Time to Move Away from Villainizing Pleasure in Christianity, Says Rev. Dr. Raymond J. Lawrence


Rev. Dr. Raymond J. Lawrence, an Episcopal cleric and co-founder of CPSP, offers insights on the current state of Christianity, promoting the notion of moving away from traditional religious systems.

Chesterfield, Missouri, July 10, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Empirical evidence showcases a drastic shift in the religious realm, especially when considering Christianity. What statistics tell us is that, as of 2023, 68% of Americans identified as Christians. Though Christianity still undoubtedly dominates in most of the Western world, its presence has been steadily shrinking since the 1990s, when about 90% of Americans ascribed their belief system to that religion.

Consequently, the percentage of US adults unaffiliated with any religion has been on the rise, from 9% in 1993, 12% in 1996, and 16% in 2007 to a significant 29% in 2021. These trends are especially prominent among young people, who feel a disconnect between their spiritual needs and what the Church offers. Unanswered questions, mainly about Genesis, evolution, and ‘the Big Bang,’ lead younger generations to seek answers elsewhere. Another reason, perhaps one there is no arguing with, is the simple lack of belief that more and more people experience.


For those preaching to the choir, priests, clerics, chaplains, and ministers, these numbers paint a sad picture of reality. However, as research from the Barna Group showcases, religious leaders are part of the problem, with fewer than 10% sparking conversations about the pressing matters permeating society, such as same-sex marriage, abortion, homosexuality, politics, and sexual activity. Among the reasons is the fear of push backs and losing funding due to controversy.

With outdated belief systems and taboos veiling some of the most crucial aspects that need to be discussed in modern society, it comes as no surprise that more and more people are finding solace and understanding within the ‘agnostic’ or ‘atheistic’ thought. Rev. Dr. Raymond J. Lawrence, an Episcopal cleric, chaplain, author, and co-founder of the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy (CPSP), shares these sentiments, shedding light on the current state of Christianity.

For Lawrence, the typical ethical requirements of religion focus on what is not allowed. “People often focus on what is not allowed, the sins of humanity, and indulging in pleasure, especially sexual,” he adds. “But when we look at ancient scripts, tales from the times of Jesus, and the written lives of rulers and religious leaders, we will find more sexually liberated behavior than what the Church is telling us today. For example, the story of Jesus having Mary Magdalene pouring oil over his body is clearly erotic, and, the Hindus worship the Shiva lingam which symbolizes the power of the erotic. Most religious leaders are wary of talking openly about these stories that are well documented across all religious texts.”

Central to CPSP are the teachings of Anton T. Boisen, who, in the 1920s, reframed the confines of religion by bringing psychiatry into the armamentarium of the minister. This movement, enriching traditional religion with mental health and psychotherapy, ignited a new era of Christianity, one meant to enhance mental health and provide a more edifying life.

Lawrence emphasizes the detrimental impact of maintaining current systems, especially with religion unbreakably (though not innately) interconnected with governments. As someone who believes in the power of liberty, the forward-thinking thought leader supports the mission of Ron Reagan’s Freedom From Religion Foundation, hoping to witness a world with no religious discrimination and faith-based biases. “No religion should put anyone in bondage,” states Lawrence.

To raise awareness and spread his message worldwide, Lawrence is currently in the final stages of writing The History of Clinical Pastoral Training Movement. The book, based on the work of Boisen, will enhance the relevance and authority of religious leaders of any faith. Religious leaders influenced by and acting in the tradition of Boisen will be much more accessible to patients in hospitals, prisons, and other institutions. “What Boisen has accomplished in his life has the potential to bring healing and a more rewarding existence. The genius of Boisen was his ability to listen, to hear others telling their stories and his listening became therapeutic,” explains Lawrence.

“Unfortunately, religions across the world, which could do so much good, are spending their assets fighting each other rather than assisting in making the world a more pleasurable place for everyone,” he stresses.

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