Can God redeem my sexuality?
I know a lot about sexual sin. Not because a friend of a friend (of a friend) did something scandalous once, but because I have run the gamut on sexual sin. If I was a dude, this might be me bragging. But I'm not. I'm a woman, and sexual sin is highly embarrassing for most of us. Let me pull words from a wiser woman to shed light:
"Women aren't as open about their sexual struggles because of the humiliation that comes with giving sex in order to get love... For a woman, the relationship is the prize; the sex was simply the price she had to pay to get the prize." -Shannon Ethridge, Every Woman's Battle
So as I was saying...I know a lot about sexual sin because I've done a lot of sexual sin. This isn't cool, and this isn't brag-worthy. This is highly embarrassing.
Today, as I was gathering my notes to type a blog about forgiveness, God interrupted my thoughts and told me to write this. So here I am, confessing my most humiliating past to the world wide web. Cool.
I've been the woman at the well. I've been Mary Magdalene. I've been Bathsheba.
So perhaps God's asking me to speak up about sexual sin because I know it far too well and haven't an ounce of pride in me in admitting that. If you could see me, you would see the tears welling up in my eyes and my chest and neck turning blotchy bright red. Lord, help me!
Sexual sin, for me, started with a little pornography out of a little bit of kiddish curiosity. Nothing meant to be sinful. I was just curious what my body was "supposed to" look like, and porn showed...welp...everything. Of course, I still held my V-card up in the air and was super proud of it for a few years.
One day I met this bad boy who had daddy issues and like any (in)sane teenage girl, I loved it. Not him. It. The drama. The back and forth. The not knowing if he liked me or not. And I gave him more and more of my attention...until that wasn't enough. Then I gave him a kiss. Until kisses weren't enough. Then we fooled around. Until that wasn't enough. I got dumped for...let's just say "a candidate with more experience". I was crushed. I gave him way more than I ever wanted to give anyone besides my future husband, and that was one little tick mark I would have to embarrassingly confess to my husband some day.
And then it happened again. Different guy, same plot. He liked me, he didn't like me. I caved, giving up even more than I ever wanted to admit. Another tick mark.
A few more years of "the last time I ever do this, but I have to do this just one more time or I might lose the guy" led to a whole lotta tick marks. At this point I think I just gave up all hope that God could redeem my sexuality. I was marred with sin and shame (deep shame) and guilt and regret. I pictured my sexuality as a giant bag of (you fill in the blank).
I wasn't worth anything. Not only because I was used goods, but mainly because of that astute statement above. I gave up everything multiple times over, and each time I was left empty handed. Actually, I was left with the shattered pieces of my heart.
I started playing the game. The game of proving my worth by serial dating. I dated -- and slept around some more -- only this time, I was in control. I wasn't falling for any of these bros. I was choosing ones who might be a challenge to win over, but I knew I could make them fall in love with me. I wasn't a good person; this I know full and well...now. At the time, I thought I was just "doing what everyone else is doing". The environment I created for myself told me that. I fell away from my godly friends. I fell into friends who made me feel better about myself, AKA were just as drunk and sexually deviant, etc. as I was.
I met the one man who almost sent me straight to hell. (That's dramatic, but it still feels that way.) I met the man who was untouchable -- because he was married. Though I had gone very far down the rabbit hole of sexual sin and I was still denying it's sinfulness, this one stunned me. If you let me use an analogy, all my other sexual sins in the past felt like driving down a gravel road. Lots of bumpiness and feeling like: "Maybe now's a good time to turn around." But when I met this one, it felt like a giant pothole that rattles you around and jerks your steering wheel crooked so you know you're headed off the side of a cliff.
I knew this was so wrong -- even just in our first conversation. But by this time, I was so addicted to the high of sexual sin that even in knowing deep down in my soul that this was treacherously wrong, I knew I was absolutely going to do what I knew I should never do.
I slept with the married man.
I never ever ever ever ever thought I would be that person. I never ever ever thought I would cross that one particular line. I had never cheated on any boyfriend -- I didn't treat them well, but I never cheated. And I thought that sliver of integrity at least defined me.
But that's the thing about sin -- any habitual sin, really. Your next hit always has to be worse and bigger and badder than your last. Ask any heroine addict. Ask any alcohol addict. Ask any hoarder. Any food binger. We always need more.
Now I'm not lumping myself in with people who overeat. No, this was way more reckless and harmful to more than just me. To more than just him. This is likely still a deep wound in the hearts of his entire family. This is much worse, and I am aware of that.
If you need a moment to process that "Mrs. Christian blogger who's happily-married and even bragging that she has such a loving relationship with God and her husband and yadda yadda" is actually the adulterer... well, that's to be expected. I'm the witch who stole someone's husband. The one with the scarlet A pinned to my chest. Go ahead. Take a minute to process that. I'm still doing it.
When you have, I ask for your forgiveness. Though I haven't sinned against you in this, I have likely made you think less of God, and that's sinful.
I confess this sin because I am a warning sign to you.
Sexual sin -- any habitual sin -- is a slippery slope leading to the depths of hell. I was in hell on earth for years after the affair. It's been several years, and I think I've only recently forgiven myself. That shame has bled into my marriage in a way I never imagined possible. I thought marriage was a holy dividing line whereas God wouldn't allow past sexual sins to affect my marriage bed. I was wrong.
My husband and I are working these things through, and he's been impossibly gracious in communicating despite my humiliation.
But I would be fraudulent if I didn't tell the full truth. Sexual sin from before marriage will enter your marriage, because the ideas created are sown deeply into your conscience, and it is from that conscience that you will pull your already-formed ideas of sex with your husband once you're married. Your entire understanding will be flawed and marred by past sin. I'm not condemning you or wishing it upon you, but rather warning you.
There is a way out and through this even if you're like me, and you've made a mess of your sexuality. You've given yourself out like free candy. Or maybe you aren't a sexual wreck...that anyone could verify. Maybe all of your sexual sin occurs in your head in fantasies. Or in watching highly sexualized, but not technically pornographic, movies. Or in the clothes you wear to feel like a sex doll all the time, though you haven't actually done anything. Or in masturbating alone in private where "it isn't hurting anyone".
I'm here as your warning sign that sexual sin is a slippery slope leading to the depths of despair.
You likely know this, but if you don't... If you begin down the tantalizing little rabbit hole, you will eventually slip into a freefall. That freefall will include lying in beds you shouldn't be in with men who have absolutely no integrity. It will include looking in the mirror and not even recognizing the person you've become. And worse yet, it will include feeling so SO far from God that you have no way of knowing how to get out.
Thank God, this wasn't the end of my story. It could have been. It should have been. I am unworthy of the plot twist that happens next.
Along came Mr. Jordan
The most lovely, exquisite man on the face of the planet popped up in my world when I was feeling almost entirely worthless. I surely didn't feel worthy of a God-fearing man. I felt worthy of an average joe who wasn't following the Lord. But along came Mr. Jordan, and I knew before I even broke up with my previous boyfriend that Russell Taylor Jordan would be my future husband.
As part of a backstory that I've never shared before but only because it wasn't as pertinent until now.. I was having sex with my previous boyfriend for awhile, and then we stopped. I was quietly asking God to redeem my sexuality, and it began with my obedience to stop having sex. There were slip-ups, but it wasn't habitual like I had been for multiple years before.
I honestly think that if I hadn't really asked God to redeem my sexuality, and if I hadn't really followed through with obedience to stop having sex, then I would probably still be dating that guy who didn't follow the Lord. My life would be on an entirely different trajectory. This blog surely would not still exist. I don't know if I would even still have faith in God if I never surrendered this one last part of my heart to Him at this point in time. I would hope so, but I also know how awfully callous the human heart is and how quickly that callousness develops after continual disobedience to God. I highly doubt I would still be confident in saying, "God said ___ to me." I doubt I would even recognize the voice of God at all.
Let me drop this truth bomb on you:
Your sexuality may very well be the final frontier of your heart surrendered to God.
When I was still in sexual sin, I was a faithful church attender, volunteer, and tither. I was a Christian blogger, kinda on and off. I was encouraging my friends to follow the Lord. I was even trying to quit cussing (...still trying, for the record). And when I realized God wanted every part of my heart -- even my sexuality -- well, my first thought was:
"Can I just double-up on tithing?"
Long story short...
God was faithful to redeem my sexuality. But I want to take away THE LIES that women seem to believe about sexual sin and marriage.
Judging on direct conversations with friends and indirect observations, we believe that we can be sexually devious prior to marriage, but then once we get married: *POOF!* All of a sudden, we have no cravings for sin. Our appetite is quenched. Of course, the same holds true for our husbands (of course). And we live happily ever after, skipping off into the sunset.
Do you believe that, too? Secretly, deep down, do you believe that?
Do you think that your sexual sin only has consequences prior to your marriage, but once you (ahem, finally!!!) meet Mr. Right, all that sin just flies out the window?!
I would be doing you the greatest disservice of my authorship to imply that to be true. In fact, I will explicitly tell you right this moment that:
Any lack of self-control you have prior to marriage will continue to exist after marriage.
If you flirt with everyone before marriage, you will do the same after. If you put yourself in inappropriate situations with men at night all alone before marriage, you will do the same after. If you sleep around before marriage, you will do the same after.
If you don't believe me, recall the earlier part of my story where I was having an affair with a married man.
You don't get married and all of a sudden the opposite species is repulsive. You don't get married and all of a sudden have this overload of self-control because you said "I do" many moons prior.
If that were true, we would not have a 50% divorce rate. And if you think that you knowing who God is and hearing His voice makes a difference there, then why is it that the Christian divorce rate is the same as the secular divorce rate??
The reason these two stats are the same is because we are not addressing the deep-seeded issue of sexual sin.
Sexual sin carries with you into your marriage. As it does with your husband. So this beautiful gift of marriage that God gave us is begun with a whole lotta sin and shame and non-communication about it all.
But there's hope!
There is a way to get out of the depths of despair that is sexual sin. It's a very unpopular thing, and I know most of you reading this will likely see my viewpoint up until I introduce this word:
Repentance doesn't entail a casual "I'm sorry" after every time you sin, with no intentions of stopping. Repent means to turn away from your sin. Break up with the boyfriend you've been sleeping with. Delete the hook-up app. Fall on your face before the cross of Jesus and let yourself feel the weight of sin enough to truly pray:
"God, I repent. I have made a wreck of my sexuality, and I cannot fix it. Every time I try to be good, I fail. Fix me, Lord. Give me faith to obey you. Help me to see myself the way you see me, a diamond beyond comparison. May I dwell on the sacrifice of my Savior and be transformed by His blood covering my sin. In Jesus' precious name I pray."
If you prayed that, or even if you read through it and aren't yet sure if you're willing to pray that... Thank you for journeying with me thus far. I think the fact that you read this v. long blog post means you're searching for truth through the thicket of lies we are surrounded by in this hyper-sexualized world. I am going to continue to pray for you reading this. I have hope for you, because I know redemption is possible.
I've been married for almost 20 months to a God-fearing man, and together we have been faithful to God's design for holy sexuality. We have had the tough conversations -- we continue to constantly have the tough conversations to resolve the sin of our past. We diligently seek God's grace to use our sexuality in a way that glorifies Him.
The Side Point That's Maybe the Main Point
God invented sex. It isn't innately sinful, but it can be contaminated. That wasn't His plan. Sin, shame, guilt, regret, longing for some bro who isn't going to really cherish you enough to give you the dignity of a "ringy before dingy"...that was never His plan. (Thanks to Bianca Olthoff for that unforgettable phrase.)
His plan for your sexuality is not that it is stifled or ignored, but that it is redeemed by His Son's blood shed on the cross and that you have CRAZY GOOD SEX in your marriage.
It's literally in the Bible:
"Rejoice in the wife of your youth...Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love." -Proverbs 5
That isn't a passive kind of sexuality. That's a fully-engaged sexuality which knows God's purpose within marriage.
Are you starting to see? God's desire for your sexual morality isn't this archaic practice which stems from Him torturing you from using a part of your being which He Himself created. God's desire for your sexual morality is so that within marriage, you can have crazy good sex and be delighted with your spouse in doing it. But the crap of the past is what gets in the way. Whether you want it to or not, whether you call it sinful or not, whether you even acknowledge God is real or not. It gets in the way of holy sexuality, and it kills marriages before they even know what hit 'em.
And that is heart-breaking to me. To hear Christian women say, "It's my body. I'll do what I want with it" makes me see where they're headed -- toward divorce. And that breaks my heart. I don't want to see any of my friends go through the trauma of divorce and deal with the gut-wrenching aftermath of it all.
That is why I'm writing this now. Confessing my sins to you, my sister. Airing out all my dirty laundry for anyone in the world to bring a pitchfork to my front door. My safety in my prayer closet of confession doesn't help you to see the impact of the decision you're making, or have made, or one day will make. And I need to help. I want to prevent the self-inflicted torture that ensued after the affair I had. I want to prevent you from having to share those stomach-churning conversations I've had with my husband that I never wanted to have to bring him into.
More than anything, it isn't out of fear. I want to see you walking in freedom from sexual addictions and in freedom from any guilt and shame that the enemy wants to put on you. I want to hear you screaming to the skeletons in your closet, "YOU HAVE NO POWER OVER ME! I AM FREE IN JESUS' NAME!!!" I want you to be THRIVING in godly marriage where you have amazing sex and are truly one with your husband in mind, body and soul.
And I want to rejoice with you when you've made the decision to obey God and trust Him in this final frontier of your heart.
Dear sister, I love you. I want freedom for you, and I want an amazing life-long marriage for you. Please, consider this plea I'm making and the humility in which I confess my own skeletons. Pray about this and let God speak to your heart.
If you'd like further reading on these topics, may I recommend some books that have have helped transform my idea of sexuality:
*Disclosure: Priska Jordan is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. In other words, it is of no extra cost to you but I get a small commission from it.
Cover photo by Marissa Nicole Photography.