Shame-less by Nadia Bolz-Weber


If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive. Brené Brown, Daring Greatly

Alert! Long post, if you can’t read it now, save for later!

This book is for women who are almost-enough, who are struggling every day of their lives to be perfect, to deliver the image of the good mother, sexual goddess, ideal companion, and out-of-this-world-body.
This book is for all men who are obsessed with sex and physical pleasure, as well as for men who think that sex is toxic.
This book is for priests, pastors, queer people, neighbors next door, and powerful lords.
This book is for believers and non-believers.

It doesn’t mean you have to agree with every word, saying, idea, or situation in this book. We sometimes forget that books aren’t written for ‘our agreement,’ but for thinking. And sometimes, seeing. Seeing beyond… 

We are all going through different stages of shame during our lives. C.S. Jung once said, “Shame is a soul-eating emotion.” It is probably worst of all, and this is where all our problems start – depression, anxiety, confusion, anger, guilt. Shame welcomes judgment and blame too. Shame destroys every part of us that still believes we are capable of change.
The book offers layers of stories, voices, perspectives on sex through religion, history, poetry, scripture, and real life. 

Check the most interesting facts, keys, or thoughts:

  1. Sex and Church in a competition

Sex, like a religion, can alleviate the pain of separateness. It can soothe the ache of not being seen. It can tame the fear of aloneness. It can change the feeling of being incomplete.
The church is connecting you to the Holy via union with God. And holiness means “clean” for any religion. They strive for purity of body, mind, spirit, ideology, but purity is not the same as holiness. It’s just easier to define.
Our purity does not make us Holy. It only creates “insiders” and “outsiders.” And these purity systems or rules affect far more than our relationship to sex or booze: they show up in politics, in the way people shame each other on social media, in the way we obsess with “eating clean,” and so on… Purity leads to pride or despair, not to holiness. Because holiness is about union WITH, and purity is about separation FROM.

  1. Prohibition is never the key

When the society or a group trying to create a picture of the evil of sex, it leads not to an increase of holiness, as should be, but to a culture of hypocrisy and double standards. Fast food in America does a lot of harm to the health of people, but no one suggests banning chicken nuggets from production.

  1. You are worthy because he loves you

We all know the message that Eve emerged from Adam’s rib. She entered life, grateful to be a helper. She was always an “Us,” never once an “I.” God gave her to Adam, like a mail-order bride (poor boy was bored!). So, Adam became her purpose. Thousand years passed, but nothing changed. We are still Eves, who are looking for the attention of a boy… We are searching for purpose – to be worthy, to be that Eve to an Adam.

I see this tendency in poetry and literature. Women want to be told in the poems (by unknown guy… well, preferably by the guy!) that they are worthy of love. They want to hear that tomorrow the one and only will knock on their door. They need an Adam to say to them – your Adam is on the way. It should be obvious, like:

You are worthy of love,
My love.
I am on the way to save you,
Only you.

Excerpt from the book
“In the car that day, my lanky, twelve-year-old body was wedged between two cadets in the middle back seat as another cadet drove. I tasted Alan on my mouth, and my secret transgression felt palpable. Did the cadets beside me know what I’d just done? I could think of nothing else but Alan; every edge was blurred. A boy had desired to press his lips to mine. I’d done it. I had attracted him. He’d considered me worthy.”

To all Eves out there – YOU ARE WORTHY!

  1. Boys are stimulated visually. You must help them not to give in to lust

The message of the church is clear: Boys like pretty. But don’t be sexy. Unless you are married. Then you can be sexy. Well, then you can be a porn star. But only to your husband. And don’t forget to cultivate that quiet spirit.

Spirit – first, porn star – later.

Often, people who grew up with such philosophies are broken for life. They can’t have healthy sex, they are desperate for help, and they do get only: purity, a clean heart, a quiet spirit, modesty, etc. bullshit.

  1. God’s plan & heresy

No-one knows what God’s plan is… but we know that God loves people; that’s why he created them in his image. The problem only, that every religious group who seek to justify or maintain the dominance over another group of people/religion have historically used the Bible (Genesis in particular) to prove that domination is not actually an abuse of power at the expense of others but is indeed part of “God’s plan.”
According to Augustine, every person born after Eve inherited her original sin, and so it is essential that men must be dominant – controlling women, so they don’t screw over humanity any more than they already have.
As we see, Augustine had issues… and we feel for him. We really do. His concerns are noted. But we must stop confusing his baggage, our parent’s baggage, and our lives with God’s will. We have to realize this was one guy’s personal shit, and not the word from the mouth of God.

  1. Fear & Shame

Money is the place where we often experience fear and shame.
The fear we won’t have enough, fear that our life savings could be lost with a single cancer diagnosis. Shame about being poor, shame about being rich, shame for how much we spend on coffee, shame for how little we give to charity. The more fear and shame we have about something, the more prone we are to manipulation – by the culture, society, advertising… and especially by the church.

For many of us, sex is also rife with fear and shame. Fear of rejection and loneliness. Fear of being free or exposing ourselves.
Shame that we were sexually active at a too young age. Shame that we were virgins until we were thirty. Shame that we don’t want sex with the kinds of people whom religion says we should want it with, etc.

  1. Exodus

We all know the story about Pharaoh’s fear, who ordered to kill all Hebrew babies. And how his daughter saved a boy and nursed him. The thing is that Pharaoh saw the child as an issue and his daughter – as a baby.
She hasn’t seen in a baby an immigrant or Hebrew, or queer issue, or a woman issue, or a special-needs-population issue, or a black issue.

Don’t be a Pharaoh! 

  1. Danger

Is it a sin or not?
Can it damage a person psychologically?
How to access your sensual nature?
And most important, how dangerous is it?… because, you know, driving is dangerous too. So, we teach our kids as much as we can about it, and then we hand them the keys.
Chopping veggies is dangerous.
Friendships are dangerous.
Fire is dangerous.
Should I continue?
Yes, okay. Sex has its dangers. But should we withhold the tools and the wisdom for a healthy sexual future and send our kids straight to the internet for guidance?

Note from the author: unless your sexual desires are for minors or animals, or your sexual choices are hurting you or those you love, those desires are not something that you need to “struggle with.”

  1. Sex and candy

Both the sweets and the sex available to us 24/7 today. What is the cost of it? What if it is a loss of pleasure, not an abundance of it? Can we enjoy the pleasure of our middle-aged spouse’s body after consuming two straight hours of internet porn featuring impossibly perfect, hairless, willing, youthful actors? How do we appreciate the sweetness of an apple after drinking thirty-two ounces of Mountain Dew?

  1. Enough

I am not enough.
I am a failure.
I will never be loved for who I am.
I am fat and don’t deserve to be loved.
I’m mediocre.

This shit people carry around with them. And it is often linked to their sexuality. As we know, the devil in the Hebrew Bible called ha satan, and it translates to “the Accuser.” No matter if you believe or not, you know the voice of the Accuser – the voice of shame in our heads. The accusing voice telling me that I am what I’ve done, or that what I am is wrong. The voice tells us lies about ourselves and other people: it updates us about the ideal self and actual self, about our weight, personality, wishes, etc.

Sometimes we are trying to silence the voice with alcohol, sex, shopping, food, success… all of which can cause damage.

You have to remember that the voice of the Accuser is not your conscience. It may try to convict us of the distance between our ideal self and our actual self, but the truth is – NO ONE HAS EVER BECOME THEIR IDEAL SELF. It’s a moving target. A mirage of water on a desert road… The more we struggle to reach it, the thirstier we become.

Love yourself as you are. And remember, God loves you! After all, you are here, created in his image. 😉

“Why are you drinking?” demanded the little prince.
“So that I may forget,” replied the tippler.
“Forget what?” inquired the little prince, who was already sorry for him.
“Forget that I am ashamed,” the tippler confessed, hanging his head.
“Ashamed of what?” insisted the little prince, who wanted to help him.
“Ashamed of drinking!” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince  

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