To understand what really happens when we are sexually abused, and why it is so destructive, we need to understand our sexuality, from God’s point of view. I believe, based on God’s Word, that sex, at its core, is predominantly spiritual, rather than physical. Before you freak out, as some do, and accuse me of preaching a new religion, hear me out.
If sex was merely a physical act without a spiritual component, then there would be no such thing as the psychological aftermath, and suicidal tendencies that often result from it, as long as the person abusing is gentle, and affectionate, as many abusers are. Obviously the exception would be if it is violent, forceful or aggressive behaviour.
When someone strikes us, we feel physical pain. When someone verbally abuses us, we feel emotional pain. In both cases our mind, body and spirit agree. What is done to us is very wrong.
Sexual stimulation, on the other hand, feels good physically, even when we are abused, if the perpetrator is gentle, and manipulative, rather than aggressive. It feels good when you’re a child, and it feels good when you’re old… I presume. (I’m guessing Noah was still enjoying the process of making babies all those years, and enjoying his marriage at nine-hundred-years old–whatever number wife that might have been. Though, I admit, I’m reading between the lines and using my imagination a bit.)
What is different in sexual abuse, when it feels good, is that it creates conflict. The mind, body and spirit are at war. Our body responds as it was designed to respond–with pleasure. Our spirit is tormented because sex was intended to bond us, in marriage, with one partner. This leaves us feeling fragmented and insecure. And, finally, our mind is tormented because we know that what felt good, is actually very wrong. Some of us, in some situations, crave more, and don’t want it ever to happen again, all at the same time.
Our minds feel betrayed by our own bodies. It’s as if our bodies have conspired against us, to partner with the perpetrator, in victimizing us. If it was not spiritual, this war would not happen within us. The thing that feels good would not be abuse.
This pleasure response is God’s design for intimacy in marriage. Science supports the bonding that happens, due to the various chemicals at work in the body, during intercourse. It’s all part of the ‘one flesh’ experience.
God didn’t tell us to be faithful to our spouse, and to wait for marriage, because He is a party-pooper or control freak. He’s not out to rain on anyone’s parade. It is for our own emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. He knows the cost associated with deviating from that plan. The trauma and pain we experience as a result.
God could have created us without the ability to bond, so that we would not feel that pain. But He didn’t. The pleasure and intimacy of sexual intercourse is largely enhanced by the emotional closeness and security we feel when we know that ‘we belong’. Unlike the raw pain and insecurity of knowing that you are using someone’s body, and being used by them. The physical pleasure is still there, but without the depth.
If we go back to Genesis, where God says that He made us in His image and likeness, we see why He created us this way. The bonding and ‘one man one woman’ plan is symbolic of His love for us, His faithfulness and His promise never to abandon us. He allows us to leave Him, but He never leaves us. And if we jump ahead in our Bibles to Hosea, we see that faithfulness illustrated when Hosea marries a prostitute, who is unfaithful. That book changed my perception of God, about twelve years ago.
God made us to reflect Him, to represent Him. He says it in the same line as ‘male and female created He them’. God is the Creator. He made us to procreate. God pursues us with deep passion, longing for intimate relationship with us. What greater passion is there than the desire between lovers? Everything we do and are, when we function within His plan, reflects God.
Men have natural, passionate desires, that makes their body respond, even against their own will, at times creating vulnerable and embarrassing moments.
Women naturally long to be held, loved, secure, adored, protected, and pursued. Every woman, who is truly honest with herself, and who as not been crushed and destroyed, (and sometimes even those who have,) wants to be pursued by a man. Nothing makes a woman feel more attractive, more loved, than to know the man of her dreams is totally crazy about her, that he wants nothing more than to be with her and know her heart. It’s how we were created. (This, excludes those drawn into same-sex relationships. I have never had a homosexual admit to having that desire. If it is there, it is crushed by life.)
God longs for us to respond to His passionate pursuit, by reaching for that intimacy. He wants us to feel safe, protected, loved, adored and wanted. He want us to know we are pursued, and then to give ourselves to Him.
All of creation, every little detail in how we are designed, is a reflection of God, and His longing to know us. When we understand that sexuality is a ‘blessed’ part of God’s creation plan, we see it differently. It helps us understand what happens to us, and why sexual abuse is so hard to recover from.
Each of our journeys to healing is unique and personal. For me, this awareness changed my life. It helped me separate the abuse of sex, from sex in marriage, allowing me to celebrate the latter, while breaking the power of the former. I was able to release the guilt of the ‘pleasure’ of abuse, by recognizing that God created my body to feel these things. It doesn’t mean I was at fault, or guilty. It means that my body was functioning just as it was designed to function.
In cases where abuse was aggressive and physically painful, obviously these dynamics of confusion don’t come into play because it feels like abuse and is easier to name.
God is interested in every part of our lives, and He is always interested in our healing. In Him we find our identity, our hope and our freedom.
© Trudy Metzger
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