Let’s Talk…About Sex?


A Gathering Voices Post

This weekend I’ll be leading workshops on some hows and whys of talking about sex(uality) and embodiment in our local congregations. It’s a tricky subject and one that, though I’ve somehow managed to acquire a “local expert” label, makes me uncomfortable every time I prepare to talk about it. Creating the slides, choosing the right words, preparing the handouts – in all of these things, I catch myself fighting back anxiety by holding my breath. Which, of course, begs the question: If you’re so uncomfortable, why talk about sexuality at all?

Seriously, should we talk about these tough topics in church? I not only believe we should, but also that we must – and here’s why:

  • Because sex(uality) and embodiment make us uncomfortable. Avoiding and repressing things that make us uncomfortable inevitably creates space for those things to twist up and fester. Whether the topic is money, or power, conflict or sexuality, when conversation is taboo it becomes all the more likely that abuses will flourish.
  • Because sex(uality) is about more than just sex (that’s what the parentheses are all about!) – it is about relationship with self, with others and with God. It is about how we feel in our own skin, how we love and relate with our own bodies. It is about being completely vulnerable with another human being. It is about a sensual nature woven within us by our Creator. To only talk about sex(uality) in terms of individual sex acts is neglectful, inaccurate and even dangerous!
  • Because sex(uality) and embodiment are matters of life and death. Often this reality gets condensed down to a simple “sex kills”. Yet while that can be true, there is even more at stake than potentially life threatening STIs – there’s also the fact that shaming others about sex, sexuality and their bodies has the power to kill. Too many GLBTQ people in our communities, young and old, have taken their own lives or been murdered because of both our words and our silence about sexuality. Too many people (across lines of age, gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation) have taken their own lives because they either hated their bodies or hated themselves for past sexual choices. When we refuse to discuss these topics openly, we are complicit in the violence – and when we create safe space for open and loving conversation about sex(uality), we are given the power to save lives.

The truth is, we are going to disagree – especially when conversation leads us to questions about “the” biblical understanding of sex. Some of us will insist that the “traditional way” is the only biblical way, and some of us will point out biblical passages that don’t fit neatly into that traditional understanding. Some of us will advocate for programs that teach about everything including contraception, and some of us will demand abstinence-only curriculum. At times, our conversations may will be painful and frightening – but none of these realities are an adequate excuse for not talking about sex(uality) in our congregations.

So I wonder:

  • How are you making these conversations a part of the life of your faith community?
  • What part of talking about sex and bodies makes you the most uncomfortable? Or, is this not a source of discomfort at all?
  • Are you willing to risk discomfort and disagreement for the sake of greater spiritual and sexual health in your faith community?


Beyond Avoidance – #reverb10



December 20 – Beyond Avoidance.

What should you have done this year but didn’t because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?) (Author: Jake Nickell)



This year I ignored and otherwise avoided every possible opportunity to improve my relationship with my own body – a fact that is incredibly ironic given the amount of time, words and reflection I have focused on issues of embodiment and incarnation.

It would be overly simplistic to call myself a hypocrite and move on to something else. Though I am inclined towards hypocrisy as much as the next person (I’ve noticed that while most of us dislike other hypocrites, we regularly hold ourselves to different standards on an issue here or there), I can also say with utter honesty that reclaiming the body in Christian thought and life is one of my great passions. I believe that it needs to be done. I believe that it is important. I know in my heart of hearts that bodies matter, including my own. Sometimes it’s just easier to think about things than it is to actually live them.

This year fell into that “sometimes” category quite nicely.

So here I am, looking at how I’ve treated my incarnate self over the past twelve months…and I’m stuck with the reality that I haven’t treated myself particularly well at all.  It’s not that I’ve been mean or intentionally harsh – it’s that I haven’t approached this Lara-in-the-flesh with any intentionality at all. The mind has been cultivated: I’ve read and written and meditated and discerned. The heart has been watered and given room to grow. But the body? Well, the body’s been given a couch and a bag of Cheetos and told to quiet down.

But she hasn’t been quiet. Instead, this body’s been nudging me in a desperate grab for attention: wrists and fingers on fire when I write too much, hands that throb and lose their grip for no good reason, glistening white hair sneaking in like the first snow of the season… Every sign she gives points an unwavering finger towards the reality that if this body of mine is going to be my friend in life, I need to start paying attention to her NOW.

And so it is.  I can either ignore her for another year, or I can do right by her starting now. Vegetables, exercise, nurture, consistency, discipline – It’s really a frightening thing, this realization that I’ve got so much work to do. Frightening enough that what I really want is a cookie. Or some fudge. Or those magical and comforting french fries. You know, to soothe the fear…

Maybe a manicure and pedicure are in order: a zero-calorie treat for hands and feet that are about to get a whole lot more use. It’s not a cookie (or a jog in the park), but it will do – it’s definitely a start!



Creator God,

You who knit us together in our mother’s wombs –

be with us as we unravel old habits

and stitch together new garments more fitting for the journey towards wholeness.

Give us humor as we try new things (and sometimes stink at them).

Give us tenacity as we work towards endurance.

Give us gentleness as we learn to love our precious selves-in-flesh.