This book provides necessary tools to identify the assumptions, behaviors, and structures that promote, while masking, sexual shame in individuals and congregations. Written in 2001 for Christian congregational leaders and clergy, it has sold thousands of copies over the years, and remains easily available. Diverse readers reach out to me with heartfelt thanks for this book! The book helps people to realize the underlying religious biases which lead them to feel ashamed. Using my healing steps, they moved beyond shame.
“We all carry shame about sex,” I said at a clergy conference where I was teaching. One very tall participant in the back of the room stood up, without raising his hand or waiting for other comments. “I don’t,” he said, and sat back down. To this day I wonder how he escaped the messages within most world religious traditions that confine sexuality to a procreation mandate.
Most people have sex that doesn’t lead to procreation, yet faith traditions still maintain that this is the only “right” and “healthy” purpose for sex. Anything beyond heterosexual procreative sexuality is deemed unworthy in the sight of God, while most people practice outside those bounds.
McClintock tackles the ‘shame’ of us all with careful, deliberate, analytical thinking that is both biblically sound and theologically challenging. Readers are called to shed the negative shaming experiences of their own lives, admitting truth and accepting a new freedom for themselves and others.
… This book is an excellent resource for any clergy person or professional lay minister who is interested in helping people to heal. McClintock is well versed in theological, psychological and family systems approaches to the problem of sexual shame. …
Sexual shame erodes individual self-esteem, relational health, and congregational life. The parents of gay sons feel shame. People who don’t live up to their own ideals as perfect lovers feel shame. Christians who live in committed partnerships without the contract of marriage feel shame about “living in sin” in the eyes of the church. Congregations that restrict conversation about sexuality or repress it with taboos and stigmatization remain shame-bound.
Within each community and congregation there are members who have been living in deep shame. Shame may be reinforced through preaching and teaching about immorality and sin. Shame may be underneath an individual’s hesitance to become active in a congregation. Shame may be the reason someone sneaks into the back row and sneaks out to the parking lot hoping not to be noticed.
This book is offered as a resource for the personal liberation of those who have experienced shame in their families or in the church. I write it believing that we are all created in God’s image, male and female, and that we were intended from the time of creation to live without shame. When God created humans, they were created in God’s perfect image. They were also “both naked, and [they] were not ashamed” (Genesis. 2:25).