Q Christian is a community comprised of people with diverse backgrounds, differing theological beliefs, and a variety of ethics. Q Chats are designed to be a deep dive into self-discovery by learning from one another, and spiritually growing side-by-side. Q Chats cannot be effective without you! We invite you to participate. Share your thoughts, stories, and perspectives. Your influential voice can make a difference in the lives of others.
Want to learn more about the people behind the perspectives? Read more.
Has shame affected your sexuality and/or sexual ethic? If so, how and what did you do to overcome the effects of shame? If you’re still working through it, what are you doing?
Shame has been very much part of my narrative, and it has been a fuel that has prompted me to express my sexuality in a lot of unhealthy ways. By its nature, shame wants us to turn inward and hide, and the more we cover that part of us that feels broken or perverse, the more power shame has over us. Overcoming shame, then, requires us to do exactly that opposite of what shame tells us: We must force ourselves to be vulnerable and seen by others. Expressing our shame to people we trust and receiving their support and unconditional love shines a light on shame and causes it to wither. Not everyone in our lives will have the capacity to affirm us, which is why it's so important to find a circle of people with whom we can be vulnerable and truly seen.
My experience might be different from that of most LGBTQ Christians. I can honestly say shame has never informed my views of sex. My ethics have evolved with age and experience, but what has remained constant is the belief that sex—as long as it is consensual—is a good and healthy part of the human experience.
Shame has deeply affected my experience of my sexuality. It wasn’t until I was 32 that I accepted my sexuality and believed that God would bless my relationship with a man. Until that time any sermon, song or discussion about repentance always led me to praying to God to heal me from my perceived sexual brokenness. During my dating relationship with my now husband I went through stages of fear and doubt. I was very grateful for his loving support. I am glad to say that by the time we reached marriage I felt confident that God was in our relationship and celebrating with us. I have been married 9 years now and I can wholeheartedly say that God is with us. In my husband’s embrace I feel the embrace of God.
I will add that pornography has been a destructive force in my life and has added a lot of shame, even up until today. I believe that sex should be about love and caring for your partner. It should be more about giving rather than taking. Pornography for me is the exact opposite. It is about consuming others and using them for my own pleasure. It grows selfishness in me.
Luckily, shame has not been a major influencer on my sexuality or acceptance thereof. I recognize the privileged position this comes from - I didn’t fully wrestle with my sexuality until I was a well-established adult. As such, shame to meet the expectations of others was never a real factor for me. I also grew up in an environment where sexuality wasn’t shamed; it just wasn’t talked about at all which is perhaps a familiar experience for other mainline Protestants. The end result was ignorance (related to both the “nuts and bolts” and nuances of sexuality) more than shame, which comes with a host of problems of its own to resolve.
Of course! I had a purity ring that I gave to my first girlfriend and high school sweetheart after our first sexual rendezvous. I remember looking at myself in the mirror while shame settled into my body after it had dawned on me that I was no longer a virgin. I was a 17-year-old who had planned to wait until marriage, I thought I was damaged goods. And when I started to focus on same-gender attractions happening in my body, I felt even more damaged. In college, I soothed the pain of feeling damaged by trying to sleep with those who could prove to me that I wasn’t. I made a lot of poor decisions out of shame. I spent many hours with my therapist and examining my emotional cravings to overcome my shame. Realizing that my desires were pure was a major revelation that helped me peel the layers of shame away.
Shame has certainly played a role in diminishing my personal flourishing, and in a strange sense, it wasn’t the baggage of religious strictures. Even before I was comfortable enough to come out, the conservative ethic I held had fallen away. It didn’t take long. It was after coming out that shame around my body began to take a deeper hold on my psyche. Honestly? I’m still working through it. I’m a big believer in body positivity and the eradication of fat-phobic and ableist ways of denigrating our beautiful bodies. Shame around one’s body has profound impact on one’s ability to engage in liberated sexuality, and I’ve experienced this in my own life. My ethic changed quickly and without much effort–it had always seemed inadequate–but now, the hard work of dismantling the harmful way I see myself is only just beginning.