I was raised an in a very religious household, that was also confusing and inconsistent. My step-mother was First Baptist…the more liberal, less Evangelical Baptist than say the Southern Baptist. My dad was Pentecostal Assembly of God, a holy roller who for years didn’t go to church with us (his excuse was he didn’t like my Mom’s church). Later, when I was in my teens they started going to the local Southern Baptist Church, which I hated. The pastors sons were two of the biggest bullies in my high school. So, since at 16 I was desperately looking for something spiritual and I thought it had to be Christianity, I started going on my own to a tiny Four Square Gospel Church. One of the most loving churches I’ve ever encountered. It was there that I really got what finding joy in God meant and I even spoke in tongues. And, of course it didn’t take…a few years later I was living in a commune, reading palms and looking at paganism (which also didn’t take). Flash forward 40+ years and many tries at many kinds of religion and you find me deeply spiritual and an atheist Buddhist. I’m kind of in the Stranger in a Strange Land school of religion, Though Art God.
What does all of this have to do with Sex? Well, if there is one thing that will fuck you up around sex, it’s being raised Evangelical Christian. I had my first orgasm climbing a rope at recess in the 4th grade. Wow! I went home and duplicated that feeling, and even though I didn’t realize at the time it was masturbating, I still knew that it wasn’t “right” and since I shared a bedroom with my little brother and sister I learned to come really quietly (which was hard to unlearn when I started having sex). Then a few months later I realized that this thing that brought me great pleasure was a sin…it was masturbation!!! And I stopped, for a little while. But the pull of the flesh was way stronger than my fear of God (thank God for that) and I continued AND I was ashamed and fearful at my lack of ability to control myself. And I’m not the only one. This is so common among those raised in religious homes. Sex is shameful and our bodies are shameful and there is no celebration or joy when it comes to experiencing sexuality UNLESS you are married.
Several years ago I met a young man named Matt Barber, who along with a young woman named Brittany Machado who were making a documentary which at the time was titled, Jesus Don’t Let Me Die Before I Have Sex. He had been told all his life that God would bless him and his wife if they waited until after marriage to consummate. He was told that God would make it joyous and wonderful and the day after his wedding he woke up and thought “Is that it?” It wasn’t a wonderful joyous experience and that led him to wondering about sex and religion and the desire to make a documentary. Shortly after he met Brittany who was working on a similar project and they created what is now called, Give Me Sex Jesus. I, along with one of my partners, Mac McGregor where interviewed for the documentary, which will be showing in Seattle this Sunday. It looks to be an amazing show and I’m thrilled to be part of it.
Through Matt and Brittany I’ve been made aware that there are many wonderful sex positive Christians out there and that they are doing their part to change the perception that sex and religion don’t mix. Seattle has a great organization called Thank God For Sex (they are the ones presenting the show this Sunday). Thank God for Sex’s purpose is, according to their FAQ “To be in conversation about topics often kept silent. Masturbation, queer issues, gender issues, the vagina, the penis, pornography, sex, God’s purpose in sex, sexuality across the lifecycle, you name it.” They are working to erase religious sexual shame.
And then, I found a website called Church and Sex. According to their website Church & Sex exists as a kind of repository of articles documenting the current state of the sea change at the intersection of church and sex (more specifically, sexuality).
And at Church and Sex I found this beautiful article about children and sexual shame, Refusing To Shame.
If I believed in God, I’d say that I’ve been blessed, as I didn’t know there were so many sex positive people out their in the religious communities and I’m so thrilled to have discovered that there are others out there changing the conversation about sex and religion.
If you’re in Seattle and can join us Sunday evening this link will take you to the information on where and when the showing of Give Me Sex Jesus will be. If you miss it we will be showing it at the Center for Sex Positive Culture later in the year.
I’d love to hear your comments on this subject, as it’s a big one. Thank God for Sex!