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Religious America and Sex

by Ryan

The first season of Touch explores the relationship between faith and sexual expression.

Touch.

We have become so autonomous and private in the west with our need for personal space, carefully arranging our lives so that we never need to touch another person. Having lived for a time in Southeast Asia, I know this is an impossible feat in countries where public transportation is dominant and there’s always room for one more on the bench.
Because we do not touch, we seem to have lost the knowledge of how to set boundaries and regulate our own behavior. We grasp awkwardly without success, having lost perspective of what wholesome connection might mean.

Men are the worst (I must admit), often and wrongly interpreting every opportunity for closeness to be an invitation to express our genital sexuality. Legalism works quite well for this affliction but it feels wrong. It is cold and isolating. Safe. Sad.

Neither can it be that the only alternative to legalistic and rigid boundaries is free and unrestrained love. I fear I would be too tempted into the kind of hedonistic lifestyle that objectifies others; I’d run the passionate race to find my most selfish self. My imagination flashes to a world where each man is King Solomon. It’s not a world that works, nor should it.

Nathanael (who, as a buddy, I will refer to as Nate) and I reconnected after being great friends in college. We had been in each other’s wedding. Nathan moved to Los Angeles and became a filmmaker.  I moved to Georgia for seminary and a professional career in ministry. One thing became stunningly clear when we were reunited some years later: we both brought baggage into the sexual experiences with our partners.

Nate is now divorced and shares custody of an old Pug. I am married with children (and chickens, dogs, and cats).  More on this later.  Several years ago we began running into people who, like us, felt they had to overcome problems that were rooted in the sexual purity movements of the 1990’s. Nate and I have taken different paths toward wholeness but converged recently on a film project and now to create a larger space for a larger conversation on Religious America and Sex.

What is there to find in the sea between crags of religious conservatism and the leviathan of erotic gluttony? We’ll all be finding this out together. We will learn and practice new ways of touching and being touched: emotionally, spiritually, and physically. We’re venturing toward authenticity and wholeness. Toward Love. Toward God. Toward Creation.

Scary. Exciting. Touch.

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