Friday, May 25, 2007

God, beach and breasts

Note: I took this post down for awhile so as not to unnecessarily offend. I repost it now, asking that you read carefully, and understand the intent.

"Why do people go to the beach?"

Ponder and pray about your answer to that intriguing question.

Many moons ago (some literal uh, from Rev Kev), at a pastors retreat at the beach..
one of us asked this question.

Kyle, the brilliant theologian and thinker stroked his beard and said (oops, he didn't have his beard yet) said

something like:

"It's the mystery, the inevitable tug of even the unregenate heart toward beauty, wonder and the divine; the waves are a reminder of the eternal.."

Good answer.

But partly to follow up that profound answer with a spoof on it;
partly to get a laugh,
partly for the self-parody of a pastor saying a dirty word,
partly because it is also a right answer..

I humbly stroked my beard (I think I did have a literal one, then) and

offfered my one-word answer.

I tried to get my pause in for comedic timing and effect.

I wanted a laugh; but I also want us to consider that it may well be the real reason.
Especially for guys.

My answer?

Let's just say it was a slang word for breasts.

For years now, I have been teased about my answer.

But it's largely right; and profound in it's own way.

Shapely women in bikinis..or in less.

That may be the bottom line reason.

And my answer is essentially the functional equivalent of Kyle's.

The attraction to beauty; the admiration of the female form..

at its most twisted becomes lust, adultery, rape...

at its purest...well, an invitation to worship God.

We simply need to master the prayer technique that the Chasidic rabbis (and Bono in the song by the same name) have suggested:


Prayer is not something the elevated believer just is an
experience he enters into. There is no room for inhibition; singing and dancinga
re essential means by which he expresses his emotional cleaving to God….buts uch
ardor/desire for God has to be so overwhelming …If distractions are erotic in
nature…and the pray-er faces up to the predominance of the sexual urge
at both conscious and subconscious levels, and its capacity to intrude even
during prayer...then he has learned to take measures…by introducing the
(ancient) doctrine of the "elevation of strange thoughts." This is a Chasidic
Jewish technique not of sublimation, but of thought conversion, whereby
the beauty or desirability of the woman is latched upon and used not as
a sexual but rather as a mental and spiritual stimulus
. We are taught
to "elevate" these thoughts by substituting the beauty of God for thephysical
beauty that is currently bewitching us. (Bono) has learned toimmediately
contrast the pale reflection of beauty that humans are endowed with,on the one
hand, and the supreme Divine source of authentic and enduring beauty,on the
other…This is not sublimation; This is elevation.
-Rabbi Jeffrey Cohen

(read all about that wonderful model for prayer here.)

As David found out from Bathsheba, it's the second look that's problematic.
David need to find the elevator.

If only the first look would take us where we
need to go:

to the elevator towards the Author of all beauty: ocean waves, the moon (the literal moon, Kev), ..and well:

uh, whatever the four-letter word I used for is.

God made 'em, so they're good.
Check Song of Solomon ("Really love your peaches, wanna shake your tree" as Steve Miller famously translated it) if you doubt it.

One of the Bible's primary names for God even implies that God has 'em...

...and the female version of them, at that


Rob Bell and have Carmen Berry (a woman) have both recently written good books on the sexuality/spirituality connection. Bell's is provocatively titled "Sex. God.":

"Sex. God. They're connected. And they can't be separated.

Where the one is, you'll always find the other."

Bell defines sexuality in a succinctly brilliant, and surpisingly broad (please, no sexist puns) fashion as:

"Our sexuality is all the ways we strive to reconnect with our world, with each other, and with God." (42)

Here is a great discussion of "Can I Go to Hooters for Bible Study?":

Priest Has Great Time @ Hooters in Waco

Can I Go To Hooters?

Bible Study at Hooters

Here (just type "sex" the top search bar!) are many other worthwile articles on sex and church.

We all know why men go to Hooters.

Same answer as the beach.

And church, maybe.

Why do we insist on such a large cleavage between sexuality and spirituality?
Here are many other worthwile articles on sex and church.

Because the women from our congregatiion just returned from a beach retreat in the same town as we men did all those

years ago; I was remembering my infamous question, and decided to "google" it:

The very top answer made an explict link between motives for going to ther beach,and goung to church:

Why do you go to the beach? Do you go to church or mosque? What are some
activities you do at a church or a mosque? What type of clothing do you wear to

Of course, breasts in church have their own problems (see this).

But if it gets men in the door(:

Please, this is no licnese for men to ogle in church.
But it can be an admisison that we all have at times the lousiest motives for hanging out with Jesus.

A Reformed church planting couple discuss living in a European context where topless women on the beach can be the norm:

One of the conclusions I’ve come to is that there is a difference between
being curious about someone and being attracted to someone. Just because I see a
topless woman on the beach, and that makes me curious, doesn’t necessarily mean
I’m attracted to her or that I’m thinking sexual things about her. One thing
I’ve learned from experience is that just because you’re on the beach with a
bunch of topless women, doesn’t mean it’s pretty. In my opinion, naked people
are more comical than anything. Clothes are a good thing...

Maybe if you went to the beach long enough that would change. Maybe that’s
the difference for European guys. The curiosity about what women look like has
been demystified. When I see a woman sitting there on the beach, and she’s
topless, it’s nothing sexual for me that makes me think I want to have sex with
that woman. It’s not that. It’s more of a curiosity about what women look like
in general...

Mystery is a part of who we are, and there’s something about being together
and having sex and all that stuff that comes with marriage, and I think that the
mystery of it all is a beautiful thing. It’s fun. It’s exciting. Even when
you’re married, you don’t walk around your house naked all the time. Again,
having sex is like discovering the mystery in each other again, in this sense,
on a physical level.
On mystery, curiosity
and the Mediterranean sunbather
by Kelly Crull

"Mystery is a part of who we are," Kelly said.

"Mystery is what it's all about," Kyle said.

Pastor Kyle was right all along.

But I still think it's all about ____



  1. At last a full confession. But you also need to confess to the mooning if you truly want to be saved.

  2. I wanna be saved.

    I confess>>>>

    To a half moon.

  3. I would say that "natural" breasts are the most attractive and could turn my thoughts toward God's awesome creation. The artificially enhanced versions can catch my eye, and you do look at them, but inherantly are artificial, like a bad sugar-free dessert. In a media-driven world that almost worships enhanced boobs, nip/tucks, collagen lips, etc., the slightly "imperfect" natural body is much more appealing to me. And yes, moons are good too.

  4. I always wondered why so many of the Christian colleges in southern California take 17 and 18 year old freshmen to the beach for one day during the first week of school.

  5. in the holiness movement, we are very uncomfortable with all this sex talk. damnit, you're freaking me out dave!

  6. gee, Anonymous..i know sooo many holiness did i know it was you??!

    Thanks for the In N Out burger...we talked every topic BUT sex..

    next time


Hey, thanks for engaging the conversation!