Overcoming shame

shame

Sex is still very much a taboo subject in our society. In fact, particularly in the US, we seem to have gone backwards to ultra conservatism, shunning sexuality in all its forms.

I, too, grew up viewing sex as something shameful, not something I should talk about. My sex education consisted of a quick biological talk which left me more confused than enlightened and with the impression that sex was only for marriage if you want to have children.

Needless to say I have grown past that point, but the shame around sex is so deep-seated within me, that it’s hard to be completely free from it. I grew up a christian and while I still consider myself a christian, I would not call myself conservative by any stretch of the imagination. I fully think that it is possible to be a christian and enjoy sex.

I have written before that society – and especially conservative christians – seems to have no problem with violence in the media, but sex should be avoided at all costs. I wrote about this before and someone commented in response to that blog post that the reason sex is so heavily censored is that teenagers will be more tempted by sex than by violence. I think this person has missed the point entirely. Why shouldn’t teenagers (or for that matter, adults) be tempted by sex? Saying that people should not be tempted by sex is akin to saying sex is bad, which is exactly what conservative Christians seem to believe.

The idea that sex is bad and something shameful that should not be talked about it not compatible with many passages in the Bible. Sex is celebrated in many instances in the Bible, but conveniently, many conservatives only focus on the few passages that warn about sexual excess, taking that as meaning that all sex in any form is bad and shameful.

As I said at the beginning of this post, sex for me is inextricably linked with shame. That is something I am constantly fighting to overcome, but since this has been drilled into me from the beginning of my formative years, I do struggle to free myself from shame and to live my life exuberantly.

Conservative Christians have a tendency to focus on sexual transgressions and sins. They constantly preach how women should keep themselves pure for marriage and how one should not watch porn or have indecent thoughts. In the US, white conservative men work hard at banning abortions and birth control. Pastors preach sermon after sermon on the dangers of sex, and sexual deviation (which in their eyes can include anything from using sex toys to BDSM). But sometimes I wonder why they always focus on that one small part of the Bible that deals negatively with sex, rather than the plethora of other passages in the Bible. There are more passages that celebrate sex and sexuality in the Bible than that warn about the dangers of excess. There are also far more passages exhorting people to be kind, forgiving and merciful, but conservative Christians conveniently overlook those passages.

As we head into a new year, I am going to continue to try and shake off the shame that still lurks within me with regards to sexuality. In the last few months, as my life became a bit more stressful than ideal, that shame has come back with a vengeance. Something inside me kept telling me I shouldn’t write a blog about sexuality. I shouldn’t celebrate sex, and especially not female sexuality. It’s easy to defy this little voice when I am well-rested and my mental health is strong, but shame can get me down quite easily when I am not on my guard.

My struggle is especially hard because I do consider myself a christian. Yet, I don’t see my values and morals reflected in prominent christian groups around the world – the holier-than-thou, hateful people who use a version of God to justify the cruel ways in which they treat their fellow humans. I read the barrage of – deserved – criticism of these conservative Christians and start to wonder whether I can still call myself a christian because I love sex. I consider myself a liberal christian, a far cry from how I was raised, and sometimes it is hard to shake my upbringing. I am just hoping I can be strong enough this year to battle shame and to keep writing this blog.

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