I'm in this particular stretch in my book where I am focusing on the phrase, "unromantic eros" and its connection with the fullness of God's friendship.
I remember when I first encountered the possibility that sexual eros and unromantic eros could be separated. It was in 2007 and I was devouring everything and anything that delved into a connection between sexuality and spirituality. I discovered David Carr's, book, The Erotic Word: Sexuality, Spirituality and the Bible.
At the beginning of the book, Carr appeals to African American feminist, Audre Lorde's essay, "The Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power." Lorde claimed a broader eros than just sexual eros. She asserted that the erotic was "those physical, emotional, and psychic expressions of what is deepest and strongest and richest within each of us, being shared."
This meant, among other things, as Carr noted eros could be known in friendship, for example. That was my introduction into feminist eros theologies. I remember I was instantly attracted the idea that sexual eros and eros could be closely related but distinct. But I also had no place to put it in another sense. There was this immediate curiosity coupled with this instant feeling of being out in uncharted waters.
Then, a few years later, I came Cristina Traina's brilliant book, Erotic Attunement. There would be no turning back after reading that. Traina, in some sense, invited me to plumb the depths of unromantic eros and the fullness of God. You know we read the Psalmist's declaration. “You will show me the path of life, the fullness of joy in your presence" ( Psalm 16:11). And, then, right in the heart of the Apostle Paul's prayer, we read, "and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God" (Ephesians 3:19).
There it is. "Filled with all the fullness of God."
With the joy, utter delight, and curiosity of a child unwrapping Christmas presents that Santa Claus had brought during the night, I plunged into the unplumbed depths of the fullness of God in the coming months and years. Unromantic eros points to this fundamental drive toward the fullness of life, the fullness of God's presence.
It's no mistake that my heart and mind have been in recent years drawn to writers, thinkers, and friends who, by their words or their full uninhibited presence, invite you, welcome you, attract you into the fullness of God. And these dear people may or may not consciously choose the word eros in their vocabulary. Some of them, without question, claim this erotic fullness with bold enthusiasm. But there are others who point to this drive toward fullness who don't use eros at all.
But what both of these groups share in common is this richness and depth into the fullness of God's presence. This fullness where desire springs from fullness; in other words, desire not coming from a place of lack or deprivation. But coming out of God's fullness which is never depleted. And these dear ones point you to the vast openness of this fullness--fullness of beauty, fullness of life, fullness of Christ, fullness of love, fullness of God's shalom, the fullness of the Spirit, fullness of self, and so on.
Of course, for me, the glory of this fullness is that it is not exclusively contained in sexual eros or an intense erotic/romantic couple. This is where erotic fullness invites us, attracts us, woos us, eagerly welcomes us into the richness and depth of relational fullness in all of its stunning beauty. To taste and see that God is good is a profound invitation to unromantic eros. The fullness of God's friendship.
Sexual eros can be unbelievably good, precious, and full, right? But God's fullness invites us to this fullness of divine mystery--a fullness that includes unromantic fullness, too.
I have such rich treasures of moments of unromantic fullness. It could be romantic moments--romantic fullness with my wife when we both are attuned to God's presence in unromantic eros. Or moments with female friends where we know God's presence is there in the mundane connection or in a moment of passionate connection. It's so beautiful when the fullness of self comes out from hiding. In the context of unromantic eros, it doesn't have to hide in shame, doesn't have to hide in secrecy or anonymity. It doesn't have to be embarrassed. It can be enjoyed out in the open with no apologies.