Friday, March 23, 2012

Sex and the Gospel, Part 3

This past week, one of my professors lectured on sex and the gospel. Yes, it came at a very relevant time in my own life and ministry and yes, we talked about sex at seminary! We talked about how our sexuality is one of the most beautiful aspects of all creation, a whisper of what sweetness and intimacy will be enjoyed between Christ and the church; and yet how the assault on our experience of our sexuality is one of the most graphic examples of how much evil hates beauty. Those who have experienced abuse, shame, or degradation in the area of their sexuality know what this means! 

What I'm learning is that "abuse proper" is devastating, but often just as destructive are "normal" experiences like name-calling, shaming, and exposure to the abuse of others (ie. pornography or inappropriate games, etc.). My professor shared a scene from his own story when his middle-school P.E. coach called him fat, in a creatively cruel and public way. He described it as a knife ripping through his soul. I didn't question the weight of that encounter because I could name a number of experiences from my own life that had a similar effect. Hearing him share, however, opened my eyes to the reality that both "big" and "little" offenses can radically shape our self-perception.

I wrote a little bit about how my self-perception was shaped by the shame of sexual abuse. It took me years to even realize that I needed to process the events that shaped me, and more years to really get started actually doing it. The utter chaos that ensued when I began contemplating peering down the deep well of my brokenness revealed to me how committed I was to doing the very opposite.  How often I'd rather hide from the memory of those experiences than examine how they've wounded me. How it feels safer to believe the lie (I am fat; a poor excuse for a girl; a fag; a whore) than to feel the pain of the offense. It's easier to live with any answer-- "I just attract creeps because I'm a slut"-- than to live with a hard question-- "God, where were you when this happened to me?" or even, "Is this how YOU see me, too?"

to be continued...


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