Is God erotic?
Though not a question asked often, it's the central theme for the Penn Christian Association's Rev. Beverly Dale, who aims to help Christians become sexually connected with themselves while embracing spirituality.
Her primarily online-based sexual ministry, PassionWorks, puts it plainly: "The Church is wounded. Beverly Dale wants to heal it."
Dale, who always expressed an interest in sex and God, served as the executive director of Penn's CA from 1989 until this year, when that role split in two - into an executive director and a general minister and director - so that Dale could focus on PassionWorks instead of administrative concerns.
Dale, known among her friends and followers as "RevBev," is essentially alone in the Christian community in spreading her message; she is unaware of any other similar campus ministry.
"We have in this culture this monopoly of right-wing Christianity on the media, which is not helpful to get out another message that is liberating and gives people permission to be sexual and celebrate sexuality," she said.
In an effort to engage students, Dale performs a one-woman show that illustrates the stories of 13 women called "An Irreverent Journey from Eggbetaers to Vibrators." While most of the vignettes are based off of Dale's life, the stories range from a child who has been molested to a middle-aged woman who experiences her first orgasm.
The aim of the show is to push the boundaries of what's acceptable, a concept familiar to many college students, regardless of faith.
Dale said that, by and large, fear prevents others from addressing the issues of sexuality in terms of religion.
"The erotic is an incredibly powerful urge that can be exploitative, and the fear is it cannot be controlled, but of course it can be," she said. "But rather than help people channel the erotic, the Church has historically repressed it in a limited, legalistic way."
She added, "If you have a marriage license, Eros is supposed to flow like crazy, but pieces of paper do not guarantee a satisfying erotic life, and the real issue is that the Church has cut off the body from the spirit."
It's the separation of body and spirit that Dale finds dangerous as she feels that many people afflicted by this disconnect turn to harmful behaviors to satisfy the void.
"I see Penn students using alcohol to justify the sex they want to have but are too ashamed to claim, or too guilt ridden," she said.
And so the CA wants to become more involved with helping Penn students challenge these women's issues in addition to other issues of peace and justice.
CA Executive Director Katherine Primus said, "What I don't think people know is that the CA helped create the International House, the Black Students League - we were the only place on campus in the 60s where students would protest the Vietnam War and feel safe, the only place where men and women could hang out before the campus went coed," she said. "We're a resource for students who are interested in what we're interested in."Comments powered by Disqus
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