Finding Language for What Matters Most: Hosting Conversations about Sexuality in Pastoral Counseling
- 277 Downloads
This article draws from intertwined Gospel accounts, in Luke 8 and elsewhere, of Jesus healing a hemorrhaging woman and a 12-year-old girl presumed dead, building on Capps’s (2008) claim that their physical symptoms manifested intense unconscious anxieties resulting from untenable sexual expectations of their culture. In these cases, healing derives from their capacity to believe in someone who has faith in them (Capps 2008, p. 124). The article encourages contemporary pastoral counselors to attend not only with strenuous professional ethicality but also with subversive moral generosity to minute differences among individuals marginalized due to sexual yearnings perceived to deviate from a presumed societal norm.
KeywordsSexual counseling Pastoral counseling Jesus’ healing ministry Sexual anxiety and marginalization Loneliness Somatoform disorders Somatic symptom disorder Luke 8 Jairus’s daughter Hemorrhaging woman Donald Capps C. A. Tripp Mark Vonnegut
I am grateful to Donald Capps for the many contributions to this article gleaned from his Jesus the Village Psychiatrist and other works, as well as for his encouraging me to believe in his faith in me over many years; to Rubén Arjona-Mejía, a doctoral candidate in pastoral theology at Princeton Theological Seminary, for introducing me to Gultheil and Gabbard’s (1993) distinction between clinical boundary crossings and boundary violations; to Melanie Howard and Sarah Chae, also doctoral students at Princeton Seminary, for generous research assistance; to my former seminary student for permission to share a portion of his life story in this article; to Ryan LaMothe and members of the Midwest Region of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors for providing impetus to compose these thoughts; and to gifted friends in the Group for New Directions in Pastoral Theology, who learn and laugh with me along the way.
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.Google Scholar
- Bakan, D. (1966). The duality of human existence: Isolation and communion in Western man. Boston: Beacon.Google Scholar
- Bellah, R. N., Madsen, R., Sullivan, W. M., Swidler, A., & Tipton, S. M. (1985). Habits of the heart: Individualism and commitment in American life. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
- Bilton, N. (2015). Strippers go undercover on Snapchat. New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/26/style/strippers-go-undercover-on-snapchat.html. Accessed 10 Mar 2015.
- Bronfen, E. (1992). Over her dead body: Death, femininity, and the aesthetic. New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
- Caird, G. B. (1963). The Gospel of St. Luke. New York: Seabury Press.Google Scholar
- Capps, D. (1993). The depleted self: Sin in a narcissistic age. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.Google Scholar
- Capps, D. (1998). Living stories: Pastoral counseling in congregational context. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.Google Scholar
- Capps, D. (2008). Jesus the village psychiatrist. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press.Google Scholar
- Coltart, N. (1992). Slouching toward Bethlehem. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- Dornisch, L. C. (2002). A woman reads the Gospel of Luke. Collegeville: Liturgical Press.Google Scholar
- Emerson, R. W. (1946/1981). The portable Emerson. Carl Bode (Ed.). New York: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
- Erikson, E. H. (1974). Dimensions of a new identity: The 1973 Jefferson lectures in the humanities. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
- Fiorenza, E. S. (1994). In memory of her: A feminist theological reconstruction of Christian origins. New York: Crossroad.Google Scholar
- González, J. L. (2010). Luke. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press.Google Scholar
- Green, J. B. (1997). The Gospel of Luke. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans.Google Scholar
- Horovitz, B. (2007). Marketers zooming in on your daily routines. USA Today. http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/printedition/news/20070430/1a_cover30.art.htm. Accessed 1 Aug 2014.
- James, W. (1890/1956). The importance of individuals. In The will to believe and other essays in popular philosophy. New York: Dover Publications.Google Scholar
- Jeffrey, D. L. (2012). Luke. Grand Rapids: Brazos Press.Google Scholar
- Johnson, D. (1996). Students still sweat, they just don’t shower. New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/1996/04/22/us/students-still-sweat-they-just-don-t-shower.html?module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3Ar%2C%7B%221%22%3A%22RI%3A7%22%7D. Accessed 1 Aug 2014.
- Kearney, R. (2014). Losing our touch. New York Times, p. 4SR. http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/08/30/losing-our-touch/?_php=true&_type=blogs&module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3As%2C%7B%221%22%3A%22RI%3A6%22%7D&_r=0. Accessed 31 Aug 2014.
- Malbon, E. S. (1983). Fallible followers: women and men in the Gospel of Mark. Semeia, 28, 29–48.Google Scholar
- McWhirter, J. (2013). Rejected prophets: Jesus and his witnesses in Luke-Acts. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.Google Scholar
- Mencken, H. L. (1949/1982). A Mencken chrestomathy. New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
- Micale, M. S. (1995). Approaching hysteria: Disease and its implications. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Miller-McLemore, B. J. (2003). Let the children come: Reimagining childhood from a Christian perspective. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
- Nelson, C. E. (1989). How faith matures. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press.Google Scholar
- Ogas, O. (2011). Why it’s perfectly natural for men to want to show their manhood, even if it’s a bad idea: Congressman Weiner behaves like any other male primate. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/billion-wicked-thoughts/201106/why-its-perfectly-natural-men-want-show-their-manhood-even-if. Accessed 10 Mar 2015.
- Ogas, O., & Gaddam, S. (2012). A billion wicked thoughts: What the Internet tells us about sexual relationships. New York: Plume/Penguin.Google Scholar
- Phillips, A. (1994). On flirtation: Psychoanalytic essays on the uncommitted life. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Phillips, A. (1995). Terrors and experts. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Phillips, A. (2005). Going sane: Maps of happiness. New York: HarperCollins.Google Scholar
- Phillips, A. (2010). On balance. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.Google Scholar
- Rambo, S. (2009). Trauma and faith: reading the narrative of the hemorrhaging woman. International Journal of Practical Theology, 13, 233–257.Google Scholar
- Reid, B. (1996). Choosing the better part? Women in the Gospel of Luke. Collegeville: Liturgical Press.Google Scholar
- Remnick, D. (2012). We are alive: Bruce Springsteen at sixty-two. New Yorker, 38–57. http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2012/07/30/we-are-alive. Accessed 1 Aug 2014.
- Richtel, M. (2013). Intimacy on the Web, with a crowd. New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/22/technology/intimacy-on-the-web-with-a-crowd.html. Accessed 10 Mar 2015.
- Rieff, P. (1966/2006). The triumph of the therapeutic: Uses of faith after Freud. Wilmington, DE: Intercollegiate Studies Institute.Google Scholar
- Rowling, J. K. (2000). Harry Potter and the goblet of fire. New York: Scholastic.Google Scholar
- Ruvolo, J. (2011). How much of the Internet is actually for porn. Forbes. http://www.forbes.com/sites/julieruvolo/2011/09/07/how-much-of-the-internet-is-actually-for-porn/. Accessed 10 Mar 2015.
- Sinclair, S. (2015). Child, bride, mother. New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/02/08/opinion/sunday/exposures-child-bride-mother-stephanie-sinclair.html. Accessed 10 Mar 2015.
- Smith-Rosenberg, C. (1981). The hysterical woman: Sex roles and role conflict in nineteenth-century America. In R. J. Brugger (Ed.), Our selves/our past: Psychological approaches to American history (pp. 205–227). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
- Strochlic, N. (2014). The sad plight of child grooms. The Daily Beast. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/09/18/the-sad-hidden-plight-of-child-grooms.html#. Accessed 19 Dec 2014.
- Sweis, R. F. (2014). In Jordan, ever younger Syrian brides. New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/14/world/middleeast/in-jordan-ever-younger-syrian-brides.html?module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3Ar%2C%7B%221%22%3A%22RI%3A6%22%7D&_r=0. Accessed 19 Dec 2014.
- Taylor, W. C. (2006). Get out of that rut and into the shower. New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/13/business/yourmoney/13mgmt.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0. Accessed 1 Aug 2014.
- Tripp, C. A. (2005). The intimate world of Abraham Lincoln. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
- Vonnegut, M. (2002). The Eden express: A memoir of insanity. New York: Seven Stories Press.Google Scholar
- Vonnegut, M. (2010). Just like someone without mental illness only more so: A memoir. New York: Delacorte Press/Random House.Google Scholar
- Ward, M. (2013). Web porn: just how much is there? BBC News. http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-23030090. Accessed 10 March 2015.
- Willimon, W. H. (2013). Making ministry difficult: the goal of seminary. Christian Century, 130(4), 11–12.Google Scholar