I started dating in my mid-teens. I made several silly choices which led me to experience physical and emotional relationships waaay before my time. I have a past which is dicey and even as I write this, I am scared of what you will think of me. Will you judge me and write me off as a “girl with a past”?
A few days ago, my dog was at home and hungry. While no one was watching, he managed to find the dust bin, pull it down and finish eating the garbage inside it (fish bones, cucumber and carrot peels and I don’t know what else). After eating that junk, when I gave him rice and milk, he refused to eat it. His stomach was filled with the garbage he had just consumed.
I didn’t have the stomach for a committed, Christ-centered relationship because I had force-fed myself garbage in a hurry. I was hungry so grabbed at whatever was nearest to me, just to fill that physical hunger.
It got so bad that I kept running back to garbage because I felt I wouldn’t be able to digest the good food laid out for me.
In a sermon that my pastor preached on sex, he said that the world's view of sex is that sex is just an appetite, and the world believes it is legitimate to satisfy that appetite. I lived by this worldview for a long time.
In today’s self-consumed culture, being in an open relationship is celebrated over monogamy. Being vulnerable to one person for the rest of one’s life through marriage is considered weak. Even if a person wants to spend the rest of their life with one other person, there’s often the idea of “testing the goods” or “testing out the package before marriage” that accompanies the willingness to commit. Fulfilling one’s appetite for sex is often encouraged and even celebrated.
I lived my life like my dog, feeding my appetite with junk. I enjoyed being in relationships before marriage because I thought they were the real deal, an easy way of satisfying my hunger. Watching marriages fall apart around me made me smirk at the thought of waiting for my life partner and walk away in disgust at the thought of starving myself from whatever was available around me. "Why should I wait?" I thought to myself, and helped myself to whatever I could get my hands on.
But after a point, when you feed yourself so much junk, it begins to show. For me, I was able to hide it beautifully from many people (specially my Church friends). But, I couldn’t hide it from myself, and more importantly from God.
I was taught to think of Jesus as a condemning person, who would judge and expose me. So, as a response I went running far away from Christ. But this Jesus, who I had imagined would be judging me, didn’t quite do all that.
Firstly, he accepted me, with my junk food addiction and all. Secondly, he touched my life and my tastes. He helped me overcome my addiction to this junk and led me to a feast (which I wish I had waited for) and he satiates me such that my appetite has changed. The only reason I got out of this junk food addiction to physical relationships was because of Jesus Christ. It happened slowly and gradually, but he brought me out of it.
I love the way Jesus deals with women in the Bible. From interacting with women considered to have loose morals, to defending an adulteress, Jesus seemed to have protected and defended women from various backgrounds, instead of condemning them. He even had great friendships with women (read about Mary and Martha, and their brother Lazarus, who Jesus dearly loved)!
I remember reading about Jesus and how he dealt with the Samaritan woman at the well, not condemning her (John 4:1–38) or how when an adulteress was brought to him to be stoned (John 8: 1 – 11) he said “Go and sin no more” or when a sinful woman washed His feet (Luke 7:36–50), He forgave her sins. THIS JESUS! This is the Jesus I needed to get acquainted with, someone who didn’t have a problem interacting with someone like me, but at the same time, when His life crossed paths with mine, does not let me go but instead transforms my very identity. This Jesus was willing to associate with a promiscuous person like me, and love me enough to die for me to be called faithful.
The Bible is rich with imagery of adulteresses and promiscuous women. This imagery is often used as a metaphor for Israel’s unfaithfulness towards God. If anything, my broken past served one purpose – it made me understand how unfaithful I had been to God when I had chosen to indulge in junk. It was cheating on God in a way I can’t justify. In a way, I feel I was also being unfaithful to my husband, whom I hadn’t waited for patiently. But like Christ, the perfect and eternal groom, my imperfect present groom forgave me and stopped looking at me as my past. Christ doesn’t see me as the person I was when I was indulging in my appetite, but views me as God would view Him – perfect, cleansed, and free from guilt.
How do I view sex now? As someone who is married, I am in danger of operating out of my past self, satisfying my craving when I feel like it. But my pastor once said that, while the Bible isn’t permissive about sex, it isn’t prudish about it either. The Bible demolishes both these notions of sex and provides a third way – the gospel view of sex, where sex is not about self-gratification, but sex between husband and wife is about radical self-donation.
I have found that within the covenant of marriage, sex is beautiful. While it can be used for selfish gratification within marriage as much as outside of marriage, it is only within marriage that I saw sex not as an object or an end, but as a way to radically donate myself.
I wish I had known of this when I was younger, and I wish someone had sat me down, had an honest conversation with me and told me to wait, that the buffet meal awaiting me post-marriage is worth waiting for. What I did was indulge in a McDonald’s meal when what was waiting for me was a grand and lavish buffet at the most expensive banquet in the world – one where the banquet was paid for with the price of my eternal groom. But, despite my mistake, I see how Christ is beautifully redeeming and rectifying my sins by His own radical donation of His body. I am no longer a slave to the mistakes of my past. I have been redeemed.
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