Lyvonne Briggs, MDiv, ThM, an Emmy Award winner, is a body- and sex-positive womanist preacher, speaker, coach, and creator. She is the host of the Sensual Faith podcast. She has been featured in Essence, Cosmopolitan, Rolling Stone, and The Washington Post, and Sojourners named her one of “Eleven Women Shaping the Church.” She is the Author of Sensual Faith: The Art of Coming Home to Your Body.
Lyvonne teaches all people how to experience more pleasure in life, and even in faith. She encourages us to look beyond traditional ideas of the female body and conventional religion into a new reality that is readily accessible to us…all of us.
Enjoy this radical, soulful conversation with Lyvonne!
You are your first ritual
Lyvonne Briggs loves talking about pleasure. Many assume she’s solely referring to sexual pleasure. While that is part of it, it’s not the full picture. Pleasure as Lyvonne defines it is the act of savoring and loving life, fully and wholeheartedly.
She encourages us to experience pleasure through slowing down, taking notice and savoring: Sipping your tea, tasting your food, speaking to God, listening to your intuition when it’s speaking, reading, meditating and enjoying your daily rituals of choice. In fact, she points out that the word ritual is in the word spiritual–and is an essential facet of spiritual practice.
Lyvonne reminds us that self-love begins with ritual, and its connection to the divine. By taking care of yourself, you become a magnet for God’s love and you get to radiate onto others. She also reminds us that the lack of self-love and self-care–including the rejection of your body, denial of pleasure, and refusal to accept yourself wholeheartedly–is a product of colonialism and needs to be deconstructed.
A colonized mindset is one that believes that you are more worthy because of what you do for a living, what you produce, how much money you make, and what you own. But by stepping out of this mindset and freeing yourself from colonization, you heal. You get to see yourself as inherently worthy and deserving of all good things. That is your right.
Sensual faith is for everybody
Lyvonne wants to see everyone living healthy, happy, purposeful lives. Many assume that Lyvonne writes about sexual pleasure for women, but she actually writes about pleasure-full living and self-love for everyone. She uses the term ‘womanist’ to describe herself; a term that was first coined by Alice Walker to describe a richer and more inclusive feminism.
A womanist desires the liberation of women, Black people, queer people, differently-abled people and everyone in between. But to Lyvonne, this liberation begins with pleasure. It begins by loving your body, enjoying your life and deciding that you are good enough and then some.
To Lyvonne, society is no match for people who love and accept themselves. She encourages us to heal, reconnect with our core selves, explore our interests, create, relax, enjoy, savor and experience all the pleasure life has to offer.
She also makes the point that pleasure is Godly. While “traditional”, conservative, colonized religion tells us that we must control and deny our bodies pleasure, she assures us that the original divine texts referred to a feminine divine presence. When colonizers stripped feminine language from spirituality, we were robbed of what is rightfully ours to claim.
In her one words: “There’s a difference between the religion of my childhood and the faith of my womanhood.”
You get to explore the love, light and liberation that is God. Start by creating rituals that make you feel closer to yourself.
Reclaim your ancient wisdom
Lyvonne reminds us that faith is not created from fear. Rather than succumbing to the dogma and doctrine of our childhoods, we get to expand beyond our limitations and discover our own ancient wisdom.
Many of us were taught in childhood that the faithful do what they’re told and don’t ask questions. But as a leader in faith, Lyvonne encourages us to ask as many questions as we can–and our faith should be able to coexist with our curiosity, and even be fed by it.
She says in this episode: “I am not fearful to interrogate my faith”. That means that faith is a process of feeling close to God and discovering the divine gifts you have to share with others. It is a refusal of hatred towards others, which can actually drive you farther from your faith and from yourself.
By speaking, writing and appearing on podcasts like this, Lyvonne Briggs is taking us off autopilot and issuing us an invitation to live more fully.
Give this episode a listen and be sure to connect with me if you have any feedback!