Holy Eros, or, “Only God can sleep with everyone”…

Other folks in the Christian blogosphere are worked up over a Michigan Assembly of God pastor’s decision to post a lengthy quote on his blog from Ronald Rolheiser, a Catholic theologian who ponders the erotic dimension of life in Christ (not in a salacious or profligate manner, but certainly in an honest and candid way). One of these days, I hope that the average Christian will stop being afraid of the power of our God-given sexuality. I suppose it should not surprise me that this day has not yet arrived.

Here is the quotation in question, from Pastor Chris Hooton’s blog:

Janis Joplin was once asked what it was like being a rock star. She replied: “It’s pretty hard sometimes. You go on stage, make love to fifteen thousand people, then you go home and sleep alone.”

Jesus was once asked, as a test: If a woman marries seven times and all her husbands die before she dies, whose wife will she be after the resurrection? He answered that, after the resurrection, we will no longer marry or be given in marriage.

These two answers, Janis Joplin’s and Jesus’, are not unconnected. Each, in its own way, says something about the all embracing intent of our sexuality. What Janis Joplin is saying is that, in our sexuality and our creativity, we are ultimately trying to make love to everyone. What Jesus is saying is not that we will be celibate in heaven, but rather that, in heaven, everyone will make love to everyone else and, already now, we hunger for that within every cell of our being. Sexually our hungers are very wide. We are built to ultimately embrace the universe and everything in it.

To understand our sexuality and to live with its unfulfilled tensions, it can be most helpful simply to understand this. In loving, the ultimate wound is not to be able to marry everyone. The greatest human hunger, felt in every cell in our being, is that we cannot be completely united with everyone and everything….

It is important to understand this, but it is also important not to misunderstand it. Because our sexuality is ultimately geared to embrace everyone does not mean that we can be promiscuous and, already here in this life, try to live that out. In fact, paradoxically, it means the opposite. Only God can sleep with everyone, and thus, only in god can we sleep with everyone. In this life, even though our sexuality has geared up for universal embrace, we only have two options that are life-giving: Either we embrace the many through the one (by sleeping with one person within a monogamous marriage) or we embrace the one through the many (be sleeping with no one, in celibacy). Both of these are ways that will eventually open our sexuality up so as to embrace everyone. If we go the route of promiscuity, eventually, we will embrace no one.

— Richard Rolheiser, The Holy Longing

In Memoriam: Kenneth Leech
What Has Not Yet Been Revealed
Happy St. Hildegard's Day!
Mysticism and the Divine Feminine: An Interview with Mirabai Starr


  1. Ooooh, no wonder people are worked up over this!

    What a great quote. I’m gonna go away and think about that one for a while.

    Good stuff. Thanks for posting

  2. Carl,

    Thanks for your great post. I am in the habit of writing what God is stretching me with. Little did I know that this post would bring such a backlash.

  3. Hi Chris, nice to make your acquaintance. Kudos to you for what appears to be a very honest blog. One of my pet peeves is how the church retreats behind a rather craven dualism when it comes to sexuality. I’m all for affirming fidelity and chastity in healthy and Christ-centered relationships, but with that in mind, I think we need to celebrate the amazing gifts that God has given us — even if they are gifts we won’t take with us after we die!

Leave a Comment