Religious messages can create a lot of shame around sex. But it’s possible to reclaim pleasure for your body and to be both spiritual and sexual.
Messages from the church such as virginity is sacred, being LGBTQ+ is sinful, masturbation is wrong, sex is for reproduction only, etc., can be damaging, to say the least. But there are ways to deprogram, and to learn to feel comfortable with sex and pleasure while holding on to your faith.
Bowers says it’s important to first understand sexuality and spirituality as a spectrum, and that the two are not mutually exclusive. She points to religious texts and proverbs, such as Song of Solomon, that actually celebrate sexual pleasure and sensuality. She also explains some of the history behind the church’s negative views on sex even though Jesus didn’t really mention sex much in the bible.
Bowers says thinking about sexuality and spirituality has helped her redefine sex. Now, she sees it as an intentional time for physical pleasure that’s about intimacy and shared love. She points out that the fact that some of our bodies have parts exclusively made for pleasure, like the clitoris, shows our bodies are intended for fun.
Bowers recommends some resources to help reconcile conflicting ideas between religion and sexual pleasure, such as Redeeming Sex and Give me Sex Jesus. God and the Gay Christian can be helpful to queer people who are religious.
Unlearning messages of shame around sex isn’t easy. Seeking supportive communities, in or out of a religious spaces, and educating yourself on sex positivity, can help. Whether you choose to leave religion, just take the parts that serve you, or fully incorporate religion into your life, there’s no reason to feel uneasy about your sexuality.