While it is empowering to realize that the authority to accept or reject certain rules or moral imperatives lies within us, we must temper our sense of authority by remembering that Inner Poise is not a solitary affair, in the same way that our experience of sexuality encompasses another person. In thinking about the power we have to enfold the spiritual into the sexual, we should remind ourselves that the process of discovering the spiritual dimensions of our sexuality is a communal affair, even if the community consists only of two.
Ultimately, it takes the authority and willingness of both persons to affirm the spiritual significance of sexuality. Who our partner is and the nature of the relationship we have with that person will influence the degree to which we can draw spirituality into our sexual experiences, or whether any degree at all is possible (as experiences that are one-night shags and sex with emotionally deficient partners are probably not good candidates for discovering the spiritual side of shagging).
As we think about the spiritual side of sex, we must also think about the parameters in which we are experiencing it: sex in a loving relationship will obviously have more spiritual significance than sex with someone we barely know at all. It’s the difference between Bridget’s wild yet ultimately unsatisfying shagging relationship with Daniel (as she does not love him, just lusts after him rather badly) and her experiences with Mark Darcy, the man who loves her deeply and with whom she has a much better chance of becoming the irresistible sex goddess she would like to be.
To conclude here on this most important topic for us: the thinking that we need to divorce our spiritual identities from our sex lives until we are married is a perspective that we have the authority to change as a generation (both men and women, straight and gay). Those of us who’ve experienced the ups and downs of Singleton sex should be confident that, despite the complications that sexuality presents within relationships (any relationships for that matter, including Smug Married ones), sex ultimately can be a way to celebrate and love the body, both our own and that of another (who perhaps has the body of Colin Firth which, I think, would probably be easy for most of us to love if the opportunity arose!).
Learning to have authority over our sexuality is a subversive act; it takes away the taboos and prescriptions we learn from religious authority and allows sexuality to become an important part of our spiritual journeys and growth in relationships. Inner Poise, when it comes to sexuality, truly starts within us, as it is up to us and our partners to discover the sacred nature of our sexuality, regardless of whether we experience sex as Smug Marrieds or Singletons. (Insert Ms. Jones’s sigh of relif here, that Inner Poise, reaching spiritual epiphany, and shagging Mark Darcy can all exist happily together if she just lets them.)