Science & Spirituality: Human Sexuality

The philosopher/theologian Thomas Aquinas once spoke of two types of Truth: Truth that is rational, and Truth that is intuitive. Based upon our personality, our way of processing information, most people tend to line up on one of these two sides. They can understand the analytical, yet miss the transformative, deeper levels of why it is true. Or, some people live in a highly emotional state, they live in what Stephen Colbert has wonderfully called “Truthiness“, true because it feels true. Neither of these are bad, but somehow, at least it appears that without the other side, it’s not quite complete. Somehow, we’ve managed to disconnect faith from science, rational from intuitive, but as Aquinas, or brilliant minds like Albert Einstein recognize, we can’t disconnect them. There is not disconnected Truth, it’s all connected. If it’s all God, God is all and is in all (Eph. 4:6). God is the big and absolute Truth.

What spirituality, at least Christian spirituality, teaches us is the danger that human sexuality can present to us. We live in a culture that celebrates casual sex, friends with benefits, and other forms of dangerous sexual expression. What Christianity teaches is the sacredness of oneness, two people becoming one. Two people fusing into one mind, one heart, one will. Paul teaches the value of mutual submission, in which wives are called to submit to their husbands, and that husbands are called to sacrifice for their wives like Christ did on the Cross. This form of sexuality is beautiful and bonding.

Neurochemistry is showing us that there is a chemical in the brain called oxtocin. When human beings participate in sexual activity, oxtocin is released into the brain and is what makes sexual expression such a bonding experience. This is a reason that shows why couples who aren’t having sex with one another, seem to have a decrease in their affection for one another, they become less attracted to one another, and why not having sex can drive people apart. Yet, when people have too much sex, or with many partners, oxytocin then greatly affects your brain from bonding with another person. Paradoxically, having sex with multiple partners reduces the levels of your oxytocin.

What science and spirituality are teaching us are the true dangers of human sexuality, and yet the incredible blessing that both can be to our lives. It seems to agree that we were not meant to handle being outside of a loving, respecting, committed, and sacrificial relationship.

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2 thoughts on “Science & Spirituality: Human Sexuality

  1. Wow, you would think God planned it that way. 🙂

  2. Ron Amundson says:

    Hey Mike! I think the disconnect is in part as we see the word of God through a very dark glass and its easy to get things messed up or misunderstood one way or another. Another part of course is that science tends to be very very narrow, almost needle like in focus, and if one varies much from the center, lot of things can change fast. As such, It is not surprising that when we commingle the two that we run into disconnects.

    It may be that some combination/concentration of neuropeptides may correlate with abstinence or the lack there of, but research on oxytocin and abstinence is far from being causal, and latter papers indicated it not to even have correlation. Much more science needs to occur before one can make the call.

    The source paper on oxytocin (its quoted all over on Christian sites) is “Eric J. Keroack, M.D., and John R. Diggs, Jr., M.D., “Bonding Imperative,” A Special Report from the Abstinence Medical Council (Abstinence Clearinghouse, April 30, 2001)” is quite problematic. In 50 years or maybe a hundred, perhaps the points presented in combination with a number of other factors and biology may prove true… but in 2011, the science behind it ends up negating rather than reinforcing things.

    I wish things were solid, as I agree with your premise of science and faith connecting… but we’re just too early in this arena.

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