Several months ago, I was interviewed by Jonalyn Fincher at Soulation on the impact of religious sexual shame on our ability to be ‘at home’ in our bodies and with our sexuality and sexual longing. I love conversations with Jonalyn. They are always fun and provocative. We both have a passionate belief that God created us intentionally and thoughtfully, including our sexuality. This includes a God who delights in the opportunity to commune with us in our desire for connection and pleasure. Yet somehow this wild gift of desire and pleasure, of joy and comfort, got mangled and distorted by men in power all “in the name of God”. Under this dark dank cloak, it has remained for over two thousand years, held in place by a church deathly afraid to deal with this gift, or with the God who gave it. The damage it has caused and continues to cause I have written about extensively in this blog. I see it every day in my office and my life has been dedicated to eradicating it. I believe this cloak can be exposed and stripped away. I believe it can be separated from the God who hard wired us for connection and pleasure, so we can manage desire and set it free to manifest love.
Dan Savage said in an interview once, “Christianity going back at least to [the Apostle] Paul has been a rejection of sex. The Christian church saw that sex was this sweet spot in the human psyche. They pathologized it and have been reaping the rewards ever since. It’s a scam, and it goes all the way back to the roots of the church.”
What is heartbreaking to me, is how many people are forced to choose between a healthy sexuality and their faith community. More often then not, when forced to choose, they choose a healthy sexuality and walk away from their faith community and their faith. The reality of the lived Christian religion in the United States is it never sought God’s purpose in the gift of sexual desire and sexual expression. It never sought to understand what the New Covenant values applied to sexuality might mean. Where the focus would be and where it would not. It sought instead through an artificial focus on virginity, to judge, shame, isolate, separate, frighten and create power hierarchies all ‘in the name of God’. For hundreds of generations.
We are finally speaking up. We are finally saying “the church has always been wrong about the gift of sexual desire and sexuality.” The church never developed a New Covenant sexual ethic based in justice, grace, mutuality and love. If it did, it would focus on relationship qualities to self, God and other, not on behaviors … what you have done or not done. It would have endorsed comprehensive life, faith and sex education, just like it endorses comprehensive oral hygiene, drivers education and comprehensive spiritual formation. Why? Because we want our children to have sexual, relational, spiritual and emotional intelligence, a healthy body and to keep themselves safe behind the wheel. We want our children to know how to love well with their whole self – body, mind, soul and spirit. And we understand that at the heart of this is their sexual and relational intelligence. We want them to know that this magnificent gift comes from a loving God; the same God who created them.
Before someone can be at home with someone else, they must first be at home in their own body and with their own sexuality and emotions. We know that Jesus, as a young boy, when found studying among the leaders in the temple, was confused why his family wouldn’t have known to look for him there, first.
Luke 2:49 says, “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”
Jesus was most at home in His father’s temple. We are told by scripture that our body is God’s temple … and like Jesus, we are invited to be most ‘at home’ here.
What does it mean for you to feel at home? At rest? At peace in your body? Can you feel at home here? If not, what can you do to feel more at home? When do you most know God’s communion in your body … in your sexuality? What would it take for you to know more of God’s delight for the embodied, sensual and sexual part of you? I invite you to embark on this journey of coming home …