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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 obey what the Bible says about how to live life.  For someone who doesn't identify themself as a Christian and makes no claims to want to live their life to please God, I have no reason to expect them to make choices based on Biblical standards.  To the person who is worried about being judged by their extended family, I sincerely hope that it's only a misunderstanding or your imagination and that your partner is able to feel welcome and part of the family when he's around them.

Jesus cleansed people's shame-- Jesus doesn't avoid shame. Nor does he allow us to wallow in it. Nor does he think it's the norm. The woman who had a menstrual problem for 12 years touched Jesus' garment and was healed (Matt 9:20-22). Especially since her menstrual problem caused her a lot of shame. The 10 lepers were healed by Jesus when he touched them (luke 17:11-19). We read these stories and interpret them as outcasts invited into the Kingdom. It is so. But beyond that, Levitical law insisted that these people should be outcasts because of the shame inherent with blood and skin, the body. So, when Jesus healed them, he was also giving them back their human dignity that they were created with but that was stolen. We might not be lepers or have ongoing discharge. But I myself (and many of us) do experience shame. It’s an existential issue. And it requires an existential solution. A shower isn’t going to help me feel clean on the inside. Nor is it going to help me feel empowered. It isn’t going to purify me or dignify me. So, I am glad that Jesus will embrace me and heal me existentially. I guess what I am trying to say is Jesus does more than just not condemn. I think he heals and cleanses. I think this is a fuller story that speaks to our existential issues of not just feeling embraced, but also feeling cleansed.

I have a more positive view of Christianity after reading the range of experiences and views of people who identify as Christian. I was at a stage where I was seriously considering and wanted to join the church. I liked learning the stories of the Bible, hearing inspirational sermons and listening to reminders about how to live a good life, and I really admired and could see the value of the sense of community, welcome, and support.The problem was that I couldn’t accept all of the teachings I was hearing, some of which involved sexuality and the role of women. Reading the stories you’ve posted makes me think that maybe there could be a church out there that I could join.

This has made me think a LOT about how I want to talk about sex and dating and relationships with my children. I’d like it to be a comfortable topic so that there isn’t so much embarrassment around the subject.  I want my children to witness love and affection between their parents (as you did – you’re very lucky!), and I want them to see sex as something special.  However, I don’t want there to be overwhelming guilt or shame if they happen to slip up and give in to their natural, biological urges.  I want them to learn from their actions and experiences and be able to move on and have healthy relationships.  I want them to be able to have positive relationships with people of all ages and genders, without the undercurrent, worry, or goal of dating.  This is a topic that I’ll continue to think about for a long time, I think.

The questions you asked in your last post made me think, especially about what my face says.  As I mentioned before, my first reaction tends to be judgmental, but I know this is wrong.  Most of the time I wouldn't respond to someone with words of judgement, but sometimes while I'm processing what I've heard and figuring out what the appropriate reply is, I think my face may betray me.  I wish my first response could always be one of love, but I think that's something only Jesus can change and have a feeling it's something I'm going to have to work on for a long time.

I would never have guessed your story.  That must have taken a lot of courage to share with your name attached.  I really respect that you did.  I know the topic of the series was about the purity culture within the Christian church, but I think that your series has shown that many of the experiences and challenges people are facing go beyond church culture and include more of society.  Sexuality isn’t a topic many people discuss in such honest detail, even in secular society.  The media and pop culture also portray unrealistic views and ideals of sex – certainly quite different than the purity culture, but unrealistic nonetheless.  The response to your series has shown that people DO want to talk about it, but that many of us feel restricted by shame or embarrassment or fear of judgement.  It’s an extremely personal topic.  Society in general is getting better at discussing personal things like mental health, but we’ve got a long way to go in terms of sexuality, sexual abuse, and emotional health related to sex.  Thank you for starting the conversation and thank you to all of your friends who contributed their stories and shared that there is no “normal” – everyone has different and similar experiences.

Final note: I'm more than happy to keep this conversation going with those who are interested - or talk more about related things. Several of you already know this! It's honestly an honour and a delight to see my little blog have offline ripples, and to know that my relationships are deepening as a result. Thank you, all! I'm going to resume "regular programming" here on the blog now, which means random posts when I feel like it about thoughts and life and music and my sports injuries. Maybe some other series like this will come along. Maybe it won't. But you're welcome to join in for whatever comes!


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