Religion, faith and spirituality are beautiful parts of being human.
They instil high values and focus on people staying together. Yet few people that are in positions of power within religious sects outwardly advocate for healthy sexuality (regardless of relationship status or sexual preferences). It is still sitting swept under the carpet and has created some serious sexual blocks for the women in my coaching practice. I see way too many women who have out-dated, disempowering messages and mantras stuff up their relationship with pleasure and their ability to let. go. Worst of all, they were shamed because of their sexuality: frozen out by their community, called names, given incorrect information about their bodies and have been stonewalled. I’ll dive more into this and what you can do after I share where religion took me.
It feels so long ago now that I actually forget that all of this happened. It isn’t until I see the books on my shelf that I have flashbacks.
Before I got married at 25 and well before I learnt about sex, I went through a deeply religious phase. I was devoted to the Christian faith. At the time, it felt like a dirty little secret. What would people think of the Lauren that they knew? I hardly told anyone that I loved reading books that took me deeper into faith. The sense of ritual, the tests of unwavering faith, the hope and the ancient wisdom that felt unshakable. It all felt like the only answer to any human problem and my inner good girl was completely in her element on this path of study and obsession. But where was my sexuality?
I didn’t look for it, I didn’t miss it. Sexuality didn’t seem to fit in with this pathway, even when I bought books like Sex God by Rob Bell (yeah, the book still didn’t reconcile this conundrum for me as it talked around it rather than giving permission). This religious phase was so all-encompassing that my now husband was seriously questioning (and seriously supportive) if I decided I was going to become a nun.
Fast forward. I get married. This sexuality that I have swallowed for so long is about to overflow and I am an angry girl. I am irritable, I am without direction and purpose and I am locking myself away more often. The reason? Religion has lot its verve and there is nothing in its place. Lost and directionless is an understatement. It becomes strikingly clear that I am about to go through a change and I needed a replacement.
I search. I find Sexology and create this business when I have finished my studies. I am satiated. It encourages me to look inward and everything I practice seems eerily familiar. The mojo and lust to learn is high voltage. I immerse myself. Everything I devour is just like when I was right into Christianity. The books, the online searches, the level of interest, the new vocabulary. I become less irritable and feel like a channel for all of this info, wisdom and content.
Perhaps because I never grew up with religion in the same way, there isn’t really anything I have to shake off in terms of beliefs, values or messages so I feel like I dodged a bullet of sorts. I know it makes sex easier when you are not burdened with guilt and shame. If this is you, I feel you.
If you know religious messages and teachings are blocking your sexuality, here's what you can do:
+Divide messages within your faith into the ones that you stand by and that are aligned with your values and those that no longer work for you. You can do this on all levels – body, family, marriage/partnership, health, work and sexuality. What words and concepts do you want to live by and are they truly right for you? On a bigger level, who do you want to surround yourself with and what is their take on sex and pleasure?
+Replace old lessons with new mantras. Instead of all the bad girl/good girl/you are being watched and will go to a bad place if you do x, y and z, bring in what you need to hear about sex and pleasure. If the words in your head are berating you and you are doing something you want to do, remind yourself I am safe, it is safe for me to feel pleasure, sexual pleasure is a part of being human for a reason and I am free to enjoy it. Play around with what works as an antidote to negativity and shaming.
+If you are stuck with the advice that you need to have sex a certain number of weeks to relieve your partner and fulfil certain duties as a wife then these need to go! (unless you are perfectly happy and satisfied). Sticking to this despite your body saying no is a boundary violation – read more about this here. Women should not be forced to stick to sex rules. You have sex when it is a yes for you and you want to.
If all the messages are still at high volume and you feel completely stuck then it is probably time for sex coaching sessions to step in so you can completely unburden and rewrite your next sexual chapter. I have helped so many women reconcile holding their faith close and being sexual at the same time. It is so possible and they can be so complimentary.