Susana the Sexologist
So the other day, I am sitting in my favorite coffee shop, working on a fundraising letter, when I happened to say hi to the woman sitting across the table from me. She smiled and introduced herself as Susana (a beautiful name, pronounced "soo-sah'-na"). It was the first time she had been to Infusion, and she was enjoying both the atmosphere and the coffee while her car was being worked on in the garage down the street. We chatted for a few minutes, and then I asked her what she did.
"Oh, I'm a sexologist. I'm getting ready to start working on my PhD in female masturbation."
Wow. How do you respond to that? I learned a long time ago that honesty is the best policy, so I owned up to my ignorance: "Really! That is fascinating. So what exactly is a sexologist?"
(At this point in the recounting, both Ryan and Marilyn interrupted with "How do you get INTO these kinds of conversations, anyway???" Hey, I was just sitting there in the coffee shop, minding my own business...)
At any rate, Susana very kindly proceeded to tell me all about it (short answer: it's not just therapy - it's the scholarly study of sexuality; cf. IASHS). One of the more interesting things she said was this (I'm paraphrasing):
"We don't understand is why women feel guilty when they masturbate. We know there's a connection with religion (eg. making you feel bad for things you "shouldn't" be doing), but religiousity has been on the decline for years now, and most women just aren't that religious. Yet they still feel guilty. We can't figure out why."That is a very telling statement, and it will be interesting to see what she concludes after several years of study. One possibility is that our sense of guilt (not just over masturbation, but for all manner of things) is not just a sociological thing, but a God thing.
Of course she probably won't reach that conclusion, because her anthropology does not allow it - in her eyes, there really is no such thing as deviance. Everything is ultimately relative: "We work within the client's ethical system, within their moral code" (this approach is common in psychology now, as well).
But now it was her turn. "So what do you do?" she asked.
"Oh, I'm studying to be a pastor," I replied.
"Ah, many of the sexologists at our institute used to be ministers..."
And with that, we proceeded to have a delightful conversation for the next hour or so. I was interested in her sexology (and her love for social dancing, and her vision for an adopt-a-grandparents program); she was interested in my church planting ("So what does your chuch believe - are you conservative or liberal? Why would you want people to convert?").
All told, it was a great opportunity for dialogue. I don't think either of us knew very much about the other going in. I hope both of us went away having learned something (although I felt like I did a pretty poor job of explaining the gospel in language that she could understand). But most of all, I really enjoyed getting to know this person who has such an interesting perspective on life, and yet who knows very little about Jesus or what a Christian worldview has to say about sex. I hope we get a chance to talk again in the future...