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Beyond Shame: Creating a Healthy Sex Life on Your Own Terms

4.59  ·  Rating details ·  61 ratings  ·  36 reviews
We all carry sexual shame. Whether we grew up in the repressive purity culture of American Evangelical Christianity or not, we've all been taught in subtle and not-so-subtle ways that sex (outside of very specific contexts) is immoral and taboo. Psychotherapist Matthias Roberts helps readers overcome their shame around sex by overcoming three unhealthy coping mechanisms we ...more
Paperback, 250 pages
Published January 7th 2020 by Fortress Press
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Dec 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I've never before read a book about sexual ethics that took my identities as a queer Christian as a matter of course--something obvious that didn't need justification. In Beyond Shame, Roberts eases us through the deconstruction of the sex-related shame that so many have grown up with, but he doesn't leave us in the rubble. If you're ready to start making something new, this book will offer questions and data you need to ponder in order to build that new structure: a model of ethical sexuality ...more
Doug Houck
Jan 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beyond Shame is must reading for those who grew up in the Purity Culture or who attempted sexual orientation change through organizations associated with Exodus International or its secular counterparts such as NARTH. The book is worthy of much discussion.
Matthias articulates how shames over one’s sexuality develops, various coping mechanisms that increase harm. He exposes various “lies” about human sexuality and heteronormality perpetuated today by many branches of the church. The book
Benjamin Coakley
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone in religious deconstruction or simply wanting to know how to have a healthy, ethical sex life
When I first caught word that Matthias Roberts was writing a book about sex and shame, I was beyond excited. I think my first exposure to Matthias’ name and wisdom was via Twitter, where I discovered many of the thought leaders who helped me through my deconstruction of fundamentalist religious ideology. My second exposure was via his podcast, Queerology, which Oprah Magazine named one of the Top 12 LGBTQ Podcasts of 2019 alongside queer icons such as Jonathan Van Ness and Cameron Esposito.

Peter Fenton
Jan 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky enough to get my hands on an advance copy and after reading the entirety of it in only two sittings, it’s amazing! I truly cannot recommend this book enough if you’re looking for a thorough and honest tackle of our relationships with our sex and sexuality from someone who knows what he’s talking about.

Matthias Roberts is a mental health therapist and the host of Queerology (a podcast on belief and being) seeking to help his readers and listeners heal from unhealthy attitudes toward
Emily Hunt
Matthias Roberts writes like the friend you didn't know you needed. He is a common ally in navigating post-purity-culture life and ethics. Matthias writes with a nonjudgmental tone. One that always has more questions for the reader to answer themselves and less prescriptions (I think it might be because he's a therapist). I felt invited into having more grace and less condemnation for myself and my confusion as I navigate my own sexual ethics. He talks about different ways of experiencing shame ...more
Em Ksig
Dec 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thank you, Matthias, for the gift of this book. The shame around sex in our culture is suffocating for so many of us, but Matthias bravely puts words to the stories long buried inside. His work is a (no pun intended) God-send for people looking to embark on a journey of sexual healing and liberation. I have a feeling I will be coming back to this book again and again as I continue working through the harmful cultural messages so many of us have received about bodies, sex, and desire. This is the ...more
Jen  Ries
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is refreshing and hard because it brings into the light the ways that our shame takes hold of us. I appreciate the wisdom Matthias brings to the conversation as a queer person of faith and as a therapist. This is for straight and queer alike who want to understand themselves and their relationship to sex and to shame. It all exists. It is our awareness that can make all the difference and can provide tools for a transformed heart and a transformed life. Read it!
Kaj Lutyens
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book breathed life into my spirit.
I wish I would’ve had a resource like this when I was growing up, when I first began to grapple with my identity in the LGBT+ community and in the church.

This book isn’t a hackneyed self-help book, or an assortment of cutesy-but-shallow short stories. It isn’t an austere rulebook or a didactic, haughty, supercilious lecture. It isn’t a haberdashery of empty anecdotes or feel-good, spliced-up scriptures.

It is a thorough, scholarly, relatable, and soulful
Jan 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
In Beyond Shame, Matthias Roberts makes use of a variety of vignettes and conversations in his friendships and with his clients as a way of bringing words to the shame and trauma that often exists in the shadows of the soul. I found myself able to relate to some of these vignettes, while others were far from my own experience. All of them, however, served as teachable moments.

Speaking of teachable moments: Roberts spends a lot of time talking about the science of sex, of connection, and of
Tiffany Thompson
Jan 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Trying to reconcile what I have always been taught (evangelical Christianity, purity-culture type stuff) with a sexual ethic that works in real life has always been a struggle. For anyone who is experiencing this same type of thought process, this book would be great for you. Matthias goes about calling out our shame and showing how we can embrace it instead of run away form or ignore it completely in a very practical, smart, and real way. Ways that I didn't even realize shame was creeping in ...more
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I discovered Matthias through his podcast, "Queerology," and have been listening since its inception. When I heard he was writing a book, I knew it would be as insightful and helpful as his podcast episodes. This book addresses several issues many have dealt with/are dealing with regarding their sex lives and sexuality. His insights and various personal vignettes really help anchor the reader by creating a sense of relativity and ease the reader into understanding his tips and points. As someone ...more
Kelsey Daugherty
Dec 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read this book in one sitting. As soon as I started, Matthias’ writing sucked me in and I didn’t want to put it down. He breaks down the issues surrounding sexual shame so well that even someone (like me) who is new to the discussion can understand. You then walk through how we currently cope with shame, lies we tell about sex and shame, then ways to move beyond the shame and develop a healthy sexual ethic system. Matthias approaches every page with grace, understanding, love, and desire for ...more
Jon Carl
Jan 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
There are certain book titles I fall in love with. In fact, I tend to fall in love with good book titles to the extent that I will often buy a book for its title, if not exactly for its cover. The types of titles I find hardest to resist are those titles which strike a chord in my heart—or a nerve. I am a sucker for a title which resonates with and promises to help me navigate deep emotional states which make me uncomfortable or hinder my enjoyment of living my life to the full. _Beyond Shame ...more
Michelle Morrow
Jan 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shame. Many of us have been plagued with it, especially regarding our bodies, sexuality and sex. What is meant to bring forth life and human flourishing has been diminished by shame’s resulting pain and trauma. Christianity contributes to this harm because it has largely chosen fear and shame to enforce sexual norms. Is there any way out of this shame and the damage it does?

Matthias Roberts’ book, Beyond Shame: Creating a Healthy Sex Life On Your Own Terms, offers important insights into the
Kami Bates
Feb 16, 2020 rated it liked it
This book is so important, offering a view of healthy sexuality from a Christian-informed, LGBTQ+ affirming, and non-legalistic perspective. I regularly felt seen, handled gently, and encouraged; and though I've done a lot of work, it called out my "auto-pilot" approach to sexual ethics.

The section on what happens chemically during sex was fantastic! It was so well-researched and put everything into easy to understand language. I wish everyone would read just that part so we could all know
Tyler Milton
Jan 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wow, this has been such an incredible read. Matthias has produced nuanced content that encourages sexual freedom and health in a culture that vacillates between the extreme polarities of reckless sexual activity (shamelessness) and purity culture (shamefulness). Having come from a religious background, I was able to connect with so much of the context from which Matthias speaks. He also wisely defers to the work of others, particularly women, when bringing up topics that exist outside of his ...more
Gary Conachan
Feb 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Beyond Shame is a good place to start for Christians who want to build a healthy sexual ethic for the “real world”; one that leads to liberation and wholeness.

After about a year and a half of tediously deconstructing the evangelical sexual ethic and recognizing the damage it caused me, I am ready to rebuild my sexual ethics in light of new information.

This book was very helpful to me in my journey of breaking away from the harms of evangelical “purity culture” and redefining what a healthy
Jan 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I've loved Matthias's work for a while, through his online community and podcast. "Beyond Shame" is another wonderful offering he brings to this world. This book offers a practical and compassionate way to look at the shame cycles that are associated with sex. Matthias does not prescribe any one way of thinking or doing, but instead offers the reader paths towards their own wholeness and health. This book is equal parts educational and narrative, and Matthias does a wonderful job of weaving it ...more
Moriah Conant
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: research-lab
You need to read this book. Matthias Roberts has clearly laid out in “Beyond Shame” how to identify sexual shame in your life, and steps toward developing a healthy sex ethic that is within your values.

It has taken me somewhere around 5 or 6 years of therapy, psychology classes, and deep introspection to come to some of the conclusions that Matthias has accessibly presented in “Beyond Shame.”

The first being that there is not one blanket sexual ethic that is healthy for everyone. It is
Lindsey R
Jan 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Where was this book when I was in college at a conservative Christian college with everyone doing book studies on Wild at Heart, Captivating, and I Kissed Dating Goodbye? Beyond Shame presents a nuanced understanding of people, faith, and sexuality. I want to thank Matthias for his compassionate writing which didn’t leave me frustrated and at war with myself like certain parts of the other books above did. They held kernels of truth, but I felt were incomplete and not inclusive of people outside ...more
Cori Calico
Jan 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book was so life giving for me. As an LGBTQ Christian that grew up in a conservative Southern Baptist home, these words brought a breath of fresh air to my life. If you have experienced shame regarding your sexuality, your sex life, lack of sex life, sexual drive/desires, or sat through a True Love Waits ceremony feeling a little uneasy, this book is for you. Matthias does an incredible job of sharing his story and vulnerable moments of his life with the reader. He makes the book ...more
Dec 26, 2019 rated it did not like it
In general, I am certain that many who pick up this book will find reassurance or validation in some way. At most, Matthias clearly addresses vain assumptions regarding the historical traditions of sex and marriage in the modern world to which we live. At most, Matthias employs worldly wisdom to create a truly human-honoring work that his readers can finally decide upon and marvel at a self-centered reality. If I were among the wise, I would surely be tickled and maybe even relieved, although ...more
Madison Oswald
Jan 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is a resource I have needed for years. Matthias has provided something so needed with Beyond Shame. I found myself highlighting and writing in the margins, trying to make sure that I didn't forget anything being said. There is something so sinister about shame, it separates us from ourselves, from others, and from God. Having a resource that delves into the depths of shame, and sexual shame at that, is beyond helpful. I can't recommend this book enough. Its so needed. Buy it, read it, ...more
Stephen Crouch
Feb 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is long overdue and Matthias is the perfect person to write it. His background in psychotherapy, theology, purity culture, and the queer community helps him to speak directly to issues that many authors cannot. Many of us who grew up in some form of purity culture have no coherent thought process for constructing a healthy sexual ethic, and Matthias guides the reader through this process. I hope this book inspires others to speak more openly sexual ethics, particularly in queer and ...more
Jan 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was just having a conversation last night with a friend and I said “I am so terrified of making mistakes. I don’t want to make things messy.” And then I read this book this morning and it tore me right open. Beyond Shame explores experiences of shame, coping mechanisms, and conversations with real people to illustrate what it looks like to work with shame in a healthy and productive way. This book is never preachy and never prescribes one sexual ethic as the Only Way. I am so grateful for the ...more
Regina Reeves
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As a parent of 3 girls, all quickly approaching puberty, this is the book I have been waiting for! I was a product of Purity Culture and although I am not aware of any related trauma to that, I do know that puts me in the minority. I want my girls to know that they can be complete women even if they never get married, and that includes understanding and experiencing their own sexuality. I appreciated that this book was not prescriptive of a particular sexual ethic but that the focus was mental ...more
Dec 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a fantastic book, it gives me hope that people like Matthias are willing to write honestly about unpacking cultural messages about sex and bodies as well as understanding the intensity of shame that so many of us feel comes from. I saw myself in Matthias' stories about being young and queer.
Jan 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
For anyone that grew up in purity culture and deals with shame about everything, this book os for you! I love how Matthias doesn't prescribe another sexual ethic, but rather helps you live into your own. Beyond shame helped me reframe a lot of what I was told about my sexuality, growing up gay in a conservative church. It's time to move beyond shame and live into our values!
Jan 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I love the framework that Matthias is operating out of.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking to create a healthy sex life, but especially those who grew up in the church with strict (impossible) standards and subtle ways of increasing the amount of shame to go along with perfectly natural, human desires.

*I'm only partly through the book, but I will come back and update.
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Matthias Roberts is a therapist in Seattle, Washington, and host of Queerology: A Podcast on Belief and Being. He holds two master's degrees, one in theology and culture and one in counseling psychology. In his psychotherapy practice, he specializes in helping LGBTQ+ teens and adults live confident and fulfilling lives. He writes and speaks nationwide about the intersections between gender, ...more