Is it sometimes confusing when you try to reconcile what the Bible says about sexuality with what you see going on in the world around you?
Do you feel frustrated with knowing all the rules about sex in the Bible but seeing no power in that to change anyone’s life?
Good news! We are starting a three part series talking with Dr. Juli Slattery, co-founder of Authentic Intimacy, about these questions and more, which she addresses in her revolutionary book, Rethinking Sexuality.
Amanda: Hello, and thanks for joining me here to talk! Just to start off, can you tell a little bit about yourself, what Authentic Intimacy is about, and just the work that you do in general?
Juli: Sure, yeah. My training is I’m a clinical psychologist. A lot of my professional career has been either counseling or doing writing and speaking, particularly focused on women’s issues, and then in 2012 I started the ministry Authentic Intimacy with my co-founder, Linda Dillow.
The work of Authentic Intimacy is more specific than anything else I’ve done. It’s really focusing on sexuality, biblical sexuality, and the integration of three things: God’s Word, the truth we find in psychology, and real life questions and experiences. The goal is to take truths from God’s Word and from the social sciences and apply it to the real life things that women are experiencing related to relationships and sexuality. A lot of the ways that we do that would be through our podcast, through blogs, through books and studies, and through events.
Amanda: Awesome, and I’ll link to some of those resources from Authentic Intimacy at the end of each article so that people can find your other resources and learn more about your ministry and Rethinking Sexuality.
So, through all you’ve dealt with in helping women with their sexuality and the struggles they’re facing, what was it that kind of brought you to the point of writing Rethinking Sexuality? What did you see over those years that brought you to this message?
Juli: Yeah, so Rethinking Sexuality is a little bit different from every other book I’ve written. The other books that I’ve written are more for the individual who is hurting, who has a question, like “How do I pursue Godly sexuality in my marriage?” or “Why is Fifty Shades of Grey wrong?” So while the other books I’ve written sort of have a more directed message towards women, Rethinking Sexuality is different. It is taking a step back and looking at the big picture of the whole conversation of sexuality and how the church in general has addressed it, or failed to address it. It’s a challenge, more to the body of Christ, to rethink sexuality, to look at what we’ve been doing that has been effective or ineffective, and particularly, to examine how we need to address these issues in today’s day and age from a biblical perspective.
Amanda: Yes! I love that it’s like this step back and this big look at just the foundation that we are trying to build all these details on. I think that sometimes when we’re dealing with a particular issue, it’s easy to get so narrowed in on that one specific question, when sometimes what we really need to do is take a step back and look at our starting place and our end goal to make sure that they are correct. And you make a statement about our foundation in the book, that sexuality “isn’t a problem to be solved but a territory to be reclaimed” (p. 9). Can you share what you’re meaning by that?
Juli: What I mean is that I think most people, most Christians, approach sexuality with a problem-solving mindset.
They look at the landscape of either the world or their own personal life, and they see a problem like “I’ve got to stop looking to porn,” or “How do we respond to the LGBT movement?” Or maybe they’re saying “I’ve been sexually abused. How do I stop that from ever happening to somebody else again?” So a lot of our energy is going towards playing defense, looking for how we stop the bad things and how we can address a certain problem. Yet in reality, you never gain ground when you’re only playing defense on an issue. The best you can do is to mitigate symptoms.
For example, the best you can do is say, “Oh, I hope we see the porn use rate go down in the next ten years.” You’re never going to reclaim the territory. In other words, people might stop looking at porn, but they still don’t know why they’re sexual people. Or you might get rid of your symptoms of PTSD after having been abused, but you still don’t know what it looks like to honor God with your sexuality or what healthy sexuality looks like.
So the charge is that we really have to stop just focusing on the problems, and we have to realize that God created sexuality, that the Bible contains a narrative that helps us understand our sexuality, and we have to own that conversation, instead of just playing defense with what the world is saying.
We will continue this discussion in the next post, Sexual Discipleship: A New Mentality to Address Sexuality.
Click here to get your own copy of Rethinking Sexuality