If you were brought up to view sex and sexuality as sources of shame and embarrassment, you may find that such feelings tend to linger no matter how educated, open-minded, and open-minded you consider yourself to be today. If your background is religious, it’s probably worse.

Fortunately, in our Lord’s year 2021, many religious leaders and secular counselors know that harsh teachings on sexual expression and orientation do not do much to find the spiritually headstrong path and can even exclude believers. Whether you’re trying to balance your religious inclinations with your carnal desires, or trying to overcome the shame you internalized as a child and dragged to bed in your agnostic adulthood, we have brought in experts who can help.

Illustration for article titled How To Overcome Religious Shame In Your Sex Life

Don’t be afraid to talk about sex

Talking about sexuality is illegal in many religious households and communities, but if you refuse to talk about something, it won’t go away. A 28-year-old adult entertainment artist in Philadelphia who visits Claire Voyant tells Lifehacker that her religious upbringing is still causing problems in her sex life, but she’s slowly working it through by speaking to friends and counselors.

Leo Morton, associate pastor and drag queen in North Carolina, suggests the same, adding, “Everyone needs two really good things in this world: one is a good hairdresser and the other is a good counselor.” Morton is openly gay, posed however, states that when he first spoke to a clergyman about his same-sex attraction in his youth, he was closed and told not to bring it up. Obviously, that approach didn’t make him any less gay – and if you don’t talk about sexuality, it won’t make you any less astute, but just unnecessarily ashamed of doing it. Failure to acknowledge your sexuality will only result in oppression, and so archaic ideas about sex lead to such ubiquitous shame. When you talk about sex, you can break the cycle before the cycle breaks you.

Fortunately, there are specialist counselors out there who can help – people like Kevin Salazar, a psychotherapist at the Gender & Sexuality Therapy Center in New York City, who tells Lifehacker that they often see lingering shame in their work.

“I find it common for clients who grew up in a conservative religious setting to feel ashamed of the way they experience (or do not experience) sexual and romantic attraction. People may feel ashamed to respond to their attraction, even in a supportive and friendly environment, ”they say.

Sexually positive friends can also help

Counseling is not the only option as friends are good listeners too. Claire, who is also a retired sex worker, explains that because her Catholic education taught her that sexual pleasure was a woman’s duty to care for a man, she struggled during partner encounters until her late 20s masturbating or focusing on her own enjoyment. She once decided not to wait for marriage – in itself, it is a big step for people with a similar upbringing. Talking to friends, she says, helps, although she admits she’s “jealous” of those who grew up in more liberal households and don’t really know where she is from.

“I feel totally like the weird person at times, like hiding in plain sight,” she says.

Salazar explains: “People who grew up in a conservative religious environment and now have a liberal, sexually positive community have also expressed feelings of being isolated and not understood by their peers who have not experienced the same type of shame and stigma . “

In some cases, a “hair of the dog” approach can work, especially if you are still spiritual. Talk to insiders who can relate to it. Not all religious leaders are like the one Morton encountered when he first questioned his sexuality, especially in this day and age. If you’re trying to balance the sexual part of yourself with the religious or spiritual part, you don’t have to choose one.

“The shame and stigma that the Church has instilled in relation to sexuality – regardless of orientation or gender – has long been around,” said Rev. Mandy McDow, senior minister of the First United Methodist Church in Los Angeles striving to ensure that their community welcomes members from the LGBTQ + community and sex workers. “It was a way in which the church exercised power and dominion over the vulnerable, which is a real sin.”

Find community online

There are also welcoming rooms outside traditional churches. The most obvious and extensive option is here on the internet.

“There are various religious and spiritual communities that will welcome and expand their understanding of gender, gender and sexuality,” says Jesse Kahn, LCSW-R, CST, director and sex therapist at the Gender & Sexuality Therapy Center. “And if you care about being part of a particular church that tends to have more repressive doctrines, there are often differences in the way the doctrines are discussed based on geography and in progressive online spaces.”

Kahn also recommends Erica Smiths “Program to End Purity Culture. “Hell, There’s even Reddit.

Illustration for article titled How To Overcome Religious Shame In Your Sex Life

Learn how to talk to yourself about sex

Don’t be afraid to work on yourself and for yourself. As Claire can testify, sex is not just about your relationship with someone else. it’s about you as well. Salazar recommends logging and listening to related podcasts or reading books. Claire suggests reading columns like this, then taking the time to explore your own beliefs and desires in a comfortable space. Go at your own pace, she says, and practice gentle self-talk: “The more positive news you can incorporate into your life about sex, the better. If you can, get the most out of it until you get tired of hearing people talk positively about sex because you really have to completely rewire your brain. “

Repeating Salazar’s advice to replace the aforementioned stigmatizing language with affirmations in her client practice, Claire advises, “Think about the time in your life that was allotted for people to speak negatively about sex, and now you have to do that. twice as positive. ”

If you can believe that an omniscient God was angry with you for being sexual, why not try to believe that the same God would be proud of you for it? Morton sums up his thoughts accordingly: “God created us and we are beautiful and our body is part of the expansion of God himself.” Praise be.