When we encountered the bizarre Orgasmic Meditation practice (OM for short) of San Francisco-based spiritual group One Taste in our research for an article on the community in our March-May 2009 issue, we thought we had found the strangest expression yet of our contemporary spiritual-but-not-religious culture’s obsession with using sex as a pathway to God. In “Their Stroke of Insight,” contributing editor Maura R. O’Connor went undercover at an OM workshop at One Taste’s NYC-branch, and learned that the organization’s “sensual researchers” are actively engaged in using orgasm as the gateway to the Divine and have built an entire spiritual philosophy (“Limbic Enlightenment”) and practice around it.
But leave it to hyper-postmodern Sweden to take things to a whole new level. Last week, we came across a story on Time online (that might have well been in The Onion) about Lövestad, Sweden’s Holy “Madonna of the Orgasm Church,” and their long-time battle to be recognized by the government as an official faith community. Founded by Spanish artist Carlos Bebeacua (their residing Bishop) in the 90s, the Church’s fundamental belief is that the orgasm is God and should be worshiped. Orgasm, by their definition, is not limited to sexual climax and can be expanded to include things like the feeling of excitement one experiences when looking at a beautiful painting. The church has several hundred followers, their own scriptures called Catechisms of the Orgasm, and Priestesses who read verses and eat fruit during each worship service.
It turns out that the church’s philosophy was a bit too much even for Sweden, which is known for being quite liberal on most social issues. Last week, their bid for official recognition was denied by Sweden’s Supreme Administrative Court, who said that a church with such a racy name could cause offense to the rest of the Christian world and to society as a whole.
I, for one, think it’s probably a good thing that the church was denied recognition. Not that there’s anything wrong with sex or that religious freedom should be limited, but equating orgasm with God and building an entire church or spiritual practice around it seems like a categorical error. The thing is, the sexual impulse is the expression of a kosmic creative impulse at the level of biology, but I think it’s wrong to confuse this with our higher spiritual aspirations towards freedom, God, and consciousness. By doing this, we reduce God and spirit to a lower-chakra, feeling-based experience. Orgasm might feel good and even temporarily bring us beyond our personal boundaries, but does it really have anything to do with that which is truly Sacred?