Frequently Asked Questions
What is the purpose of this group?
To be in conversation about topics often kept silent. Masturbation, queer issues, gender issues, the vagina, the penis, pornography, sex, God’s purpose in sex, sexuality across the lifecycle, you name it.
What does “religious sexual shame” mean?
Core to the human experience is the desire for deep intimate connection and to share that connection through pleasurable touch. This desire when activated by thoughts or attraction can ignite sexual desire. Religious sexual shame is caused when a person is told, through words or reactive negative action, that the natural desire for intimate touch, or the pleasurable touch itself, is wrong or perverted in God’s eyes when it is felt or desired prior to heterosexual marriage. Because the desire is natural, innocent and honest, the reactive negative response leaves the person or child feeling fundamentally bad or wrong. Since God was used in the shaming process, the person additionally feels a failure to God as well. Brene Brown says this of shame - “We live in a world where most people still subscribe to the belief that shame is a good tool for keeping people in line. Not only is this wrong, but it’s dangerous. Shame is highly correlated with addiction, violence, aggression, depression, eating disorders, and bullying.” We also know from research that shame causes people to ascribe a sense of worthlessness to their whole being, not just to the action or thought that brought on the shame response.
We also recognize that part of what contributes to religious sexual shame is the lack of formal comprehensive sex education. That in addition to being told your thoughts, feelings and desires for sexual connection and pleasure are wrong and separate you from God, there is enormous ignorance and misinformation about the human body, sexuality, and gender that is manifested because of this enormous lack of information. This lack of information places people at a distinct disadvantage to protect themselves and stand up to a myriad of potentially hurtful situations and opinions.
Why we care so much about sexual shame
Research has shown that sexual shame is one of the most profound ways that we interfere with a person's ability to form deep loving relationships and thus interrupt their goals for happiness. Here is the research definition of sexual shame:
Sexual shame is a visceral feeling of humiliation and disgust toward one’s own body and identity as a sexual being and a belief of being abnormal, inferior and unworthy. this feeling can be internalized but also manifests in interpersonal relationships having a negative impact on trust, communication, and physical and emotional intimacy. Sexual shame develops across the lifespan in interactions with interpersonal relationships, one’s culture and society, and subsequent critical self-appraisal (a continuous feedback loop). There is also a fear and uncertainty related to one’s power or right to make decisions, including safety decisions, related to sexual encounters, along with an internalized judgement toward one’s own sexual desire.
Dr. Noel Clark, 2017
Are you guys Christians?
Yes, no, maybe? Those of us who started TGFS do have Christian-based beliefs or upbringings and experiences. However, we all identify our faiths differently within the spectrum of Christianity and spirituality. Our individual experiences within Christian culture and our belief in God’s love and grace (not condemnation and shame) are what lead us to create this project. However, not everyone who speaks on our panels, is interviewed by us, submits their story or attends our events identifies as Christian.
Is this site only for Christians? What if I don’t believe in God?
Welcome! We want you here, in fact, we need your voices. As we build this site, we are bringing our own stories and experiences that mainly have come from Christian culture. However, sexual shame, religious sexual shame, and all issues around body, sexuality and gender are found within all cultures, religions, and upbringings. We want you to bring yourself as you are, your stories wherever they come from, and define healthy sexuality in ways that honor you.
I am a Christian and WHAT ABOUT THE BIBLE?!! OMG.
Among the most scholarly and respected theologians, you will find interpretations of the bible vary drastically. Our desire is to help empower and heal those who have been hurt by religious sexual shame, but we are not interested in getting into a theological debate. We could, but we are focused on our mission for individuals to find healing, comfort, solidarity, useful information and a community of grace and love.
Do you support LGBTQ?
Yes. We support all people trying to live in the world in a loving and just way.
What do you mean by “beloved”?
We believe all people were created on purpose by a loving God who calls them by name. We believe you are fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps.139); that nothing can separate you from the love of God (Rom 8:38-39) and because of this, you are Beloved of God. We also believe that when we understand how valuable we are to the creator of the universe - that our core nature is beloved - we can shed any doubt and shame we have gathered along the way. Believing our belovedness allows us to accept love and freely love others without fear of rejection and shame hindering us from the core call on our lives to learn the art and craft of loving well.
This is what ‘we’ mean when we use the word “beloved”. We would love to hear what you mean when you think of yourself as beloved.
Are you telling me that I should have sex before marriage?
Nope. We are not telling you to do, or not do anything. We are however advocating for a sexual ethic that is based on love and not fear, based on choice not control, based on sexual and relational knowledge not ignorance, based on justice, respect, mutuality, grace, confidence and openness. We desire for people to make decisions about their sexuality for themselves in ways that honor them, any beliefs important to them, and anyone involved. We believe your sexuality is a wonderful part of you, one that you have the right to feel good about and grateful for; one that you have the right to protect and story in a way that honors you. This includes the right to make decisions on your timing … to wait until the conditions most right for you are evident. We also believe that your sexuality, while a valuable part of you, does not determine your value, worth or purity. You are beloved of God just as you are - regardless of what you have done or not done, thought or not thought, felt or not felt.
Can you come speak at my church, event, group?
Contact Us! We would love to work with you.