Sexuality and Spirituality in Women's Relationships: Preliminary Results of an Exploratory Survey
Year Published: 2002
Author: Gina Ogden, Ph.D
Respondents from the first large-scale survey designed to investigate the connections between sexuality and spirituality reported that their sexual responses were more than physical; they also involved meaningful interactions with themselves, their partners, and the intangible presence of Spirit, or the Divine. For these respondents, (N=3,810) connecting sexual and spiritual experience was linked to personal and relational health, to age, and to religious background. Attitudes of male respondents indicated more convergences than differences with female respondents. The narrative material (1,465 letters) suggests expanded language for describing sexual experience and also suggests a model for clinical assessment of the spiritual dimensions of sexual relationship. Survey data challenge both negative cultural beliefs about women's sexuality and the current trend to over-medicalize sexual experience. Further, they provide a new avenue for a woman-positive discourse about sexual relationship, and suggest that broadening the understandings of sexual partnership can help effect both personal and cultural healing. A review of the literature on sexuality and spirituality is provided along with suggestions for secondary analyses of the survey data by future researchers.