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

4.35  ·  Rating details ·  221 ratings  ·  68 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, 187 pages
Published January 7th 2020 by Fortress Press
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Average rating 4.35  · 
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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 t ...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 conclud
Rachel Croce
Apr 25, 2020 rated it liked it
I was disappointed in this book. It felt more like sitting down together during Happy Hour listening to conversations and opinions about sex rather than a book that delved deep into underlying exploration of shame and how to move toward shamelessness. Other than normalizing sexual behaviors, I think Roberts’ book lacked a deeper understanding to sexual shame and healthy sexuality.

High appreciation for the hormonal and biological perspective on sex and bonding. However, I don’t think sexual acti
Josiah Hatfield
Apr 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Solid exploration of creating a sexual ethic. Written from a gay Christian perspective, I found the book to excel in the latter half of the book when walking through the psychological components of sex, shame, vulnerability, and connection.
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.

Billy Jepma
Nov 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As I struggle to rediscover my faith and grapple with the emotional wounds and baggage the church and religion have left me with, I keep finding myself drawn to books like this one. Books about topics I was never taught about, topics that, if ever mentioned, were whispered in hushed, conspiratorial tones. Books about beliefs that seem absolutely foreign to me, and as such, may help me find the path(s) I’m looking for.

Matthias Roberts, a queer Christian and therapist, writes with grace and patie
Bethany Dufilho
Feb 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Great little book, quick read, but by no means simplistic. This was a great way for me to think through and process some of the lasting affects ‘purity culture’ has had on me as well as how I want to transform that narrative for my kids. I want to develop and articulate a sexual ethic that is not rigid but still realistic and healthy. Roberts, though he does not lay out a black and white ethic, gives so much food for thought and scientific research that encourages awareness and acceptance over s ...more
Rebekah Johnson
Jan 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I was surprised at how much I liked this book. I didn’t set out to reflect on sexual ethics but I’m glad I picked this up. I follow the author online & listen to his podcast, Queerology. So, when I saw him selling autographed books, I thought sure, why not.

He is a clear communicator and has a conversational tone as he integrates education on science/research regarding sex. The book is for a rather targeted audience: those who grew up in purity culture. It helps guide readers in the question of
Jul 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
YES—a book on sexual ethics from a gay Christian. I LOVED his exploration on what it means to actually embrace shame and how to move away from heterosexual purity culture to a fully embodied, honest sexuality. Great. SO good no matter your relationship status or sexual orientation. I wish I had this when I was younger, although admittedly, I don’t think I would have been ready to accept it. I will read anything Matthias writes.

May it be noted that this reads more like a “choose your own adventur
Sarah Johnson
Nov 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned-and-read
If you grew up in purity culture this book is for you.
Jul 05, 2020 added it
Helpful read to understand what a progressive Christian sex-positive contemporary ethic looks like. While I cannot claim to be in alignment with much of the authors' outlook, I found much here valuable to reflect on. It will be interesting to see how other followers of Jesus interact with Roberts' "guideposts" for reflection on healthy sexual ethics, including some of the writers he cites - Rowan Williams, Dan Allendar, etc. ...more
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 t
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!
Jul 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It was a wonderful experience to read about theology that affirms queer Christians.
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
Aug 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wow. Just wow. I began reading this book with the intention of supporting the LGBTQ community in affirming that their sexuality is a manifestation of the glory of God within them. What I -cisgender White suburban wife and mama- did not realize is how the same deep shame narratives were weaponized against me as a young girl through purity culture in an evangelical upbringing. It’s taken me a while to slowly get through this book because it has meant tackling the covert messages I also received ab ...more
Rachel Palm
Apr 03, 2020 rated it it was ok
I read this book with a friend, and it sparked a lot of good conversations. One of the things I appreciate is how Roberts defines "the trust floor." This is a part of a relationship that has been built over time through many interactions. If you don't have much of a trust floor with someone, any extensive amount of intimacy, whether it's sex or sharing a lot of vulnerable things about yourself, will probably leave you feeling uncertain, even afraid. I thought this was a really helpful concept to ...more
Feb 23, 2021 rated it it was ok
I'm torn between giving the book 2 or 3 stars. I might go back and change my rating later. We'll see.

I read this for a bookclub I'm in, and we had the honor of Matthias Zoom in for a Q&A session near the end. I also heard him interviewed on different podcasts where he talked about the book prior to reading it. I love getting to hear authors speak about their work and writing process.

What I liked: One thing Matthias has going for him as a writer is being able to translate his calm, non-judgemen
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 shame
Sarah Powers
Aug 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Rating self help books is a little difficult, but because of the unique (for me) content of the book, and because it has prompted so many new questions and food for thought that I am interested in pursuing, I've rated it 5 stars. For it's thought provoking alone I would recomend this read.

This is a classified as a self help book written by a psychotherapist who grew up in the purity culture of the evangelical church.
While not a theological book, this book deconstructed some of the American Evan
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
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 we ...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 a ...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 e ...more
Jun 16, 2020 rated it liked it
This is a book that begins with the premise that (a) those of us who grew up within the Purity Culture of 90's evangelicalism harbor a great deal of sexual shame and (b) part of moving beyond that shame is accepting that there is no one-size fits all approach to sexual ethics. If that premise sounds horrifying to you, maybe you aren't ready to read this book. If that premise fills you with hope, or relief, or intrigues you in some way, then this book offers an accepting space where you can begin ...more
Stanley Biggs
Mar 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I’m deeply grateful for this book. I’ve been searching for something on this topic for the longest time. Like a different reviewer mentioned, this is the first book on sexual ethics that I’ve read that actually takes my being gay as well as a Christian as a matter of course. What does a healthy sexual ethic look like in a world of extremes with strict morality on the one hand and an everything-goes attitude on the other hand?

I didn’t expect the book to be as good as it was. It is a serious read.
Mar 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was the book I needed when I was in my early twenties and struggling with what to do about my gender identity and my Southern Baptist family and ultra-conservative community. I figured it out on my own, but lost a lot of years of living in the process. This book wasn't really for me right now.

That said, I believe this is a worthwhile resource for women and queer folks who are trying to have good lives, including good sex lives, but were abusively inculcated with shame by the church (or any
Jun 21, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2020-challenge
This was definitely not the book i thought it was going to be , it had a very " drinks over brunch" graduate thesis vibe and felt purely antedocal. If you are looking for a book that relys heavily on research or theory about sex and shame this is not the book. Another dissapointment was the author's unwillingness to faces some of the bolder statments in the bible re: homosexuality and sex outside of marriage.The author begins many of these arguments by implying that the biblical view on many of ...more
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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, sexual ...more

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