An old medieval axiom says “the corruption of the best is the worst.”

While our last essays have been celebrating our power of Eros as wisdom and our experience of sexuality as an experience of God along with other natural ecstasies, it is also evident that sexuality can be abused and abusive.  The brighter the light, the greater the shadow and our glorious and powerful sexuality can become a weapon or a tool to dominate or even abuse others. 

“Untitled” Photo by Engin Akyurt from Pexels 

When our sexuality becomes less than a mutual exchange of love or friendship it can demean ourselves or others.  Of course our second chakras are very special and amazing since through them we bring new human beings into the world—what an awesome possibility!  Through them we share our deepest Christ-selves, Buddha selves, with another as we have indicated in the previous essay.

The news from the me-too movement, from the recent revelations of billionaire Epstein’s abuse of young girls, from the sorry tales of priestly pedophilia and its cover-up by the hierarchy, all bear testimony to the dark side of sexuality and how important it is that we be vigilant and self aware as well as protective of the most vulnerable among us.  It is important also to stand with sexual minorities be they gay, lesbian, trans, intersex, or nonbinary, for homophobia too is a powerful and dangerous disease that often ends in violence towards others. 

A cross of stones memorializes hate crime victim Matthew Shepard, whose death sparked the rise of new awareness and legislation to protect LGBT people. Photographer unknown.

It is also important that as individuals and as a culture we find a balance between masculine and feminine energies and this balance is another way of preventing sexual abuse and hatred of others. 

Consider for example the following teachings about sexuality from various feminist philosophers:

         Be one’s own subject and not a doormat.

         Create peace, not war.

         Experience Divinity’s immanence, not distance or transcendence exclusively.

         Become an agent, become empowered

“Gay Marriage NYC” Photo by Jose Antonio Navas, Flickr

         Be Life-oriented (Eros), not death oriented (Thanatos).

         Be creative and birth-oriented, not stagnant.

         Be nurturing, not noncaring.

         Consider healing as a value, do not be value-free.

         Be mystical, not just rational.

         Let solidarity be your goal, not obedience.

         Let Love be mutual cooperation and sharing, not coercion.

         Be wild and innately spiritual in your center, not powerless.

         Be playful and not overly serious.  Fun can be a virtue.

These lessons from feminist teachers clearly apply to men as well as women.  They are applicable in our many expressions of Eros and our many dimensions of sexuality.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society, pp. 243-247.
Banner Image: Historic photo of The Block on Baltimore Street. Photographer unknown. Posted in Reddit.

Queries for Contemplation

Can you, whether man or woman, incorporate all the teachings above from feminists into your personal philosophy of love and relationship and love-making?  If not, what is holding you back?  What are the biggest obstacles to you doing this?

Can we as parents and elders and as a culture incorporate these values into our world views and actions?  If not, what is holding us back?

Recommended Reading

Fox makes the point that religion has so often oversold the concept of “sin” that it has left us without language or power to combat evil. Through comparing the Eastern tradition of the 7 chakras to the Western tradition of the 7 capital sins, Fox allows us to think creatively about our capacity for personal and institutional evil and what we can do about them.

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2 thoughts on “The Shadow Side of Sexuality”

  1. Avatar
    Sophia Appleby

    hello Matthew
    I am finding these talks on sexuality are very helpful. I have experienced the highest and lowest of sex both sacred and abusive. Yet the act has always been very difficult for me stemming from the abuse (inappropriate sexual behaviour) age 9 and then 16 and then again for many years from age 24 ,because I couldn’t say “no stop” for the sake of protecting others. 3 different men involved all close relatives, all who I trusted implicitly especially as a child. On one level I have forgiven them . My husband who knows has had to cope with all this as I find it hard to let go. As you say its a sacred act therefore the fall is severe and punishing. As much as I reason it out and can completely understand what you and others say and I know to be true the emotions still play out. I’m not sure why I’m saying all this except that the idea of sex in the christian tradition has been to despise the body probably doesn’t help. Anyway if you read this thanks for listening

    1. Gail Ransom

      Dear Sophia,
      Thank you for sharing your story with us. It is obviously another version of the shadow side of sexuality. How wonderful that you now have a partner who can honor you and your story. I hope that you will be able to move on to a more blessed experience of eros.
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the DM Team

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