Shame. Shame, my friends, is not from God. Shame does not shed light. Shame does not expose darkness. Rather, it is shame that keeps people in the dark. Those condemnations echoing in your head are from Satan or they are from ignorant people – they are not from your Abba Father. During this period of time on Earth, God convicts, He doesn’t condemn. And conviction, although difficult to face and often hard to hear, feels nothing like condemnation.
I wish the reason I had to give the next generation for staying pure until marriage was a beautiful response; a response filled with closeness to another human, a story of pained date nights that included lots of leaning on God for strength against our raging hormones, or perhaps a fantastical vow I had made to Jesus stay a virgin for Him. But my ugly, truthful reason is a war that raged within me for years. A battle involving God’s truth and my shame. Years of unending lies, spiraling desperation, and an incompleteness I was unable to identify.
My sexual history, most likely, does not look like yours in any way. I do not know my “number”, and just this year have come to realize that far too many sexual encounters I have had in my life were rape. But the world in which I immersed myself in “No” had simply lost all meaning. The places and people I found myself with could be seen as glamorous at times and vile at others … the two became so intertwined I had no way of determining the difference after a while. Club owners. Professional athletes. Pimps. Business executives. Prostitutes. Strippers. Drug dealers. Musicians. It became a spiraling dance … played to the song of my shame.
But why is it I believe my history is helpful to you? Maybe your past and mine don’t have similarities. Maybe you plan on being selective of your partners, or you are planning on keeping your “number” under 10 …. perhaps even lower? . The reason I’ve chosen to bear my soul is not to compare scars with others. Rather, my hope in exposing my darkness is so others can be assured that they are not alone. I remember the suffering of my shame and it was so very lonely there. I believe my poor choices have brought me to a place where I can better understand the magnified effects that sex – outside a covenant relationship – can have on a human.
Like Adam and Eve, when naked, I feel shame. When I have sex, I am self conscious. When sex is over, I wonder what the other person is thinking. Even within the context of a covenant relationship, it is very difficult to discuss these things … this is one reason why women can live a life time without climaxing. It is a reason why a couple can be sex-less for years. It is often why some become unfaithful. What is difficult to discuss with your spouse, is impossible (laughable even) to talk about with a stranger, boy/girlfriend, or fling. So you walk away with a question on your heart, a question you keep inside. It could be, but doesn’t need to be, a question of self doubt on how you performed, looked, or what they thought of you. It might be a look they gave you, something they did to you, or something they said that made you uncomfortable – even queasy just remembering it. This thing leaves behind an ugly secret … it leaves behind a little piece of shame.
And so, rinse and repeat a few times or a hundred times and before long that little piece of shame has turned into a big pile of . . . well, you know.
But this shame we carry … it is not from God. This piece of information is vital … it is of the utmost importance we understand it. God does not want us to feel ashamed; which is why he didn’t want Adam and Eve to eat that fruit. They ate the fruit, they saw they were naked, and they were ashamed. This was the fall. There is something about shame that God knows we can’t handle, and I bet God can’t wait to wipe it out in preparation of His kingdom. Shame can hold us to a pattern of destruction by simply being present in our minds. And ridding it from our minds can practically break us.
I often pray for the people I encountered sexually over the years. I do so because I know that it wasn’t just me who walked away with a piece of shame, but them as well. I imagine some of those men, now possibly married with kids, look back and remember doing things to women that were wrong, ugly, or out of character. I imagine, they too, feel shame.
So in short, my answer for waiting is this: God understands that our sexual nature is such a deep place of desire, confusion, mystery, and holiness that the only place it can be fully enjoyed is with your spouse. For each person you give yourself to, you will be left with either a very small, or very big, mark on your heart (and you will likewise be giving one to the other). If this “leaving of marks” is given, only in exchange with the person whom we have chosen to become one with, then nothing will be gained or lost … instead it will be strengthened.