Love it or hate it, sex is a big deal. God cares about your sexuality, and the Bible has a lot to say about it. And when intimacy goes wrong, sex has also been a source of great pain for countless people. And too often God-talk or unhealthy religious messages have brought more pain to your sexuality and caused some to pull away from the only One who can bring them true wholeness.
The Christian church has generally done less than well in helping people navigate real life in our contemporary sexualized society, the matters in their own heart, marriage vs. singleness, or how to experience God in the middle of all this. And bringing God into the middle of this has sometimes felt more distressing than helpful.
Acknowledging all that, what do you do when distressing God-talk or religious messages bring pain to your sexuality? How can you experience God answer – not just in facts, but in the emotional and experiential parts of your being as well?
God and Sex
Put God and sex in the same sentence. What would that sentence be? What would the emotional tone be? How do you imagine God feels about sex? How does He feel about you and sex? It’s helpful to include your logical left brain in this, but be sure to also consider how your emotional right brain actually feels about God and sex.
These unhealthy messages could be something like:
- God allowed sex as a “necessary evil” to keep the human race going, but He’d prefer you not like it much and only engage in it when “necessary.”
- God doesn’t really care about sex that much; all those Biblical guidelines don’t make any sense in the 21st century.
- If you’re married, God requires that you “do it,” regardless of whether your spouse wants to or not, or whether sex is physically or emotionally harmful to you.
- Sexual sin is the worst in God’s eyes. You’re either “pure” or you’re damaged goods. Forgiveness is available, but you’ll always be second-class to God.
- God’s requirements for your sex life are unreasonable, especially if you’re unmarried, or same-sex attracted, or your spouse is sexually unresponsive.
Tamara had been raised in church, but had gotten into a lifestyle of having sex with too many men and women to count. She said, “The God part of my brain and the sex part of my brain aren’t connected.” Kevin has been faithfully married to his wife for decades, but still struggles with enormous shame over his same-sex attraction. Gina hates sex; it’s both physically and emotionally very hurtful, but she feels enormous guilt when she says No to her husband.
How you imagine God and sex being related is colored by your past. And it will color your future.
Living or believing a lie will never help. Coming to understand what God says about sex and sexuality is important. But that must go beyond just facts being stuffed into your left brain; doing that doesn’t lead to any lasting change anyway. Your left brain can only fully engage with and incorporate “truth” when your right brain feels some sense of it also.
That’s why Jesus came “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14), as “Immanuel, … God with us” (Matthew 1:23). Much of the harm experienced by those who have felt damaged by religious messages or God-talk around sex has come from pronouncements as if from “on high” without any sense of safety or connection with either God or others.
God designed sex to be wonderfully enjoyed between one man and one woman within covenant marriage. Evil has so hijacked that idea that many people struggle to differentiate healthy sexual desire from lust – either in their own souls, or when experiencing desire from another person.
The “truth” includes a set of facts – about the Source of our identity, how He created us as male and female, and His design for relationships, sexuality, and, for those called to it, marriage. But truth also includes the Person of Jesus; “I am the … Truth” (John 14:6). Truth as a Person ministers to your soul.
It’s helpful to see how Jesus dealt with His very human need for intimacy when He was here on earth. Additionally, everyone who came to Jesus felt welcomed, including sexual sinners. And each person also felt drawn into a process of transformation that now seemed possible. Today, we also each need to be deeply healed and transformed by that Truth – as embodied and ministered (imperfectly) through His people, and through Jesus Himself.
God vs. People or Religion
I love the family of God. I hope you do too. And as every human family is, this family is also dysfunctional. But the truth is that while you have been harmed in relationship, you will also find healing in relationship. That doesn’t mean every human, even every Christian, is “safe” and healthy to connect with while you’re struggling through pain. But it does mean you can’t do this in isolation from others in the family of God.
So, if God-talk or religion has brought pain to your sexuality in some way, know you’re not alone. And don’t give up!
Take the time to evaluate your assumptions and beliefs around God, sex, relationships, intimacy, etc. There may be ways your understanding needs to be matured, healed, or changed.
If it seems there are unhealed wounds in your soul, invest in healing. Looking at the roots of your sexual “stuff” is hard! But it’s worth it. Healing is a choice. That process includes forgiveness, allowing Jesus into any past trauma, and connecting with others even though it’s hard.
And this process also includes learning to submit your sexuality to Jesus daily. This is very different from simply “trying harder” to comply with a certain list of behavioral do’s and don’ts. This means allowing, inviting, Jesus to actually come in, coming to trust Him enough to let Him get that close. When you are in His presence you are changed.
As you experience that transformation you become capable of authentic intimacy regardless of your past or your relationship status.
Your Turn: In what ways has God-talk or religious messages brought pain to your sexuality? Where are you in the healing process now? I’d love to hear from you. Leave a message below.
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- Many people have experienced God-talk or religious messages bring pain to their sexuality. But Truth is healing – both as ministered by healthy relationships in the family of God, and through Jesus Himself. Tweet that.
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