‘Sex is a gift from God that should be celebrated!’
Patricia’s story | Handpicked as the sexologist from Sri Lanka
“I grew up on a tea plantation in Sri Lanka, in the time of the British Raj. We were quite poor. We didn’t have a lot of ‘things’. We ate food from the gardens, and eggs from the chickens. But we grew up under grace. Both my parents had a strong faith in Jesus and every night we would read the Bible and pray. There was always the understanding that God cares, God provides.
When I was ten, I was sent off to a boarding school in Colombo, run by Methodist missionaries. I remember thinking Miss Lincoln was really ancient, but in retrospect, she was probably 35. My real coming to know grace – and the fact that it wasn’t anything to do with me – was because of her teaching. She was wonderful! She spent so much time with us. As you can probably imagine, I was terribly naughty! But she kept working with me. And when I was 13, I made a commitment to Jesus. From then on, I always knew that whatever happened, God was in charge of my life.
It’s very interesting. I think God always knew I would be a sexologist in Sydney. At school, I couldn’t be bothered studying. There were so many other interesting things to do! But in my HSC year, I decided to study – nose down, tail up. And when the results came, I walked into medical school. In Colombo, if you had the marks, you went to medical school. It was the culture. I loved anatomy and physiology. But then I saw patients and I thought, oh dear, I don’t like sick people! At the end of medical school, I tried surgery and I hated it, and the same with psychiatry. Then I got a call from a professor of physiology, offering me a job teaching reproductive physiology. I said okay, I’ll take it!
By then, I had married Vasantha. I saw him playing guitar at a Christian camp and thought, he’s the one for me! He didn’t have a chance. When our son was two, I got a scholarship to the University of Hawaii, working with the best-known professor of gender in the world. It was a wonderful three years. Then we were back in Sri Lanka and I was working as a sex therapist and lecturing. People came from everywhere. I think it was God’s way of getting me ready. At the same time, there were ethnic and political problems in Sri Lanka, so in 1988 we came to Australia with three suitcases. Sydney is a nice place! I got a job lecturing in anatomy. Then we offered a sexuality course for health professionals. They loved it! We went online. It was fun – everything from genital structure to arousal.
In 2011, I was ready to retire. Praise the Lord, my job was made redundant! The same year, the Sydney Diocese of the Anglican Church invited me to speak on sex and gender to their ministers. I said, sure! As I stepped off the podium after my final talk, they said I had to write it all down in a book. I said, okay! That started my publishing years. I had no intention of ever writing nonfiction, but God’s hand is amazing. And he’s funny. For the last ten years, I’ve been giving sex and gender seminars everywhere. I say to people, the wonder of sex is a gift from God that should be celebrated! I also say to God, “You know, I really love what you’re doing in my life, but it would have been better if I was ten years younger!”
I do less travel now. I’m 75, for goodness sake. Find someone else to talk about sex! At this stage of life, I’d much rather be in heaven, like Paul says, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Phil 1:21). But I say to God, “If I still need to be here, that’s okay. Let’s get on with it!” I’ve had my share of persecution, but I say to people that we worship a God who went to the cross. He suffered for us. It’s my faith that has held me steady through life. We worship a trustworthy God!”
Patricia’s story is part of Eternity’s Faith Stories series, compiled by Naomi Reed. Click here for more Faith Stories.