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Sex, God, and the Conservative Church


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements Introduction 1. Christianity and Sex: What's Going On? 2. How Did Christian Sexuality Get Derailed? 3. American Consumerism 4. Hope for Clients: The Lost Message of a Sex-Positive God 5. In Pursuit of a Sex Positive-Gospel: Strategies for a New Sexual Ethic 6. Clinical Applications: Four Steps to Healing Religious Sexual Shame 7. Sex Therapy Interventions: The Anatomy of Intimacy 8. Sex Therapy Interventions: The Practices of Intimacy Epilogue: Are You a Renegade Therapist?

About the Author

Tina Schermer Sellers, PhD, is a licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex therapist, as well as a professor of sexuality and medical family therapy in the graduate Family Therapy Department at Seattle Pacific University.


"Dr. Tina Schermer Sellers' provocative book addresses the sex-negative doctrine in the conservative Christian church that instills in many people deep shame about their body and discomfort with the opposite sex, making them ill-prepared for marriage. Showing how notions of Christianity and sexuality are complementary, Dr. Sellers offers both therapist and lay reader examples of working with clients to heal the soul-body split, reduce shame, and deepen a couple's loving connection."-Stella Resnick, PhD, author, The Heart of Desire: Keys to the Pleasures of Love; couples and sex therapist, private practice, Beverly Hills, CA

"This book is powerful medicine for anyone who has ever suffered religious shame about sex. You will find compassion for your dilemmas of conscience, wisdom regarding the teachings of the church, and best of all-explicit practices for opening your mind, nurturing your heart, touching your body, and celebrating the spirit of all that is truly erotic."-Gina Ogden, PhD, LMFT, author, Expanding the Practice of Sex Therapy and other books

"Masterfully integrating psychology and theology, Sellers gives us a groundbreaking, razor-sharp view into conservative Christian culture and its shame-inducing sexual ethic. As a psychologist, I am impressed by the precision, validity and robustness of her research. As a theologian, I am grateful for the Christian sexual ethic-rooted in justice, mutuality, and an infinitely relational God-that she introduces. As a millennial who grew up in the conservative Christian purity culture that Sellers describes, the practices in this book lit my pathway to greater freedom from shame and more authentic connection to God, myself, and others. I hope therapists and Christian leaders- pastors, parents, and youth workers-will read this insightful book with an open mind."-Christena Cleveland, PhD, Duke Divinity School

"This is an enlightening, well-written, and clinically useful book on the problems and potential of conservative Christianity for clients dealing with sexual problems. Tina Sellers is uniquely positioned to make this unique contribution to therapy for a population often misunderstood by clinicians. Whether you're new to the field or highly experienced, I promise you'll learn a lot."-William J. Doherty, PhD, professor, director, Minnesota Couples on the Brink Project, University of Minnesota; author, Take Back Your Marriage.

"Most clinical programs-whether they are based in psychology or marriage and family therapy, social work or medicine, pastoral counseling, or any number of other fields in the "helping professions"-do not adequately prepare trainees to work with individuals or couples who have been indoctrinated with Church-driven messages of sexual guilt and shame. As a therapist and educator, I have struggled to find resources that help guide clients on a path in healing and growth-and to do this in a way that simultaneously embraces their sexuality(ies) and religious/spiritual faith. The wisdom and counsel that Dr. Tina Sellers offers in this book should be in every training curriculum, on every providers' bookshelf, and in every couple's home."--Tai J. Mendenhall, PhD, LMFT, Couple and Family Therapy Program, The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

"This book is a practical and yet deeply theological path towards healing for those wounded by a shame-based purity culture. Dr. Schermer Sellers researched and written a roadmap towards a sex-positive Gospel ethic of intimacy. I will be recommending it to pastors and counsellors and teachers everywhere."-Sarah Bessey, author; Jesus Feminist and Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith

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