Non fiction Christian erotica is about 700-800 years old. One of the unexpected benefits of attending a liberal seminary (Union Theological Seminary in NYC) was my discovery of medieval mystics getting off on love, i.e. God. Here are two samples:
1) Hadewijch of Brabant describing her experience of the sacrament of holy communion:
"...then he came in the form and clothing of a Man, as he was on the day when he gave us his Body for the first time. As a human man, wonderful and beautiful, with glorious face, he came to me as humbly as anyone who belongs completely to another. Then he gave himself in the shape of the Sacrament, in its outward form, in the customary fashion; and then he gave me from the chalice, to drink from in form and taste, in the customary fashion. Then he came to me as himself, took me entirely in his arms and pressed me to him. My whole body felt his, in true bliss, in accordance with the desire of my heart and my humanity. So I was wholly satisfied and fully transported."
2) Beatrijs of Nazareth describing her encounter with the love of God
"She experiences for herself this vast abundance of salvation. She is entirely consumed with total fullness of heart and She loses Her mind completely in Love. Her heart melts completely, She cannot feel Her body and she is totally powerless. So far overtaken by Love is she, that she hardly can control herself, often having no control over her limbs or senses. Then, like a barrel full to the brim, if She is suddenly stirred up, she will overflow and flood immediately. She will be completely overcome by the fullness of Her heart, so that she has no choice but to lose herself completely."
The spiritual/sexual imagery is not a coincidence. This is all the more powerful when you take their celibacy into consideration. Taking their writings in context, you see their whole lives are channels for this sexual/spiritual energy, this driving force which is behind all creation and creativity, in short, love/God. (I John 4:8 - God is love). Acts of service and mercy are the outlets for this energy. Each act draws them deeper in Love because it draws them deeper to the source of love: God. I think another example of this phenomenon (i.e. channeling sexual/spiritual energy into creativity and acts of service) is the Shakers.
When I was in seminary over thirty years ago, the rediscovery of the writings of the mystics galvanized the theological world -- not without controversy and charges of heresy of course -- and is still informing feminist theologians and those writing about the nexus between sexuality and spirituality today. I thought to myself if the mystics and the Shakers could connect with that Love through community and celibacy, why couldn't I do the same through fiction that combines self-discovery and sexuality?
Thus began my quest to do in fiction what the Mystics did in real life. My Christian erotica deals with an individual’s experience of Christian spirituality in the context of sensual/sexual exploration. My Christian erotic romance is romance that combines a faith arc with erotic intensity.
Is there sex? Yes. Christian erotic romance has sexual tension, foreplay, onstage sex and orgasms as well as conversion, reflection and communion with the divine. For both Christian erotic romance and the former understanding of "inspirational" romance (i.e. sexual tension, but no hints of eroticism or "open-door" sex scenes) it's not the sex or lack thereof that defines the work. The defining element in both is the faith arc or Christ-centered worldview.
Am I succeeding? I hope so. Check out the excerpts I've posted here on my site and judge for yourself.