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.