Freedom, Love, and Pleasure
Christians have defined prayer, and worship as pleasant experiences. The concept of sensuality in worship is not new. It has formed the background behind the use of icons, meditation as a means of drawing near to God, charismatic worship, and Pentecostal prayer.
The writings and dialogues of the 17th century monk Brother Lawrence have become classic exhortations to pursue pleasurable moments of joy, satisfaction, and peace by "Practicing the Presence of God."
John Wesley spoke of an inner witness of our salvation as an assurance of the Spirit, and described his own experience as having his "heart strangely warmed."
Yet, there are still churches which would steal the pleasurable elements of sexuality, and give them the status of sinfulness. For those who have grown beyond the ascetic limitations of Christian sexuality, there is often simply a silence, because the influence of previous generations of sexual tension still reverberates in our hearts, and minds today.
How is it that we recognize pleasure, and sensuality in abstract moments such as meditation, prayer and praise, but ignore pleasure in the discussion of sex?
The Song of Songs which is Solomon's song to the Shulamite drips with the poetry of pleasure, and enraptured love. This is the love poetry of the scripture, and it is passionate - pulsing with speeded heartbeats, trembling fingers, and the lovers' sweat.
The way of a "man with a maid" is described one of those earthly things which is "too wonderful."
Even the unmarried Paul recognizes the marraige bed as something holy, and connected to service and duty - almost as though it were part of the worship ritual of life. Could it be that even the unmarried Paul saw sexuality in the context of ritual living?