I am coming to realize just how deformed my thought processes became through the years of living in deliberate sin. My sin, the sin that was thrust upon me and that I gave in to and eventually embraced was sexual sin. I don’t know how to address the topic, I don’t know how to treat it with the gravity it deserves. I am learning that there is much I don’t know.
There is such a skewed mindset regarding sex that pervades this world, both outside and inside the body of believers. It is one of the reasons I have not yet stepped into the need to bring it to light. It feels like a fight that cannot be won. It feels like I am one of few who see that the world’s system of values has slipped in to the body of Christ unchallenged. It defeats me before I even get started.
I say that and yet know that there are believers who do see the compromise that has stained our subset of society. It just feels like I’m fairly alone in my determination to do things God’s way, the right way, the way that is designed to protect and promote growth in us, to celebrate wholeness rather than break apart.
As I think about moving forward in my life and what God may bring into it, the potential for another mate has crossed my mind. I feel unequal to the challenge of standing firm in my convictions, not because I don’t fully believe in them and am not fully committed to them, but because I feel like no one else is, and in order to have another relationship there must be compromise on my part. The conclusion I draw from that line of thought is that I will just remain alone for the rest of my life. That sounds like I’m throwing a mighty fine pity party for myself, but I’m not. I’m content with the thought of living the remainder of the time on earth allotted to me as a solo follower of Christ, because “Christ Follower” is what defines me, not my relationship status.
At one point during the journey into and through the wilderness of sin, my mother quoted a verse to me found in 1 Corinthians 6:18. Here it is in the Amplified version: “Run away from sexual immorality [in any form, whether thought or behavior, whether visual or written]. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the one who is sexually immoral sins against his own body.” I didn’t like hearing that so much at the time, and I dismissed it, or thought I did, and went on with my life.
The problem with dismissing the truth of God’s word is that it holds true whether you embrace it or not. The truth does not change just because you don’t like hearing it. The truth does not change just because you don’t believe it or have convinced yourself otherwise or justified it or excused it or even ignored it. Unfortunately we live in a society where everyone is encouraged to define their own truth, and that’s where I was for a long time. The “you do you” syndrome. My what a disease that is!
At various times throughout my sinful years I thought about that verse and applied my intelligence to redefining it so that it fit my chosen lifestyle, or so that I could live my chosen lifestyle without guilt. I thought I was fairly successful, but I am cognizant now of just how much I had deluded myself in many areas, that being one of them. It has stained me. It has affected so many areas of my brain that I haven’t yet encountered all of them.
By rejecting God’s design for us humans in the sexual arena, I damaged so much of myself. Oh how that breaks His heart! It’s the reason He has the parameters, the bumpers, the rails along the roadside of life. It’s not to deprive us of “fun”, it’s not to make us needlessly pious or stodgy or uptight, or any of the other descriptives applied. It’s because doing otherwise hurts us. It damages us.
Just like with the truth, we can choose to ignore the damage amassed in living outside His parameters, but it doesn’t make it go away. We can say over and over with absolute confidence that we’re just fine, no damage here, and all we’ve done is put a pretty band-aid over a gaping hole.
It’s like a house infested with termites. For the most part, both outside and inside, the house looks wonderful. It appears to be sound, solid, strong. The exterior is nicely painted and maintained, the interior beautifully decorated. Looking at the house from the road you may think it’s perfectly fine. But on the inside, in the bones of the house, you find what was strong has turned to dust. What was solid is now hollow. It didn’t happen overnight; it was gradual. It started when you weren’t looking, it tunneled underneath the foundation and crept up into the infrastructure and began destroying the house from the inside out. Someone driving past a house that has been pretty much eaten up with termites can usually see the damage. This is when it has gone so far and for so long untreated that the inside now shows on the outside. But there are more houses that are infested invisibly than are eaten up where it shows, and it is only upon inspection that the infestation is discovered.
So it is for us. There are more of us walking around damaged, limping, gasping for air, all the while looking as if we just came off a two-week spa stay. And yet we ignore it. We insist that we’re fine, undamaged, healthy. We’re not. It’s time for the blinders to come off.
The termite infestation of sexual sin damages body, mind, and spirit. It brings about a disconnect between the three. It warps your self-perception. It warps your perception of others. If you began with low self-esteem, it lowers it further. If you began with difficulty relating to others, it widens it. It puts a barrier between your mind, your heart, and your spirit, and all of it shrinks inside you, becoming anemic and weak.
I had to compartmentalize to survive. This activity belongs in this box, and that activity belongs in that one. I had to lock away my mind, lock away my spirit while I was engaged in the sin of my body. I had to shut off my faith, my belief in God and in His word. I had to shut off my God-given longing to connect, to achieve true intimacy. True intimacy is not possible in the arena of sexual sin. It’s not possible with any habitual, willful sin. It’s just not. Sin causes you to hide, and anything hidden precludes intimacy. Intimacy is real and deep and truthful and raw and scary, and you can’t have it if you’re hiding.
Compartmentalization only works for so long. We are not designed to be compartmentalized. We are designed to be entwined. We are Image Bearers after all, and the Trinity exists in complete and utter community, intimacy. We are made of three – body, mind, and spirit – and the three are designed to work together. We may think we can separate one from the other and be whole, but it doesn’t work that way.
I had so completely given myself over to the warped way of life that I didn’t realize how much that mindset had infected everything else. Every area of my life has been impacted by the sinful lifestyle I adopted.
Jesus chose to bring awareness to this gradually for me. After I came back to Him He began to spread His sweet purity all over my life. Oh what a balm for a troubled soul! There was so much in me that was damaged emotionally and spiritually. So much that was hurting. I’ve written before that I felt that He was dealing with the major damage first, like an accident victim in triage. There were arterial bleeds that needed to be fixed before He moved on to the broken limbs. But He has been healing me almost without me knowing it. It has come as a byproduct of walking with Him. He is laying His hand over every area of my heart and bringing the healing touch of Jehovah Rapha.
When you are reaching for purity, you begin to realize just how impure you are. I find now that the way I used to think, to reason, doesn’t fit. What I used to excuse, what I used to give no thought to at all, just accepted as a matter of course, is now glaringly obvious. I see the danger signs all over the path now. There are many times where a thought will cross my mind, and I will have to bring it to Christ and (sometimes literally) say “I don’t want that.” I don’t want the pictures in my head that used to exist peacefully. I don’t want the mindset, the values that I used to have. It is discouraging that I sometimes still think the same way I used to out of habit. It’s a habit that He is breaking, but it still happens. The truth that He speaks to my heart, though, is that I just have to bring it to Him. I just have to be honest with Him and be willing to allow Him to have that part of me. I can’t keep it from Him, because it creates a barrier. It precludes true intimacy with Him, with my Creator.
There is such sweet relief in opening myself completely to the One who made me. It is a burden set down that I’ve been carrying for years. I didn’t realize how heavy it was until I set it down. There is relief in being raw and honest with God. There is relief in no longer needing to hide. There is relief in knowing that He is re-forming me, reclaiming my mind, redeeming my past, restoring my future, that He knows everything, everything, and loves me anyway, and still finds me useful to Him and His purposes.
What I once was is not who I was made to be, and I am so thankful that it is not who I have to be. I know that the shame of my past is being healed by my Savior. I know that He is the God of second chances. I know that He is the Redeemer. I trust that as He shows me the paths of reason that had become habit, He will also show me His path and help me walk it. There is passage found in the 23rd Psalm that has resonated over and over in my mind and heart recently. It says “He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” He leads me. I am the follower, He is the leader.
As I live out the rest of this life on earth, I don’t know what He will have for me. I don’t know if He will give me another relationship, or if He intends to keep me for Himself. I don’t know, and I’m okay with not knowing, because I also know that what He plans for me is better than anything I could ever come up with on my own. I don’t have to plan or to worry. I know that what I want is Him. I know that He will lead me along right paths, paths that lead to wholeness, to purity, to intimacy. I know that if another relationship is something He plans for me, then He will enable to me to conduct it in a way that pleases Him, that fits within His parameters. And if it’s not, then what He has planned for me will so far surpass what a relationship could bring that I will be fully satisfied without it.
I pray that He reveals to others the gravity of sexual sin, the damage it causes and how difficult it is to overcome. I pray that He leads others into His paths of righteousness. I pray that the infection that exists both without and within the body of Christ is brought to light so that healing can begin. I pray that mindsets and thought processes are renewed by the Spirit as we submit ourselves to His authority. I pray that we trust that He is good, that He is good in all His ways, in all His precepts, in all His parameters. I pray that we come to know that His way is not just the right way, but the best way.