Copyright © 2012 by Chris R. Glaser. All rights reserved.
Okay, so I’ve put off writing this particular reflection because I know you’re going to say its opening illustration is way too cute. So be it.
Our dog Hobbes likes to join me on the deck for morning prayers. She sits at my feet as I read, but when I put the books down to pray—which for me is lifting people, the world, and the day’s agenda prayerfully, closing with the Lord’s Prayer—she rolls on her back, expecting me to rub her belly. After I rub one side, she flops over so I can rub the other side.
For nearly a year now, that’s what I’ve been encouraging progressive Christians to do through this blog: let God rub your belly. That’s one of the reasons I do my morning prayers—to bask in God’s unconditional love. It helps me get through the day, willing to “rub the bellies” of others by acknowledging with cheer and regard all those I encounter, whether strangers, opponents, or friends. And it keeps me aware that I too deserve respect as a child of God.
I am reminded of my father’s experience when he used “belly” in a headline while serving as editor of his high school newspaper in small town Kansas in the early 1930s. To characterize a particular football game, he used the term “belly flopper.” The powers that be found it unseemly that he had referred to a body part with a “vulgar” term.
I have been teaching an online course entitled, “Christianity and Sexuality.” One of its purposes is to overcome the erotophobia of the church that would inhibit our understanding of literal belly-rubbing as a deeply spiritual exercise. Just as God rubs our spirituality in prayer-making, we may roll over and allow God to rub our sexuality in lovemaking.
Creation, incarnation, and resurrection all affirm the sacred nature of our bodies. Lovemaking, like prayer-making, is an opportunity to let God rub your belly. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to exclaim at the conclusion of lovemaking what we say at the end of hearing God’s word of love, “Thanks be to God!” or at the end of prayer-making, “Amen!”?