Sex Object or Love Object?

Several years ago I was meeting with a young woman in her early twenties.  She had come to see me because of her battle with sexual addiction. Her life had spiraled out of control and she couldn’t seem to figure out why she “attracted” so many men for only one reason – sex. She had contracted an STD and was feeling pretty bad about herself and what she was doing. She had experienced sexual abuse when she was young and like so many other victims of sexual abuse, began to live out of the distorted sense that attention from men centers around her body. Because of the abuse, she had lost her sense of value & self-respect as a woman and human being.  She had become a sex object. Looking at her, you would never know. She was intelligent, attractive and interesting. She did not dress overtly sexual or sexy. However, because of what had happened to her sense of herself, she lived out and recreated over and over the sexual “use” and “abuse” of her body with men.

In one session, I was describing to her what it was like to be in a committed marriage relationship, one where a man willingly chose to be with you & faithful to you alone for the rest of your life & you to him.  She leaned forward with rapt attention, almost mesmerized. She asked me to tell her more about this.  She had no frame of reference for what that would be like, but it sounded so good to her. It was like giving water to someone dying of thirst. In our culture, marriage has almost gotten a bad rap as something old fashioned and out-dated. Or it’s treated like something you can get out of if you don’t like it. But wired somewhere deep within all of us is the desire to be in a loving, safe, committed relationship. Often what we are looking for in sex is the love we all desire.  What we really want is to be love objects (so to speak), not sex objects.  We want to be the object of someone else’s love and devotion. However, sometimes in our loneliness or insecurity, we take the “attention” from men in the form of sex as a cheap substitute for true love, commitment and devotion. What a lifelong, covenant marriage relationship offers. We’re willing to live with a man or men, allowing them to take all that we are and have to offer as a woman, without requiring them to commit to us in marriage. In a sense, we turn ourselves into a sex object instead of a love object.

Do you know what I’ve heard over the years as people describe their feelings about themselves after  one-night stands, live-in boyfriend relationships gone bad, and sexual experiences without any commitment? I hear things like “I feel dirty”, “I feel like damaged goods”, “I feel so much shame & humiliation”. Not exactly the picture TV & movies give us about sex without commitment. There’s another word I use to capture the essence of all those statements… its the word “defiled”.  Defile means to make filthy, unclean or dishonored.  Sex outside of a marriage relationship can literally feel defiling.  God had it right in the Bible. He knew that when anyone is used as an object of sex outside of marriage, it would feel defiling. There is a verse in the Bible in Hebrews 13:4 “Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled” NAS.  God didn’t create marriage to kill our fun and sexual freedom.  Abstinence before marriage isn’t meant to keep you from enjoying sexual pleasure. In fact, the exact opposite is true. God knows that sex within marriage is what feels pleasureable, because it isn’t defiling. Knowing you are sharing yourself intimately with a man who loves you enough to marry you is the greatest intimacy you can experience. Hold marriage & sex within marriage in high honor. Save yourself for marriage. You’ll be glad you did.

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  • nhuisinga says:

    Heather, thank you for unfolding the “truth” surrounding healthy relationships within marriage. You are so refreshing!

  • nhuisinga says:

    Heather, thank you for unfolding the “truth” surrounding healthy relationships within marriage. You are so refreshing!

  • LindsayMay says:

    This is a great message; one that is often difficult to discuss. Thank you for sharing!

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