O riginally published in Fuller’s student publication, the Semi, in their Spring 2011 issue entitled “Let’s Talk About Sex. Again.” Click here to read the full article.

Sexy Feminist: How Fuller Made Me One

I was born into the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, a denomination founded in the roaring twenties by a woman who had three husbands and later an E! True Hollywood Story made about her questionable kidnapping and other scandals. So, you may think that I grew up in a church environment that broke gender stereotypes, that set women free to express themselves in ministry, in mind, and in body…but you would be wrong. No, my church youth group was probably much like yours—the boys herded off for a talk about sex (read: porn and masturbation) while the girls huddled together and dreamed about the princes that awaited them at the end of the rainbow road of purity and promise rings. Four years at a Foursquare Bible college was—surprise, surprise—more of the same, with the expected addition of make out sessions in dorm stairwells and far corners of public parks. The sexual tension was thick, and the solution was marriage, of course. But I graduated with two ex-boyfriends and no engagement ring, which was practically unheard of for a school where many women attended only to receive their MRS degree (sorry, had to put that in).

One week after graduation, I found myself dancing in a campground bar outside of Paris with a bunch of Australians to that classic 90s jam, “Let’s Talk About Sex,” followed by a quick game of strip air hockey with a New Zealander named Matty. You’re probably thinking: this is where it gets interesting! Bible college grad explores her repressed sexuality in the backpacking scene of Europe…but you would be wrong. Again. I won that air hockey game, after removing only my earrings and my sandals (Matty may or may not have been down to his underthings). And the exploring I did over the next few years had little to do with men and a lot to do with traveling the world for missions and study and fun, discovering more about other people, other cultures, and God—and growing up a bit in the process.

But these things have a habit of resurfacing, and once I was done traveling and settled back in California, I entered the world of Fuller with its ecumenical diversity and gender-inclusive policy. I was so accustomed to using “he” and “men” for all humankind, including myself, that it took me awhile to realize how empowering it was to include both genders in our speech, our writing, and especially in our reading of the Scriptures. Replacing “he” with “she” in some verses about discipleship or God’s love opened up the world to me—I was no longer on the outside looking in, I was invited to get in the game. I started to ask questions and offer comments in class, I no longer hid my intelligence as I did in Bible college, and I began to understand the way it made me feel to be called a “girl” versus a “woman” (hint: boo versus yes).

 Read the rest of this story on the Semi’s website.