The content of this story may be offensive to some readers. While popular culture focuses on the sexual philosophies linked with Eastern religions, particularly Tantra and the Kama Sutra, MacKnee has been researching and extolling Christian sexuality for more than 15 years.
The year-old married father of three has been a pioneer in a reform movement that has picked up tremendous energy in recent years. His PhD research at UBC in the mids was ahead of its time, focusing on Christians who had peak religious experiences while being sexual. The fact he teaches at TWU, which officially opposes homosexual relations and sex outside marriage, adds to his novelty.
More on that later. He talks non-judgmentally, possibly approvingly, of an Episcopal priest in the U. One day she came in to his office and seemed entirely different. But there are always waiting lists for his TWU classes, and his private therapy practice is full. Unity with the divine in all its overpowering sensuality and wonder. Sensual spirituality has been popularized in the West through Hindu Tantric ritual, which links sexual energy with spiritual liberation. There has also been much talk in western pop culture about the Kama Sutra, an ancient Indian text that includes graphic advice on stimulating desire.
The early Persian Sufi mystic poet, Rumi, has also helped spread the message. At Banyen Books, a long-standing spiritual bookstore in Kitsilano, two floor-to-ceiling bookcases are filled with titles on the spirituality of sex.
Such mystical union is captured in the famous baroque statue by Bernini titled The Ecstasy of St. Teresa right , which is prominently displayed in a Catholic church in Rome that has become a tourist hot spot. The Ecstasy of St. Teresa sculpture was inspired by the writing of 16th-century mystic St. The Bible often sends a similar message. Trisha Elliott, enthusiastically concluded: Should we break out the linens, candles, incense, flowers and wine?
Since then, inspired by writers such as Thomas Moore, a former monk who wrote The Soul of Sex, Heffern has come to believe Catholics need to get beyond their guilt and enjoy sexuality for its sacredness; to experience married sex as a form of religious expression.
It always knocks me out, reminding me of the intimate Christian connection between sacredness and vulnerable flesh. He goes so far as to make the connection that people who are uncomfortable with their own bodies, alienated from them, may be destructive to the body of the planet, leading to ecological devastation.
He began putting together a research project on Christians, five men and five women, who had peak experiences related to sexuality. No one in the UBC counselling department had ever seen anything like it. They included a sense of wonder, bonding, euphoria, gender equality, arousal, blessing and transcendence.
Because Tantric sex encourages men and women not to reach orgasm. Trinity Western University, where MacKnee has taught for many years, requires students and faculty to restrict sex to heterosexual marriage. Why settle for something less — for just physical pleasure — when you can have the whole thing?
Shifting the topic, MacKnee said his current research is into female sexual esteem, including among Christians, and how males who are hurt in relationships often succumb to pornography addictions. Ultimately, he wants to help them fulfill their sacred desires. In that way, he believes biblical laws against such things as promiscuity and adultery were not prohibitions against pleasure.
Rather, he maintains they were guidelines designed to help humans attain deeper pleasures, which he believes can be found in sexual intimacy within the unity and security of marriage.
But what about the sexuality of Jesus, who the New Testament says never married? Jesus appeared highly sensual, he said. I think there was a lot of sexual energy there. And should there be any doubt, MacKnee makes it clear he has experienced this spiritual connection himself, along with his wife.