Identity

Your Sexuality is a Storyteller- Part 2

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Exploring Your Sexual Story1

In a recent post, I surveyed God’s Story of lovingly pursuing his people, and I offered brief thoughts about how your sexuality is meant to tell that story.  Here, we focus on the story your sexuality is already telling, the story of how relationships have shaped you for better or worse.  

I’m going to ask you to try something that might feel strange.  It will call upon your imagination.  If it feels unnatural, just treat it like an experiment.  See what surfaces.

Imagine inviting your sexuality to coffee.  Picture your sexuality as a person sitting across the table from you.  What does he (or she) look like?  How old is he?  Does he resemble you at any point in your life?  How do you feel as you sit with him?  Does he feel like a friend or foe?  

Imagine having a conversation with him.  Ask him about his story.  Really––ask him: What have been the highs and lows of his life?  How has he come to be who he is?  What does he want?  (Let him speak for himself––it’s no good to think you already know the answers.)  What hurts does he hold?  How does he cope with them?

Getting to know your sexuality will tell you a lot about your life’s story.  It will shed light on, more than anything else, your story with love.

Maybe, when you think about your sexuality, you think about a long-term porn problem.  You may be tempted toward contempt for your sexuality because of all the turmoil he’s caused.  Can you be curious about him instead?  What was it like when you first discovered that website or magazine?  Were you alone, or was someone else involved?  What else was going on in your world?  Did your parents find out their child had just been hit with something as destructive as heroine?  Were you punished?  Or did they understand that a predatory multi-billion-dollar industry had just hooked their next victim?  If they didn’t find out, what would have happened if you’d told them?  What does this tell you about your relationship with them in general?

Rigidity, Disengagement, & Trauma.

77% of sex addicts come from rigid families.  Ask your sexuality about that, even if you don’t identify as an addict.  He may tell you about how maddening it was that your grades, performance, or compliance mattered more than your heart.  Ask him if he feels angry about that.  Rigid families tend to generate deep reservoirs of disowned anger.  Do you struggle with pornography or fantasy that involves aggression, power, punishment, or rule-breaking?  Do you know that your heart was meant for love, not the burden of upholding your family’s reputation?  You may need to explore both anger and grief to heal.

87% of sex addicts come from disengaged families.  If this describes your family, you likely felt chronically lonely, lost, invisible, or unimportant.  What does your sexuality have to say about this?  He may have led you to some dark places sexually, yet he may be more aware than you are about your need to be known and cherished by your parents.  In the vacuum of disengagement, you’ve become acquainted with shame, which is the feeling of being a toxin or burden, deserving to be alone and unloved.  For healing, you’ll need to bring your shame to the presence of a person who treasures you.  Jesus invites you to this, and Jesus designed us to experience this with one another.  Avail yourself of both.

Have you considered whether your early sexual experiences might have primarily been sins committed against you and secondarily sins committed by you?  Consider Jesus’ words about causing a “little one” to sin: “It would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”  In our society, what would we do if an adult man exposed his naked body to a 12-year-old girl?  He would rightly go to prison.  What if an adult woman exposed herself to a 12-year-old boy?  No matter how much he thinks he wants to see it, that woman is committing the crime of sexually abusing a child.  What if this exposure takes place on the internet or in a magazine?  What impact does it have on a child?  I’m convinced it deeply wounds that child (the Greek word for the wound is trauma), and that the child is being abused by a demonic industry that deliberately wants to consume them.  “Woe to the world for temptations to sin!”  

How does this impact the way you see your story?  How has your sexuality borne the burden of innocence stolen from you?  Yes, your sexuality should align with the story of God’s covenant love with his people (see my previous post), and anything contrary is called sexual immorality (porneia in Greek); but your repentance will be sabotaged if you don’t contend with sins committed against you, especially in your childhood.  How will you treat that child now?  I invite you to “receive” this child into the love and ferocious protectiveness of Jesus as you also take drastic measures to walk in sexual integrity.

An Invitation.

Your sexuality is telling your story, with or without words.  I’m inviting you to be curious and let him speak.  Try to understand his perspective on your story.  He may show you parts of your story that need healing, which could lead to the transformation of your sexuality.  You may find that unwanted sexual behaviors begin to fade and that your relationships become more vibrant.  You may find that the love of God becomes more real to you than ever.

If you’d like to engage your sexuality with curiosity, here are some prompts and resources from a workshop I’ve developed.  They will help you collect more data about your sexuality and the larger context in which it was formed.  Some of these prompts are specific and intense.  Don’t force your way through them.  Be compassionate as you engage them.  As you reflect on your answers, try to connect the dots.  Weave them together into a coherent narrative about your life.

You may need help navigating this material.  I encourage you to find a wise mentor or counselor.  If you happen to live in Missouri, I would love to work with you.  My practice information is below.  

Warrior On!

Post Script and Footnotes

1 I am indebted to Jay Stringer and Adam Young for much of this content.  This post is mainly my synthesis and summary of content I’ve learned from reading Stringer’s excellent book, Unwanted; attending Stringer and Young’s Sexual Attachment Conference, and listening to podcasts that both of them have done, primarily Young’s podcast, The Place We Find Ourselves.  More of their content is listed on the resource page of the PDF linked above.

2 Matthew 18:6, ESV

3 Matthew 18:7, ESV

4Matthew 18:5–6, ESV

5 Matthew 18:8–9, ESV

Andrew Bell
Care Counselor | Website

Andrew Bell is the Care Director for the Kansas City expression of The Navigators and a professional counselor in Kansas City, MO.   

All of us need discipleship in the area of sexuality.  Many of us would benefit from seeing a counselor.  If you happen to live in Missouri, Andrew would love to partner with you on this journey.  He’s available for in-person counseling for Kansas City residents and teletherapy for Missouri residents.  His website is www.ajbellcounseling.com.  You can reach him at andrew@greatoakstherapy.com or andrew.bell@navigators.org

As a Provisional License Professional Counselor (PLPC), Andrew practices under the supervision of Emily Viet, LPC, RPT-S, RYT

EMDRIA Certified Therapist

MO #2012032191

(816) 686-4678

3216 Gillham Plaza Suite 220

Kansas City, MO 64109

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