I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. (Galatians 5:16-17)
This is a very personal story, about a very sensitive topic in Christian (and non-Christian) environments: intimacy and sexuality.
It often happens to me that when I look around me in a train or a crowded place that I realize: so many of these people struggle with sexuality, like I did and so many people I know. Our society is full of it: in movies, commercials, glossy magazines, in clothing, in jokes, in imagery. It is EVERYWHERE. Our society breaths sex and everybody is affected by it. How do you navigate this topic as a teenager, an adolescent, an adult? As a man, as a woman? As a Christian? How do you speak about it? How do you think about it? What should you want?
As a follower of Christ you will use your Bible as the navigation guideline. You might have quite some questions about this topic and maybe you even feel restricted by the Biblical guidelines. That’s why I want to share my life-story. My life was full of distorted ideas of sexuality and intimacy, of adultery, ending in in choosing a life of celibacy. I want to share this story to give you an insight in another world, a world without Christ.
How I lost my innocence
When growing up, I was curious, like all teenagers and young adults. I wondered if I would marry, with whom, what my world would look like as married woman and how sex would be. Everybody talked about sex, some of my friends had already experienced sex when they were 15. Due to my beliefs, I had decided to wait to have sex until I was married, but I was very curious.
When I was 17, I got a boyfriend. We got engaged and we married when I was 20 years old. I was still a virgin. In our marriage we struggled with our sex-life and I still struggled with understanding what love was and how to love. We had different desires and it seemed that we weren’t ‘compatible’ in this area. I blamed it on the fact that we had to suppress our sexuality for 3,5 years, trying to keep our virginity. The truth was that we didn’t know how to be married, how to love each other in a Godly way and how our sexuality should fit in that.
From the 80’s on, sexuality started to be promoted in mainstream media. The magazines I read were full of articles on relationships, your ‘love-life’ and living ‘the good life’. We had to be happy, healthy and sexually fulfilled. If we weren’t happy anymore in our relationship, it was totally OK to quit, because our own happiness and our own life was more valuable than anything else.
A few years into our marriage I fell head over heels in love with another man. I felt highly attracted to him on an emotional and physical level. Feelings I hadn’t had like that before in my life. I didn’t cheat physically on my husband, but in my mind and heart I wasn’t faithful anymore. We divorced at the expense of our 2 beautiful daughters. I quit my church feeling deeply disappointed of what this community and this religion had brought me.
The heart is deceitful above all things
I still was in love with this other man and he was positive about having a relationship together. It was a good relationship according to society. We had good jobs, sufficient money to live comfortably and our sexual life was satisfactory. However, something was off. We both felt that our life together was lacking depth and real emotional involvement and we both thought we wouldn’t grow old together. Looking back it’s very easy to explain, because a relationship built upon adultery will never be a success. The foundation of this relationship was flesh instead of Spirit, the world instead of God.
I got highly involved in New Age teachings, practices and books. These teachings mainly promote the individualistic approach towards life and teach you that it’s all about you, your experiences and your freedom to explore whatever you think is important. This was feeding my curiosity and (unconsciously) opened the door to the outside world. There was no foundation that could keep us together. We split up.
From bad to worse
In hindsight I can see how the enemy delivered all that I asked for on the doorstep of my life. I fell ‘in love’ again, with a (what the world would call a) difficult man. He was dominant, socially and emotionally troubled, but I still wanted to marry him. We both studied occult and esoteric books and we decided to expand our sexual life. We thought it would be exciting and fulfilling to date people outside our marriage, to satisfy curiosity and to have an ‘extra-ordinary’ life as a couple. We found likeminded people and enjoyed this lifestyle.
Being a counselor and knowing a lot of likeminded people, I often had conversations with people about their private and sexual life. I learned much about peoples motivations, desires and problems. I saw firsthand the dangers of spiritual sexual practices and addictions. I saw marriages falling apart, due to this lifestyle and the preoccupation with sex. It won’t be a surprise to you that after a few years, my own marriage started to fall apart too. I filed for divorce. This put me on an extremely rocky road that took over 3 years, 2 lawyers and an awful LOT of money.
Unfortunately, the enemy was not done with me yet.
Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; (Galatians 5:19-21)
When you are living from the flesh, flesh takes you over. More and more areas of your life get affected, especially your understanding of morality. During the last year of this marriage I became involved in eastern philosophy, energy work and martial arts. During a training I started to feel attracted to a man, who turned out to be even more troubled than my last husband. He was diagnosed with some personality disorders and was a psychic reader. He was married and he convinced me that his wife was fine with us seeing each other. They were exciting times, but mixed with a lot of confusion, deception, guilt, mistrust, lies and sadness. The enemy at work!
We ‘saw’ each other regularly for more than 2 years, before I was able to break the spell. Finally I had reached a breaking point. I was done, I knew that I would never be with a man again.
From adultery to celibacy
Then something totally unexpected happened. On New Year’s Eve of 2012 I met a woman, also called Ingrid. From day 1 I knew that she was in my life for a very special reason. We started seeing each other romantically and after a while I, still being a heterosexual woman, made a commitment of love and care towards her. Our relationship grew into a warm, loving and caring relationship, where the spiritual and emotional part was way more important than the physical part. I could feel how my body, my mind and my soul were healing from the past relationships and for the first time in 25 years I felt detached from the spell of sex. I could see how terribly wrong my ideas about it were and how the world is playing with our minds and hearts to fool us into this huge occupation with sex.
Saved, healed and forgiven
5 years down in this relationship the totally unexpected happened. We both found Christ, almost at the same moment. Our special relationship allowed us to grow together in Christ, without any distraction. We both dedicated our life to Him, glorifying Him with all we have, including our relationship in celibacy. I know for sure that this is why the Lord brought us together, on that New Year’s Eve. Ingrid (Bo) and I have stayed together in a committed and loving platonic relationship.
Looking back at my life is hard sometimes. There were so many wrong turns, so many people hurt along the way. I was so far away from God. Reading Ezekiel 16 was a painful experience. Here God speaks not only about Jerusalem but also about me. What on earth did I think I was doing?!? It hurts deeply to see God’s sadness and anger with Jerusalem, and for that matter, with me. But then He says:
‘Nevertheless I will remember My covenant with you in the days of your youth’.
How faithful is our God that He saved me and kept His promise! When I came to Christ, there was so much to repent from. It was a deeply shameful and humbling experience, seeing myself over all those years through His eyes. I know He has forgiven me and that He will use my experiences for His glory.
I was recently invited to attend the wedding of a young Christian man and woman. Watching them making this covenant before God with each other, I finally and completely understood what had been the root problem in my life. In none of my relationships there was a proper understanding of how to be married and the place that sexuality has in God’s design. I thought it would give freedom and spiritual fulfilment to enjoy sexuality and ‘intimacy’ to the fullest, but in the end it was a confusing, painful and shameful experience. Trying to find fulfilment in relationships and sexuality where I should have been seeking fulfillment in my obedience to God’s design. I now know that real freedom is only found in Him.
I know, it might sound exciting to explore intimacy outside the God-given boundaries.
But trust me.
Don’t. Do. It.
You will regret it.