Throughout our history, we human beings have used myths to help orient ourselves in the world and better understand ourselves and the problems that we face. A working mythology provides us with a mirror for our souls; through it, we get a glimpse of our own inner condition. Also, myth imbues us with hope that the challenges we face along life’s journey can be overcome. In the West, our most popular mythology has always been embodied in the Bible of the Christian religion. For example, those of us who crave an end to the widespread violence in the world can seek inspiration and comfort in the figure of Christ, the “Prince of Peace”. But the Bible does not provide us with models for all of our earthly experiences: two places where it is particularly deficient are the areas of femininity and intimacy (the relationship between the sexes).
There is simply nothing in the cosmogony of the Bible to model for us what healthy sexuality and romantic involvement should be. The Divine order is patriarchal: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God the Father is a bachelor in his heaven; consider his solitary status alongside lovers in the Greek and Indian pantheons like Zeus and Shiva. What are we to derive from this circumstance of our most popular mythology, if not the idea that there is something inherently “unspiritual” about human love and its physical expression? Human beings measure their ideals by their deities. If we find no divine sanction of our sexuality, is it any wonder that so many of us experience physical love as a source of guilt and shame?
This mysterious absence of male-female relations is reinforced further in the New Testament with the coming of the Son of God. Zeus the All-Father was promiscuous and unscrupulous, and this may not be an ideal model for human behavior either – however, he did find the daughters of the Earth fair and made no bones about expressing his desire, which provided the people who had inherited that mythology with an affirmation of their own sexual desires. Jesus, however, was the product of Immaculate Conception, created without intercourse. Again we have the idea that God does not approve physical love – i.e., it is not divine.
Whether or not one follows the actual doctrines of Christianity, its myth is hard to escape. It permeates so many areas of our culture. And it may well be that many of us have experienced rocky times in our intimate relationships because the God that is present in that myth seems to frown upon intimacy in the first place.