The Erotic Lover Jesus—Christmas Unwrapped
Dear old and new friends,
Christmas celebrates the birth of one with many titles: Prince of Peace, God-Hero, Wonder-Counselor, Father-Forever, Son of God…and the most meaningful, “Jesus, the Erotic Lover.” The old religious hierarchy was flabbergasted when God decided to exit heaven and take on human flesh in Jesus of Nazareth and all earthy things. Christmas was so scandalous—God with sexuality and human needs and hungers—that religion attempted to deny the reality by burying it under piles of laws, complicated theologies and a public worship that actually proclaimed the exact opposite. It wasn’t until the fourth century that the Christian Church celebrated the Feast of the Nativity—Christ’s birth, Christmas—and then only with opposition.
What made an unwrapped Christmas so shocking was that it was a feast of God in the human flesh of an illiterate Jewish village craftsman who wasn’t some new prophet, but rather the living, breathing All Holy One, the Supreme Spiritual Being dwelling in a human body’s fragile flesh. Was this amazing feat the result of God being convinced of the old saying, “Humans can’t love what they cannot put their arms around”? If so, the Almighty One became huggable!
To understand the title of “Jesus, the Erotic Lover” recall that “God is love” and that Jesus was the en-fleshment of that Divine Mystery. He didn’t become some disembodied ethereal love, but rather an earthy and deeply sensual person with all the needs, desires, feelings, conflicts and cravings we experience. Theologian Teilhard de Chardin used fire to illustrate love; that intensely scorching blaze that enflames sexual intimacy with such attraction, as well as bliss. Along with other recent scholars, Teilhard believes sexuality is the creative core of a spirituality and theology for a God of Divine Eros, and not the old detached, aloof Deity.
This unwrapping of Christmas invites us to look at our bodies with different eyes and to see them as one with the Body of Christ, both an earthly and cosmic body cherished by God. The Irish theologian Diarmuid O’Murchu says, “God loves bodies.” He also insightfully says “God likes you” (pause to let that last statement soak into your soul) since for we as Christians it is possible to love people whom we don’t like.
This Christmas Celebration calls us to embrace eroticism which once we rejected as a deadly sinful temptation, but that now with our understanding of the incarnation we should incorporate into our spiritual-inner lives. The anti-sexuality of Christianity of the last several hundred years has led to a repression of sensual creative energies that we now need to abandon as theologically antique and unhealthy.
So, don’t be afraid to unwrap Christmas--to like yourself and your body—as does God.