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Showing posts from March, 2014

from Bonhoeffer

Last week I wrote a paper about Dietrich Bonhoeffer's views on church mission and leadership. I didn't have (take) as much time to read as I would've liked, and kept my focus on related content, rather than the whole of his life and writings. But I came across these two quotes that didn't fit anywhere in my paper, and need to record them for posterity:

on being separated from loved ones: "It is nonsense to say that God fills the gap; he doesn't fill it, but on the contrary, he keeps it empty and so helps us to keep alive our former communion with each other, even at the cost of pain."
and on suffering:

"The idea that we could have avoided many of life's difficulties if we had taken things more cautiously is too foolish to be entertained for a moment...To renounce a full life and its real joys in order to avoid pain is neither Christian nor human."

Let's Talk About Sex and Shame: The End(ish)

Okay, friends. I think we're just about through with this series. Are we all ready for a break? :)

Once again, I want to say that I have been so encouraged by the stories, the number of you who've said thank you for hosting, and the conversations that I know are happening offline as a result. I didn't have any measures for success in my mind when I started, but we've definitely surpassed any I could have imagined.

Here are a handful of last thoughts from some readers:

It was sad for me to see how many people feel shame over their sexuality.... In every aspect of your relationship here are three things that I feel are very important. CRC Commitment, Respect, Communication. (it use to be only two but I added commitment a few years ago) Not just about sex, but any other subject you talks about. As our bloggers attest to when a couple communicate about sex it can be a beautiful, fulfilling, and binding time together. 

Identifying myself as a Christian means that I try to…

Let's Talk About Sex and Shame. What Now?

Well. Here we are. Two weeks and more than two dozen stories later.

I don't know about you, but I've found this series a bit overwhelming – I have too many thoughts and feelings to have processed them all fully, but I want to share a few of the big ones, and ask you to do the same.

Behind the scenes, beyond the stories you've read, many of you have emailed or said in person that you're reading along, that it's been encouraging/interesting/thought-provoking. I can honestly say that I didn't expect the traction this has gotten (I thought I would be begging two or three of my friends to share their stories), but it has confirmed to me that this was (is) an important dialogue to have. Many of us, churched or not, have stories and thoughts and feelings around our sexuality that we haven't had a safe place to reflect on. I am grateful that for a few weeks, this could be that space.

Now what? Where do we go from here? How do we take this out into our lives at la…

Let's Talk About Sex & Shame. Part XIII.

As much as I'm willing to talk about almost any topic or idea or concept, sharing my personal stories always feels terrifying. All evidence to the contrary, I am a fairly private person. In telling my story as it relates to sexuality and shame, I feel like I am inviting you into a closer friendship than we've previously had. So, welcome, friend.

Here's my story:*
If I were to summarize the reasons I am critical of the purity movement, it is not because it teaches a conservative/Christian perspective on sexual abstinence. It is because, as a young person, it painted unrealistic dreams for my future and made promises it couldn't keep. It gave me rules to follow that would get me to marriage as a virgin, but it didn't teach me how to have healthy and mature relationships with men apart from (or before) marriage. And rather than dismantling and bringing healing to my sexual brokenness, it reinforced fear-based thinking that taught me lies about both myself and the men I…

Let's Talk About Sex & Shame. Part XII.

Two stories today from some non-church friends. Tomorrow is my story, and on the weekend I'll post some final thoughts/questions for all of us as we wrap up:

The topic of sex didn’t come up much in conversation in my family. We don’t really discuss feelings or show physical affection very often. I think I remember actually discussing sex with my mother (never my father) maybe three times. The main message I got was “Sex is fun, and it’s worth saving for someone you love.” My family isn't religious, but I guess our household was still pretty conservative. The other message was “if you’re ready to have sex, you also need to be ready to raise a baby.”With that practical advice, the suggestion that it was a good idea to wait until I found the person I would marry, and a very shy personality, I was well into my twenties before I even had my first kiss. That was when I finally decided to just deal with the anxiety and stress of figuring out a relationship (something I’d avoided sinc…

Let's Talk About Sex and Shame. Part XI.

Man, it's getting tricky to group these stories together! But here's what I see in today's: both consider questions connected to what is "allowed" in the bedroom and both are quite straight-forward in expressing their perspectives (first post in the series is here):
I grew up evangelical. In my 20's, I experienced the epiphany that masturbation is a sin. Not the worst sin, but still a sin. This did not bring more shame, no, the clarity of this realization was liberating. Sin has been atoned for by Jesus, so you can confess and move on, but if you don't know what is sin, its difficult. But as I said, this was a liberating idea.

It was liberating for a couple reasons. First, even on a secular level, an introspective daydreamer will have to admit that there comes a time to stop daydreaming and start living. That is a liberating realization. Secondly, its not just the awareness of sin that is liberating, but that Jesus, who died and rose again, loves to forgi…

Let's Talk About Sex & Shame: Part X.

(Here is where the series started. It's looking like I'll have stories to share tomorrow and Thursday, and on Friday we'll start wrapping things up!)

More stories from married Christian ladies today. I love how even the stories that are the "same" are not at all the same.
The first: I didn't grow up feeling indoctrinated by the purity movement... I was naturally shy, and didn't date anyone seriously until I met my husband. But after I became a Christian at 15, I formalized my abstinence. I am absolutely grateful that I abstained from sex.I really want to join in on this conversation, but I have to say that I DO NOT like talking about sex with others. I feel squeamish just writing this out in an e-mail now. However, I don't think the source of my reluctance is shame. I think the source is my desire for privacy.I remember reading an anecdote once of a married couple who kept a small room with beautiful carpets and curtains that was set aside for love ma…

Let's Talk About Sex & Shame. Part IX.

For those just tuning in, this series started a week ago, with this post.

As this series progresses, it is getting more difficult to group the stories together by theme or content. In some ways, today's stories are total opposites. But there is a commonality in them that I'm struggling to label, and it is this unnamed quality that has them paired together:
I have struggled with the perception of female sexuality in the church since I was old enough to know what sex was. The words of one of your readers [shared in Part II] resonated deeply with me: "If a leader doesn't have a healthy perspective on sexuality, they are not going to transmit that to the youth they lead." As a young woman, the "True Love Waits" campaign wasn't about purity, it was entirely about female shame. There were cutouts of human figures on the wall of our youth room, colour coded to indicate where it was safe and not safe to touch another. The male body had one red spot (I'm …

Let's Talk About Sex & Shame: Part VIII.

(Here is where the series started.)

Today: three Christians who had sex before marriage. Since there's a lot of content, we'll just dive in:
I had a classic evangelical upbringing and in my childhood and into my teen years most things were presented as pretty black and white. My parents educated me pretty well on what sex as an act was, but things like sexuality, pleasure, and lust were not talked about – it was understood that that was incredibly personal, and very wrong outside of marriage.

I remember as a teenager being frustrated by the dialogue around sex. I was reading in magazines, hearing in church, Christian music, small groups, everywhere – that I was to be modest. Guys had difficulty with lust and so we had to be careful. If I wore shorts that were too short, I would be causing someone to stumble. Never, ever did I hear about how to process my own feelings. I thought I was the only girl that dealt with lust – I must be super sexual or somehow more masculine because …