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The 4 Paradigm Shifts of Healthy Sexuality With Juli Slattery Part 1

Episode 102 – The 4 Paradigm Shifts of Healthy Sexuality With Juli Slattery Part 1

Join Josh and Kit as they speak with Juli Slattery about the framework we are so in need of to discuss sexuality comfortably wherever we are.

This week we will aim to tackle items 1 and 2 of the 4 part list below.

The 4 Paradigm Shifts of Healthy Sexuality:

1. Moving Away From Being Silent About Sexuality
2. Every Sexual Issue Is Also a Spiritual Issue
3. We Are All Sexually Broken
4. Truth and Love Must Coexist in All Our Discussions About Sexuality.

Guests:
Dr. Juli Slattery

Mentions:
Authentic Intimacy
Java w/ Juli Podcast

Thanks for joining us. We would be honored if you would leave a review/rating on the Regeneration podcast (here’s how).

Original music by Shannon Smith. Audio engineering by Gabriel @ DelMar Sound Recording.

Podcast Transcription

Josh
We have a great gift for you today. In our podcast, we were interviewing Dr Julie Slattery. She’s a clinical psychologist, author, speaker, and she’s a co founder and president of Authentic Intimacy. She also has her own podcast called Java With Julie, which you should definitely check out. Julie worked for many years at folks in the family, and now she and her husband, Mike, are the proud parents of three sons, and they live in Akron, Ohio. So last summer is at a conference where where you spoke Julie and you, you were really challenging the audience to address some of the that the not so helpful ways that the culture and the church especially has addressed matters of sexuality, and you you offered what you called four paradigm shifts that you said were necessary for the church if we’re really gonna begin thriving in this realm of sexuality and really making a difference in our culture and in our own midst for good. And I want to just read with those Those four paradigm shifts were and then and we’ll just kind of walk through and love to hear your thoughts about and see where the conversation goes. But the first was really moving away from, ah, being silent about or just approaching sexuality on a problem basis, problem solving basis and instead beginning to approach it from a discipleship basis. And the second paradigm shift was that every sexual issue is also a spiritualist you. The third was that we’re all sexually broken, which will be interesting to talk about it in the fourth is the truth in love must co exist in oil in all our discussions about this, So So let’s just talk about the 1st 1 This this idea of sexual discipleship For some people, those two words don’t even sound like they go together. So talked about what you mean and what you think of when you when you talk about sexual discipleship.

Dr. Juli Slattery
Yeah, those two words together. I think when I first started using them, I got a lot of strange looks on, and I think we tend to compartmentalized church and sex into different baskets. And so when you take a church word like discipleship and combine it with her sexuality, I think there’s a natural feeling of disconnect. But what I mean by that is the church, as you mentioned, has often been silent on topics of sexuality. And when we have talked about it, we talked about it either with, you know, just very halting speech of wanting to be careful, not to offend or not to say something too graphic. And so we barely touched the issues or we talk about it just in terms of what’s wrong. And so there are a lot of churches today. They’re talking about the problem of pornography or talking about how should we respond to cultural shifts around gender and LGBT Q. Or maybe they’re talking about, you know, the meat to movement. And there’s a feeling that any time we address sexuality, it’s about swatting away problems and So the idea of sexual discipleship is is to really understand that to effectively address this topic. We actually have to do more of what the culture has done, which is give us a framework to think through sexuality, not just give us answers to specific questions, but train us in. Why does this matter in the first place? And how do I have a worldview that can help me sort through both issues that I might be experiencing personally as well as be able to make sense of what I see happening in my world.

Josh
You know, one thing that comes to mind for me with that is as we’ve done parenting conferences, one of it’s just striking like we’ll ask people questions like How many of you, how often you talk to your kids about table manners, how often tucking kids about sports or schedules or finances. And I think they’re likewise there these lists of things that churches will address. But sexuality is often not on that list. And yet the even the problems that you mentioned indicating just reveal, like, how important these topics are because when they go sideways in a person’s life, they can really wreak some significant havoc. So so coming at it early coming at it, often coming at it from a positive perspective because it does have its genesis. Not in not in the negative. It wasn’t like God created people and said, Okay, shoot. Not gonna freak out of waiting for them to reproduce. What should I do? Know this is dangerous, but let’s give this a try. You know, it was actually like with joy that he created sexuality in sacks and male and female in marriage. And so it’s actually there’s so much good we can say,

Dr. Juli Slattery
Yeah, yeah, And I think you’re as you’re mentioning, We want to come at it from a positive perspective, but I think another piece of it is talking about it comfortably. So, um, you know, so we can be shocked at what the culture is doing with how open they are talking about everything sexual, the cartoons they put on Netflix and shows that they have and we’re like, Oh, my goodness, they’re talking so openly about these things and it’s so offensive because they’re coming at it from, ah, a godless perspective. But I think the model of talking comfortably is something that we should have so that it’s not this awkward. Everybody’s sweating kind of atmosphere between a parent and a child was like, Okay, we have to have this talk and we’re going to get through it, or even from the pulpit, where it’s like, Wow, the past, you’re talking about sex. But where we take, we change the environment so that it becomes normal to say, Hey, I have a question about this. Who’s the first person I’m gonna ask? I would ask my parents where I want to ask my small group leader or I won’t ask my pastor. And so it’s adopting the attitude that this can’t be a stilted or taboo topic anymore.

Kit
I really appreciate that, Julie. I think one of the important things you have heard you say is that, um, you know, people who know the word of God, but they have no idea how to apply it to their sex life. Just this disconnect and what you’re saying is a way to heal it, that we really need healing from the ways that we’ve disconnected ourselves from God’s beautiful design for sexuality.

Dr. Juli Slattery
Yeah, in the way we disconnected God himself from our sexuality and So it’s almost learning a new language. Yeah, even then, working with married couples. A lot of them don’t know how to talk about sex. They maybe know how to have it, but it’s never been modeled for them. What’s a healthy honoring way to talk very specifically about sexuality.

Kit
And I think one of the messages I came to faith later in life and so I was in my, you know, well into my thirties and had lived a long time, you know, apart from the church. And I think it’s coming to me even right now in this moment that one of the things that I sort of heard or sensed was, you know Oh, you know, we don’t talk about these things. We don’t talk about these things, and that’s just kind of stunning right now, as I’m realizing that, um, that is something I experienced, and so for a long time kind of went silent myself because I kind of felt like, Well, that’s the Christian thing to do

Dr. Juli Slattery
yeah, there’s an unspoken rule and we’ve been flat out told that in our ministry, and you probably have to like those conversations aren’t appropriate in the church. And ah, and it’s like, Why? Where did we get that tradition? And is that a biblical tradition? Is it a helpful tradition? And so we are. We are pushing upstream from just some unspoken rules that we’ve adopted from generations that have preceded us. And, uh, you know, I think it’s important to ask the question, Is this a tradition or is a biblical

Josh
Yeah, yeah. And you know, on the one hand there, like sex is an intimate thing. It is a It is, by God’s design, a private thing meant to be reserved between one husband, one wife in there in private. Um, and so there is an element of like that makes sense for it to be more of a silent thing. And so even when we talk about how the culture has been disciple it disciple ing us in the realm of sexuality, um, we’re not, and you don’t hear you suggesting like it should look like that, but But it does mean that there needs to be. It needs to be a category in our church lives that’s not hidden. It’s not hard to find. It’s not in the, you know, the back corner somewhere where you go in secret. But it is something. And even when people have questions, I think we found that the people that have people coming to them with their questions are the people who are talking about it. And so you know, if if you’re finding sexual stuff online, well, then go online to find the answer sexual stuff. So in churches, they just want practical is gonna be for all of us. This is parents, pastors, smarter pleaders to have just ill to speak about it, to have conversations and to be open about just this reality. And people might not respond right away. But come the moment where somebody does have a question, you’ll at least be in their roll index of people they’ll consider coming and talking to you. War other. Are there other ways you’d say, like, you know, Say, say that church leaders listen to our parents listen to, like, other categories they might think about in regards like how do I be a voice? What do I say?

Dr. Juli Slattery
Yeah, I’m interested in the fact that you used that word category a couple times, And, uh, the reason that that caught my ear was because I think that when we see this in terms of a category again, it’s just our natural way of thinking. We’re segmenting it as a topic, and what we’ve seen the culture do very effectively is tear down those Raul those walls of sex being a category we’ve seen it become integrated into how we relate to each other and how we talk and how we understand our identity. And I think to some extent, that’s what we need to do when we’re approaching sexual discipleship as well. Not just see, sex is a special topic. Maybe that’s a first step, where it is a topic that the church is going to step in an address. But I think the next step is to really think about it as being integrated. Eso huh? You know, So it’s not just that we’re gonna pull out the 12 Passages and Scripture that that specifically address sex, and there’s more than 12 but but it’s that we’re also going to read the Scripture with the lens off. How does this apply to me as a whole person, including what It means for me to be a wife and what it means for me to Stuart my body and what love looks like so that it’s not just a dressed as a category. It flows in and out of what it means to be a follower of Christ.

Kit
I really love that. It’s so integrated because I think you know the way we are. First attempt it kind of resolving. This has been this, you know, this problem solving. Let’s get let’s get people thinking they’re the problem and then we start defining spiritually. Maturity is an absence of problems, and that’s a problem in and of itself, right that we set that up. And so I like what you’re saying to integrate. You know, this is the, uh, the reality of sexuality into our faith in a way that doesn’t put it in the category and defined it as a problem. You know, I’m even a potential problem because that’s how you really look at it, you know? Yeah, it is

Dr. Juli Slattery
and ah, and I’m just hearing even as I’m learning. So I’m on this journey both and ministry and in my own parenting and in my own life, it’s It’s not natural for us to think this way because we’ve been so trained. Did you see it as a compartmentalized part of who we are? Um, so

Kit
but And that’s why

Dr. Juli Slattery
I call it a paradigm shift because we’re challenging an underlying assumption that we just always held as being true.

Josh
Yeah. Oh, gets great. Yeah, I appreciate you bringing it up. That’s helpful for May. And interestingly like I remember when I first came to regeneration. Uh, you know, I was very much here because I had a problem. And I remember saying, like, one of the first meetings. I said, Look, you know, I just want to deal with this thing and then get out of here. And when I quickly came to realize that I’m I know that you’ve seen this, this you’ve walked with different people and your practice and elsewhere. But, um, that this was not just one little, you know, branch on a tree. This actually had had roots that went through my life. My sense of myself, my sense of God for sure. My sense of other people, my sense of what it meant to be a man with a sense of what woman? Waas all of those things. And so, um yeah, well, so So let me shift a little bit, because the second paradigm, I think it’s a good segue way into it. Uh, and I think it’s a person years up that every sexual issue is also a spiritualist. You. So that’s that It, you know, But okay, let’s open the door on that one. What do you mean by that?

Dr. Juli Slattery
Yeah, Um well, I think going back to what we said earlier for most of us, we have an unconscious, huge wall between what is sexual, what is spiritual. And, uh, it’s almost like we step into a different box when we talk about those two categories on, this plays out in a couple different ways. You know, one way we see it playing out is that a very committed Christian can say, Hey, I love God. I believe the Bible, Uh, but related to this sexual issue, Here’s what I think or related to, you know, me being able to sleep with my boyfriend. You know, that’s a very personal decision, and so and so we we we learned to be comfortable with this split between who we are spiritually people and who we are sexual people and be like, God’s gonna be okay with that. He understands that this is a personal choice or he understands that this is how I see it. And so we’ve got that disconnect. And I would say in another way that disconnect shows up. When I asked Christian Couples, Do you ever pray together about your sex life? Almost none of them will say yes. Most of them will say We’ve never even thought of doing that because again, it’s like, Why would God want to talk to us about her sex life? Like, doesn’t he kind of shut the door when we have sex because he can’t see us? Yeah, we wouldn’t say that out loud, but that’s how we think. And so as a paradigm shift actually pushing through that and say No, that’s a false way of thinking. Every decision we make everything that we are flows out of who we are and what we believe, and I think this is particularly true with our sexuality. We don’t just have an opinion about a sexual issue. That opinion comes from our deeper beliefs about who got is what truth is, what sin is, what healing and wholeness look like. Whether or not I believe that God really for gives me or set me free these air, the underlying things in the stream that impacts my conclusion that sex is bad or dirty or that I don’t deserve a good sex life Or that, um, I could never love my husband that way. Or that all men just want sex s o or even how we process things like his pornography right or wrong. Or is gay marriage right or wrong? Like we, we come to conclusions about these issues based on our underlying spiritual beliefs. But there’s been such a disconnect that we don’t know how to reconnect those two things or integrate them

Kit
absolutely. And even what you’re talking about really reflects the heart of how you define, you know, discipleship. Just to go back to that word a little. Because these things were so directly connected, you know that we’re that it’s relational, um, and that that this isn’t about following rules and regulations or get them to, you know, get away from their sin it’s this. Where is God In this With you And what does he not only want for this in your life, in a good way, but how does he want to kill you in those areas that are challenging you? And so it really is, um, a completely different way of looking at how we talk about this and what this means in terms of, um, How we live out life together more fully.

Dr. Juli Slattery
Yeah, it really does. And there’s a couple of just important implications for that. First of all, when we avoid topics about sex were also avoiding topics are about God. So let’s say, for example, that that you have sexual trauma in your past and you mentioned that in passing and you say, Oh, yes, some stuff happened to be growing up, and every the churches, all your Christian brunches skirt around that they never ask you about it. Never pursue it because they so that’s a very personal issue. But out of that sexual trauma, there’s a really good chance that you’ve concluded things like that is not really trust wording or he doesn’t see me, or he can never really heal this area. of who I am. And so if I neglect that sexual conversation with you, I’m also neglecting. More importantly, what’s in your heart about your relationship with God, And this is true for friendship, that stripper parenting. It’s true for ministry that because we say, Oh, that’s really personal, that’s touching. I don’t want to go There were really letting the culture not just define our attitude about sex, but ultimately our attitude about God s. So that being said these conversations, I really I don’t believe there are optional. We see we see people fall away from the Christian faith because they’re not having their sexual issues addressed satisfactorily

Josh
s oh so true. And I mean, some of what comes to mind for me you’re talking to is so many things going for me. You’re talking about this. But I do know one thing that we’ve seen in our ministry is because people are going there to some of those places. Issues of sexual trauma. He’s out of control behaviors, thes, same-sex attractions or other attractions that I did not choose. But I have to I have to wrestle with God about why are they here and What do I do with them? And what does this mean for my life? Doesn’t mean about you, etcetera. As people go into those places, we get in some very deep theological waters. And I don’t mean that in a like a, you know, a sparring match about theology because it’s these aren’t really head issues. These air heart issues that can only be answered mean theology, certainly studying Scripture. What’s true, all that matters. But I think for a lot of people at the end of the day, um, it becomes very relational with God, Like the person who encounters the true Jesus Christ in some of these very difficult sexual areas is a person who comes to understand him and and and to know him. Something about his heart, for us is people that that is extraordinary, and those people can become truly radiant on the earth, whatever their end up walking with. So anyway, I I’m just so excited what you’re saying there and I guess the other two things just the risk of saying too much. But one is what I was struck is you’re talking about just the you know, you know we shut the door and God in the in the marriage bed and all the other issues surrounding that, it was we were the ones that fell under the curse and felt that we could no longer that, you know, we were Adam and Eve, where were naked without shame and tell the fall and their sin. Now, you know, nakedness and shame can go hand in hand for human beings, but not for God. He, like. He is not ashamed of these things. He’s not ashamed to talk about these things. Um, he he actually very much wants to be invited into these things and and yes, so anywhere. When I get excited, I talk a lot. And

Kit
what you’re saying is that’s so good. Yeah, well, that’s what your teacher, right? Talk. Yeah. I think one of the things to that came to my mind when you were talking about this was, um, so many young men and women common to see us since not just young, but this Nick. This generation, I think, is looking for answers. And when they come in to see us and they tell us something and we’re not shocked and we’re accepting they don’t even know what to do with that because they’re not used to it. But they’re drawn to it because it’s like, 000 this is I can actually talk about this, and you actually will, like, be fine with it, not only be fine with it, but welcome it and encourage me, you know, to talk about these things and to bring God into them. Um, I think it’s just Ah ah, very powerful thing that’s been long lacking. And it’s a privilege to be ableto you know, See, you see, it happened a bit, and I’m sure that’s you see that a lot. And that’s what’s fueling a lot of this in your own, um, writing and teaching.

Dr. Juli Slattery
Yeah, definitely. I think it’s Christians. You grew up hearing about different forms of like we call it revelation, and there’s a special revelation, which is like God’s Word and the profits. And then there’s natural revelation, which is what we learn about God through creation. But there’s a nasty act of revelation that I don’t think we talk about often, and I call it a relational revelation, and it’s the ministry of one person to another that reveals the heart of God, and we don’t do that perfectly ever. But we’re actually called to represent Jesus to each other and what you’re saying. Their kid is so key that somebody can read a book and get knowledge or wisdom. But when you’re dealing with a sin struggle or was shame or with a secret for you to meet with another Christian and to say that out loud and have that person receive you except you hug you, um, you know, say, even just to say, Hey, it’s okay. I understand there’s a Ministry of Revelation there where wow, if she could If she could sit here and hear that if she could still love me, then maybe God can, too. And and that’s very powerful. You don’t have to have all the answers to be able to fix the person or help the person. Very often we don’t. But just your presence there being the unconditional love of Christ and extending grace, is it could be really a pivotal moment in somebody’s journey.

Josh
Yeah, it wasn’t mine. I think back Thio with the first support group. I came here and the man who led my support group was. It was a guy whose recovery from his own sexual addiction, who is honest and gracious and asked great questions. And I remember, after a time just being struck with the thought that if Jesus is like this man, that I want to know Jesus better than I was a Christian. And I love Jesus. I you know, I wasn’t a newbie in that regard, but But there was something about my experience with this man and the way that he was patient with me. Listen to me encouraged me That really did begin to open my heart, not just my theology explained you my theology, that God loved me, but he and open my heart and even my body to believe to begin to believe that he cares about me that much. And yet I love that the relation all revelation, boy. Well, I want what I want to do is I want to just press pause on our conversation and I want to pick up next week. So I think there’s I don’t want to rush through these last two paradigms. So, um, Julie hang with us and listeners we wanted to invite you back his next week, we’re gonna We’re gonna get into the paradigm shift three and four, and I’m certain you won’t want to miss it. So

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