Sexual Shame: An Urgent Call to Healing

Sexual Shame: An Urgent Call to Healing

Sexual Shame: An Urgent Call to Healing

Sexual Shame: An Urgent Call to Healing


This is the book that will provide pastors and congregational leadership the tools to identify the assumptions, behaviors, and structures that promote, while masking, sexual shame and to begin healing sexual shame both individually and corporately.

Chapter one provides an historic overview of theories of sexual shame; chapter two provides a theological framework for exploring issues of sexual shame; chapter three reviews Judeo-Christian biblical perspectives on sexuality; chapter four identifies twentieth century cultural shifts in perspectives and attitudes on human sexuality and marriage that provide the context for the experience of sexual shame; chapter five identifies shame-based distortions of human sexuality; chapter six delineates the congregational context of sexual shame; chapters seven and eight offer models of recovery from sexual shame for both individuals and congregations.


The Many Faces of Sexual Shame

Perhaps you have picked up this book because you have experienced sexual shame. The feeling of shame underlies sexual dysfunction: impotence, lack of sexual drive, sexual compulsion, and incest. The experience of sexual shame underlies obesity in women and contributes to anorexia and bulimia. Sexual shame in men may be experienced as impotence, depression, and addiction. Sexual identity shame is at the core of the hiding or “closets” that gay people and their families often live in. Sexual shame affects individuals, families, congregations, and communities.

Sexual shame erodes individual self-esteem, relational health, and congregational life. The parents of gay sons feel shame. People who don’t live up to their own ideals as perfect lovers feel shame. Christians who live in committed partnerships without the contract of marriage feel shame about “living in sin” in the eyes of the church. Congregations that restrict conversation about sexuality or repress it with taboos and stigmatization remain shame-bound.

Within each community and congregation there are members who have been living in deep shame. Shame may be reinforced through preaching and teaching about immorality and sin. Shame may be underneath an individual’s hesitance to become active in a congregation. Shame may be the reason someone sneaks into the back row and sneaks out to the parking lot hoping not to be noticed.

This book is offered as a resource for congregational discussion and for the personal liberation of those who have experienced shame in their families or in the church. I write it believing that we are all created in God’s image, male and female, and that we were intended from the time of creation to live without shame. When God created the first man and the first woman, they were created in God’s perfect image. They were also “both naked, and [they] were not ashamed” (Gen. 2:25).

Some of the stories you will find in this text may produce discomfort. The experience of shame is deep and can become overwhelming.

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