(Photo courtesy of Moody Publishers)
WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS CONTENT FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY
Why Your Sexuality Matters
An Interview with Dr. Juli Slattery
By Sarah Komisky
Did you know your sexuality matters and more importantly, that it matters to God? Yep, it’s true, yet most of us fail to recognize its importance and are also too embarrassed to ask questions or reveal our struggles. For many of us, our sexuality has become a source of confusion and shame, so we decide to navigate its waters alone thinking it’s easier, when in reality, it’s not. Today, many both in and out of the church are wrestling with things like casual sex, cohabitation, porn, masturbation, and LGBT issues alone. Yet, clinical psychologist, author, speaker and the president/co-founder of Authentic Intimacy, Dr. Juli Slattery wants to change that. In her newest book release that acts as a journal and devotion, “Sex and the Single Girl,” connects the topic of sexuality with God. We at Marked Ministry read the book ourselves and were able to catch up with Juli to ask our questions from her newest release. Here is what she had to share.
Sarah: For starters, let’s talk about the purpose of equipping women with God’s truth regarding their sexuality. You have devoted the past five years to this passion. Why is it so important to you?
Juli: My passion for this ministry has evolved over time. In the beginning, it was a step of obedience to the Lord. He clearly burdened my heart for the sexual brokenness women were experiencing around the world. As I’ve learned more about the purpose of our sexuality as well as the many ways it can be distorted, I’ve realized that sexuality is a very spiritual aspect of who we are as women. When sexuality gets distorted, it changes the way we view God. As women embrace biblical truth on sexuality, it changes their relationship with God.
Sarah: “Sex and the Single Girl” is a really powerful book, maybe you can share about how this came about?
Juli: We initially began the ministry, Authentic Intimacy, speaking mostly to married women. We quickly realized that single women were very interested in making sense of their sexuality. We kept hearing, “Why didn’t I know this information when I was younger… before I made so many mistakes?” We began creating resources like Sex and the Single Girl to equip and challenge single women in a biblical understanding of sexuality.
Sarah: Many young women have heard the message, “don’t do it” or “just wait” when it comes to sex and are left with unanswered questions that often result in making bad choices. Why does that approach not work?
Juli: That approach doesn’t work because it paints an incomplete picture of sexuality and why it matters to God. For example, what if a young woman has been sexually abused? What if she never gets married? What if she gets married, but struggles sexually within her marriage? Where is God’s perspective in the midst of these questions? We live in a world that has challenged every assumption about sexuality. We need to help women sort through a biblical framework of how to understand sexuality, sexual intimacy, sexual brokenness and redemption.
Sarah: How important is it to examine the assumptions underlying sexual behaviors and beliefs?
Juli: I think it’s critical. Unfortunately, many Christians barely scratch the surface of why they believe what they do about sexuality. Because we are not rooted in a theology of sexuality, the world’s perspective seems much more coherent and convincing than a biblical perspective. This is one of the main reasons why we see Christians adopting a cultural sexual ethic.
Sarah: One of the things I love about this book is that it connects sexuality with God. Many of us are kind of surprised to know that God created our sexuality and cares about the choices we make in that area. Why is this fact important to know?
Juli: It’s one of those obvious truths that we skip right past instead of leaning into. This is important to know for a few reasons. First, it gives purpose to our sexuality, even as single women. While sexual activity is reserved for marriage, we are sexual creatures by God’s design regardless of marital status. Making this connection also helps us bring sexual issues to God – through prayer and seeking truth in His Word. Many Christian women never consider that God cares about their sexual pain, temptations and questions.
Sarah: Unfortunately, many women have not come from a home where they felt safe to talk about their sexuality and were not taught about it at all. Yet, the world is very comfortable talking about it. So, how young women begin to reach out to someone safe (i.e. mom, mentor, trusted friend, youth leader, etc.)?
Juli: The good news is that everyone seems to be talking about sex. It may feel a bit awkward, but Christian leaders are starting to realize the great need to address sexual issues. I would pray that God would direct you to the right person to talk to and trust that you are not the first one (or the only one) who has the question/struggle you have.
Sarah: Secondly, how can moms who are reading this begin to have this open dialogue with their daughters and earn their trust?
Juli: I think the most important shift we have to make is to think and talk about sexuality within the larger context of life, the Gospel and relationship instead of always making it a separate conversation. Sure, there are times when you sit your daughter down and teach God’s design for sex, but most of our sexual conversations should be within the context of life and God. For example, your daughter’s friends are probably dating. Talk about what is “normal” for romantic relationships at her school. What happens on social media? These conversations present an opportunity to learn what your daughter is being confronted with, engage her in critical thinking, share your own experiences at her age, and to guide her with biblical truth.
Sarah: You write about the distortion of God’s purpose of our sexual design with the increase of porn use (among men and women), sexual exploitation on college campuses, cohabitation, and sexual experimentation. In your book, you note that in order for a girl to be confident in their godly decisions regarding sex and sexuality, they need to be equipped with a bold biblical perspective and have the confidence to talk openly about it. How can this book be a gateway for that?
Juli: First of all, it gives young women a foundation of why God created us as sexual and why sexuality is under such great attack. If you don’t have that foundation, it’s difficult to confront cultural beliefs. This study is also an opportunity to talk about sexuality with a small group in a way that is edifying and not graphic. I don’t think most Christian women have had that modeled for them.
Sarah: Counterfeit intimacy is also talked about in this book. How can we safeguard ourselves from these temptations?
Juli: We need to be able to identify what is a counterfeit – and what makes it a counterfeit. For example, why is cohabitation different than sex within marriage? Again, without the foundational link of sexuality and covenant love, most Christians wouldn’t be able to answer this question.
Sarah: Shame and fear block our intimacy with God. Many of us experience this from sin and secrets we’ve hid from God and others. How can we begin to experience freedom in this area?
Juli: We have to believe that God really will meet us with grace and forgiveness. We hide our sin and live with shame largely because we don’t understand God’s grace. I’d encourage a woman in this situation to read Psalm 32. It explains what David’s life was like when he hid his sin from God and then what happened when he brought it into the light. Instead of hiding from God, David learned to hide in God. God became his “hiding place” and his strength. Coming out of hiding means being honest with God and also taking the step to share your struggle with at least one other person who can walk the journey of healing with you.
For more on Juli Slattery visit: www.authenticintimacy.com