Is it just sex, or something more?
By Jamal Jivanjee
Have you ever wondered why sex is such a driving obsession in just about every aspect of our culture? Is it really all about those few seconds of orgasmic ecstasy, or is there something more profound behind it all? Since the beginning, sexual relationship was understood to be the most intimate human relationship possible. Then Jesus came and unveiled the reality: oneness. We were created for a deeper spiritual oneness that outlasts the physical oneness depicted in an orgasm.
Jesus declared the good news that a heavenly kingdom was now breaking into this earthly realm. He spoke of a deep relational oneness that existed between himself and his Father, and he prayed that the disciples would experience this same oneness. For the first time in history, oneness was now a relational possibility among people who were not married. Paul expounds on this further saying the greater mystery of oneness pictured in marriage is really just a glimpse of what is to be experienced between Christ and the Church.
Just as he demonstrated a new kingdom, Jesus demonstrated a new way to love. Effortlessly surpassing all the natural distinctions that kept people separated from one another, Jesus' love crossed all of society's boundaries, including gender. When we grasp the depth and nature of the relationships that he had, Jesus' new commandment to “love one another in the same way that he has loved us,” is more significant than the mainstream Christian culture has considered. Although unmarried, Jesus demonstrated that intimacy is possible in a way that transcends (yet doesn’t exclude) marriage.
I'm convinced that Jesus' call for relational oneness is just as revolutionary today as it was two thousand years ago. This call to love is still misunderstood by the Church at large. A visit to any Christian bookstore will reveal that there are a lot of different conversations going on about discipleship, sin management, marriage, culture wars, but few about oneness or Jesus’ call to love relationally.
There has also been a lot written regarding non-traditional ways of experiencing church. The talk centers around how a church should foster authentic community by returning to the church in Acts. Nevertheless, these conversations miss something fundamental about the nature of church.
The church, at its essence, is an assembly of interconnected relationships between individual people rooted in love. Even though Jesus was clear when he said the world would know his followers by the way they love one another, much of Christianity operates as if the nature of Christ will be shown to the world without relationships. Apart from relationship, love remains theoretical as does Christ himself.
Christians are longing for a community of authentic, deep relationships. This unfulfilled longing is not from a lack of trying. I've met numerous people who have forsaken careers, comforts, and homes in search of community. Some have moved across the country in the pursuit of a healthy church community that loves like family. Despite all this effort, why do we still lack authentic relationships?
Could it be because the relationships modeled by Jesus violate the paradigms we’ve been taught to see one another through? Jesus alluded to parents, children, and siblings whose roots went beyond human DNA. This was deeply offensive to their Jewish patriarchal family culture, and it still offends people today. Rarely is it acceptable to treat a spiritual family member with the same sense of value and commitment that blood family is afforded.
When strong, committed relationships do emerge among those who are not related by blood with one another, suspicion from the church is not far behind. This mistrust is projected on deeply connected relationships that are of the same gender or cross-gender. Expanding the scope of our close relationships brings up a lot of fear, questions, and potential missteps. Nevertheless, potential pitfalls should not weigh on us more than Jesus' desire for us to experience the oneness that He and the Father experience.
We've given enough air time to all the pitfalls that have derailed relationships. Let’s begin a new narrative that speaks to the power we have been given to love one another from another paradigm, without the shame and fear attached.
Many have told me this is akin to opening a Pandora's box that will ruin many who aren’t mature disciples. This topic is too important to not bring it into our discipleship. While people cannot be taught how to love one another relationally via a textbook, we can be equipped to walk in the divine love that we already possess. As beings created in the likeness of the God who is love, when we love one another, we are most like him.
Jesus wasn't married, but he didn't lack intimate relationships. His relationship with Mary has been speculated about many times because it doesn't fit in the “shallow church friendship” box, nor does it fit into the romantic box either. Could Jesus' relationship with Mary reveal the true nature of the kingdom of God?
The Church is long overdue in her need to explore how this oneness transcends marital status. It’s time to challenge the belief that marriage is the ultimate human relationship, and explore why marriage was created to point beyond itself.
The oneness Jesus himself experienced relationally, and also wants us to share with one another, transcends every human category- including gender.
We need to examine the depths possible within relational oneness and how this can function in harmony, not competition, with the marital relationship. Let’s explore why oneness lies at the very heart of Jesus' commandment to love one another, and ask ourselves if it is the greatest commandment.
In Jesus, a new standard of love and relationship has been introduced. There is truly a revolution of love and relationships occurring in the body of Christ. This revolution is now.
Free To Love by Jamal Jivanjee was published in February of 2016 by Quoir and is available via Amazon, ibooks, Barnes And Noble, and other retailers.