Do you have a toxic relationship with your sexuality because of messages you received from the church? Then this conversation is for you! In this episode, SLSP host Tatiana Berindei talks with former youth pastor and promoter of the Purity movement Nathan Novero. Having finally found his true path to God through sacred experiences with his body, Nathan is diligently working to shift the conversation that is happening within the church around sin and sexuality. Tune in to this episode to gain insight into how you, too, can shift your relationship to sex into one geared more towards positivity and sacredness.
Hello, everyone. Welcome to the Sex, Love and SuperPowers Podcast Show. I’m your host Tatiana Berindei, and today, I am really excited to have with me, Nathan Novero. We’ve got a big juicy topic today. We are going to be talking about Breaking Through the Church’s Toxic Relationship to Sex. I’m super looking forward to this conversation and let me share a little bit about Nathan so that you all know why I’m very excited about this conversation.
He is a former Baptist minister who preached abstinence and purity, but Nathan is now a docu-series producer and editor who’s racked up credits with Netflix, Discovery, History Channel, and National Geographic. During the last four years, he’s been creating provocative content to heal sexual shame and indoctrination in a new genre of a documentary called Holy Erotica.
Welcome, welcome, welcome to the show, Nathan.
Thanks for having me, Tatiana. Very excited to have a chance to talk about all these complex new wonderful mysterious things.
Yes. Me too, and before we dive into this big giant topic we’re about to embark upon, will you please share with our listeners what your super powers are?
My superpowers. Yes. I love this question. I used to ask myself this question as a kid. My answer is a grown-up answer now though. My super power I would say would be filmed. I have a relationship with film as a medium. I made videos as a little kid. I went to USC Film School to pursue a dream to be Steven Spielberg and tell stories, and then I got a job in docu-series, and so the language of film has been something that I’ve gotten good at, and it’s allowed me to go into subjects that are hard to talk about like sex.
My film super power allows me to articulate what is hard to talk about. I think that’s taking me deeper and deeper into a new world for me and that’s how I started to grow.
So beautiful. It’s such a powerful medium. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and the film just is exponentially larger I think in what we’re able to portray through that so, yeah.
Right. Yeah. In particular, doing documentaries that type of filmmaking style has proven to be something that I can use to confront things that are uncomfortable to me. The camera becomes something that I can both hide behind, but it also emboldens me. It’s a really wonderful, wonderful thing to be playing with especially with sexuality and spirituality, and all that good stuff.
Yeah. Okay, let’s talk about this because your path is not an ordinary one. I mean, you started out as a pastor preaching abstinence and purity. Can you share with us a little bit of the arc of your story and how you ended up from there to now in this genre of holy erotica?
Yes. Absolutely, and I haven’t had a chance to tell the story often so if I’m skipping an important beat, just let me know and we can backtrack. But, in general, I grew up in the Bible Belt and I was a part of the purity movement in the mid-90s, which was that the purity movement reached its height and that’s basically a campaign of abstinence and sex education which used shame and guilt to encourage teenagers to not just wait to have sex before marriage, but it really shamed sexuality and it really used the propaganda of Christianity.
Yeah. Especially in the Bible Belt, when you’re a teenager that pressure is a very real thing. I was in that world both as a teenager and I became a youth minister teaching these same things to teens. I became a camp pastor in the summer camp world. That’s where I started to speak and I started to preach, spreading this message of abstinence and a lot of people became Christians, a lot of people signed up for True Love Waits for cards and aligned themselves with purity.
The funny thing is after that happened, I met my best friend in church. We got married, and on our honeymoon night what we discovered was that we were not able to have sex, so even though we were preaching no sex before marriage, sex is great when you get married, the irony is when we got married, we couldn’t be intimate, and there were so much shame and guilt that we heaped on each other before we got married that we didn’t know how to undo that when we were together.
We had a 13-year-long sexless marriage stunted by guilt and shame and we separated and we’re still really close. We got a divorce but we still maintain talking and everything and we, well, as we remain best friends, as we still remain best friends we both went to our separate journeys, I took my journey into Tantra, into Tantra science and the only way I could do this was with a camera because the subject scared me.
I would interview my teachers. I would interview these workshops. I would shoot into these workshops and the deeper I went, the deeper access I got into with the knowledge and mystics and tantrikas and priestesses and goddesses and so forth. It was this beautiful bridge into this new world that Christianity never introduced me to.
In that space, I was able to use filmmaking as a means to approach sexuality, and now when I shoot, when I shoot themes of eroticism, I treat them as worship and the end product is this artful piece which, it recalibrates sexuality on a higher frequency. I think that’s what we are in desperate need of today.
Absolutely. I couldn’t agree more with you. Do you still consider yourself a Christian?
That’s an excellent question, an excellent, excellent question. I consider myself a Christian mystic, and the reason why I use that word is that as a Christian, I fully understand what it means to be someone outside of the Christian worldview. You’re basically going to hell. But as a Christian mystic, I can hold people who are existing outside of the Christian worldview and I can still see the God that they see, and to me, that’s the same God.
I say I am both Christian and I say I’m Christian mystic but I will let other Christians decide what they like to call me and that’s totally fine.
Now, so I wasn’t raised in the church. My father was raised under communism so you were only allowed to go to church twice a year at Christmas and Easter and that’s kind of what carried over into my family even though I was baptized in the Romanian Orthodox Church. I know there’s like a million different sects of Christianity and I’ve always just been so fascinated and curious by what really the difference is and why there have to be all of these differences.
One of the things that you mentioned that I’m very intrigued about is this, you were talking about the purity movement and you were talking about it in the past tense, and yet there are still churches who are preaching abstinence as a form of birth control, form of the control period. I’m curious to hear sort of a little bit of a distinction around that from you.
Good point. You are right. This purity movement is still happening. There are still defenders of it and there are still programs that further it, and so when I referred to it as past tense, I guess what I’m referring to is the peak of the purity movement. There was a time in the mid-90s where Christianity had Promise Keepers events that filled stadiums.
There was a gospel music industry that had a pop artist that would end up on the top 40 charts and that was a big deal. In the teen world, there were events called See You at the Poll, in which church high schoolers would get. The Christian high schoolers would gather around their flagpole and pray, and there are very large statements in the mid-90s. In the past, I’m referring to the peak of the purity movement, but you are right. The purity movement is still alive today.
Yeah. I have a ton of questions for you. We do have to go to a quick break. Before we go to break, will you please tell our listeners where they can go to find out more about you and your work and your films?
Yeah. You can check up my webpage. It’s nathannovero.com, and that has an overview of the three main things I’ve been getting into; mind, body, and soul. The mind is things going into like church and purity, the body is going into things like Tantra science, and the soul is going into the art of holy erotica.
Beautiful. We are talking with Nathan Novero about breaking through the church’s toxic relationship to sex. More when we get back. Stay tuned.