I was raised in the evangelical church. To be frank, the evangelical church is an awful place to learn about sex. One of my friends used to summarize what we were taught with the line “Sex is evil. Sex is bad. Save it for the one you love.” It’s funny, yet so terribly sad.
Add to this situation that I was gay. Growing up gay in the evangelical church added heaps of shame to any experience of sexuality I might have had. Even small moments like the tingly feeling that passes through your body when the really cute guy walks into the room was followed by immense shame. I felt dirty and disgusting.
Many of us have reconciled our faith and sexuality. We have found a way to deconstruct the lies we were told about ourselves. The messages that said we were unlovable and destined for hell. We are now at peace with ourselves as gay Christians.
However, in my experience of supporting LGBTQ Christians, I have seen that many people still carry shame around with them even though they have done their homework and have worked through most of their questions about their sexuality. Shame is really hard to shake. It lingers like the smell of smoke lingers in a house long after the smokers have moved out.
Unfortunately, for many of us, sex and sexuality are inseparably associated with shame. But that is not the way it’s supposed to be.
The first mention of sex in the bible is in Genesis 2 (other than God’s command to Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply).
“That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” (Gen 2:24-25)
I can give a whole sermon on the idea of one flesh, so we won’t get into that part of these verses. What I find interesting is that directly following the description of the sexual union of two people we have the following statement: “Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”
The biblical description of sex is followed up by the fact that its participants were both naked and they felt no shame.
Sex, nudity and no shame.
Take that, evangelicals. No shame.
Take that, awkward youth group talks. No shame.
Take that, Focus on the Family, True Love Waits and abstinence only education. No shame.
God made us as sexual beings. It is part of his amazing design of us.
If you ever want to confront shame head on, I encourage you to meditate on Psalm 139. I want to highlight a verse from this psalm that is probably over-quoted, but which I think is still a powerful verse. “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Psalm 139:14). God created you, and this verse declares that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. Your sexuality is part of his creation, and it too, as part of God’s creation, is wonderfully made.
The fact that you notice that other people around you are physically attractive is part of God’s design for you. The fact that parts of our bodies respond to physical touch, including our sex organs, is part of God’s design for us. The powerful feeling of an orgasm is something that is fearfully and wonderfully made by God.
Of course, our sexual desires are powerful, and we think a lot these days about how to properly steward the power of sex. Its power has been horribly abused in our world. We need to take good care of our sexuality and its expression in our lives. However, I want to emphasize that in caring for ourselves we should never feel shame for being sexual beings.
If I could challenge you with one thing it would be the following. I challenge you to invite God into your sexual experiences. Make God a part of your sexuality.
Invite him to be a part of your crushes and infatuations. If you are someone who thinks like I do that masturbation can be a moral activity, then invite God to be a part of it. Give thanks to God for the way your body responds to physical touch, and use it as part of your worship of him. As someone who is married, I want to make God a part of my sex life. I want to give thanks to him for the way sex has bonded me to my husband. If you are someone who is still figuring out your own sexual ethic, then I strongly encourage that you to include God in that process.
My prayer is that your experience of your own sexuality may be like that of Adam and Eve in the garden: laid bare, naked, before God without any shame. Shame is not a part of God’s original design of our sexuality.
I believe that God cares deeply about each one of you. He knows you intimately and he wants to be a part of your sexuality. Without the baggage of shame.
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SHANE BAUMAN has been a part of the Generous Space community since 2008. He is a member of the board of Generous Space and the facilitator of the Kitchener Generous Space group. He is actively involved at The Living Room, an inclusive church in Kitchener as well as at SPECTRUM, Waterloo Region’s rainbow space. Shane is also the leader of the Gay Christian Networks’s WUM (Waiting Until Marriage) group.
He has been married to his husband Dave for almost 7 years and they share a love for mathematics and board games.