An atheist spirituality is naturalist. Spirituality, like intellect and emotion, is generated, hosted by, and wholly dependent on, our physical body, but is not less valued due to its naturalism. This phenomenon is evident in our human sexuality. The most sensitive parts of our body generate the most powerful feeling. Sexual orgasm is an overwhelming holistic climax of physical muscular event, emotional feeling, and sublime spiritual experience.
Sex need not be holistic. It is possible for it to be entirely physical, a mere copulation. It does not even have to be mutual or relational, since an individual experience is possible. It is however, commonly both relational and holistic, and it is reasonable to regard this as its fullest definition. The full range of human senses – touch, taste, sight, imagination, smell and sound – are all engaged. Intimate sight of our partner is erotic and causes physical arousal ; physical touch is exciting and stimulates immense metaphysical feeling ; mental imagination and emotional love feed back to generate further physical arousal. The psychosomatic cycle is complete. The sublime experience of orgasm is one of total engagement. All that we are feels channelled into the sexual coupling and its climax. The ejaculation of sperm does indeed carry the entire code of the male to the lover, and it is as though we are subconsciously aware of this totality of the transaction. The feelings match the physicality.
Holistic full cycle psychosomatic experience is not limited to sex. It may arise in other contexts, for example in the appreciation of art or music, but it is arguably most common in sex, where it is frequently powerfully evident. Religious commentators often say that there is a thin line between spirituality and sexuality. This is not problematic. Sexuality is an acceptable component of spirituality.
If holistic relational sex is the fuller definition of sex, since it embraces experience beyond the physical, and embraces another rather than just the self, then what is the nature of its spirituality? It is spiritual because it is aware of beauty and loveliness. It is tender whilst at the same time strong. It is spiritual because it expresses love of the other person. It cares for the other, brings pleasure to the other, fulfils the other, deeply values and appreciates the deep core of the other’s persona. It is spiritual because it is mutual, it is a coupling, a merging, an integration of body and psyche between two people. It is spiritual because it embraces and shares virtue between the lovers. It expresses relationship as well as being relationship. It is itself great virtue. It is spiritual because it is intimate.
An awareness of the holistic nature of sex removes and makes a nonsense of all too common associations of neurosis, guilt, and superficiality. It does however propose that sex is at its most complete and meaningful when it is relational and holistic. Such sex, by definition, cannot be casual.