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What is Spiritual Sexuality?

4000 respondents answer the question
“What is the most distinctive feature of spiritual sexuality?

When I was on the road with my book Women Who Love Sex, audiences all over the country raised their hands to say, “These women are talking about sex, but they’re also talking about spirituality.”  That was when I formally began my study of spiritual sex.  It was in the mid 1990s, and I was surprised to find that no one had ever done a survey of sexuality and spirituality.  There were books about sex and spirituality, but they all seemed to be written by individuals who were describing their own personal experience.  While this made for interesting reading, it was impossible to see anything like a large picture.  It felt more like the proverbial blind men describing an elephant.

So instead of reading about spiritual sex one person at a time, I felt it was important to ask more people, a lot of people, the more the better.  And so I created a survey: “Integrating Sexuality and Spirituality” (ISIS).  The survey went national, and when the dust had cleared, I had almost 4,000 respondents—most were women, but almost 700 men responded as well.  I invite you to download the survey and see how you respond.

The picture I got from putting all these responses together was a big one—bigger than I had imagined it might be.  For these respondents, sexual experience was truly multidimensional.  In fact the cumulative descriptions were so multidimensional that they included a whole spectrum of factors—physical, emotional, and mental, as well as spiritual.  For some respondents, spiritual sex was about self-esteem, for others it was about love.  Many respondents said sex was a path to the soul.  Still others said that discovering that sex could be spiritual was what moved them to leave an abusive relationship or a repressive religion.

So what is spiritual sexuality?  What I want to share with you right now are some of what these remarkable respondents said.  Have a look—then let me know what you think.  What is your experience?

  • Spiritual sexuality is “…sacred union—it’s when you know that the person you love really loves you back.” (64-year-old woman from Georgia).
  • Spiritual sexuality is “…an inner explosion of energy.  It’s white light, a feeling of awe, vast, unconditional, chaotic, healing.” (54-year-old man from Colorado).
  • Spiritual sexuality is “…when I feel myself climbing upward and when I reach the peak I’m released of any bad feelings, any bad thoughts.  It’s as though I’ve done no wrong and I can start over again.” (32-year-old woman from Alabama).
  • Spiritual sexuality is “…powerful enough to manifest joy through me and bring me to my knees at the same time.” (53-year-old woman from New Jersey)
  • Spiritual sexuality is “…when that sphincter hold you have on life lets go for a moment and you feel as if you’re finally flowing with the universe.” (36-year-old man from Nevada).
  • What is spiritual sexuality–?  “…for me, it’s in my orgasms that I’ve seen the face of God.” (42-year-old woman from Massachusetts).

The big picture that emerged from this ISIS survey is that combining sex and spirit is about complexity.  And it’s about relationship—with our partners, with ourselves, and with a power greater than ourselves.  Details of this complexity are outlined in my last two books—and will be the subject of my next one, which is about expanding the practice of sex therapy.

Gina Ogden,

Cambridge, Massachusetts

May, 2011


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