This is a guest post by Shara (bio below).
Kristin’s note: While religion has been the seed of profound Love and awakening across time and cultures, it has also been the source of tremendous shame and wounding around bodies and sexuality. I’m grateful to Shara for telling her story here, and for the ways it opens such an important conversation around sexuality and spirituality.
I hope you’ll feel free, no matter what your perspective, to join this conversation. Truly, all are welcome. We need to hear from each other.
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My body is the only real temple there is. A site so precious that once upon a time tribes from all over the globe worshiped at its altar. Their creation story was a reflection of the womb. And sex was considered sacred, for it truly is the dance of Life.
Now it took many years to come to this path I’m on now. It’s not a typical coming of age story, but like most it has its joys and its sorrows.
By 12 I had the body of a woman and mind full of curiosity. Deep down I knew that my sexuality was a gift and my greatest source of power. I wanted to experience every aspect of it. And I did, without shame, without fear, without judgement. By 17 my explorations opened me up to a level of love that I had never known before. With this partner sex and its meaning got way deeper, and for the first time my soul was enlivened. I had experienced Love. A love that put me on the path to seek the deeper meaning of life, to discover my purpose and understand my connection with the divine. But that journey took an unfortunate detour.
As an unsuspecting teen from the North East, I had no idea that “Church” was a culture down South. Religion was never a big deal growing up and I was raised in a multi-cultural home where respect for all colors, beliefs and values was the only mantra. But I was seeking God and just happened to get accepted at a university in the Bible Belt.
So instead of finding the source of the Love that awakened my search for God in the first place, I found condemnation. I was condemned for my early healthy sexual explorations and was indoctrinated into the fact that this was the very sin that was keeping me separate from the love of God. The Church’s demand for “sexual purity” got so intense that once a Pastor declared that I had the “Spirit of Lust” on me and needed Jesus! Little by little I traded my source of power for “God’s salvation”. And for the first time in my life I viewed my body which was originally a source of so much pleasure and awakened love in my heart, as something shameful, unholy, and responsible for making men lust and fall from grace. These were dark times indeed.
Luckily my quest for Truth was stronger than doctrine and I finally left the Church. But I was left picking up the pieces of my shattered self confidence, body image, and sexual expression that Church repressed and destroyed with guilt and shame for so many years. Thankfully I recovered and truly found the love of God. I understand what Jesus meant when he said your body is a temple. And I can tell you that to call the most precious gift that the gods have ever bestowed on us sinful, is the only sin there is.