This is part 2 in a series dedicated to dealing with the pain of past sexual experiences. In our first post of this series, we simply introduced the topic and wondered what type of feedback we would receive. That said, the feedback we received on this subject far outweighed our expectations. The pain many experience in this regard is very real, and there are a wide variety of reasons one may emotionally struggle with this subject.
I (Justin) write this post and readily understand it may come across as “preachy”. It’s not my intention, but it’s difficult not to sound that way when you speak on the subject of forgiveness. While this series will continue, this week we’d like to focus specifically on the pain/frustration you feel regarding previous sexual experiences. This may be the sexual past of your current spouse (he/she was promiscuous with others prior to meeting you) or perhaps you are dealing with the pain/frustration of your own sexual past. Maybe you had a one night stand, or enjoyed yourself a bit too much at a party, or…whatever. The point is, you gave yourself to somebody else and years later you feel like you’re still picking up the pieces. What do you do to deal with this pain?
Understand that you cannot forgive others (or yourself) until you accept forgiveness.
You may want to read that a few times to let it sink in. And yes, it says what you think it says. You cannot forgive someone else of their sexual past (or yourself for your own sexual past), until you accept forgiveness, first. What does this mean?
Maybe you’re a Christian…and maybe you’re not. But this subject is extremely important if you’re ever going to be truly rid of your pain. When you read the bible there is a great deal of confusing stuff in there. I’m a pastor, and even I’ll admit there are passages within the bible that are very difficult to comprehend. Nevertheless, there is one lingering question about scripture that all people of all faiths and backgrounds ask…and it’s the one question that separates Christianity from every other belief system out there. That question is, “Why did Jesus have to die?”
It seems like a simple question, doesn’t it? But it’s not. It’s extremely complex. I mean, why couldn’t God just look down on humanity and say, “You’re forgiven!”…and let that be the last word. No, no, no, that’s far too simple. And here’s why:
Sin is very real. If you’re dealing with pain from past sexual experiences, you know it’s real. There’s something deep within you that has helped you to realize there is a “right” and there is a “wrong”…and you’ve done something wrong. And guess what? All people have done something wrong in the eyes of God. I have. You have. We all have. We’re not God, and we do ungodly things. But this is the beauty of Christianity in a nutshell: Jesus had to die and experience the pain he experienced…so that we don’t have to. Jesus suffered. He was physically beaten and whipped to a pulp. Emotionally, he had the entire wrath of God poured down on him. And he did it all, so that you wouldn’t have to deal with the pain. He did it, so you could be forgiven. In fact, even as he was being beaten and crucified, he said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” His entire life was about forgiving others for the wrongs they had done.
When it comes to deep wounds from your sexual past, you cannot move forward until you accept this. If you haven’t truly accepted who he is…if you haven’t come to acknowledge you’re not God and you’ve done the “wrong” stuff…if you haven’t truly accepted his forgiveness…you can’t be free from the pain you experience. It’s just not possible.
This is the first step in dealing with the pain of your sexual past. Accepting the forgiveness that Jesus greatly desires you to experience.
If you’re thinking, “But what about the scars from my past” or “that dirtbag doesn’t deserve forgiveness”, we’ll think through some of those in future weeks. For now, think on these things this week:
1) Have you truly accepted the forgiveness Jesus so freely provides? If not, why? And if not, we encourage you to read the book of John. You may not understand it all immediately, but it’ll tell you a lot about the forgiveness Jesus provides.
If you have accepted his forgiveness, then we encourage you to think through:
2) Why does this experience still bother you? What specific emotions are you feeling (guilt, shame, anger, etc.) Do your best to figure out exactly which emotions are bothering you.
3) Is this past experience causing these same emotions to arise in other areas of your life? Identify these areas.
We realize this series is heavier than some of our other posts, but we wholeheartedly believe this area is essential for discovering true freedom in your intimacy with your spouse. And we truly hope and pray you find it useful. We’ll pick up with part 3 next week.