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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A description of practising Christians’ experience of profound sexual and spiritual encounters MacKnee, Chuck M


This qualitative study explored the meaning and description of profound sexual and spiritual connection among practising Christians. Investigations of the conditions and events that led to these peak encounters as well as the aftereffects of such experiences were also conducted. It was purposed that this research would enhance understanding of sexual and spiritual connection, inform theories of love, transpersonal experience, and Christian theology regarding sexuality, as well as provide counsellors with some initial strategies to promote more holistic sexual intimacy among their Christian clientele. The methods of inquiry and data analysis were based on a phenomenological approach. The researcher conducted an in-depth interview with five men and five women, representing five Christian denominations, who had experienced a profound event that was simultaneously sexual and spiritual. The statements within each participant's transcript were analyzed to discover clusters of meaningful themes. A follow-up interview with each contributor validated these individual or "situated structural" descriptions. Twenty-five common themes emerged from the interview data and a fundamental structure or "common story" was culled from the exhaustive description of the phenomenon. The themes of the sexual and spiritual encounter were categorized into the into the following three phases: Preconditions and Facilitating Events; Descriptive Themes of the Encounter; and Aftereffects. The exhaustive description and fundamental structure were validated by all the participants in a final follow-up consultation. The study results offered an empirical and experiential basis for previous conjectures on linking sexuality and spirituality. The findings were interpreted in light of existing research on love, transpersonal mystical experience, and Christian theology on sexuality. Comparisons were made to the experience of transcendental sex experienced by Tantric practitioners. Potentials for individual and relational growth were explored. Following these interpretations, a number of specific recommendations were made for future research and counselling practice.

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