Today is where the subject of broken sexuality gets sticky. Like, really sticky. I know what I believe about this topic, but I also know what others (on both sides of the debate) believe. Like everything else I write about, I want to handle this with grace and compassion AND truth and authority.
I believe broken sexuality was introduced to the world because of the fall, like every other form of brokenness. (Examples of broken sexuality can include, but are not limited to sexual abuse of children, rape, adultery, sexual immorality, homosexuality, feminism, manosphere, viewing pornography, and masturbation in that they fall outside of God’s original design for sexual relationships being shared between one man and one woman). We know that sin produces a distance from God, and I think rampant broken sexuality in our culture is the direct result of our collective distance from God as human beings.
After the fall, God introduced the law to His people, the Israelites. The law can be viewed as God’s code of expected behavior for His people, and it contains MANY laws concerning sexual conduct. I believe the purpose of the law was to keep His people close to Him. The problem was that nobody could obey the entire law, and they were stuck in a cycle of punishment and animal sacrifice. Keeping the law was impossible for broken people. So God sent His Son, Jesus to bear the punishment for the sin of the human race. He was perfect in that He did not sin and was able to keep God’s law perfectly. His death and resurrection opened the door to a relationship with God for broken people who accept His work on their behalf: it was a redemptive act, an act of buying back, or restoring something to its intended position. Not only that, but Jesus took away the power and the penalty of sin for those who believe in Him (1 Corinthians 15:54-57).
How does this good news about Jesus apply to the broken sexuality we see all around us?
Let me be clear: as a believer in Jesus Christ as my Savior from sin, I am not sinless. Not even close. However, I am no longer obligated, or enslaved to sin (see Romans 6, I truly cannot pick one verse from that chapter). Since I am a believer, I have the guidance and help of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17, 16:7-11), I have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16) and His indwelling presence (Galatians 2:20), and I have at my disposal everything needed for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).
This means as a believing single woman, I do not have to seek to satisfy my sexual needs outside of a covenant relationship, although I may be tempted to. It means that a Christian lesbian does not have to enter a relationship (committed or otherwise) with another woman, although she may struggle with same sex attraction. It means that a Christian man married to a woman who for whatever reason is not meeting his sexual needs does not have to take his needs to another woman, although he may be tempted to.
You see, temptation is not a sin. It is when we act on our temptation that we sin. Acting on temptation is usually a result of either dwelling too much on the temptation or trying to deal with it ourselves. We need to go to God with our temptation! I think there are places and situations that make us more vulnerable to temptation, and we should know our own triggers and avoid them, but temptation is going to come whether we make ourselves vulnerable or not. The good news is we can have victory over temptation because of the resources we have in Christ.
Knowing Jesus has changed A LOT in my life over the course of MANY years, but nothing has changed about the fact that I am a sexual being and that I desire sexual intimacy. (Too much information?) I pray (pretty much every day, haha) for God to bring me a husband or to minimize this desire. Two years in, He hasn’t answered either prayer in the affirmative, and He’s certainly not obligated to any time in the future. I talk to God in great detail about this desire, and even if He never satisfies it the way I want it satisfied, it still will have drawn me closer to and made me far more dependent on Him. In no way am I to take this matter into my own hands.
And so I have to come back to homosexuality for a minute. I don’t think homosexuality is any more broken or sinful than any other expression of fallen sexuality. I really don’t. (If I did think of one on my list as most broken, it would undoubtedly be sexual abuse of children, but I can’t say authoritatively that God sees that the way I do).
I hear many stories in evangelical Christianity of homosexuals coming to Christ, and how He transforms their sexuality, and I love hearing those stories. I think, however, as evangelical Christians, we need to acknowledge that this is not every gay person’s testimony. Some gay people come to Christ, and still deal day in and day out with same sex attraction, and because of this, they may fall into sin. Some people were Christians before they realized/acknowledged they struggled with same sex attraction and/or homosexual expression.
These people have my sympathy and compassion, but I cannot condone homosexual marriages or relationships, just as I cannot condone a pornography or masturbation habit, sexual immorality, or adultery. All of these things fall outside of God’s original design for sexuality, regardless of where our feelings, desires, or temptations lie. It goes back to my earlier point: no matter how much we surrender to God, sometimes He does not take our desires away. It’s not because He is okay with us acting on our desires, but because not acting on our desires draws us closer to Him, makes us depend on Him in times of great weakness.
I want to tell you and I want to tell myself that hey, it’s okay: God doesn’t really expect us to live according to His standards for sexuality. He doesn’t really think we can, because we’re all just broken people anyway. But that wouldn’t be truthful, because He is clear that in Him we have everything we need. We cannot sacrifice His standards for our feelings, desires, or temptations.
I acknowledge it is not easy; in fact, most days, it’s very hard. I acknowledge that these are legitimate struggles, not to be squashed down and ignored. I get it, and I’m with you (all of you) on this journey. I want us all to have safe people with whom to talk and pray about our sexual brokenness, people who won’t make us feel bad about ourselves, but I also acknowledge that in God’s presence is the safest place to be in this struggle.
If you’re a believer in Jesus as Savior from sin, your identity is not founded in brokenness anymore, it’s founded in redemption and victory. God wants to use your brokenness for His glory, and don’t ever let anyone trick you into thinking He can’t or He won’t. And God gives you everything you need for victory over sin; just haul those feelings, desires and temptations before Him every single time, and great things will happen.