- Expected Jan 7, 2020
We all carry sexual shame. Whether we grew up in the repressive purity culture of American Evangelical Christianity or not, we've all been taught in subtle and not-so-subtle ways that sex (outside of very specific contexts) is immoral and taboo. Psychotherapist Matthias Roberts helps readers overcome their shame around sex by overcoming three unhealthy coping mechanisms we use to manage that shame.
Beyond Shame encourages each of us to determine our own definition of healthy sex, while avoiding the ditches of boundaryless sex positivity on the one hand and strict moralistic boundaries on the other. Define your sexual values on your own terms, overcome your shame, and start having great, healthy sex.
Therapist Roberts debuts with a pithy dissection of shame that delivers useful insights for a coherent, healthy sexual ethics. He opens with a discussion of three ways people cope with the pervasive shame around sex that Christianity has encouraged. They can live shamefully by keeping their sexual desires and actions secret, they can attempt to leave their faith shamelessly (which only temporarily removes the psychic pain), or they can bumble somewhere in the middle with unclear ideas and ad hoc solutions. Before providing the resolution to these approaches, Roberts hastily unpacks various inaccurate views that have informed Christian sexuality, including that the Bible is unambiguously consistent, pro-patriarchy, and anti-queer. For Roberts, the way through shame is gaining comfort with four paradoxes about sex: that it is both healthy and risky, that it causes and covers vulnerability, that it needs safety while being inherently unsafe, and that one has to make mistakes to use it correctly. The author's explanations of the physiological responses to sex, openness to many varieties of sex (including hookups), and personal stories of clients combine into a persuasive argument about honoring and understanding sex as connection. All readers, especially LGBTQ Christians, will come away feeling energized and equipped to deploy the suggestions for healthier sexuality without the weight of shame.