Sex; a Benediction
A blessing for our bodies
Now in paperback!
NEWS: my latest book, Shameless, is now out in paperback! so. much. more. affordable.
New cover, new subtitle, same shame-busting content.
As a celebration of the paperback release, I am offering the benediction I wrote just for the SHAMELESS TOUR.
Thank you all for your support!
I want everyone who has been shamed by religion’s messages about your body and your sexuality to know that Genesis tells us that Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed until they listened to a snake. That’s where shame entered the story. Shame has an origin and it isn’t God.
When Adam and Eve were hiding from God in the garden, God was like, “Where are you guys?” and they said “we are hiding because we are ashamed of our nakedness and of afraid of you” God said “Wait. Who told you you were naked?!?” Who told them they were naked? My money’s on the snake.
See, Shame doesn't come from God’s voice. Shame comes from voices who say they are speaking for God. And that’s different.
So if you are a woman who pledged that you would not have sex - before you even knew who you were or what you really wanted, I want you to know that God didn’t ask you to give God back the sexuality God created you to have. Your sexuality is yours. It never belonged to your father, or your church, or your husband, or your girlfriend. It’s yours and it is to be enjoyed. And I want that knowledge to bless you.
And if you are a man who absorbed the messages of the patriarchy more than you realized and who has shame about the behavior our culture told you was ok I want you to know that it is never too late to be a better man. And if those messages also included ones about a masculine ideal you never met, I want you to know you’ve been lied to and you are glorious just as you are and I want that knowledge to bless you.
I want queer folks who have been told by the church that their sexuality is offensive to God to know that God is not ashamed of her children. Not only that, but your queerness is a gift the church needs. Like Phillip needed the Ethiopian Eunuch – only a queer eye could notice something as queer as water in a desert. We need you to show us what we can’t see, and you deserve love and sexual flourishing as much as anyone does. I want that knowledge to bless you.
I want everyone who was ever the fat kid at school, to know that your value, beauty and dignity has never belonged to the crowd. It belongs to you and you are glorious. And I want that knowledge to bless you.
I want everyone who has had violence done to their bodies to know that the trauma your body holds can be metabolized into something else, something raised from soil like Jesus himself who showed his hands and his side to his faltering friends and said “peace be with you”. Because God saves us in our bodies, not from our bodies and the I want that knowledge to be a blessing.
And I want all of us who hate our bodies to know that God loves them on days we can’t. And right here - right smack in the middle of our body hating culture, and a billion dollar industry that relies on the dissatisfaction of our actual bodies I want you to know this, that God is made known in actual bodies:
God is made known in the miracle of our infant bodies, so recently come from God that you can smell him on the heads of newborns
and in the freedom of our child bodies as they were before shame and self-consciousness entered into them,
and in the confusion of our pubescent bodies
and the excitement of our teenage bodies as they become familiar with desire,
and the fire and ice of our young adult bodies as they connect with each other,
and the mind-blowing magic of our baby-making bodies,
and the wisdom in our aging bodies (when we re-gain a small measure of the freedom of our pre-shame child bodies),
and in the so-close-to-God-you–can-smell-him beauty of our dying bodies.
If human bodies were anything less than holy, I don't think they would be where God chose to place God’s image. Your body is not evil and it need not be destroyed, or disciplined, or ignored because these bodies have carried us through our whole lives and deserve our thanks. I want that knowledge to be a blessing.
So I guess what I am saying is to hell with shame.
Damn the shame about wanting sex or the shame of not really wanting sex at all. Damn the shame about being in a sexless marriage. Damn the shame about pleasure itself. Damn the shame about the harm done to us. And for sure damn all that shame about our bodies.
For you carry in your queer, straight, cis, trans, fluid, fat, thin, short, tall, hairy, disabled, beautiful body the very image of your creator who has claimed and named you as their own. That voice is the voice of love. And it is eternal. And no other voice - not society’s, not the church’s, not your family’s - and certainly not the snake - gets to tell you who you are.
Where to find me
March 12th - MASDISON, WI - Bethel Lutheran
March 26th - KNOXVILLE, TN - Episcopal Church of the Ascension
March 29th - ATLANTA, GA - Spelman College - preaching at Sisters Chapel
April 3rd - DENVER, CO - preaching at the Denver Women’s Correctional Facility
April 26th - Vancouver, WA - preaching at the installation of Rev. Lenny Duncan
May 1-3 - Miami, FL - She Recovers Conference
May 31st - Denver, Co - preaching at The Wilderness service 6p at St John's Episcopal Cathedral
What’s Happening in The Corners
Thank you to everyone who is engaging with and supporting my work in The Corners by becoming official subscribers. I’m so grateful!
In the last couple weeks we’ve had a very active thread discussing our religious upbringings and current involvement (or lack of involvement) in religious communities. Like, over 1,000 comments! I also published an essay about Lent and how I think that living a spiritual life means that we ever so slightly pivot our heads toward that which matters most - and the conversation on that post has really kind of blown my mind.
Coming up this week: an Ask Me Anything thread.
Later this month: The Corners Book Club - we’ll discuss this hearty, and fascinating look at the history of Christianity: Dominion by Tom Holland
(reminder: we offer free subscriptions (hundreds so far!) for anyone who wants to participate but is financially strapped. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will hook you up.)
If you’re interested in more engagement with or you just want to support my work, join us in The Corners.
Here are a couple of books that I found very helpful while I was writing SHAMELESS:
Unprotected Texts; The Bible’s Surprising Contradictions About Sex and Desire by Jennifer Wright Knust