for the earth.

This book focuses throughout on the connection between sexuality and spirituality. So often the Bible has been used to separate the two. The garden of Eden story has been seen as an account of sexual sin. Laws in Leviticus are used to stigmatize gay and lesbian people. Many have used the New Testament to condemn “the flesh” in general. When the Bible is used in these and other ways to shut down sexuality (or certain sexualities) spirituality is shut down as well. Meanwhile there are other forms of passion that are spiritually important too: love for beauty, for friends, for good work, and so on. Advertising, media, peers, family, and work make multiple claims on our hearts. The Bible can help us attend to the spiritual dimensions of such multiple claims and passions. Read as a whole it can bring many aspects of our erotic life together. That is what this book aims to do.

The Origins of This Book in a Puzzle
about the Song of Songs

I did not set out to write this book on the Bible as a whole. Instead I started with a puzzle having to do with the Song of Songs (also called the . . .

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