The topic of spirituality and sexuality has intrigued me since we received the syllabus for this course. Notions of sexuality in the church have impacted me both personally and through my academic research while at Candler. Last semester I took a research course and did my final project on the history and harmfulness of purity culture (I used the article on purity culture that we read for class!). Working on the project was fascinating and freeing to be able to channel some of the trauma that the church caused me through their shameful implications of sexuality into more productive realms.
In church and Christian school, I grew up believing any sexual desire or thoughts were from Satan; God created sex for man and woman in marriage, that all of a sudden sex went from the worst sin to being okay upon getting married; that I had to protect myself and cover my body because men could not be trusted, and so on. Anything regarding sexuality was extremely scary and full of shame.
It wasn’t truly until Candler that I began the journey of reconfiguring my understanding of sexuality and spirituality. I had always wanted to engage the topic but did not have the resources. Pursuing spirituality as a bisexual woman has been a confusing experience. I still have not quite found ways to “validate” my sense of self to other Christian believers. But the discussions from last night, the art from queer perspectives, and hearing how we parse our understandings of gender and divine love, I have begun the journey. I have a dearly close friend who secretly identifies as gay but believes wholeheartedly that God does not want her to be gay. She lives in constant shame and fear. She has just now begun the journey of counseling and seeking to find a sense of affirmation both in herself and from God. I held her in my heart last night as I listened to the discussion, and I hope that churches are changing their perspectives on sexuality. Because it has historically been a massive source of shame. We see a consistent misunderstanding of sexuality in the “don’t say gay” bill in Florida. Discussions consistently surround sex, but sexuality is much more intimate and connected to the self than simply about sex.
These thoughts are all over the place, but I still am parsing out my background on the topic and how to pursue/find/preach liberation.