You know from my title where I’m going in this post. Do you ever wonder where we’ve learned to make certain topics taboo? Why have some topics made people squirm in their seats? I joined a book club this past week, and a question related to sexuality came up and every person in the group was silent. It’s topics like sexuality, emotions, and how we really are doing…they get pushed away, pushed down…yet they are usually the parts of who we are that are so essential to who we are as people.
So, my reason for writing is to just put it out there that sexuality is a part of all of us. Almost every person carries some kind of shame related to the topic, especially Christians. It’s almost like before I would need to ask a client of mine what their relationship with their body is or with the idea of pleasure, I could sometimes guess what it would be once they tell me their faith background. Now, I know my job is not to stereotype or make assumptions, but after some time working in the field, and with a lot of people who have grown up in the Christian faith, it’s really interesting how Christians can be the ones with the most shame-filled ideas of sex and their bodies.
Let me give two quotes about the lack of integration we’ve learned…and what we pass onto children…
“Children remind us what we have given up, because somewhere along the way we had to sever those connections between our bodies and our minds and begin living in a disintegrated way…instead of requiring that our children detach themselves from the ways their bodies reflect their being, we give them the space and time to make peace with their bodies, honoring them, building a secure self-identity within them.” (Cindy Wang Brandt)
We’ve been taught to break ourselves into different parts…body, soul, mind, spirit…yet we are WHOLE people. We also have been taught to value certain aspects of ourselves more than others. Our mind/soul is more important than our bodies. Certain Christian teachings quote scripture, encouraging people to basically ignore their bodies…or if they can’t ignore, surely don’t trust it. Yet these teachings have led to a whole lot of shame and confusion. I think it’s time we start trusting our bodies and treat them with respect.
One other topic I want to mention is the idea of gender roles. When I reflect on what I hear in the counseling room a lot, I have to wonder if the gender roles people follow are more from God, or from culture. Take a look at this quote:
…”for boys and men sex is what your body does to another body, scoring and dominating, devoid of emotional intimacy. Girls and women, on the other hand, are told from magazine covers and ads that their bodies are to be consumed as products and objects of pleasure for men; who they are matters less than what size they are and how desirable their body is.” (Cindy Wang Brandt)
Now I’m going to go out on a limb here, but if I were to do a word search in the bible of the word “dominate” I doubt I’d find God leading one person to dominate another person. I actually did a quick search and didn’t see any order like that. So again, we need to ask…where have we come up with certain ideas related to sexuality? I think they are more a product of our culture and it’s time to question them.
I’m just going to drop this very famous wedding scripture right here:
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 4-7)
From this, if we are to grow in love, I don’t think carrying ideas around like dominating others as a God-given role is very helpful. I also think it invites us to question other teachings I often hear in Christian circles…like the idea a wife is to be sexually available to her husband whenever he wants. There is real pain we inflict on others because instead of seeking God from the deepest parts of our hearts, we’ve followed some human teachings passed down to us that are just plain as day HARMFUL.
Maybe we start using words in the way we see our bodies and even the idea of sexual expression with the words “trusting, not self-seeking, not record holding, patient, kind.”
What words would you add to the mix? If anything else, I hope this post reminded you that your body is good…and that it’s ok to question teachings that have been passed down without question. Happy rooting, everyone!