The Flood: Sexuality Outside the Boundaries

Jeff McVay

“…if we walk in the Light and He Himself is the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” – I John 1:7.

A pastor friend of mine once preached a sermon on the topic of sexuality (scandalous to most of us, I know, but he did it nonetheless and I am glad that he did but that’s a different article). In his sermon he said that ‘sexuality is a powerful river that flows through all of humanity.’ As a hiker and backpacker, that was a powerful metaphor for me. When I go hiking, there is nothing I love more than to walk along the side of a river, creek or mountain lake. I began to think about why that is. Mostly I love it because of the life that I see all around it. Life is sustained by it. The river that I am walking next to may also water the crops of the farmer up stream which then puts food on my table and sustains life for my family and me. The river also may provide life for animals and trees that produce life giving things for many people both up stream and down stream. This is also how God intended sexuality to be among us as human beings. It (much like the river) is a wonderful, life giving, sustaining, and powerful force for good as long as it stays within the boundaries (i.e. life long commitment between a man and a woman).

When either a river or sexuality gets outside of its banks, the end result is destruction.

After the horror of what we all witnessed in New Orleans this past summer, we know the destructive power of water when it gets outside its boundaries. The water that was life giving now becomes life taking. It flows to the lowest places and becomes polluted.  People in it and around it become sick due to the bacteria that the water picked up in places that it was never supposed to go. We saw that its greatest impact was on the poor, needy, and weak who were unable for various reasons to get out ahead of the storm. We also saw how great numbers of people became isolated from the rest of the world and from each other. As the water rose, they moved from the first floor to the second floor and then many to the attic where there was no light. They were trapped in the dark wondering if anyone would come or if anyone even knew that they were still alive.

This is also similar to what happens when the powerful river of sexuality gets outside its boundaries. What was intended to bring life, flows to the lowest places, gets polluted, harms those who are most vulnerable, brings destruction, and most of all, leads people into a desperate isolation. The flood of shame becomes so overwhelming that people wind up retreating into dead end places, alone in the dark, isolated with little or no resources, wondering if anyone could possibly rescue them.

It is into this darkness that the good news from I John comes when it says, ‘God is light and in God there is no darkness at all’ (1 John 1:5). What isolated people who are living in the dark need is light. This is not a light that shames them for being in the dark, but a light that shows their need for rescue and a light that shows the way out. For those in New Orleans, I never once heard a news report of a rescuer shaming or belittling a person who needed rescue. They never asked, ‘Why are you in the dark?’ or ‘Why did you retreat to your attic?’ No one commented that, ‘Those people were so ignorant to rush to the dead end.’ They simply saw that there was a need of rescue and the most important thing was to help them get to safety and into the care of others who could help.

This also should be the process of recovery from sexual addiction. People need light and help not shame and condemnation. Again I John seems to give hope to those who are currently alone in the dark when He writes, ‘If we walk in the light, and God is this light, then we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus, God’s son, cleanses us from all sin’ (I John 1:7).

In studying this, I found it interesting that the first thing people experience when they step into the light of God is that they have ‘fellowship (another word for friendship) with one another.’ I felt like John got his priorities mixed up. Shouldn’t he have said that the first thing that happens is that we get cleansed from sin or at least that the first person we have fellowship with is God? But then I remembered that usually God allows His light to shine through other human beings into our darkness and that to be with God is to be in community. In other words, we cannot do this alone and God never asks us to. In essence it is through these friendships that God applies the blood of Jesus for our cleansing.

What does this mean for you? If you are trapped in the dark attic of sexual addiction or pornography, there is hope for you. There is light to show you the way out. There is a community of others to help, because you cannot do this yourself. There is cleansing from your sin, and there is a new story that God will write for you. All you must do is let someone know that you are trapped and make that step into the God’s light. As the boundaries of structure, discipline and friendship are applied to your life, you will find that even sexuality can be what God intended it to be: a river of life giving intimacy, honesty and openness that is renewing for both you and your spouse. The clean up (just like in New Orleans) might be long, exhausting, and difficult but in the end you will have a sexually safe place to live for both you and your family.

For more help on this subject see Every Man’s Battle.

The Blessing of Brokenness

One of the consequences of the fall is that shame makes us hide. It is the natural outcome of eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. When we sexually act out, instead of turning to the Father and asking for help we run 180 degrees in the opposite direction. Moving out of the light to conceal our secret into the darkness to hide our shame and sin. We put on our fig leaves and hide our nakedness.

We prefer the wilderness instead of remaining in the garden in His Presence. We know we have sinned and have done wrong and our first impulse is to hide. That is what shame makes us feel. We judge and condemn ourselves.

Then there is the self-talk: you did it again, how could you? Was it worth it, the bad feeling in the pit of our stomach? How dare you ask for forgiveness again? We can get depressed. We beat ourselves up. Often many of us will essentially voluntarily isolate ourselves feeling unworthy and deserving of banishment. Our sex drive seems impossible to overcome. As rebellious reprobates, we deserve judgment and punishment for our failings and shortcomings. So we feel we have no other choice but to do what Adam and Eve did, we’re naked so we hide and cover ourselves. We stay exiled, self-imposed. Because of our shame we feel we have no other place to turn.

Psalm 52:17 says: ‘the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.’ NIV

On the other hand what if we are posing that we are all just fine? Yet I do not think that that front will allow us to benefit in our desire to stay sober.

There is a story that I think explains brokenness very well. There was a young priest who was about to lift the communion cup up and bless the cup. The cup was made of choice crystal and very perfect. Just when he lifted up the cup it slipped out of his hand and broke in a million pieces all over the floor. He looked up at the senior priest thinking that he would be ridiculed and instead the senior priest said, ‘I never knew there were so many beautiful pieces to reflect the light until the cup was broken. How marvelous and beautiful are all the pieces when the light shines on them!’ It is the light that shines though our brokenness that is so beautiful. For that light is the Lord. What we fear is to be broken or be seen as broken but as the story illustrates it is in our brokenness and non-posing state that the true light of Christ can shine in and make our brokenness beautiful. The addict has to see her/his brokenness if they are to over- come one of the major obstacles in recovery.

George MacDonald says: “Gather my broken fragments to a whole. Let mine be a merry, all-receiving heart,
but make it a whole, with light in every part.”

John Eldredge in Wild at Heart comments, “But you can’t do this at a distance; you can’t ask Christ to come into your wound while you remain far from it. You have to go there with him.”  We are in pain and are broken. Its ok to be broken, it is in our brokenness that we can bring it to the Lord and have His touch and light heal and bring hope to our broken heart.

I have resisted for years to allow myself to experience the pain of brokenness but this last year I experienced many things that suggested I was not in control of my life and that the world I lived in was broken including me. As long as I tried to hold on and make it work I would get depressed, tired, a bit moody and self absorbed–I did not want people to see me in pain.

Finally in May of 2002 my cup was smashed on the ground, I never thought that with so many pieces all over the place that order or hope would come. But yet to my surprise God used this brokenness to show me how much He really loved me (and he’ll do the same for you.) After a very painful divorce and relocation God used His church to show me love when I had nothing to give. It came down to me and my God. I have had friends support me and give me space to heal and grow. Then I received encouragement from pastors/ministers, allowing my life to be touched by others. Then my own practice began to pick up, and finally after time, God even allowed me to meet the most beautiful woman I have ever met. It has been a joy to be in relationship with Amy and not be afraid of the past, able to give love to her from a place of strength and not need. I have love that I can share with her and others because my brokenness allowed for God to fill me with Him. She and others have seen me for who I am. My brokenness has allowed me to be made whole–to begin healing, not by me, but the Lord. The very thing that I thought would destroy and break me God has used to bless me. This is truly the best time I have been experiencing in my life. Even though there was a period of six months of deep pain, God has taken me and allowed me to experience brokenness, to lose everything that I thought would give me peace. And He replaced that with Him. Now He is even giving me the desires of my heart. He will for you too.

May we not see our brokenness as a road block to healing and wholeness but as a door to enter, to begin that wonderful journey where we experience the love that God has for all of us. May we allow him to heal our hearts. Heal and reflect His love.

For more help, see Every Man’s Battle or call 1800-NEW-LIFE (639-5433) for more information