I am dismayed that I am writing this post from the seat of a wounded heroine. The “sex is…” is a sex-postive campaign developed by a health department in Washington, D.C. I bravely wore this shirt as clergy and sexual health educator today in Detroit knowing that I may face opposition but I also faced positive interaction. The negative dismays me, a tad bit.
My social location: (if I even need to provide that…) I am an ordained itinerant elder in the AME church. I became interested in sexual politics around 2004-2005 when the political climate was hot both church and state. Finally, the cover was pulled from sexual misconduct within the church and for several years even the AME church had to deal with allegations and legal battles.
As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and young seminarian, I began to delve more into sexual ethics, sexual politics and the looming public health crisis, especially for African American people. As I studied Kelly Brown Douglas’ and Margaret Farley’s work on sexual ethics and sexuality in the black church, I knew that there was a crisis at hand. How could the church only be responsive to negativity? Why aren’t we proactive about teaching healthy sexuality? Why aren’t we supportive to those who have survived sexual abuse or gender-based violence? Why don’t we promote whole, healthy, responsibile human sexuality in a spiritual Christian framework?
In short, as a woman who lived through sexual abuse as a teenager and sexual violence in adult relationships, it is a brave, courageous, feat to be able to assert anything positive about sex. It has taken years and work to reclaim ny physical, emotional, mental, sexual and sacred space.
So my claim that sex is healthy is situated in much more than promoting “loose values.”
Professionally, I talk to students who have been and are currently being victimized by creeps (who are often in church, sitting in pulpits–too be frank)–my job is to teach them about being boundaries and consent, and what a healthy relationship actually looks like. (I never really saw a healthy relationship until my late 20s, and finally did thanks to my pastor and his family).
All that too say… look past the term ‘sex’ because believe me you…its happening and many doing it! Then again look at it…God created human beings, sex is a part of life. We should actively teach a healthy, good and Godly sex.
The black church in particular tends to focus on sex in unhealthy ways–cheating, promiscuity, disease, rape, molestation.
What if we celebrated our bodies?
What if we were taught to understand the tingling and urges?
What if we provided safe haven for the wounded and the different?
What if we promoted HIV testing in our churches, rather than secretly burying those who die from the disease?
What if we taught negotiation skills and how to say no instead of “No, You’re going to hell!”?
What does healthy, holy, mutual, respectful, trustworthy, fun, safe sex look like?