Sex Sins Exploit the Deepest Aspects of Our Emotionality
Can a man take fire to his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one walk on hot coals, and his feet not be seared? (Proverbs 6:27-28)
Traps set by Satan in our childhood set us up for a vicious assault as we enter the emotionally charged years of adolescence and adulthood. Not only do they snare us in bondage, but also they corrode our discernment and the possibility of our exercising wisdom. Cultural influences that come the way of young men and women today promote sexual experience or experimentation as their means of fulfillment and acceptance, with marriage and commitment generally reduced to a nearly irrelevant afterthought—“if things work out.”
One key to the brokenness that figures prominently in the matter of surrendering to sexual sin is that of our perception of ourselves—more pointedly, not knowing who we are as creations in God’s image. The priority of humankind’s understanding this begins right at Genesis: “So God created man in His own image” (1:27). It is further underscored when our lives are redeemed through receiving the Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ, whom the Bible declares is “the express image” of God (Heb. 1:3) and to whose image we are “predestined to be conformed” (Rom. 8:29).
Through many years of pastoral counseling, it became clear to me that with regard to sexual sin, both the seducer and the seduced were people whose personal and emotional identities were immature and not grounded in God’s image. For that reason, they were ready prey for misleading and false expressions of validation. Since nothing is more emotionally or physically provocative than our sexuality, and since our society’s restrictions on sex have essentially evaporated, the enemy of every soul uses it as a means to further shred any sense of who we are. Sexual indulgence is deceitfully presented as a means to physically prove a person’s worth (or prowess), emotionally violating those who are desperate to sense they deeply matter to other people and who yearn to feel loved. In fact, the entire appeal of the words “If you really loved me, you’d do it” are, in effect, a challenge. These words confront people who do not know what they “really” feel and present a demand that they prove themselves by sacrificing their own privilege of choice by surrendering to the will of their pursuer.
Individuals who are secure in their true identity—that is, people who are grounded in God’s image of who they are—will not feel the need to prove themselves, either by increasing the number of notches of sexual experience they have on their belt or by allowing their personhood, values and body to be violated. While we may be identified by many characteristics of our lives—marital status, nationality, gifting or occupation—the only solid ground on which our identity can be secured and our self-image based is who we are in Jesus Christ.
Our world today is flooded with images that pressure people into the false notions that their identities are found in their physical bodies and that their acceptance and worth are measured by their sexual appeal. These are so fundamentally lies that they almost seem unnecessary to address, yet deep within the souls and minds of many people there is a brokenness in their emotional health that gives rise to those falsehoods, evidenced by the multi-millions of dollars consumers spend to look or be “sexy.”
For those of us who have come to know Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we have the authority to contend with this avalanche of untruth in the fact that there is only one identity that holds fast, that being our identity in Jesus Christ and our acceptance before Father God through Him. As the old hymn goes, “all the rest is sinking sand.”
Our emotions are among the most powerful expressions of our souls and, as such, make us terribly vulnerable as human beings. There isn’t a person alive who doesn’t grow up wanting to be loved. Our human desire for love is a reflection of the depth of our Heavenly Creator’s desire for and commitment to us. While virtually all people are conscious of desiring to be loved, the souls of countless men and women have been damaged by violation or bondage of the past. Consequently, their understanding about where and how to find fulfillment of this desire is too easily corrupted or confused. The saying “looking for love in all the wrong places” is a cliché—yet nothing could more accurately state the problem for so many. Beyond the gross and perverted expressions of relationship often presented as normal via media and pop philosophy, deep within every human soul there will forever be a longing for that special one—one who loves me as no other, who is solely devoted to me and to me alone. The changing landscape of our society has reduced the likelihood of whole and healthy family relationships, which supply the love that establishes security and identity in a person, the kind of love that will brace a soul against the pursuit of unworthy or abnormal relationships. Yet the human heart today is the same as it has always been—one designed by God to know His love, not only personally with Him, but also in pure relationships with others.
Contrary to the bill of goods that’s been sold to society, breaking every sexual convention and taboo hasn’t brought any of us more liberty—only more enslavement and brokenness. In the absence of knowing God’s truth and wisdom on the subject, so many sincere minds are clouded with confusion. Many arrive at adulthood studded with the hooks of bondage, unable to navigate the wreckage left behind by the so-called sexual revolution. Seeking to find the genuine fulfillment that every heart longs for is a daunting task, even for believers in Jesus Christ.
As a pastor, I’ve been privileged to deal with hurting, wounded people who have become tangled in sexual sin – precious souls who have fallen to the deceit of false promises. Because sexual activity awakens our deepest passions, it also exposes us to the greatest possibility for emotional violation and injury.
But please say a “Hallelujah!” with me: Our God is a glorious redeemer, fully able to recover and repair even the most damaged soul. He is ever ready to bring us wholeness in Jesus Christ and thereby lay a solid foundation for the future. With that, walls of defense may be built, enabling us to discern and defend ourselves from the thieving tactics of our ferocious enemies – our weak selves and our strong adversary. There is no bondage He cannot untangle, no hurt He cannot heal. For those who long to be loved but have never known how, God’s Holy Spirit not only can bring a sense of cleansing forgiveness through Jesus’ Cross but also will restore and rebuild the shattered temple of your soul and make it a glorious place for God’s love to dwell.
From Fatal Attractions: Why Sex Sins Are Worse Than Others © 2004 by Jack W. Hayford. Published by Gospel Light/Regal Books, Ventura, CA 93003. Used by permission. This book is out of print.
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