Last week, a guy who is “someone who is someone” in Christian ministry contacted me to encourage me to keep doing this blog thing.
As it turns out, he read this post about pornography, where a man shares the raw truth of addiction.
It deeply impacted him.
You see, this man I met with encounters a ton of leaders in ministry around the world, and many of these folks are treasured friends of his. And he shared with me the gut-wrenching truth, that over 30% of pastors are addicted to pornography.
He related a story of one leader, married for well over 30 years, who recently asked him to pray for deliverance from the bondage of this sin. Eyes wet, this man’s deep love and respect for his friend, and pain at his circumstances came pouring out to me.
My heart ached as I learned what happened.
Turns out, the pastor’s wife, on their honeymoon, revealed that when she was young, she was sexually molested, and she wanted nothing to do with “that.”
“That” was sex.
And she refused to pursue any type of healing. The man weeps for both of them.
His friend tried to stay pure for many years, in spite of his wife’s refusals, but he finally gave into the temptations, and now he’s addicted. His soul is rotting from the inside out, and he feels more discouraged than he ever has. He doesn’t know if he can continue leading in ministry. He feels worthless as a man, and my heart broke as I considered what it must be like for him, and for his wife.
I’m going to be super-honest here…I’m one of those gals who forgets that intimacy is actually something wonderful until things are moving along for about ten or fifteen minutes. I seriously never even think about it, unless it is on my calendar (which I recommend, btw, if you can relate). So I didn’t “get it” right away.
I had to intentionally think of what it would be like to have a major need of my own unfulfilled for decades. Honestly, I had a hard time understanding the depth of this pain, because I am not a man. I do know how it feels to feel unloved, but even during those times, I know I can ask for affection and get it. I wondered what it would be like if that option wasn’t available to me. I think in doing so, I skimmed the surface of what it might be like for a man whose wife refused him. I do know enough men who have shared their pain with me to know that just because I don’t fully understand it, doesn’t mean it isn’t real.
I also know it is difficult for men to talk about these things. One confided to me recently, “I can’t talk about this without looking like I’m some sort of hideous creature. Women think we’re horrible and disgusting for being the way we are made…they don’t understand, and we can’t talk about it.”
I also know that God wired us oppositely – men feel connected AFTER intimacy (oxytocin, the bonding hormone, is released then) and women want to connect BEFORE intimacy (oxytocin can be released with eye contact for us – more on that here). So go figure.
I know his sin is still his sin – and she can’t take the blame or be held responsible for it, but I also wondered if a shut door sometimes creates an environment where another one opening is just a little easier… somewhat like if I were an alcoholic, and I’m at a party and everyone is drinking, it’s a little easier for me to lose my own resolve. I could have chosen not to go to the party, yes. But if that’s the environment I’m in, it certainly is harder. If I have no choice in where I have to live, if that is the only house available and the only people I could live with, I don’t know how long my resolve would be able to hold out.
I know a good 20-30% of us here have been raped or molested as little girls, teens, and/or young women.
I know from the many of you that I talk with at speaking events, online or via email, that our pain is real, hard, and can be the thing that becomes the filter through which everything is seen. Please know I do not mean in any way to diminish your pain. I know I’ve had my share of it.
I’ve also heard countless tails of the great victory God has woven through our lives when we will be just brave enough to take one step at a time, and then another, trusting Him.
In both The Respect Dare book, and Daughters of Sarah, we not only acknowledge the damage that abuse of this nature can have on a woman, but we cry with you, wrap our arms around you and pray for you. We understand. We know it is hard. But because we know God, we also gently encourage you to take one more step, one at a time, forward, into the healing process.
For those of you who have not suffered this way, today’s post still has a relevant point. Most of us women are “slow starters” as compared to men in the amorous department… that’s totally normal. Most of us also seldom, if ever, randomly think of intimacy during the average day.
Men are different.
Course you knew that already.
My point is, that after listening to several other tales of Christian males struggling with this, I couldn’t stop thinking about the pain these men must endure emotionally, relationally, when they are rejected this way. I felt led to take a moment and write about it.
Okay, I felt led to ask us all to “Step It Up A Notch.”
A man tried to explain this to me once, saying, “It’s like being a small child, really vulnerable, and you reach out for a hug, longing to feel like you are okay, and instead you get punched in the stomach and rejected.”
Another told me, “I desperately want to connect with my wife, but when she rejects me, I am left alone and confused, ashamed even, like I’m some sort of pervert.”
There’s so much pain behind those words.
And I realized that while I spend a lot of time talking about women and the pain we endure in relationships, I also need to recognize that many men are also often suffering. And for some of us, we might be able to do something about it.
And they don’t let on… because they are men.
One time a friend’s son fell on a monkey bar in a certain physically vulnerable spot…he literally froze and tilted to the side, sliding off. As he slid, his mom stood up, alarmed, and he gasped, “I’m okay, I’m good,” and then he threw up from the pain.
I watched my own boys tough out the recovery period from major thoracic surgery.
The point I’m making today is this: We need to move forward in this area in our marriages, as women of strength and dignity. We need to acknowledge that one of the ways our husbands feel fulfilled is by physical intimacy – even instigation of it – with us. And if we are wounded in this area, we need to ask God to help us grow, and support our sisters in this way as they move forward.
I know that can be scary. But that’s where His Freedom is.
I know it is hard to choose intimacy when he’s behaving unloving. I know it is difficult to move forward in creating an environment where this is a part of your marriage when you’ve been deeply wounded. Know that the other guy wants to keep you a victim, keep you from finding the incredible victory and joy and fulfillment (and oh yeah, FUN) that’s possible for you in this area.
Also know I’m in deep relationship with several women who have not only overcome sexual abuse, but have been completely healed by Christ – so much so that they minister to others and have incredible, intimate physical relationships with their husbands.
So today’s dare is simple, but not easy for some… it is to choose to take a SINGLE STEP. Whatever that looks likes for you. Double dog dare you to comment on that, or anything else from today…
And one more thing…what I don’t understand is something else the man shared with me last week… he said that the church doesn’t talk about this. I admit I was clueless to that phenomenon. Is this true in your world? Why do you think this is, if it is?
Thankful to be learning along with you, and so blessed to be linking arms as we walk through the Bible together. Obviously Friday is a bit of an open topic day, so thanks for being okay with that. We’ll keep moving on Monday!
Love to you,