I’ve thought about how I would start this for weeks. No… Actually, I have contemplated this beginning for years. The reality is that this blog site has been designed and developed for well over a year and it has sat blank because to begin writing and then sharing those words with the public, means I open myself up to others in a particularly vulnerable way. In all honesty, dreaming about the blog is fun… sitting down to actually write is terrifying. So, what is this blog all about and why should you read it?
The idea for this blog is a manifestation of a couple of decades of work, stories heard, research read, thoughts experienced with a cup of coffee (or maybe a glass of wine) in hand, debates at kitchen tables, and prayers to and conversations with the God of the universe. I am a woman who wears many hats on a given day. I am first and foremost, a woman who seeks after the heart of God. My spiritual journey is a fascinating one – pieces of it you will certainly be privy to through my writing here. That spirituality and relationship with God is foundational to who I am in all of the other places in my life and the roles I assume on any given day. Other roles I assume on any given day are: wife, mother, step-mother (not the wicked kind…at least, I hope my step-daughter doesn’t see me as wicked-bad. I could deal with being seen as wicked-awesome), cook, financial planner (not a great one), friend, daughter, auntie, professor (this is real and true as evidenced by the P, the h, and the D, that follow my name, but moreso in the piles of papers to be graded that sit on my desk) and researcher. All of these roles are, in and of themselves, absolutely riveting but none really offer much new to the world with the exception of the wild intersection of two of them. I speak of my relationship with God and identity as a woman of great faith and my professional role of professor and researcher of human sexuality. Say what?? Yep, God and sex… that’s my world and I have a lot to say about it.
For the last twenty years, I find myself navigating between two spheres that relatively rarely collide. I spend my professional life in the university. I research and read and teach, spending most of that time working in the subject matter of sexuality. I have a deep love for sexual research and the field in which I work. There is not much that gives me more professional joy than presenting sexual information and research to a group of eager students, desiring to understand this field more deeply. Alas, I have found a deep divide between my professional world and the world my heart and soul often long for, that of the spiritual realm, and the growing and nurturing of my faith. As a young professional, I purposely separated these worlds and compartmentalized my various roles and identity. It was, frankly, easier to have a quiet faith in my professional life and, conversely, to not share much about my professional life with the church. Essentially, these two critically important aspects of who I am made me a black sheep in both families. One cannot really argue, with much success, how long the church has either ignored or been blatantly hostile in regards to many issues related to sexuality. For this, I was nervous that people in academic circles would judge my intentions or assume a bias that I did not possess. In church, I was tired. It is exhausting to be on the defensive so much, worrying that people are constantly questioning my work, my field or the reality and magnitude of my faith. But, I managed somehow to navigate both worlds, somewhat successfully.
And now there has been a radical shift. I, no longer, wish to interact in these separate spheres. I am here now to cause a massive collision and fully integrate these spheres of faith and sexuality because, frankly, they need to collide and integrate. It is time (and much overdue) to open up dialogue about sexuality and faith… and it is time to do so for the church. This last week, I attended a conference for the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS) that took place in Atlanta, Georgia. During the first plenary session of the first night, we heard from Dr. Jocelyn Elders. Dr. Elders was the surgeon general under President Clinton in 1993-1994. In her talk, she made a lot of wonderful points about sexual health, but one point was made clearly by her and really spoke to me. She said that for us, as a nation, to become sexually healthy and happy, we have to start talking about sex in church. When she made the statement, an audible “Amen” came out of my mouth.
Sexuality is a really BIG term that reaches into many facets of our lives, often unseen, unacknowledged and even misunderstood. I find sexuality to be one of the most incredible aspects of human life, just as I find faith to be critically important and foundational. For me, the spheres integrate beautifully and seamlessly. I believe that human sexuality is a divinely-created constellation of emotions, behaviors, and yearnings that underlie our identity. To not acknowledge sexuality in the context of faith means that we fail to discuss or even try to understand a huge, beautiful part of who we are – people created in the image of God. I believe it is time to call out the lack of real, educated conversation about sexuality within the context of “the church” and in faith. It is time to open a dialogue where we can wrestle with important issues in a loving way with the goal and intent of truly understanding the magnificence of sexuality and how it manifests in ourselves and in our fellow human beings. I hope to help walk with those who are willing to read and work, in some of these discussions. I will do so, through this blog, presenting important issues regarding sexuality and how it interacts with issues of faith. I will present scientific research and findings and integrate them with thoughts on faith and scripture. I hope to engage in meaningful dialogue and discourse and hope that those of you who consider yourselves people of faith will join me in conversations that are much over-due. We have a lot of ground to cover.