Daniel is just one of my clients that tells me something like: “I slept with Maureen last night, so unexpected;” I break in to say, “You mean you had sex with her?” It is not the first time I have corrected him, or many other clients. And, yes, sometimes my friends; I just happen to hear about sexual encounters more often in my psychotherapy practice.
Often, I hear on TV, ‘I slept with so and so.’ Or read books by modern authors, such as Eve Ensler, (author of The Vagina Monologues), who wrote in her recent memoir, In The Body of the World: “I could not say that the men I ended up living with or sleeping with were more important loves.” Why is it so dangerous to say the word SEX in a culture ready with sexual jokes, sexy clothes, nude scenes and sex education?
I have actually slept with men without having sex, and I don’t mean my husbands or boyfriends…I mean men friends or acquaintances I chose not to have sex with yet we slept in the same bed. Safely. Even with a man I had just met at a running race.
Being brought up in a very strict religious home where sex was not talked about, made it difficult at first to feel relaxed talking about sex with my clients which is a must. That is if you wish to treat the whole person. Why – I won’t let my clients get away with using the euphemism of ‘I slept with.’ And why, I took the risk to say something very dangerous, for me that is, in my sister’s Sunday School class. She is a born again christian which is a belief I have left behind, gathering up a spiritual practice that connects me to everyone with love.
When I visit my sister in Florida once a year, she wishes me to go to church with her, and so I do despite my dislike of the preaching that there is only one way to god. I want to please her. This year is my third visit to her Sunday School class, so there is some familiarity that counters a bit of my fear to speak up.
I carefully shape my words: “I was a ‘born again christian’ for many years. I need to share my experience of how the church has hurt me, not meaning to offend you. The teaching of a child that he/she is going to hell if they do not believe in jesus as their savior is not loving because it is out of fear that I chose to believe. And, as I John 4:18 states, ‘There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear.’ Also, the guilt I have carried for not caring for others enough is not my kind of love that I now feel for others, where I give out of genuine caring, not out of guilt. Thanks for listening.”
I was surprised to hear one young woman affirm that the church has done such hurt, yet she still believes that Jesus is ‘the way, the truth and the life; no man cometh unto the father but by me.’
Surprised again, when after the class broke up, a man dressed in a purple shirt came to me saying: “Thank you for what you shared.” I wish I could remember why he thought that. I must have been in shock.