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Thursday, December 30, 2010
This is part 4 in a series on the negative effects of shame on marital intimacy. Go back here  to start at the beginning of the series.

Today I’m going to cover another significant shame issue that is at least somewhat related to the previous post in which I discussed how shame over physical appearance can inhibit physical and sexual intimacy.

Today’s topic is sexual shame.

Sexual shame comes in many forms and from many sources. I only have space to touch on a few of the more common ones.

"Sex is Evil" Mindset

To many it may seem ridiculous to even address such a ludicrous source of sexual shame, but sadly I think there are still many who suffer from the notion that sexual desire is evil and to be avoided.

I have seen this especially as a problem for Christian newlyweds who got it drummed into them repeatedly by well-meaning pastors who warned repeatedly about the evils of premarital sex. Now don’t misunderstand me. I strongly believe that sex is only intended for marriage. Unfortunately, however, rather than teaching that sex is amazing and wonderful and holy but only within the context of marriage, many take the “sex is evil” approach in order to ward off premarital sexual involvement. We can make such an idol out of purity so as to create all kinds of sexual issues for newlywed couples. It is as if suddenly, as the result of a ceremony and a ring, young adults are supposed to change their mindset from “sex is bad” to “sex is wonderful.”

Another source of “sex is evil” shame is the many negative ways in which Satan has so perverted and distorted what God created as beautiful. That is, because there is so much negative use of sexuality in the world around us (pornography, prostitution, sexual abuse, rape, extramarital affairs, teen pregnancy, etc.) some would throw the baby out with the bathwater, failing to distinguish between God’s original intent for the pleasures of martial sex and the way society has corrupted it.

The way to get past this kind of sexual shame is to understand that God created us for sexual pleasure. He made our bodies so that we would enjoy sex. He wired us emotionally and physically to desire it. He intends sexual intimacy between husband and wife to be a picture of spiritual intimacy between us and God – the ultimate in intimacy. Sex is beautiful and holy, with amazing physical, emotional and spiritual implications. When God had created us, male and female, including the specific method by which we were to be fruitful and multiply, he said “it was very good.” Believe it. God is VERY sex positive.

Sexual Sin or Sexual Abuse

For some reason we tend to attribute greater weight to sins of a sexual nature. The truth is that sin is sin, and while sexual sin can bring with it significant consequences in the natural (unwanted pregnancies, abortion, and disease among them) God’s grace does not fall short when it comes to sexual sin. His forgiveness in not limited to certain more acceptable forms of sin. “As far as the east is from the west is how far are sins are taken from us” as a result of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Sexual sin can lead to emotional scars that need to be dealt with, sometimes through professional counseling, but the truth is that while we may have a hard time getting past these things, God doesn’t. He sees you as perfect and holy because of what Jesus did for us. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Sometimes this seems just to good to be true. But it is true.

Sometimes the roots of sexual shame can be traced back to some past sexual abuse. There may be shame associated with not having spoken up about the abuse or shame from having exposed the abuser. There may be shame from having ignorantly enjoyed the attention or the physical pleasure or shameful memories that keep sex locked in painful association with any form of sexual contact, including from a spouse.

While God can provide healing and wholeness from these horrid past experiences, you may need the help of a good Christian counselor or some serious inner healing prayer ministry to get past your shame so that you can experience fullness and freedom in your married sex life. That is God’s true desire for you.

Reclaiming Sexual Intimacy

Whether from a wrong mind-set, sin or some form of abuse the end effect is that something God intended to be beautiful and holy has been turned into something much less, possibly even something emotionally painful and difficult. So how can you reclaim the sexual territory that you are otherwise not experiencing in fullness?

Though the roots of sexual shame often run deep, restoration begins with changing how you think. Whether you appreciate the fact or not, sexual intimacy is an important aspect of your marriage relationship. Some call it the glue that holds a marriage together. Set it in your mind that you won’t settle for less than a fully satisfying sex life with your spouse and do whatever it takes to restore sexual intimacy.

Whatever the source, strive to set aside the sexual shame that has kept you trapped. Refuse to let shame come between you and your spouse. Let him or her help you find fullness in this important part of your marriage. If necessary get professional or pastoral help.

It is worth doing whatever it takes to overcome sexual shame so that you can experience a whole, healthy and deeply satisfying sex life.


annonomus said...

Thanks for your blog, it has really helped me.I have had a very traumatic childhood and I really struggle with sexual shame especially when it comes to what makes me excited. I am not going to go into it, but whenever I do allow myself to let go and enjoy time with my spouse, I feel guilty. It is really hard to even type this. I know, see a counselor and I have, but I am still struggling. I feel so bad and worthless, it is like having a war going on inside of me. I know in my head that sex with in marriage is a good thing, but I just can't get my heart to believe it. I also can't go to anyone because of the nature of my problem. Just so you know, it is nothing immoral that is causing the shame. It is the fact that sex is about power for me, it is not about love like it should be. It makes me feel so broken and worthless. If nothing else, I am pleading for the prayers of my brothers and sisters in Christ. I have been carrying this burden for a long time and I am so weary.

Scott said...

Hi Annon - I am so sorry for your pain and struggle. Please know that you are not alone in this battle (literally hundreds of people have come here seeking answers as you have).

I am no counselor, but the key to breakthrough in this area is to hear what God says to you about who you are (not based on what you have experienced) and his total delight in you, in your marriage and in the sexual union between you and your husband.

I will be praying for you and your marriage - for tremendous breakthrough and freedom from the past. Jesus died for you and you are a new creation in Christ. The old is gone, gone, gone by his grace and love. Believe it!

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