In a recent interview, Madonna was asked about dancing nuns on stripper poles. A trailer of her upcoming tour contains a teaser of them. Her response, “I just like the juxtaposition. I’m very immersed in deconstructing the concept of sexuality and religion and how it’s not supposed to go together, but in my world it goes together.”
Setting aside how campy stripper nuns are, I’m glad that “in her world” sexuality and religion go together. Guess what. Sexuality and religion belong together.
God made us male and female for a reason. Not to have sex just for the heck of it, but to give ourselves as a gift to one another, including, but not limited to, sex.
In music and art, the sexual experience has often been compared to a mystical connection with God. This isn’t just artistic license. The intense gift of self between a man and woman with the accompanying potential for new life is just about as close as we humans can get to God and His work. We are cooperating with His ongoing creation of the universe in our openness to new life. That is what sex without the barriers of birth control is all about. It makes sex more honest, open, and also, simply, more God-like.
Celibacy is just the other side of this same coin:
Celibacy and marriage are complementary vocations because they both proclaim that sexual intimacy cannot be an audition. Both celibates and married persons respect the structure of covenant love and avoid “trial” or conditional intimacy. Both celibacy and marriage reject sexual relationships in the context of what Pope Francis calls the “throwaway culture.” Both celibacy and marriage reject sexual relationships premised merely on satisfying erotic desire…Celibacy and marriage are the only two ways of life which converge on the conclusion that marriage is the fully human form for procreation acts in light of God’s design which abides in us and shapes our lives.
– Love is Our Mission, 98-99
Celibacy lends respect and support to marriage in its absence of sex just as marriage lends respect and support to celibacy in its participation in the creation of new life. They both courageously proclaim the dignity of sex.
So, regardless of how you feel about stripper nuns, sex and religion do belong together, just likely not in the way Madonna thinks.