- Paperback: 202 pages
- Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (April 23, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1138674982
- ISBN-13: 978-1138674981
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 40 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #77,422 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Sex, God, and the Conservative Church: Erasing Shame from Sexual Intimacy 1st Edition
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“Dr. Tina Schermer Sellers’ provocative book addresses the sex-negative doctrine in the conservative Christian church that instills in many people deep shame about their body and discomfort with the opposite sex, making them ill-prepared for marriage. Showing how notions of Christianity and sexuality are complementary, Dr. Sellers offers both therapist and lay reader examples of working with clients to heal the soul-body split, reduce shame, and deepen a couple’s loving connection.”―Stella Resnick, PhD, author, The Heart of Desire: Keys to the Pleasures of Love; couples and sex therapist, private practice, Beverly Hills, CA
“This book is powerful medicine for anyone who has ever suffered religious shame about sex. You will find compassion for your dilemmas of conscience, wisdom regarding the teachings of the church, and best of all―explicit practices for opening your mind, nurturing your heart, touching your body, and celebrating the spirit of all that is truly erotic.”―Gina Ogden, PhD, LMFT, author, Expanding the Practice of Sex Therapy and other books
"Masterfully integrating psychology and theology, Sellers gives us a groundbreaking, razor-sharp view into conservative Christian culture and its shame-inducing sexual ethic. As a psychologist, I am impressed by the precision, validity and robustness of her research. As a theologian, I am grateful for the Christian sexual ethic―rooted in justice, mutuality, and an infinitely relational God―that she introduces. As a millennial who grew up in the conservative Christian purity culture that Sellers describes, the practices in this book lit my pathway to greater freedom from shame and more authentic connection to God, myself, and others. I hope therapists and Christian leaders― pastors, parents, and youth workers―will read this insightful book with an open mind."―Christena Cleveland, PhD, Duke Divinity School
“This is an enlightening, well-written, and clinically useful book on the problems and potential of conservative Christianity for clients dealing with sexual problems. Tina Sellers is uniquely positioned to make this unique contribution to therapy for a population often misunderstood by clinicians. Whether you’re new to the field or highly experienced, I promise you'll learn a lot.”―William J. Doherty, PhD, professor, director, Minnesota Couples on the Brink Project, University of Minnesota; author, Take Back Your Marriage.
“Most clinical programs―whether they are based in psychology or marriage and family therapy, social work or medicine, pastoral counseling, or any number of other fields in the “helping professions”―do not adequately prepare trainees to work with individuals or couples who have been indoctrinated with Church-driven messages of sexual guilt and shame. As a therapist and educator, I have struggled to find resources that help guide clients on a path in healing and growth―and to do this in a way that simultaneously embraces their sexuality(ies) and religious/spiritual faith. The wisdom and counsel that Dr. Tina Sellers offers in this book should be in every training curriculum, on every providers’ bookshelf, and in every couple’s home.”--Tai J. Mendenhall, PhD, LMFT, Couple and Family Therapy Program, The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
"This book is a practical and yet deeply theological path towards healing for those wounded by a shame-based purity culture. Dr. Schermer Sellers researched and written a roadmap towards a sex-positive Gospel ethic of intimacy. I will be recommending it to pastors and counsellors and teachers everywhere.”―Sarah Bessey, author; Jesus Feminist and Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith
About the Author
Tina Schermer Sellers, PhD, is a licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex therapist, as well as a professor of sexuality and medical family therapy in the graduate Family Therapy Department at Seattle Pacific University.
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The author clearly describes useful formulas for creating a “sex-positive” gospel meant to transform the damage that survives to this day from centuries of the all-too-prevalent “sex-negative” gospel. The decrees of early Christian leaders, warnings that amounted to sex is dirty and sinful and the road to ruin, have afflicted multitudes too long and in too many ways.
The therapist/author asks (and answers) such questions as:
“How has Christianity contributed to our culture’s ignorance about eros, sacred sexuality, and the human body?”
“How can people heal from years of religious sexual shame and faulty teaching, while still respecting their faith traditions?”
“What are actual, intimate sexual practices that couples can share that will build a sex life that is wholly integrated into their spirituality?”
Her insights on the history of the early church’s sex-negative messages, based on renouncing the flesh, were enlightening. She analyses the dualism of ancient philosophers in Plato’s era, the belief that the human spirit is separate from the body, as well as the false narrative that the human spirit is superior to the inferior human body.
The Apostle Paul and St. Augustine added their own distrust and suspicion of the body’s profane nature, which fueled an atmosphere of silence and shame resulting in sexual condemnation, unprecedented ignorance, profound levels of sexual dysfunction, and pervasive sexual illiteracy.
How sad that millions of people have experienced so much sorrow and suffering over the centuries, the very opposite of Jesus’ ministry of compassion, love and justice!
I appreciated how the author did not shy away from Eros, the idea that God gifted the world with the vital energy that animates every living thing. Rather than the tawdry meaning we tend to assign to Eros today, as being “pornographic,” Eros instead moves us out of our solitude toward closeness and union with others and brings forth “our passions, our deepest hopes and desires, and our creativity to experience the fullness of life.”
That’s good news. The truths that God created humans as erotic beings with sexual desires and designed us to experience pleasure should be shouted from the rooftops. We’re meant to be erotic.
The author also addresses the pop culture’s and secular media’s distortions that “the best sex is wild, spontaneous, risky, free, and unattached.” She asks, pointedly, “How can a couple cultivate a sexual relationship that is intimate, erotic, relationally nourishing, rooted in God’s love and mutuality, and bubbling over with pleasure and connection, when the highest virtue is either the church’s call toward sexual suffocation or the culture’s call to unrealistic, untrained sexual abandon?”
That’s the bind that traps many and which many frequently struggle to transcend.
To wrap up, A) has Tina Schermer Sellers demonstrated clear evidence that it’s time to erase religious sexual shame from sexual intimacy? And B), has she provided ample ways and useful therapeutic models of behavior and fresh attitudes for us to become the lovers God intended us to be? My answer, “Yes” to both!