Welcome! Yes, everyone is welcome.

At Sexual Wholiness, NakID Ministries offers a place of community discussion where we will all get to talk about sticky subjects regarding our sexuality in Jesus. Part of the name of NakID involves our identity — our identity in Jesus, our sexual identity, our culture, and others. Is sex enough to define us? Is Jesus someone we can identify with? Why is sexuality important to who we are, and in what ways is it sometimes unimportant? What does it mean to have sexual desires as a Christian?

We hope that this becomes a place of community discussion, not a read-only blog. You can comment anonymously or publicly, where you and your thoughts will be treated with respect and care.

Love and delight,

Sexual Wholiness writers

Shea Davis

Atticus Shires

Chelsea Tonti

Katelyn Skye Seitz

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Opening the Blinds

I’m looking outside my window. My view is obstructed by the slats of the blinds—I can glimpse only fragments of grey sky and back-lit palm trees, the cars and the side of my dorm building. I can’t see the whole scene. This makes me feel uncomfortable, but I don’t get up to open the blinds, because I am nicely settled in my chair.

I feel like we often see people the way I’m seeing the view right now—not holistically, but full of blank spaces and grey areas, and we settle for that. But why?—Fear? Insecurity? Pride?

We are all brothers and sisters in this huge dysfunctional family. We are called by our Father to love one another and I really believe that means to see each other holistically, with all the mess and inconvenience that entails. We’re called to embark with one another, for one another, on this journey of reconciliation and relational healing. 

Last semester God gave me a deep yearning to love on people, to make them feel the warmth and weight of His embrace and see themselves as intentionally pursued and chosen for that love. I was the excited Biola freshman who visited each table at the University’s ministry fair, and eagerly put my name on almost every email list. When I walked over to NakID’s table, I had no idea what to expect. I was surprised by their openness and boldness. Questions later, I shared my heart with them: the relevance of the issue in the world today, my desire to love on hurt people, my need to understand much better and my wish to be a listener in this arena. They affirmed my desire and assured me that NakID would be a genuine and safe environment to ask question and engage in healthy discussion, so I embarked.

Spring semester rolled around a month and a few rainy days ago, and I’ve had a lot of new questions. I’ve been looking inward a little harder and outward a little more critically. There’s so much I don’t know, and I’ve been relatively okay with that for most of my life, but recently there has been a shift in my soul and I’m wrestling with questions. In thinking about this piece and beginning to write, I keep coming back to two main questions: How active of a role should we play in the mission of reconciliation and relational healing in the lives of those around us? And, does everyone have to care about hurting people? (And the underlying question, does everyone have to care about those in the LGBTQ community that NakID seeks to provide a safe space for?) 

I feel heaviness in my soul as I ask these questions. I look around me at other students—thriving, laughing, or just trying to survive—and I wonder, do they need to open their eyes and hearts to this conversation? Do they actually need to reach out or is that just me projecting my calling onto them?

I do not have all the answers, which is something I’m learning to be glad about because it means I get to work through questions with Jesus and with others. But I think the answer to the second question is yesWe should care about marginalized people. I believe God truly desires it, and perhaps Jesus even prescribes it. 

We do not simply live in our own little worlds but are members of society. The way we treat those around us, and whether we choose to see them holistically or not affects the whole community. I think we all should be asking, "How can I be a part of making this a place where people feel safe to ask questions and safe to be themselves as they participate in community?” 

So let’s not gloss over our wounds. Though we are not solely shaped by our heartache or margins, we cannot truly know someone or truly love humans well until we are willing to acknowledge every part of who they are, as we pray for them, see them, and love them. For us, that means cultivating a spirit of understanding and vulnerability by creating a safe space to ask questions and be loved holistically.

Loving people has a domino effect—when you love someone well they are able to love others well in turn. I dare you to embark on a journey to love relentlessly, with a love that is bold and full of expectation.

When I Came to Biola

I just want to say that I did not sign up for this. I’ve been among the Church my entire life, but my biblical knowledge had only been stretched as far as: “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so…” So when I came to Biola, I had no intention of finding the most controversial topic on campus, grabbing it by the horns and dealing with it head on. The last thing I wanted was to be at a school that has a tendency towards homophobia, to have one of my best friends at Biola identifying as bisexual, and realize that God was calling me to stop hiding behind the scenes and start speaking up for people who have been thrown in a closet and told they can’t come out until they change.

Before I really had a notion of what God was calling me to do, He broke me. I felt like I was going insane. I was crying around three or four times a day, I was constantly pissed at people, and I had no idea what to do about it. After some time I found out there was someone on campus that could be a great help to some of the crazy ideas I had floating around in my head. I had lunch with Atticus, and even though he was still mostly closeted at that time, and I happened to be a naïve, straight, baby Christian, we decided it was time to do something on Biola’s campus.

On that day when Atticus and I decided to start this ministry, we embarked. We began a journey that we only had a vision for; we had no experience or true understanding of what we were attempting to undertake. We were both scared. To begin something so controversial—and for me, having such a young walk with the Lord—I felt like there was no way I could do this. And really, I’m straight. How does this even impact me? So I would try to walk away from it, and through many strange circumstances I was shown that I really had no choice. My brothers and sisters were hurting; I had to be someone who was willing to try, even if I didn’t have all the answers.

As we planned this semester, I am overwhelmed by how God has prepared me to be a leader in this ministry. Sure, He still hasn’t given me all the answers, not even close. I have spent many a night rattling my brain and trying to answer the toughest questions out there. But I find no rest there. I do, however, find rest in a community where we work together to be the body of Christ. But this takes each person resisting the temptation of letting fear grab hold of them, and instead, willing themselves to embark with the rest of us. It takes courage to be a part of and commit to a community of sinners. You have to be humble and be willing to look at your own sin in the face. But you also get the opportunity to find the kind of acceptance we all desire, just for being a human made in God’s image. So I am asking you, whoever you are, to step out in faith and know that we are a community that seeks Truth in love. 

Embark with us.

photo credit: Emily Weisbrot, OhYouDog Photography
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“Teaching” Healthy Sexuality: The Church's Harmful Narratives

by Shea Davis

It is extremely hard not to generalize the past of the Christian Church and its approach of teaching sexuality. Unfortunately, there tends to be only one message the Church seems to make very clear in regards to sexuality: You must wait until marriage to have sex. There are no ifs ands or buts. And unfortunately this leads to feelings of being lesser or out of God's love for those of us who have fallen short.

In other words, "If you didn't wait, you didn't love."
photo credit: juicyecumenism.com
Some of us have been blessed to hear or experience a more positive narrative of the blessing that sexuality is. However, some of us have been told that sexuality is something to squelch instead of foster. We have been told that it is not something beautiful, and, if not experienced in the confines of marriage, will lead to shame and guilt.

And don’t get me wrong; I am not saying that some of the things the Church teaches are incorrect. I fully believe that sex should only be experienced in marriage. The problem isn’t with the Truth of God’s Holy Word and what it commands of Christians; it’s the way the Church then takes the Word and applies it. 

The Church has hit the Abstinence message home. I am pretty certain that most young Christians in the Church have an idea that “sex before marriage is wrong.” But do they know why sex within marriage is so good? Why sex before marriage falls so short of the kind of intimacy and fulfillment sex within marriage can provide? Do we hear how stewarding our sexuality (not killing it) makes us more human and more connected to God and others? No. And why is this? Because the only people who speak on sexuality are either lecturing us or telling us this deep testimony where they climbed out of the dark hole of sexual sin and through the blood of Jesus Christ they have been purified once again. And the church can then grab them by the hand is say, “To everyone out there, this is an example of why we don’t have sex before marriage.” Don’t get me wrong, those testimonies are inspiring, and relatable to so many of us, but there has got to be another message. There has got to be something to look forward to.
We need to create a community where married people and singles can come together and speak truth, encourage, love, and support one another. We need to be raising and building up sexually healthy Christians — Christians who aren’t afraid to speak of S-E-X; Christians who know the consequences of sin, but also know the blessing of living the life they were designed for.

For those of us who have been hurt by the Church or fellow Christians, we need healing. Some of us have to change the way we look at ourselves. We are no longer the people we were before Christ entered into our lives. We became a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). We are forgiven (Ephesians 1:7). We have every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3). This list goes on and on. And though many of us hurt, we no longer need to be bound by our past, because through Jesus we have freedom.
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Misconceptions the Church Puts On Me As an Unlabeled Gay Man

by Atticus Shires

Making a conservative, evangelical, Christian college become my home has been quite the ride. I have had to live, literally, with people who not only misunderstand me, but also decide to let their misconceptions script how they act around me and how they see me (or not see me, rather). When people act according to my “gayness” instead of my humanness, it leaves me in a state of feeling disconnected, misunderstood and very unloved and devalued. I don’t want to be seen for what’s between my legs or whom I prefer there.

But I do want to connect with my fellows. I want to be known by them, and I want to commune with them.

photo credit
I can only imagine how awkward, and sometimes threatening, it can be living with a “gay guy” (or girl). So I don’t want to come off across as an offended better-than-you; rather I want to offer some perspective and some advice on how to enter into my Narnia so that we can experience and enjoy one another as fellow creatures. You’ll be tempted to read blunt bitterness into my words, but I hope you read the following points as true perspectives without the masks.

:: (Misconceptions are in bold & italics; my comments are in plain text) ::

I’m gay therefore I lust. While lust is my preferred sin of choice, it has nothing to do with my sexual orientation (to which sex and gender I’m sexually attracted). Do you have lust problems because you’re straight? We lust because our humanity is defective, and sexuality in general is defective. Lust is a malfunction of biblical sex; a thievery. Lust strips and blanches that which God calls good (Genesis 2:25). 

You have a penis therefore I want it. Rather, you have a soul therefore I want to see and know you. Men, do you have the desire to pounce on every vaginal human life form that breathes? Of course you don’t. As a matter of fact, it’s likely that the most sexual thing you first notice about a woman is her hair or her curves, not her clitoris or how fertile she is.

I think guys are hot therefore I think women are aesthetically repulsive. Rather, I have very few female friends who I do not find physically attractive… Let’s think about today’s celebrities; there are many adorned and beautiful men and women that walk the red carpet. We find (or don’t find) them attractive; we’re drawn to certain beauties in certain bodies of certain sexes. How wonderful! —Seriously. How magnificent is it that we can appreciate and value beauty, and that what we find beautiful will be different from what your roommate or partner or little sister finds beautiful? …The fact that I may be vocal about who I find attractive doesn’t have to do with the fact that I’m “out and proud,” but more to do with that I’m comfortable and confident in expressing delight in the human form, male and female, and send that praise to the Father.

“Don’t be naked around Atticus; let’s encourage him by making sure we aren’t stumbling blocks to him.” You are not just a sex object, nor am I incapable of refusing to objectify you as a piece of ass. Your body is not a “stumbling block” to me, but rather you trip me up when you misunderstand me, failing to see me as fully human. You no longer hold safety in the eyes of my trust-abused soul. Learn what nudity means to me; be curious and ask questions; ask me what your body means to me.
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Jesus, people. Jesus—allow him to come into your thoughts before making assumptions. Curiosity did not kill the cat; but assumptions kill Gospel-minded conversations.

I hate gay jokes. Rather, if I have a problem with your humor or banter of choice, it’s likely because you’re dehumanizing and victimizing the marginalized, not because it involves “gayness” (Hint: it can be a gay joke, for example, but it can be any form of social injustice or public pain that you choose to satirize.) Not all gay jokes are dehumanizing. Last week, a dear friend and I ventured to the music building on campus. In previous years, I could get into the building anytime I wanted; this is the first semester I’ve been denied card access to the locked building. Tim and I walk up to the door, and, alas, it’s locked. We both let out a sigh of frustration and disappointment. Tim, with an impeccable sense of understanding and dry humor, says, “I can’t believe they deny card access to gay people. That’s just not right.” I looked at him. He looked back, waiting for my reaction. We laughed. In that moment, I felt sympathized with that I was “discriminated against” because I’m not a music major (thus not allowed card access), to which the joke referred. But in that moment, Tim was also saying that he’s comfortable with who I am, and that being gay is not just part of my life that contains hurt or difficulty, but my sexuality is also something to delight in and enjoy. I felt known and cared for when Tim expressed mutuality with me — frustration and simultaneous enjoyment.

I can’t possibly experience non-erotic physical intimacy with a male. This is easy to assume, I suppose, if you also believe that men and women cannot share non-erotic physical intimacy in friendship. Don’t think it’s possible? Want an example of a man who exemplified non-erotic intimacy with women? Here’s a clue: 2.83 billion people have never heard His name.

There are many more misconceptions that constantly tear apart the sexually marginalized from those who misunderstand them. Perhaps there will be a Part 2 to this article, but for now, what are your thoughts on these misconceptions? Can you think of any others? Do you disagree? Let's create a safe place in the comment section below for all voices to be heard and respected. I look forward to the ensuing dialoge.

Struggles and The Miracle-Gro Church

 by Atticus Ford Shires

I wanted to start out this article with a bunch of single-word sexual buzzwords to make it Look. Really. Dynamic. But I couldn’t think of enough to make it work, and the ones I thought of weren’t that great. Except for one — Struggle.

Ah, yes. We all know and loathe that word.  With it connotes thoughts and realities of failures, unmet expectations, secrets, addictions and any onomatopoeia that resembles the feeling of blech. When we think of sexual holiness, “struggle” is usually the first word on our why-I-can’t-achieve-sexual-holiness list. I can’t achieve sexual holiness because I struggle with porn. I can’t achieve sexual holiness because I can’t stop masturbating. I can’t achieve sexual holiness because I like guys. These are just hypotheticals, of course…

Often, sexuality as a whole is considered to be in the shameful/don’t-touch category when it comes to sexual holiness, which is quite ironic considering we’re talking about sexual holiness. We are told we can’t be sexual and sexually holy. We can’t possibly look at a woman or man’s body with delight and be practicing sexual holiness. We can’t wrap our minds around the concept that the act of self-stimulation might be something that can garden sexual holiness. And a young man with undeniable same-sex desires has only one option if he is to live in sexual holiness: deny the undeniable, reject the desires and live in spite of them.

Well, these things work about as well as telling a horny, teenage Christian boy to carry a stress ball, find a hobby, or pray for a once-in-a-blue-moon wet dream to relieve the sexual frenzy going on inside his chemically imbalanced body.

Sweeping our sexual desires under the rug or in the closet or beneath the fig leaf is not the answer to achieving sexual holiness. It’s the problem.

This is a why I have a huge issue with the ever-popular Christian narrative for modesty that goes something like this: “Omgosh, Stacy, I’m so proud of you for wearing that one-piece. And don’t worry; if your boyfriend truly puts Jesus first, he won’t think it’s frumpy at all,” or, “Ugh, look at Stacy. I can’t believe she would wear such a slutty two-piece to a church pool party.”

Chances are, Stacy doesn’t struggle with modesty issues, but rather Miss I’m-a-better-Christian-than-you has a serious, fear-based people problem. My high school was riddled with these Jesus freaks, where martyrdom meant sacrificing your soul for the sake of status, and honor meant covering up—in every sense. Cover your passions, cover your personality, cover your soul, and you sure as hell better cover your body and your struggles. Ain’t nobody wanna see all that, okay? Nobody. I mean, my god, this is church. Put a freaking cardigan over those, Stacy.

It’s ironic and sad that the very shackles of shame Jesus’s ministry sought to destroy are the same legalistic pre- and post-requisites we place on people of the Church.

The church many of us grew up in told us that sexual holiness is like a report card, and God was your angry dad who would neglect you if you didn’t make straight A’s. So when you’re a B student with ADHD like me, you’re screwed. So to speak.

But Jesus tells us that sexual holiness is a growing seedling that must be gardened with time. It’s normal to go through drought seasons; it’s okay when occasional frosts stunt blooms from budding. But gardening never ceases, and neither does the love and perseverance of God. The sun always melts away ice and dries up monsoon floodwaters.

The church tells us that chastity and virginity are the utmost achievements of sexual holiness, which will one day be rewarded with a perfect husband or wife who is also “pure”, with whom you will have 2.1 children. So keep that wedding dress white, okay, ladies? But Jesus was single, and he never married! He didn’t tell single people to buy a Match.com account, nor did he see married people as pedestal elites. He saved a woman who was stones away from being clobbered to death just because she was caught having an affair. I doubt this Jesus would tell Stacy to cover up her midriff. But Lucy Whinealot might have some ‘splaining to do.

The church tells us that our struggles are parasitic evils that we need to exterminate fast. The faster you break your porn habit, the more sexually holy you are. But you’re still not as good as Timmy, who hasn’t ever looked at porn. So even if you do quit fast, you’ll still be a B student. Just wait until your father gets home.

But Jesus says that sexual holiness is a growing seedling. I don’t care how much Miracle Gro you put on that little sprout; it takes time, Jesus says. 

It takes a lot of time. Gardening never ceases. Even for you, Timmy. So, when it comes to “struggling”—and we all struggle—we need to stop listening to spiritual abusers and ignorant church-y traditions, and start listening to the daring, cross-cultural, sexually revolutionary, provocative and untame: Jesus—sexually holy and Gardener of souls.

An Introduction to Our Belovedness

by Katelyn Skye Seitz

A reconciliation needs to happen.

We have pitted our sexuality and our spirituality against each other and a reconciliation needs to happen. I invite you to take a step back with me, back from all the confusion, all the hurt, all the lies and all the tension that has informed so many ideas we have been given about sexuality. This step back we're about to take is not to escape our sexuality, but to get a fuller look at it.

The avoidance narrative has taught us that sexuality is, well, something to be avoided, that our ignorance implies our holiness and that our sex drive is something to silence. This is an effective narrative because it uses an effective instrument: shame. In her book, Daring Greatly, Brené Brown states, “shame derives its power from being unspeakable”. If any subject has been silenced by shame, it’s our sexuality.

We have been asked to "stay virgins until marriage". But I believe this is asking too little of us. I believe this standard does not do any justice to the beauty, depth and intricacy of what it means to be a sexual being. Healing from the damage shame has caused will take grace and it will take courage; but it ushers in celebration. And that is what I would like to introduce into this conversation: grace, courage and celebration. Grace for ourselves, courage to believe in our belovedness, and celebration as we live into it.

Now prepare to re-enter into this conversation with a new narrative — one in which the protagonist is our belovedness. That is what this conversation needs to be about. Sexuality was never meant to get in the way of spirituality. Something Amy Frykholm adeptly communicates in her book, See Me Naked, is that the body is a vehicle of the holy, not a barrier to the holy.

This narrative says God created us as sexual beings on purpose and He believes it is a good thing. Whether we own this or not determines how we engage in our sexuality. As Jonathan Martin explained in his book, Prototype, “It turns out that knowing how loved we are by God makes all the difference in the kind of people we will become”.

This narrative refuses to be colored by fear — fear of our bodies, fear of our desires, fear of vulnerability, fear of mystery, fear of connection, fear of tension. Our humanity is deep enough to hold such mystery; it is capable of thriving in tension. It is made for connection, lost without vulnerability and comes alive with desire. God is found in these.

Yet, in this inherited and cultivated shame of sexuality, we have curtailed ourselves from much beauty, truth and goodness meant for this sacred embodiment. Being a sexual being is wild and vulnerable and mysterious, and that can be scary. Scary, but not worthy of shame.

Nothing God created and called good is worthy of shame.

I think it's time we allow our belovedness to reclaim this conversation. We have watched shame inform our view of sexuality for long enough. It's time we hear what God has to say. Turns out, there is no script for stewarding our sexuality. If this comes as a disappointment, go read the array of books on sexual purity giving you lists upon lists of the “do’s and don’ts” and get back to me when you are tired of these lists failing to engage the entirety of your humanity. We are aching for something that dignifies our desires more than rules to manage them.

One thing I have found is that seeking wholeness in my sexuality looks a lot like just becoming a healthy human being. The skill of knowing oneself requires intentionality, reflection, self-compassion, grace and belief in our own belovedness. And it is when we allow others to do this alongside us, when we believe in their belovedness, sexual stewardship will flow from this place. This will take courage, but most things worthy of our humanity do.

In posts to come, we will look at some of the places where we have been living according to a shame-based script and we will consider how these have been holding us back from stewarding our sexuality. But for now it is enough to breathe in our belovedness. If we do not start here, we will get nowhere. From here, as Amy Frykholm puts it, we can begin "to learn to grant to one another, in the Body of Christ, an opportunity to speak truth in love and to forge ahead toward wholeness." Reconciliation needs to happen.

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