Song of Songs 1:2-4
For better is your love than wine,
Your anointing oils are fragrant,
Your name is better than perfume poured out.
Therefore women love you!
Draw me after you, let us run!
Let the king bring me into his chambers.
Carey Walsh in her beautiful book Exquisite Desire – Religion, the erotic, and the song of songs says, “If we want to understand ourselves, our lives, and any faith we muster, we must become literate about desire. If we deny or giggle, we choke off the one avenue where, as Rilke says,
“God does speak, in our longings.”
But in a market driven culture like ours … we do more than deny desire, we market and sell it and then shame it when it wants to appear in another form. Walsh says, “The consumerist culture has it both ways. First it inundates us with products and lures, subliminally feeding our desires, and then it ropes those desires off as either private or inappropriate. That speaking on desire might itself be deemed inappropriate in culture or in, say, a church, is a way to silence a voice and is a stodgy, last-ditch attempt to stay the course of convention. The woman in the Song is censored by her culture when she goes public with her desire. She runs into the streets of Jerusalem, the capital, with her want laid bare, and the city guards beat her up (5:7). Our guards today are more subtle, but they are there, keeping watch over the trafficking of desire, feeding it, bludgeoning it with consumerism and titillation, and shaming it off the streets with veiled threats, subtle and powerful.
The woman in the Song does what I want to do now, get up and keep searching, keep speaking of one’s yearnings.”
I too want us to start speaking; voicing and seeking to understand desire, what it means to celebrate desire, what it means to honor God in the gift of desire, and wonder together how to enter into the mystery of God through desire. It’s time to stop fearing desire, shoving desire under a rug, so as Thomas Moore says, “By trying to ignore this part of ourselves, it starts forcing itself in unexpected and undesirable ways, such as violent pornography, illicit affairs, human trafficking, etc.” By denying and shaming desire while at the same time turning desire over to marketers, we turn a potentially transformative gift into an illicit experience.
And that my friends, is the real shame!
NEW BOOK BY DR SELLERS COMING IN MAY 2017 FROM ROUTLEDGE PRESS
Sex, God & the Conservative Church – Erasing Shame from Sexual Intimacy
Synopsis: This book is the first of its kind written to help people of faith who have experienced religious sexual shame. This shame and trauma comes as an inadvertent byproduct of the sex-negative sexual ethic of conservative religion. Based on ten years of research, it explains what happened in the formation of the Christian church and how American culture can compound the problem. It goes on to reveal a sex-positive ancient Hebrew story that was buried in Christian history and the sex-positive gospel ethic that was never developed. Finally it offers a four step model for healing religious sexual shame, and actual touch and non-touch exercises to bring healing and intimacy into a person’s life. The book is appropriate for clients, patients, therapists, clergy, physicians, and those who train sociology students, therapists, sex therapists, clergy or primary care physicians. It also is a text that would function well in a book group or study group and for those who want to explore the impact of religious sexual shame and those who want to heal or help someone else to heal. It is sensitive to those who grew up in conservative church environments, while simultaneously providing adequate information for the provider that may not be familiar with that culture.