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On Episode 10.5 of The Turn On, we talk to minister and public health expert Pam Creekmur about sex and Christianity.
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Kenrya: Come here. Get off.
Kenrya: Our guest today is Pam Creekmur. Pam is a former public health official now minister who educates people on how to practice healthy lifestyles and create positive and efficient workplaces. As the owner of consulting firm Creekmur Solutions and health and wellness director at church, Pam exercises a passion for helping all human souls find a path to more positive, loving and productive lives. Pam also has a nursing background, which grounds more than 25 years of experience with human sexuality, healthy relationships and unhealthy relationships. Pam, we're so glad that you're on with us today. Thank you so much for saying yes.
Pam Creekmur: Oh, it's my pleasure. My pleasure.
Kenrya: Yay. So before we jump into the interview, we always ask what are your pronouns? Erica and I are both she and her.
Pam Creekmur: I am also she and her.
Kenrya: Awesome. Thank you.
Erica: So one of the first things we like to ask in addition to pronouns is we'd like for our interviewee to tell our listeners what they do in their own words. Your bio is amazing and breaks it down, but how do you like to describe what you do?
Pam Creekmur: Wow. That's a very good question. I always, in my career, I used to say my job primarily was the hassle factor remover and because I'm wired to get to solutions and problems, get to a real solution for everybody getting past all the things that typically can hang you up and people get stuck in different pathways and so in my job that made me effective in ministry it, I've found that I'm a connector. And so I typically see that there's good in everybody. I can look past a lot of things and so those things don't hang me up. I really want to help people be their best you and I guess I've done a lot of work on myself. I've done a lot of work. I still do a lot of work in myself, but I understand that everybody really is made to be phenomenal and there are a lot of things that come into our lives, a lot of trauma.
Pam Creekmur: A lot of this though that a lot of, like I say, goofy, goofy. We pick up on the path that we just need to shake off. Some of us shake it off a little better than others. Some of us need therapy, some of us just need to be heard. So I have throughout my life from teenage on have been somebody that people would seek out to talk to. I'm known about keeping it real, sometimes too real, because everybody-
Kenrya: No such thing.
Pam Creekmur: Well, you know what? But what I learned as I hit the fifties that everybody, and rightly so is not always ready for the truth. And in my thirties I was a hot mess because I'm like, what do you mean you don't, it's the truth.
Kenrya: I'm fixin’ to give it to you.
Pam Creekmur: I'm fixin’ to give it to you. And so as I've gotten older, it's been better that I wait for people when they're ready. And so I've learned how to do that. I see a lot of things very discerning. I've been, I was very discerning as a little girl and I didn't understand it. I think in my twenties I stopped trying to question it and trying to wonder who, what, when, where, and how, and just roll with it. So I think that is also helpful.
Pam Creekmur: But if I said it in a nutshell, I'm a connector. I don't really have to fix it. I just need to get people connected to what that path is. And then it's okay if we ever see each other again or not. I say a season, reason lifetime. I'm cool with any of that. The person who asked me to be with you guys today is a lifetime. Whether that person cares about it or not, can't shake me.
Kenrya: Oh, aw.
Erica: You ain't shaking this.
Pam Creekmur: Ain't no shaking. It's a lifetime.
Kenrya: So as we read earlier in the bio, you started your career working as a nurse and working in public health. When did you realize that you wanted to add minister to your plate??
Pam Creekmur: That is a good question. I think I've always known. I gave my life to Christ at the age of 16 and I was really, so here you go. I was not perfect. I was not even thinking I was supposed to be perfect. I married my childhood sweetheart. So that tells you that he and I were sinners from early on. And I happened to, my mother's church was splitting and I was visiting a church with my now husband, then boyfriend and his mother. And that was the first time I'd ever been in that church. It was a church, not in my neighborhood. And I went like the second time and I was yanked out of my seat, I can't explain it, to go down front and give my life to Christ. And I was the only member of that church. Now, within a year my mother came, my sister came and my dad came.
Pam Creekmur: So that became the family church. So I always knew that there was going to be more, but I couldn't define it. I was a crazy workaholic and I probably ran and said no to God for many years. But with that said, I've always been working in my calling. So as a nurse, the gifting was pastoring, administration, evangelism, and exhortation, which means encourager. It was always there, but I didn't put it together. God didn't put it all together for me until later on.
Pam Creekmur: But I've always been working in my calling, even as a nurse while I was... I've been an administrator in healthcare for 25 I say 25 now that I'm older, but it's more than that. At least 25. But it's funny, it's been a journey and so I've always been working in it. I will continue to work in it.
Pam Creekmur: And so for me it doesn't feel like now a minister, which I realize the calling. I've always been doing it. It's not a title. It's not a job necessarily. And for all of us who profess to be Christians, it's a work that we're always been doing. Whether we failed at it or been good at it or you know, kind of mess up. The beautiful thing is that it's still all good. God will flip all of that to make it work out for our good. And that's the, I think that's me in a nutshell. So I think I've always been kind of a minister. Typically, if we call ourselves Christians, we are all ministers. We are all assigned to go and share the gospel. Whether you're connected to a church or not. So it did feel like, and now this, it just feels like further developing. Does that make sense?
Kenrya: It does, yeah.
Pam Creekmur: Okay. So really that job as the health officer for Prince George's County, unbeknownst to me, was really kind of like being a pastor. And I didn't know that. One of my physician friends, I used to work for Kaiser Permanente, that was the longest I've worked and it's still my love.
Pam Creekmur: When I told him I got that position, he said, Oh wow, that's like being a pastor. And I really looked at him like, what is wrong with you? What you talkin' 'bout Willis? And he said, no, no, no. And so I said, really? And I really, I hugged them and said, thank you. Congratulations. But I walked away very, very confused thinking, Oh, he's losing his mind.
Pam Creekmur: And then I want to say two years into the job, I ran into him at a groundbreaking for our Kaiser building in the county. And I was there with the state secretary and they had a big production. And I saw that that physician friend and I couldn't get off the stage quick enough to go hug his neck and say, dude, I understand now. It really is... that role, you're responsible for the whole county, the folks who have insurance and those who don't, but it's really about the health and wellness of the entire community and it was such a different paradigm from my work in health care where we're taking of you when you're sick. We want to prevent those kinds of things.
Pam Creekmur: This dealt with the human element, so instead of being a healthcare professional, I call myself a health and human professional, health and human services professional, because there's so many other things that go into health care, your spiritual wellness, your emotional realms. There's a whole lot, and so that was pulling it all together. That job opened me up beyond just the healthcare.
Pam Creekmur: I will say my freshman year at Howard University unleashed something in me. I took a class, I know HU, you know. My freshman year I took a class called, it was a one of those health required classes, but the book was our Bodies Ourselves. And I was, you know, when I tell you that the professor who taught that class liberated me to know, Oh, okay. This was before I even read the Song of Solomon or anything in the Bible that I was wonderfully and fearfully made.
Pam Creekmur: She must've been a Christian now that I think about it and that I was in command of my body. And I mean there was nothing that was off the table that you could talk about. Ask all your dumb questions. And I think that one class helped me survive four years at Howard, the way I wanted to be care of myself. But it also-
Kenrya: It sounds like a class everybody needs to take.
Pam Creekmur: I don't know that's required anymore and I had been looking at, the book is old. I did find another book that's updated, but it was very, very honest and I was the resource person in my freshman year throughout Howard, I was experienced when some of my friends were not, if you know what I mean. I told they're married my childhood sweetheart. But I was also a nursing student who was... That class liberated me to go and preach to everybody. Look chick, you choose, look, no, you got to look at it, you got to turn the lights on, you got, you know, and so I‘ve been that person since 18 so I am much older than 18 now. So if I can tell you I've been doing this a long time talking and real deal, talk about our bodies, what they were designed to do and, and how we should manage them.
Kenrya: So you just told us about a super formative moment when you were in college. I'm really curious about how did you come to the idea that having a healthy sex life is not at odds with Christianity? Because as we know that in some homes, a lot of homes, that is not what we are taught when we are raised in the church.
Pam Creekmur: Absolutely. And even today, I have to tell you this, when I was doing the research for you all today, there are commentaries that are written on each book of the Bible and some huge names in theology did not do a commentary on this book. So John Calvin never did a commentary because it was a taboo subject. And I'm like, that is so not God. How you, man, decide that it's too erotic for me to do a commentary on, but you're going to do every other book. I thought it was very interesting, but it also speaks to the different ebbs and flow of religion.
Pam Creekmur: And so God's not religion. God is God. And he made this body phenomenal. He created sex. It was really the first job he gave Adam and Eve together. He, it's designed for pleasure, plain and simple. You can look at it and people try to make the Song of Solomon, they try to get real deep with it. But the truth of the matter is, it is a book about the transcendence of human sexuality. Period. The end.
Pam Creekmur: You can try to put some things on it, but it speaks for itself about the different phases of courting and passion and all of that on up through. But a lot of people... Well, to be very honest, I think everything good has been perverted by, I believe there's a real adversary, real and alive today. Sex was invented for pleasure and procreation. But after you're out of the procreation phase, we're not always in the child rearing age range. It has always been for pleasure. I can't explain why I've always understood that. My mom says I came out of the womb asking why. I still, it's my favorite question, why? I have a math, science brain.
Pam Creekmur: So why is the first question I ask? I didn't know. In my youth I understood that premarital sex was wrong, but I chose to do it. And I also chose to believe that God still loved me. And so I think there are a lot of folks who made that choice, but the relationship-
Pam Creekmur: Yep. I think the relationship, even from early on with God, was real and transparent for me. A lot of people get it differently, but it's for their own hangups. And I will say... Well, I'll stop there.
Pam Creekmur: There are a lot of things that go into how we feel about ourselves. And I think that God rescued me at 16 because I had a great... You know if you got life that's wonderful and great and you think it couldn't be better. But there was also trauma. So my sister and I were molested. I must've been around five when this started. She was three or four. By a stepbrother, blended family came together. So this was very early. So when that kind of thing happens, it awakens things that would not normally happen as early as it does. So I think that what I've come to know in all of these years is that trauma comes to all of us in some form or fashion, whether it's a little bit of trauma, a lot a bit of trauma, but the big denominator is how we respond to the trauma.
Pam Creekmur: And so I think when I said God rescued me at 16 always probably preparing for all the things that would come later. But I knew that we probably shouldn't be doing it, but I loved him. And when I read the Song of Solomon again, that was Pam and Jay.
Pam Creekmur: I'm blessed that I got to marry that joker. But here's the thing, he says that he felt he had to marry me because we were each other's first. And that's what the Bible said. I cracked up, and this was maybe 10, 15 years ago. I was like, you mean you didn't love me? You married me because we had sex? And he says, no, I loved you, but I knew we better get married. I was like, okay, don't tell nobody else that, dude. Now it's 36-
Kenrya: Keep that between y’all.
Pam Creekmur: But you know this December will be 36 years, so we got something right. Okay. Yeah, but it was funny. Anyway, that's what I'll say.
Pam Creekmur: I think the class liberated me and then I had another church, a class at my church, I want to say now 15, no, maybe 20 years ago. I wasn't a member of the church at the time, but a women's conference because my daughter was real little.
Pam Creekmur: There was about 150 of us in a class and this woman, the class was about sexuality and marriage. And I'm thinking it's going to be an old boring kind of class. Let me go, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I'm sitting up in there. One lady sitting beside me looked like she could be my mother and on the other side of me, a woman that looked like it could be my grandmother. I was like, well, how are we going to get our questions answered in here?
Pam Creekmur: Well they made you write your questions on a PostIt, an index card. I'm sure that woman got about a hundred questions. So out the box, she would answer the questions for everybody in the room. O.M.G. All of my hesitation went away with the first two questions. Oh my! Questions about anal sex. My husband only likes this and I don't like it. I mean, it went from soup to nuts. I was liberated again as a married woman in that class with people much older than me, some younger than me, but I realized we were all the same. No matter where you are in your walk, no matter what it is, when it comes down to it, in a relationship between a married couple or a single couple, sex is sex and there are going to be issues.
Pam Creekmur: But so I've not seen that woman back. I have the way people responded in that class, let me know that there is a huge need for a safe space. They get all them questions answered. And to know that you're okay. People aren't going to find a book. They're not going to necessarily out themselves, particularly good church girls, right? Whatever that is. But the questions that came, blew my mind. And the older ladies on each side of me high fiving me like we were the same age with the same issues. I want you to know I was messed up for a minute and then I jumped in the pool. So.
Kenrya: So I mean it's interesting because you know you've told us about a couple of moments that were really transformative to you and your relation to sex and your relation to your own body. I'm wondering, in thinking about Song of Solomon, which we obviously read in the last episode, how do you think this book can help people to have that moment in themselves?
Pam Creekmur: You know, just reading it straight and I think this is part of the problem. If you just read it straight, you're not... The symbolism and some of the words they use because it was back in that day it has special meaning. You know, everybody's not going to have a commentary to break it down verse by verse. But there are some resources that can help you if you really want to get into it.
Pam Creekmur: What people really need to know is that God invented this beautiful thing for pleasure. It was intended for pleasure. There were no little people. There were no children. Adam had named all the animals. He needed, you know... And then he's like, nothing here for me. I believe God wanted Adam to come to understand himself that he needed help.
Pam Creekmur: You know how men are. Sometimes they think they need help now. But I think he needed... I believe God want to Adam to understand you need me and now you're here alone with these little animals. I'm going to create something even more awesome for you. A helper. And so people don't really get the right understanding of it. It was designed for pleasure, which, and I tease because single folks are having sex like crazy. Married people ain't having sex like nobody's business.
Pam Creekmur: I think... It's like a driver's license. A married couple, they got the driver's license to drive the car. They're not driving the car. Single people don't have a license. They driving cars. They flying planes, they doing scooters and bicycles.
Kenrya: Listen, I’m doing all of that.
Pam Creekmur: All right all of that. So the thing is, it's twisted a little bit and people just need to come back to understand what it was designed for, created for. There's short window of time for procreating, to be perfectly honest in today's society. Then you've got your whole life, it should be for pleasure. Now, when God designed it, it was for a monogamous couple. Okay? But the body is still the body. It was designed for pleasure. It's not, he's not discriminatory. He gives us free will to make choices. And even when you make choices that weren't necessarily the best for you, you go, you grow and you keep it moving. Right?
Pam Creekmur: So I mean that's our life's walk. Period. The end. We're going to mess up, we're going to make good decisions, we're going to make some cuckoo decisions and we're going to come back. We center and go another path. But it's how you grow. And I believe that you really can't bring somebody along and help somebody unless you've been through some things. So it's just how it is.
Kenrya: Yeah. And I mean I will say that Erica and I don't really believe that there are cuckoo, well I'll speak for myself, that they are cuckoo decisions. I think that we learn and we grow, but also sometimes monogamous sex with one person just ain't the thing that you want to do. Right? And so you know, in the way that we look at this and everything else is that it's just a part of expressing ourselves and finding that pleasure and enjoying our bodies and remembering that we are in control of them.
Pam Creekmur: Well we are absolutely in control of them. And the only one that God expects us to be in control of is ourselves. We can't change anybody. And I'm not here to say what's good, bad and in between because the God I serve is unknowable. So I don't even try to understand it all. I don't have to. He does. What I do know is that he is love and love looks very differently than what most human people want to say it is. We all got an opinion. We all got a thought. I am so awesomely thrilled that God thinks bigger than all of us. And so love is love and love is never wrong. So love is love, period.
Kenrya: All right, cool. So we like to say on this show that we've discussed the sex [inaudible 00:24:09]. And of course our last episode was about sex and religion, but, of course, we couldn't really talk about that text without bringing up the way that white supremacy always worms its way into everything. And you know, there's that line that we saw interpreted in a lot of places and a lot of different translations of the Bible. That says, I am dark yet lovely or I am dark but lovely. And we wanted to make sure that we found a version that translated as I am dark and lovely.
Pam Creekmur: It is dark and lovely. Absolutely. I did a little research and it is. So when you read the Bible, you've got to absolutely understand the context, the culture, all of that when you're looking at it. You just can't read it and go, Oh, and apply it to what things mean today. And so the dark and lovely is... I've gone real deep into the research, which says she's a Shunammite woman, which means she's of African descent. But she is also probably, we don't know for sure, but probably someone who has had to work out in the sun and not a person of means where they had tons of servants and the whole nine yards. So it's not even that it's, and you know, white supremacy wants to, they just skird, that's all. They don't even freak me out anymore. Like it's over it, the world is Black and brown. Y'all going be all right, but you are not in majority or control. God is. Period. The end.
Kenrya: That's right.
Pam Creekmur: But it doesn't mean that she even thought that she was ugly or dark was a bad thing. It just meant that she was of a working class because she worked in the sun outside. Okay? It's not a Black, white kind of thing. It's not a... And she absolutely, according to my research was of the beauty that she could walk by and any man's head would turn. Yeah. Yeah.
Kenrya: So you spoke a little bit earlier about one of the ways that folks can really get the maximum impact of Song of Solomon is to read it alongside other resources. Are there any books that you recommend for folks who want to dive deeper into this and into the connections between the sacred and the erotic in general?
Pam Creekmur: Yes. There's a book called The Song Of Solomon- Love, Sex, and Relationships. It's by Jeffrey A. Johnson, Sr. I've heard him speak, preach on many levels, on many different occasions. He's out of Indianapolis, he's got a series of books, books for daughters, books for sons, you know, things like that. He is a real proponent of sex. Period. The end. He is a minister. This is a fabulous breakdown because he doesn't try to sugarcoat it. He doesn't try to add anything to what the Lord had written. It is what it is. And people shy away from this. I don't think I've ever, in my years, and I'm up there, heard anybody preach from the Song of Solomon. People are still scurred and trying to act like this is not natural and beautiful and designed by our Lord. Period. The end. And I think there'd be a lot happier marriages, a lot of happier relationships, a lot of happier everything if folks could talk about it as real as we talk about sin, or greed.
Pam Creekmur: There are certain things we don't talk about. We don't talk about gluttony, you know that's another sin that, okay, don't get me started. I'm pretty a social justice kind of nut in the church so we can talk about a whole bunch of stuff but we can't talk about the stuff that's really going to help people. Jeffrey does. Jeffrey Johnson does an excellent job at this book. Men and women will find it helpful, but that's one.
Pam Creekmur: I am a out of the box thinker as my friend. Erica would tell you. I have a daughter who is interesting. She is the love of my life. But she is what her mother would consider a prude, that was not her mother. So it's a struggle for her mother. But there's this book that I found, we were in a store called Lotus Blossom in Alexandria, Virginia.
Pam Creekmur: And it's a, you can find erotica, you can find all kinds of different things. You can find lingerie. We were thrift shopping down there and we happened upon this store. I forced us to go in. This book is called Come As You Are, I've not finished it, but you guys are serious readers so you guys might even help me, but it's called come as you are and it's by Emily Nagoski N-A-G-O-S-K-I she's a PhD. It's called a master class in the science of sex. And ,bottom line, this book basically says, however you feel it, wherever you feel it, and when you feel it, is normal. And it reminded me of Our Bodies Ourselves because we all got basically the same parts. Some of us have a little extra parts. But all of that is good. However you were made and however, and whatever it takes for you to feel pleasure is fine and good because you were made this way.
Pam Creekmur: So Come As You Are. And so I got it. So I would understand what the new research talks about. So I really need to dig in because I can talk about this with ease on any level, usually, but this book got me intrigued. There were two books we left with so the assignment was my daughter was going to read her book and that was on trauma. And this was my book to bring me into the new millennial season and mesh it all up.
Pam Creekmur: But I found this excellent because the premise is just because Sally over there gets pleasure in this way and I get pleasure in this way, Sally wants me to think I'm weird. No. This is what I need. You do what you need. And so this is, I found this to be really helpful and to normalize all the differences, just like our fingerprint-
Kenrya: That's awesome.
Pam Creekmur: Just like there's no Pam Creekmur design like Pam Creekmur.
Pam Creekmur: He made one, he made one Erica and he made one you. So it's just really, these two I think were helpful. Jeffrey will give you the spiritual, break it down. He doesn't cut corners with the Song of Solomon. He didn't try to say that the dark means that Black is bad. He's a brother and he thinks all women of color, all that and a bag of chips. So, but he's known for going to different conferences and breaking it down. He's just as real with men. so it's going to be interesting. These two are good.
Kenrya: That's awesome. And actually while we have here, and this is something that Erica and I have been looking for for probably a year and a half, do you have any resources for folks who are looking for something that helps with a womanist approach to interpreting the Bible?
Pam Creekmur: Say that again.
Kenrya: Mm-hmm (affirmative). So we, we've been looking for a resource that takes a womanist approach to interpreting the Bible. Because when you read certain verses that leave women and girls in not such a great place as you're reading, sometimes we're like, Ooh, we need a Black woman to help us break this down.
Pam Creekmur: Well there are all kinds of translations. And so I'm trying to think. So while I was in seminary, the beautiful thing about where I went to school was when you had a paper to write, a research paper, you could do it from a lot of angles. And here's the thing that most people don't understand. All of us are theologians who study to come to understand the Bible, what it really means and all of that deep, deep stuff. And you know, the historical or archeological things that prove things. We had the blessing of having a list of, you've got the feminist bible, you've got... I always wrote my papers from an African American perspective and I was thrilled to find commentaries and things like that. If I was a Latino woman, there was a list of 12 or so sources that are written from that perspective. There are tons of Bibles and commentaries written from a women's or a feminist perspective.
Pam Creekmur: I don't have my hands on that, but I can absolutely shoot that to you as soon as we finish this podcast. Because I have to get up and get-
Kenrya: That would be awesome.
Pam Creekmur: ... but I have an entire list. And these were resources that were vetted by Denver Seminary. And so every time we wrote a paper, you got to choose from these scholarly lists and you name it, there's an Asian perspective. There is a perspective from everybody. So it was amazing going through seminary, nothing like what I thought it would be. It just seriously awesome learning. And a theologian is a person who seeks and studies the word to understand.
Pam Creekmur: And I learned it was so not what I expected. Nobody tried to drill anything into my head. It's me and the Lord and I read for myself and I do the research for myself. And anything I write, I had to back it up.
Pam Creekmur: But since, as I said earlier, he is so unknowable, my assessment is just as good as anybody else's because I'm hearing from God, I'm researching, I'm reading for myself. So there's a lot of different things that... I'll send you that whole list of reading because the more you research and the more you dig in, the more it proves God.
Kenrya: Good. We wil put that on our site.
Pam Creekmur: I told you I'm a math, science brain and my favorite question is why. I have not found anything in science that disproves it. And so it blesses me. It makes me a more fierce apologetic kind of person that's going to be patient and wait for you because it just proves God. I've not found anything that disproves him. Yeah.
Kenrya: I'm so glad you were here to talk with us today and I'd love to be able to let folks know where they can find you. So you're at Creekmursolutions.com
Pam Creekmur: Yes, correct.
Kenrya: And your Twitter is @PBCJ.
Pam Creekmur: Yes. I am not a proficient Tweeter. I have to become one. I am. I will be better. But if you go there, and I'm looking at it now, but I have a millennial that is also my daughter who says, ma, I'm not even really Instagram. I sent you, she has to text me to tell me what you sent me something on Instagram. I was like, okay, so I have to get better or either hire millennials in my life to do fantastic stuff for me. So one or the other.
Kenrya: Either way works. Yeah. Well good. So folks, that's where you can find her. And thank you so much for coming on. And this is the end of this week's episode of The Turn On.
Erica: So this wraps up the first season of The Turn On and produced by your hosts, Erica and Kenrya with editing by B’Lystic and music from Brazy. We hope you enjoyed listening to season one as much as we enjoyed creating it. We're dropping season two on January 1st but look, don't worry, we're not going anywhere. We'll still be here every Wednesday with something we're calling Quickies, short, fun, sexy episodes that you won't want to miss. And you can keep emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your book recommendations and burning sex and related questions. And follow us on Twitter @theturnonpod and Instagram @theturnonpodcast. And remember The Turn On is a part of the Frolic Podcast Network. Find more podcasts you'll love at frolic.media/podcast. Thanks for joining us and we'll see you soon. Bye.
The Turn On
The Turn On is a podcast for Black people who want to get off. To open their minds. To learn. To be part of a community. To show that we love and fuck too, and it doesn't have to be political or scandalous or dirty. Unless we want it to be.