Category Archives: sexuality

my own nakedness

i have been avoiding this post like nothing else. i think i was hoping something would come over me and i would change my mind about the necessity of writing it. sadly, that hasn’t happened. it didn’t help that i started this post almost two months ago and lost the draft…all of that raw and vulnerable work down the drain. so, this post probably wont be exactly like i first intended it to be. but that will have to be okay.

i have talked about sexuality being bigger than simply the physical act of intercourse.

i have talked about how we are made in the image of God and noted that sexuality is deeply related to what it means to be human, but not limited to the act of having sex.

with this post, i plan to confess. i want to explore my own issues with the act of sex. i want to confess the ways that i have sought to understand my own sexuality in unhealthy ways. and i want to confess the way that i have judged others based on their expressions of sexuality.

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i have baggage when it comes to sex. imagine that. my baggage has nothing to do with my own sexual experiences, however, because i have none. rather, and perhaps somewhat self-centeredly, my baggage comes from the way other people’s decisions regarding sex have affected me. these experiences have worked together to form my perspective that sex is bad. i will flesh that out as i go.

my parents are divorced, and have been since i was four. both had relationships with other people while i was growing up. i was a savvy kid. i knew what was up. i knew that when my parents and their significant others disappeared for a little while, i was to keep myself occupied. i can remember this sometimes lasting for entire weekends, my brother and i left to our own devices, sometimes without even a response to our requests for interaction. this, at the very least, i perceived as emotional neglect. sex was more important than me to my parents.

as i grew up and hit high school, friends around me started having sex. boys that i liked started hanging out with the girls who were prettier, flirtier, and would “do stuff.” girls who i called friends started having sex and doing other things with guys that they knew i liked. while all i wanted was to be around people who also wanted me around, it seemed that most of the people around me were usually just trying to have sex.

writing these things out they seem trivial and superficial. i was never sexually abused, and i was not raised with pervasive shame associated with religious purity movements. i feel almost as though these experiences aren’t big enough to have resulted in the perspective i have held for so long. but, i am here now, and somehow i have developed the mindset that sex is the most important priority, men only want sex, and as a woman if you are not having it there is something wrong with you.

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this next bit is a little awkward. i am calling it confession, because i feel shame and because it feels like parts of it have been unhealthy. but on another level, part of this is normal self-exploration.

i have seen a lot of pornography, as early as when i was 13. along with masturbation, it started as a desire for knowledge and understanding, and became a way of coping with my own low self-image and loneliness. this is the point at which i believe it became unhealthy. it became about using what should be intimacy shared between other people for my own selfish devices. pornography and masturbation became a means to separate my body from my spirit, for a moment to ignore the brokenness i felt by covering it with physical pleasure.

and now, the piece that i regret is that there are images that will always be in my head. images that i wish were not there. images that i will probably compare with whatever future sexual experience i have. the thing about pornography is that you can’t ever undo your exposure to it.

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lastly, for this post at least, i have to confess my own judgment of others. i am limited in my own perspective, and i have realized lately that while i may eventually come to a place of grace and openness, often my initial reaction to people who have made different sexual decisions than me is judgment, or even disgust. i am far from proud of this.

the thing is, i don’t necessarily think that my choices are the best choices, though i think i am following my own path. i don’t want to presume to know what are the right choices for someone else. my hope is, however, to be able to love others. to help people realize the presence of both physical and spiritual elements of sexuality, and perhaps our actions should consider this (which isn’t necessarily to advocate for one set of choices over another).

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i am not sure what is next from this point. perhaps it will come from conversations that arise from this post. perhaps it will come when i start my human sexuality class in a week. but i know there is still more to be said.

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having sex and being human

to start at the beginning of this series, go here

i think my next step in this conversation is to think some more about what is at stake in this conversation.

here are a few true things about me, for some context:

– i am female.
– i am twenty-seven.
– i am single.
– i have never had sex.

these things color my perspective and my perception, so i feel it is necessary for me to name them before i go much further. this is where i am speaking from, take it or leave it.

————–

everyone has sex.

false.

as a christian, i believe that we – all humans – are created in the image of God. this statement is loaded, with different meanings for different people. i think there are a lot of things that we can say are “normal” elements of human experience, but there are few core things that are common to all. i don’t believe having sex is one of them.

certainly, having sex is a normative human behavior, an experience that most people have within their lifetime. but there is an inherent danger in saying that everyone has sex. saying this makes it something that is essential or foundational to personhood. but…

what about people who choose not to have sex, who choose to be celibate?
what about people who die before they have sex?

does not having sex take anything away from them being human? no. they are still fully human.

when someone tells me everyone has sex, it holds with it the implication that not having sex puts me in another category, takes away from my humanity somehow because i don’t. does this seem like a big leap? let’s reason it out for a second:

every person has sex.
i do not have/have not had sex.
therefore, i am not a person.

this argument is valid, the logic checks out. but i think it is unsound. i reject the conclusion as false, and have to reject the first premise, because i know the second premise to be true.

this is the danger in saying everyone has sex, in universalizing an experience. this is the danger in making the physical act of intercourse something that is essential or basic or fundamental to being human.

i don’t think this means that sexuality has nothing to do with our personhood, with what it means to be human. i just think we can’t limit our understanding of sexuality to simply having intercourse. sexuality is about much more than the act of sex. it is about how we relate to each other, how we connect with one another, how we treat each other, how we love each other. and this, this capacity for relationship, for connection to another person, this is part of what it means to be human. sex is just one manifestation of this capacity for relationship. friendship is another.

a person can be sexual without having sex, because it is about relating to and connecting with another person. a sexual relationship and a friendship both involve interest, vulnerability, intimacy, care for the other, and so much more. those things, whatever the context, evidence our humanity.

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aside from our capacity for relationship, another piece of what it means to be made in the image of God is that somehow, mysteriously, we are a union of body and spirit. sometimes we try to exist within each of these elements separately. we don’t realize that maintaining physical health, eating right and exercising for example, actually impact our spiritual health, and vice versa. because we exist as a mysterious union of body and spirit, they are connected…always.

having sex is not just a physical decision. what we do with our bodies is spiritual. sex is spiritual. to see sex as a purely physical act is to deny its impact on us as spiritual beings. it is to create an unholy and dualistic notion of what it means to be human. it tears us in two.

…more on this later.

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freedom.

most people would say that all humans have (or should have) freedom. however, most people think of this as free will, or the freedom of choice. meaning, i have the right – you have the right – to do whatever you please. some people caveat this with an “as long as it doesn’t infringe on someone else’s free will.”

but lets think about freedom in terms of the image of God. God’s freedom does not come from God’s ability to do whatever God pleases, though God certainly can. God, in God’s infinite freedom chose to create: the entire cosmos, the earth, the animals, and us. God is free for us. God created a special little space for us, and when something happened to separate us from God, God came in after us. God, in God’s infinite freedom, chose to be for us by becoming one of us.

so by possessing the image of this God who was so free that he chose to be for us, we too are free. not free to do whatever we want whenever we want. but free for God. free to be all that God made us to be. free to be for the others around us who bear this image as well.

our freedom is related to how we approach sex as well. if we understand freedom in terms of free will, then sex becomes something purely about us – we do it whenever we want, with whomever we want, however we want. but if freedom is a freedom for what we were created to be, freedom for God, and freedom for others, then sex is a culmination. an ultimate act of union, consideration, and honor. it is something to be respected and not engaged in lightly.

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sex is a meaningful, common experience. not everyone has this experience, and that is okay. i am okay. while having sex is not what it means to be human, it is still connected to our humanity, to our personhood.

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rainbow wheel

some days i feel as if i am staring at a spinning rainbow wheel. i have committed to starting this conversation, both within myself and as part of a bigger theological discussion. and yet…i find myself stuck, wondering where to even begin. i guess i should just go for it.




i had a dream this week (that i actually remember). i dreamed that i had a family. i had a husband and two little boys. we went on adventures, we joked, we held hands. i was happy.

i want that life. i have tried for the last three years to convince myself that i don’t. because it hurts. it hurts to know that i want a partner to travel the world with, and kids to love and teach and learn from. it hurts to know that i am nowhere close to having that life. i have convinced myself to let this dream go, because i have also convinced myself that i will never have it. to hope for it hurts.

because the truth is, for as much as i want that, i can’t imagine that life for myself. i just can’t picture it. i think there are two reasons why: first, i can’t imagine a man with the qualities that i want/need that i can also stand to be around every day. second, i can’t imagine anyone who would actually want to love and be with me every day.

these two premises are deeply problematic. the first makes me incapable of love, the second makes me incapable of being loved. or perhaps more appropriately worded: incapable of loving and incapable of allowing someone to love me. the first makes me unable to hold someone else’s complete vulnerability, and the second makes me unable to trust someone with my own vulnerability.

to me, love is not safe, it is dangerous. it is not worth risking for.

this is somewhat shocking to articulate. in friendships, i tend to love freely and deeply. i continue to risk and invest in friendships, even when i know they can only last for a time, and even though i have been hurt in the past. i can’t comprehend how i can be this way in a friendship and not in a relationship.

to sum: it seems i don’t know how to love within the context of an intimate dating relationship, and it also seems that i still believe that i am unworthy of being loved. so there’s that.

what does this have to do with this conversation about sexuality? to tell you the truth, i’m not sure i know. but it would seem that if i can’t seem to wrap my brain around being in a relationship with someone, it is not a surprise that i can’t wrap my brain around sex.

sex, like many other things, serves a function for everyone. for some, it is merely an act intended for procreation. for some, it is merely an act that satisfies some physical and biological urge or need. i see sex as an act of utter vulnerability – a vulnerability that i can’t comprehend.

some questions that i have moving forward from here:
– why do i still feel unlovable?
– what is it about vulnerability (in dating relationships) that scares me so much, given that i am pretty good at it in friendships?
– how should sex function in our lives? how do we distort that function? what does that distortion do to us as humans?
– is my desire for a family simply related to enculturation and gender stereotypes? is it just because i know that staying single means that eventually i will be the only one of my friends who is still single, and that is a lonely place (for an extrovert) to be?
– is sex part of what it means to be human (the everyone has sex argument)? if i don’t ever have sex, does that make me less human, or somehow deficient?

big questions.

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framing the conversation

the beginning. here we go.

i created this piece over the summer, you may remember it. it is a piece that came out of a different process than anything i had created up to that point. i had no vision, i had only a canvas and time, and that is what came out. i sort of liked it, which was unexpected. so i hung it on my wall.

little did i know that the words on that canvas would come to describe the nature of my existence this year.



conviction. creativity. courage.



conviction. the idea that something is important, meaningful, reliable and carries weight. but more than that, conviction is standing in that place. what is conviction unless you are willing to fight for it? conviction without action is simply a thought.

creativity. this has nothing to do with artistic ability. it is imagination, the ability to vision, to see things from different angles. creativity is a state of mind, a way of being, and a way of interacting.

courage. courage depends on fear. there will always be things to be afraid of: things that threaten our safety and our comfort. courage is deciding that fear doesn’t can’t win. courage is stepping into vulnerability because you know it will be worth it.

and this is where i begin a conversation about sexuality. with conviction, with the creativity needed for nuance and (hopefully) sensitivity, and with courage to look deeply into myself and to speak with honesty and humility.



sexuality is a broad term. when i am talking about sexuality, i don’t just mean the act of engaging in intercourse, and i don’t just mean those other things we add to the category of “hooking up” with others. sexuality is about connection and communion. sexuality is something that has to do with how we relate to and interact with others. our sexuality is somehow deeply connected to our identity, and you don’t have to be having sex or in a relationship to be sexual.

with that said, my intentions in walking through this topic include, but perhaps are not limited to:
– articulating and understanding my own story around sexuality
– accessing the deep truth that i have come to believe about myself and others as a result of my story, and hopefully finding healing
– asking the bigger questions about what is even at stake in this conversation about sexuality
– providing a space for others to engage this topic with me or on their own

i will probably talk about sex, pornography, homosexuality, marriage, and some of the other typical things you would expect to hear along the way. but i will also talk about God, being made in the image of God, communion, and more. i will probably ask a lot of questions – because i have a ton of those. i don’t have a ton of answers. questions move us forward, definitive answers can sometimes halt conversation. so i am just going to start thinking, and talking, and asking questions.


if this topic interests you in general, check out Thank God For Sex, a project that is committed to this conversation.

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sexuality and identity

year two can be summed up or categorized by three themes:

creativity
sexuality
formation

nearly every conversation i seem to be having is about one or more of these topics, and often, all three.

that said, i feel very strongly that i have some work to do. perhaps some healing, maybe some confession, certainly some articulating of my own story that helps me to find clarity.

there is going to be a lot of uncertainty on this journey. i will probably say a lot of things that will be in process. i may not want to land on them for a long time, or incorporate them as axiomatic for my life, but they might be where i am at any given moment. i will also be raising and addressing what i think are valid, honest, and important questions. because of these things, and because if i am posting it might keep me accountable to actually do the work, i think that i will be posting this journey here – but with some limitations.

first, i wont be advertising on my facebook. this will most likely severely limit my audience. that’s okay. this means that the people reading it will be people who want to hear it, not just people who stumble upon my post in their newsfeed.

second, i reserve the right to password protect any post i desire. usually it will be because it is intensely vulnerable for me to share, and i am unsure about it. if i decide to password protect a post, my hope is that it doesn’t stay password protected for too long, just long enough to run it by trusted sources to affirm that it is worthwhile to the conversation.

ADDENDUM: third, my hope is to be able to experience some of this process creatively as well. that may mean that you see more poetry (Lord willing), perhaps artwork, etc. know that in sharing those things i am simply trying to articulate my own process, not necessarily contribute to a larger conversation.

so…here it goes.

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