As I figured, the last post has gotten a ton of traffic. I’m praying that it is helpful and healing to many who read it, offering the kind of wisdom, hard-bought in my case, to be heeded for those facing decisions about their sexuality and singleness.
Along with the ton of traffic, I’ve gotten some really good feedback from folks who had some questions and a little bit of push back. I more than welcome it. In fact, I love it. I firmly believe that individual experience is unique and should be treated as special, that my experience is not going to be the same as yours and vice versa. I also always want to be open to critique and questions from sincere and seeking people who want an honest dialogue about important issues like sexuality.
Two things I have to point out that I didn’t do for multiple reasons yesterday. One is that I am coming from a biblically based Christian ethos. I have to. It’s who I am and what I have come to believe. I have not always believed these things and my own past history proves it. I have failed miserably and epicly in the past. But one’s personal moral failures does not intrinsically negate the truth of one’s words. I can say 2 plus 2 is four, while cheating on my taxes. My sin does not mean that you can’t believe basic addition as true, and that my failure to practice what I preach does not make what I preach less accurate.
I also should point out that I am not seeking to justify or glorify my past sexual sins or that I am saying everything’s ok and will work out in the end. It seemed to some that I tried everything and came out ok, living to tell the tale, so what’s good for the goose… While a trial and error method of living seems to make sense, it’s risky. Your comfort level with risk will certainly dictate how far you are willing to go, and your soul will eventually take a beating sooner or later. I’ve been there where nothing had meaning any more because I was always looking for the next big thing, the next excitement, the next risk, the next high. And when the dust settles and you crawl back to something more sustainable, you can’t help but have to deal with the regrets. If you’re already there, there’s nothing that can change your past so there’s no use in carrying the shame and guilt around like a ton of bricks. But if you are thinking that there are things you still need to try, consider this a warning. And calculate the risk your soul can take.
There is a way that seems right to us, but leads to death. I am only here by the grace of God. Disease free I might add. It’s nothing short of a miracle that I never contracted STDs or had major complications of a promiscuous sex life. It’s amazing looking back that nothing worse happened to me during my years of drinking and partying. I look back and praise God for the protection I must have had – guardian angels must have taken a real beating those years and deserve a raise.
A question I received from someone regarded those of you who did wait until marriage and have only had sex with their spouse, and now find themselves frustrated and envious of others like me who seem very content. I hear you. I really do. It’s a difficult line to not cross – something like letting grace abound because at least I’ve tried a lot of things and gotten all my “wild oats” or whatnot out of my system.
There are two cautions I would offer. One is that you cannot regret. I said this already in terms of regretting what you have done, but it stands as well for things you haven’t done. I could sit with you and recount the pain in my heart from all the times I beat myself up for the choices I’ve made. But to you it might sound worth the risk. You may be frustrated and restless, feeling like you are missing out on something. I could quip that all you’re missing is a heartache, but I know that’s what you already feel now. Your heart aches for something, something lasting, joyous, just plain fun, or simply different. You are tired of your sex life, or lack thereof, and you are thinking it has to be better than this.
So because of that, the second caution I have is to be careful to not make sex the thing you are looking for. If there was anything I was trying to say in my post, it can be boiled down to this: sex is not, after all, about sex. What you are really looking for, craving, is intimacy. What you may be masking intimacy with is desire, lust, maybe dabbling with “deviant” behaviors, wishing you could tap into the darker areas of your sexuality and understand the feelings you have. It can be frightening to do so and truly understanding what is the root of these desires can be a terrifying journey, or what feels like a freeing escapade if you decide to take glee in all the things that you were afraid of before. Your fear may have come from others judging you or judging yourself, being brought up in a culture where anything sexual or remotely related to sex was dirty, forbidden, off limits, in polite society. You don’t do anything about it, talk about it, or even think about it. And you have finally had enough.
If you find yourself there, I urge you to find someone to talk to. I mean really talk to, not just have little polite conversations with your therapist. If your therapist isn’t engaging in these things with you, find someone who will. Again, I offer that the real underlying struggle is to be known and loved. Fully known and fully loved. And it is only in that context will sexuality make any sense or offer any satisfaction. You can chase after fireworks and excitement. But the show always ends and someone has to clean up the mess. Always. You will find yourself years from now wanting to go back and punch your younger self in the head.
Finally, one really good pushback was that someone wondered if Rob and I, and other couples like us, have good healthy sex lives because we have had the experiences we have had before we married. It’s a fair enough observation. Similar to something like you are so much better at changing a baby’s diapers the second and third child around, right. Life experiences teach you how to do things better, while removing the mystery, the frustration of being a “novice” and feelings of inadequacy and even clumsiness. While that is all true, I go back to what sex is really about. Both Rob and I have known what it’s like to have “bad” sex – to go through motions, to not really have intimacy, to not have a good healthy marriage where honest, heartfelt discussion and meeting of souls takes place. We also have known how to make sex just about physical pleasure, using the other person, even if it’s mutually beneficial, instead of recognizing that the physical union of two people is always going to cost more than we may realize, and that you leave pieces of your heart irrevocably every time. So choosing to do that with the person you most trust and care for means you stay intact. Simply put, you are one. It is meant to be an exchange, back and forth, between two people who are not going any where ever.
In closing, for today any way, I want everyone to know I write these things to open the dialogue and to help someone. I may never even know who it helps and that’s ok. I don’t need to know. I pray that God uses my life and words to communicate truth and healing to others wherever you may be in your journey. I want you to know how much you are loved, how physical intimacy and desire is a healthy good thing and is best worked out in the context of one partner for life. I want others to not shy away from their sexuality because it is not dirty, secret, shameful, but a precious, priceless gift ordained by the Creator Himself for our good and His glory. I don’t know very many who would be this open and I don’t take any pride in that, but I do know that God has given me my life a hundred times over and that I must be willing to lay it all down for the good of His people.