Gaia is the word for "unity-of-life-processes". The experiment here is to unify the various threads of voice and sense of self together into an undivided unity. Spirituality, economics, politics, science and ordinary life interleaved.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Saint Augustine on Sex and Body Image

Augustine is authoritative on body image and sex issues. He ought to have his own column.

Here's my rendering of his key idea from out of fusty antique English:

"So there's no need to insult God in our addictions and errors by blaming the body, because the body is good in its own kind and in its own degree. Being human means accepting both body AND soul on their own different spiritual terms.

"A man who goes on about the soul as if it were the highest value, and condemns the body as if it were evil, I assure you is trapped in his body by his love of his soul as much as by his hatred of his body."

Saint Augustine's striking recovery from sex addiction has a lot to teach us all.

It seems that sex addicts like Saint Augustine only recover when they accept the body on its own terms of what is good, and appreciate the body as good in its own degree and kind. Sex addiction seems not addiction to sexual pleasure, but addiction to conflict in regards to sexual pleasure.

Similarly we could usefully describe eating disorders as an addiction to the body expressed as hatred, or perhaps the false expectation that the body to provide the quality and kind of satisfactions that can only be derived from the living soul.

Augustine's quote above strikes to the heart of the nature of the imbalance between soul and body, and the lopsided otherworldly view of spirituality which denigrates the body, and seems to me to call for discernment in relation to body image issues.

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