Thursday, September 03, 2009

Prayer, Sex, and Marriage

The Catholic News Service has an interesting story about the inclusion of a prayer to be said by married couples before love making in a recently published prayer book. Here's a bit from the story:

British prayer book for spouses includes 'Prayer Before Making Love'

By Simon Caldwell
Catholic News Service

LONDON (CNS) -- A prayer for couples to recite "before making love" has been included in a new British book of prayers for married couples.

The 64-page "Prayer Book for Spouses" contains prayers for every station of family and married life, including engagement, planning a family, raising children and caring for sick and dying relatives.

The booklet, published by the Catholic Truth Society, a London-based publisher and charity, also includes a "Prayer Before Making Love."

The prayer reads: "Father, send your Holy Spirit into our hearts. Place within us love that truly gives, tenderness that truly unites, self-offering that tells the truth and does not deceive, forgiveness that truly receives, loving physical union that welcomes.

"Open our hearts to you, to each other and to the goodness of your will," it says. "Cover our poverty in the richness of your mercy and forgiveness. Clothe us in true dignity and take to yourself our shared aspirations, for your glory, forever and ever. Mary, our mother, intercede for us. Amen." (Read the whole thing here)

Having a book of prayers appropriate to a variety of issues is familiar to Baha'is. However, to the best of my knowledge there is no "prayers for sex" section of any Baha'i prayer book I've seen. Hearing about this Catholic prayer got me thinking again about sex in the Baha'i community. I have all kinds of questions related to sex in Baha'i marriage. For example, what does "chaste and holy" sex between married couples look like? Is there an appropriate place for lust between spouses or is that unchaste? If there was a Baha'i prayer for marital love making, what might it say? How might it be similar to or different from this Catholic prayer? Are there particular spiritual qualities that are important for good sex in Baha'i marriage? Most importantly, how might we go about systematically educating couples about these issues and engaging the community as a whole in frank and loving consultation regarding them? I don't have any answers but look forward to continuing to ponder these things and hope you will share your thoughts as well.

"In a true Bahá'í marriage the two parties must become fully united both spiritually and physically, so that they may attain eternal union throughout all the worlds of God, and improve the spiritual life of each other. This is Bahá'í matrimony." (Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i World Faith - Abdu'l-Baha Section, p. 372)