Sexual Mistreatment Should Have Never Happened to You!

Unfortunately, there are plenty of people out there who bear scars in the sexual arena.  I believe this is an area of special pain because it involves the most vulnerable parts of our bodies and our emotions.  I’m thinking of the child molested, the woman raped, the spouse discarded.

But what always strikes me as worst is when those wounds are inflicted by someone who claims to know Christ.  It’s a sad truth that there are plenty of people in the world who have been personally hurt by a “Christian.”

We’ve all heard the stories of misbehaving people of faith — the preacher who had extramarital affairs, the priest who molested children, the church leader who paid for prostitutes, and the like.  Even more prevalent is the spouse who goes to church every Sunday and then views pornography for hours during the week, visits strips clubs, or has online sex chats.  Or a spouse who has been unfaithful while continuing to believe herself on the side of righteousness.  Maybe a spouse has completely wrong ideas about sex, either demanding distasteful acts or withholding entirely from their spouse.

For those of you who have painful memories of sexual mistreatment at the hands of a believer, I want to say:  I’m sorry.  I know that I didn’t cause that hurt, but such behaviors are extremely troubling to Christians trying to live out the high standards to which we’ve been called.  I wish that tomorrow I could snap my fingers (and I know a lot of believers would join me) and make that entire nonsense stop.

Now here’s a question I have for you:  How can you make sure that such mistreatment doesn’t skew your perception of God’s gift of sexuality?  Because I am here to tell you:  Whatever sexual pain you have experienced at the hands of others, whether they claimed to be Christian or not, is not what God has in mind by providing us with sexual intimacy.

The misuse of sex is like taking a bat, beating someone with it, and then saying, “See, this is a baseball bat.”  You would know what a bat is, but you wouldn’t have any idea what it was really intended for. 

How do you move past that bad experience?  How do you recover?  I am not an expert, and many people who endure such pain need professional help from a doctor, counselor, or pastor.  If you believe that you need help, get it.  If you feel you cannot afford these services, some churches offer counseling on a sliding scale or for free.  Ask around.

But from a layperson’s perspective — and assuming that abuse is not extreme or ongoing — I suggest you list the things you now believe about sex.  Be completely honest.   Then ask how much of that opinion has been formed by your negative experiences?  How much has been influenced by your faith or belief system?  How much is based on factual information?

You may need to correct your inner voice and replace negative presumptions about sexuality with God’s ideas.  For instance, “sex is dirty” is simply not true.  It is a blessing in the confines of marriage, and the Bible always speaks of it positively in that context.  Sexual abuse is evil indeed, but that is a perversion of what God gifted to His people.

Coming from the lesser, self-inflicted wounds of my past (see My Personal Testimony), I know that a less-than-perfect history can throw your brain and your heart off completely.  The best way I know to correct mistaken assumptions is to do things right and see how much better that is!  Like taking you out to the baseball diamond, pitching you an easy one right over the plate, and watching you slam a line drive double.  Then you know what a baseball bat is for.  And you might come to enjoy the sport of baseball.

Do not let the bad experiences you’ve had at the hands of another determine your sexual future.  Let God heal your wounds and show you what the gift of sexuality is really about.  He intended it for good.  And it can be.

7 thoughts on “Sexual Mistreatment Should Have Never Happened to You!

  1. Anonymous

    I’ve just recently found your blog, and I must say a big “thank you” for your work. I’m toggling between a few Christian blogs (including yours) right now to help re-create my marriage to be the God-honoring entity it was designed to be. Sex is obviously a huge part of that process.

    I had never realized what an impact sex can have in a marriage. I believed that I had a healthy attitude toward sex, but have come to realize that I was wrong. I was abused in childhood, and did not realize how consuming the damage from that can be. It is easy to push it aside, and say, “I’m fine,” or simply never mention it. It was only recently, after the death of a parent and the subsequent gathering of the extended family (several of whom were my abusers) for the first time in my adult life that I understood the depth of the damage which was done to me. That is one of the many reasons child abuse is so insidious–the trauma bubbles up repeatedly and unexpectedly throughout the lifetime of the abused person.

    I was very discouraged many years ago to find a book by a “Christian” author who wrote that panic attacks, “body memories” and other physical symptoms resulting from childhood traumas were simply proof that I lacked faith and did not trust God enough. How unhelpful–and unfair! God does not promise His children will not suffer. We live in a world where evil abounds, after all. He promises grace for our trials, and strength to endure them. That author’s words made me feel ashamed all over again, for something that was not my sin. I became very depressed and didn’t talk about my experiences with anyone for many years, including my (now) husband.

    This has been incredibly damaging to my marriage, because I had pushed these things out of my mind and refused to acknowledge the connections, even to myself. When we were newlywed and I would get sick during sexual encounters, I would hide in embarrassment until it passed and tell myself and my spouse that I was fine. It was only recently that I understood that this is a common phenomenon known as “body memories” or “muscle memory.” The path to improvement is to retrain one’s body (sexually) in the way God designed. (Your baseball analogy is good, but I would challenge it on this point: my marriage can survive without baseball, but it cannot survive without sex.)

    I am currently on a healing oath, and very grateful for every resource that I can find. Blogs like yours are so very helpful, because there are some questions you just can’t ask your girlfriends. Keep up the good work!

  2. J

    Thank you for sharing your story. I love this line from you: “He promises grace for our trials, and strength to endure them.” Isaiah 43:2 is one of my favorite verses:

    When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
    and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
    When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.

    That passage tells me that we will have to pass through rivers and walk through fire sometimes, but God will walk us through the pain to find healing. He will show up in the midst of our troubles.

    It seems to me that your faith is strong in continuing to seek God and find the resources and strength to address sexual intimacy in your marriage. I pray that positive experiences with your husband pile so high that they cover over the sad memories of your past.

    Blessings!

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  6. ladyD

    When I was a young girl I was molested by my sibling’s spouse. I told my mother after it happened the first time and she made me apologize and hug him. I now see how damaging that moment was even for the simple fact of what my mom made me do let alone having to hug and say I’m sorry to a grown man for what he did. The abuse continued until I was a year and I kept it to myself. As a little girl due to the way in which it was handled when I did tell the 1st time, I figured if it was going to happen to me I’d rather not be made to apologize for it. I felt ashamed and dirty as well as abandoned by my mother.
    LONG story short and to avoid going into details of the painfulness, I grew up entering into my teen and young adult year having abusive relationships in my life from friendships and dating. I was emotionally/mentally as well as physically and sexually abused in those relationships, some were just the emotional/mental abuse, one was a all of the abuse and one was off and on various times of all of the types of abuse. I fell into that pattern of cycle that often victims do where we allow ourselves to enter into abusive relationships or do not try to leave them because we feel we some how deserve it, it’s just how life is, or that we don’t know any thing other than the role of victim. Victims can sometimes re-victimize themselves unintentionally/subconsciously as I have had a therapist point out to me once.
    I’m now into my mid- almost late 30’s and I am finally starting to heal all the internal wounds left long after the bruises healed. I stay in therapy regularly and work hard to ensure I am no longer a victim, I am now and will fight to remain a survivor.
    As an

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