Despite different backgrounds, five women decided to discuss God’s intention for the one thing they all have in common: the female body.
“I believe in my full heart that God hardwired us for connection and pleasure,” author Tina Schermer-Sellars said at an event at Seattle Pacific University on Thursday, Feb. 9.
Accompanying Schermer-Sellars at the front of the room were Assistant Professor of Theological Studies Shannon Smythe, theologian and online blogger Cassandre Beccai, SPU alumn Michaela Hope and Professor of Sociology Jennifer McKinney.
Students and faculty gathered in the Arnett lobby for the event entitled, “Shifting Paradigms: Supporting Health and Healing for Women in the Church,” to learn the different perspectives of these speakers. Their perspectives were based on topics that are in correspondence with, but not limited to, women’s health, faith and body image.
These speakers all held scholarly backgrounds, and two have published works based on their professions. These women offered answers to questions many people often have about their bodies and how they relate to spiritual life.
The five women each touched on their individual areas of study, which involve sexuality, theology and the medical field. Each of their studies have helped to shape their perspectives on the female body.
Schermer-Sellers, being the second of the five to speak, touched passionately on human sexuality.
As an immigrant from Sweden, she says she was grew up observing different social cues.
“You could talk about brushing your teeth, and then you could just talk about your vagina,” she said.
She also told a story about one of her relatives stripping in public on a hot day.
Due to her family’s ability to comfortably address their bodies in front of one-another, Schermer-Sellars was raised to accept her body for what it is.
She feels that people in the U.S. shy away from the subject of sexuality far too often.
“People were celebrated, bodies were celebrated, girls were celebrated, boys were celebrated,” she said.
Schermer-Sellars also believes that women should not hold back when it comes to their sexual desires, including those who are not wedlocked, saying that God created humans to have sexual drives in order to express passion.
While Schermer-Sellars believes that women should have full confidence in their sexual lives, the third speaker of the night, Cassandre Beccai, feels that women should be confident in both their inner and outer beauty, as well.
Beccai has her own YouTube channel full of tutorials on highlighting natural features. She also has a pastoral degree and focuses her ministry on women.
“My calling was just to be an encouragement to young women,” she said.
Telling the audience of a time when she struggled with accepting herself as beautiful, Beccai said, “I subconsciously absorbed that I was less than — that I wasn’t good enough.”
She related the Christian faith to this struggle, saying her eyes were opened when she realized God had carefully crafted every part of her body.
“We are worthy, we are lovely, and he desires us fully,” she said.
The first speaker of the group, Shannon Smythe, author of “Women in Ministry: Questions and Answers in the Exploration of a Calling,” described the group she spoke alongside of that night as “very inspiring.”
Smythe said that the group did well “using knowledge with precision about hard things.”
Junior Jordan Opre, who attended the talk for his women and Christianity class felt that the discussion was overall, “relevant to what’s going on today.”
“I enjoyed hearing different perspectives about faith and women in ministry,” he said.
This event was held by the SPU theology department and run by theology students.