Sexual preference or Sexual orientation?

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Watch closely when words change because controlling the vocabulary is essential to controlling people.

Homosexuals once used the words “sexual preference” to talk about their choice. But the term “preference” was later rejected and replaced with “orientation” to facilitate a shift to normalize homosexual lifestyles in America.

Homosexuals also use to say, “All we want is to be left alone to live the way we desire.” This was partly due to ways that gays were wrongly mistreated for choosing different sexual lifestyles. All decent citizens should oppose mistreatment and violence against others. Since same sex behavior between consenting adults is legal in every state, those who target gays for abuse or violence should expect to be punished for criminal behavior. 

But somewhere along the way, the effort moved from seeking protection to demanding normalization. A strategic change of terms from preference to orientation came as part of that move.  And the change has been largely based on an effort to promote the misleading and manipulative argument that equates race and gender with the kind of sex people want.

The change had noting to do with the emergence of any new scientific evidence but was solely based on a strategy to lead society to embrace the necessity and normalization of same-sex lifestyles. 

The entire agenda of gay marriage depends upon the comparison of same-sex behavior as an unalterable and necessary condition of a person’s nature equal with race and gender. The comparison, however, is false and manipulative. Ironically, this agenda has turned into a weapon to bully, intimidate and abuse anyone who dares to think or speak differently. Are homosexuals using the same behaviors toward others that were wrongly brought against them? 

As a matter of clarification, it should be understood that while a person can be born with many inclinations or desires — even a variety of sexual ones, it is foolish to elevate each person’s sexual desires to something intrinsically necessary to their nature.

While we can clearly argue that heterosexual behavior is necessary to the survival of humanity, this does not mean that we should validate all heterosexual choices as necessary and acceptable by claiming it to be part of one’s nature. Sexuality is inseparable from behavior — not a condition of birth like race or gender.

As with all sexuality, we should speak of homosexuality in a context of human choosing — not as a civil right. Two men could be caring friends with a deep affection for each other without being homosexual. Homosexuality is not part of their relationship unless they choose to engage in same-sex acts with one another.  

What do we say to the many people who have left a homosexual lifestyle on moral grounds? What do we say to people who willingly try to resist homosexual lust out of obedience to God? 

Even if I could prove that I was born genetically conditioned to be sexually attracted to women, it wouldn’t mean that acting on the attraction would always be the ethically right decision.

Sexuality is necessarily connected with volition. As long as we make laws that regulate sexual behaviors, we are implying that sexuality is not the same as race or gender (no matter how much one claims that the laws step on his rights by refusing him equality). 

Consider, as an example, an adulterous woman who complains that her act of adultery (i.e. her wrongful heterosexual behavior) was because of her distant and uncaring husband. Sympathy toward her for being in a troubled marriage is understandable but it doesn’t mean that her act of adultery was the morally right choice.

All law making involves impositions of morality to varying degrees — especially if someone can claim that the law excludes him or discriminates against him. Most laws also have religious connections. What do we mean when we talk about equality for all? The very nature of lawmaking easily conflicts with absolute options of equality.

Deceitful word games are not new. They’ve been used in similar ways when “fetus” was substituted for “baby” to push a pro-abortion agenda. The plan has been to use the terms often enough to change the way people think. Yet neither change (for same-sex preference or for abortion) was based on scientific evidence that required different terms. The changes are based on specific agendas to re-engineer culture around the morality of those using the new terms.

I realize that America is a free society where people are free to do this. But it doesn’t mean that everyone else must accept the deception and the agenda. This is where it gets ugly because a militant wave of hate has been directed from radical homosexuals toward anyone who dares to see things differently about same-sex behavior.

The more widely the false comparison is accepted, the more people fear being accused of racial or gender discrimination. Who wants to be label a bigot or a racist or a homophobe? 

Radical homosexuals are free to sell their agenda but when they get ugly, Americans need to stand up and say, “Enough is enough!” “We don’t buy the false comparison and we won’t let you use it to bully others with your sexual lifestyles any more than we would let Phil Robertson move from his beliefs to hateful treatment of homosexuals.”

So what’s the difference between Phil Robertson (from Duck Dynasty) and gay activists? True tolerance. 

Phil stated his beliefs but didn’t demand nationwide conformity to them. Gay activists state their beliefs and demand nationwide conformity. And then they quickly demonize anyone who disagrees — repeatedly accusing good people of being racists bigots for holding a different viewpoint. 

If homosexuals want a radical revision of historic marriage laws from the standard used for most of human history, American history and the only one validated by Jesus (Matthew 19), they should expect to have to make a very strong case and to hear why others disagree or do not accept their case. This is just the way it works. It’s not about discrimination, bias or intolerance. These accusations must be firmly rejected as tools of manipulation to coerce and silence others. 

Steve Cornell

See also:

Big difference between Phil Robertson and Gay Activists

simple-300x388-1What’s the difference between Phil Robertson (Duck Dynasty) and gay activists? Tolerance.

Phil stated his beliefs but didn’t demand nationwide conformity to them. Gay activists state their beliefs and demand nationwide conformity. And then they quickly demonize anyone who disagrees — repeatedly accusing good people of being racists bigots for holding a different viewpoint.

How did we fall for this? Why do we allow it?

Answer?

A seven point strategy has been used - 7 tactics for promoting gay marriage

Steve Cornell

7 links worth seeing

1. A Nation of Wimps 

Parents are going to ludicrous lengths to take the bumps out of life for their children. However, parental hyperconcern has the net effect of making kids more fragile; that may be why they’re breaking down in record numbers.

2Gay marriage: a case study in conformism

In truth, the extraordinary rise of gay marriage speaks, not to a new spirit of liberty or equality on a par with the civil-rights movements of the 1960s, but rather to the political and moral conformism of our age; to the weirdly judgmental non-judgmentalism of our PC times; to the way in which, in an uncritical era such as ours, ideas can become dogma with alarming ease and speed; to the difficulty of speaking one’s mind or sticking with one’s beliefs at a time when doubt and disagreement are pathologised. 

3. Tolerance as a strategy, not a virtue

This strategy of social coercion to approve the sexual preferences of a small number of people who want to engage in same-sex behavior has gotten out of control. We’re not being asked to tolerate, but forced to approve and celebrate homosexual preferences. Is this the kind of tolerance we want for our country? What happened to freedom for all? Can’t there be respect without coercion and control? 

4. If only gay marriage was all they wanted

It certainly might be more politically and legally amendable and create less social unrest if the gay community said, “All we want is marriage and the benefits that come with it, but we are not asking for civil rights status as a minority group along the lines of racial identity.  We are not asking for businesses and Churches to be forced to affirm gay marriage. We are not asking for curriculum changes at the public schools to include gay marriage and families.”

5. What a week of groceries looks like

Photographer Peter Menzel started this intriguing series of one weeks of groceries from around the world, taking traditional food photography to a much larger scale.

6. Every Every Every Generation Has Been the Me Me Me Generation

Millennials are the “ME ME ME GENERATION,” writes Joel Stein for the cover of Time magazine, which is apparently a marked departure from the Baby Boomers, who were the plain old “Me Generation” (one me, no caps) and who created the “Me Decade” in the 1970s, and who coined the phrase, “But enough about me… what do you think about me?” in the 1980s when they were raising the next narcissists, Generation X.

7. Petraeus Concerned Over Edited Benghazi Talking Points, According to Email

As the Benghazi story heats up, reporters grilled Press Secretary Jay Carney at the White House on Friday after ABC reported that the CIA’s talking points on the Benghazi attack were revised 12 times.

Extra: A Picture of Earth through time

Pursuing Wisdom (p. 3)

This is part three of a four-part study in the early chapters of Proverbs. Each post has study and discussion questions for personal or group use. Since the early chapters of proverbs are words from a father to a son, these lessons are especially helpful for parents who desire to lead their children in the way of wisdom. The study will be based on four main points.

3. Abstain from Sexual temptation

In Proverbs 2:16-19, Solomon introduced his son to another voice of temptation — the voice of the adulteress or wayward wife. Her words are not overtly perverse like those of the wicked men.  Instead, she uses “seductive words” and “flatters with her words.” Three chapters are devoted to this warning (Proverbs 5,6,7).

In Proverbs 2:16, the primary concern is the “adulteress” (NIV); or “strange woman” (NASB).  Some translations refer to her as a “foreigner” or “loose woman” (loose meaning outside the family).  In Proverbs 5:3, again concerns the “adulteress”.  Proverbs 6:24-32 uses a variety of identifications:

      • “the immoral woman”
      • “the wayward wife”
      • “seductress”
      • “the prostitute”
      • “the adulteress”

Proverbs 6:29 and 32 refer to the man who “sleeps with another man’s wife” and who “commits adultery.” 

Summarizing the various terms, the woman is “strange” or “foreign” — not necessarily in the sense that she is from a strange land and different ethnic group than Israel.  Instead, she appears to be an Israelite woman: “who has left the partner of her youth and ignored the covenant she made before God” (Proverbs 2:17).

Reference to the “covenant she made before God” implies an Israelite woman.  Therefore, her “strangeness” or “foreignness” which the terms clearly imply has more to do with her deliberate act of violating the covenant and standards of her people. She has cut herself off and distanced herself through her immorality. 

Along these same lines, one commentator suggested that, “By betraying her covenant of marriage, this woman looses herself from the covenant community and turn her back on the covenant of God.” 

We should assume that Solomon is very concerned about the danger she presents since he devotes a significant amount of space to the warning about her to the warning about her. Next to wisdom, no other theme is given more attention than warnings about sexual temptation (See: 2:6-19; 5:1-23; 6:20-35; 7:1-27; 9:8-18). 

There is a tone of urgency and deep concern in Solomon’s warnings.  “Now then, my sons, listen to me; do not turn aside from what I say.  Keep to a path far from her, do not go near the door of her house, lest you give your best strength to others and your years to one who is cruel” (Proverbs 5:7-9). 

Think about it

The intent of these passages is to communicate that, “nothing in life so clouds our judgment and makes stupid fools out of the wisest of us as succumbing to illicit passion. All our useful energies are drained off to defend or conceal that behavior.  The colossal compromise of adultery colors all our other value judgments and causes us to stagger along life’s road half tipsy.  To the teachers it was worth every possible effort to prevent their young people from falling into this bottle-dungeon of perverted sexuality whose walls sloped inward to the top and make escape only a fantasy “ (David A. Hubbard, p. 88, C. C. Proverbs). 

 The larger area of concern here is the reality of sexual temptation— which is not limited to any one culture or period of history. Therefore, as we consider the context of this text, we need to be careful to relate the larger concern of sexual temptation to other scriptures and to our lives.

We face an even greater challenge when addressing this subject — the challenge of living in a culture that has lost its connection with any clear sense of standards for sexual conduct.  More than that, as Tim Stafford has written,

“The old consensus about how we should live sexually has shattered, and we have not yet arrived at whatever will replace it.  We have only arrived at chaos, and with it great pain and confusion.  Families shatter. Children grow up with a series of unfamiliar men.  They move from home to home, experiencing dizzyingly different level of poverty and affluence.  The old ways of courtship, marriage and family are shaky.  We didn’t go looking for chaos.  On the contrary, chaos is the end result of an unprecedented push for pleasure.  Americans have never known so much about their sexuality, talked so much about their sexuality or tried so hard for happiness in the sexual realm.  Magazines and books and TV shows endlessly discuss how to find sexual delight.  But the results have been disastrous on every level . . . we have come perilously close to embracing lust as a fundamental human characteristic — if not a right.” 

A word from God

“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality: that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him.  The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you.  For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.  Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit” (I Thess. 4:3-8). 

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How would you describe your handling of with sexual temptation?

Victorious, struggling, defeated, overwhelmed, good days and bad days, ____________________.

2. Identify your primary sources of struggle with sexual temptation: TV, internet, movies, magazines, books, relationships, etc…

3.  How does the following teaching of Jesus relate?

Matthew 5:27-30 - “You have heard that it was said, `Do not commit adultery.’  But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”

John Stott explains: “If your eye causes you to sin because temptation comes to you through your eyes (objects you see), then pluck out your eyes. That is, don’t look!  Behave as if you had actually plucked out your eyes and flung them away, and were now blind and so could not see the objects which previously caused you to sin. Again, if your hand or foot causes you to sin, because temptation comes to you through your hands (things you do) or your feet (places you visit), then cut them off. That is: don’t do it! Don’t go! Behave as if you had actually cut off your hands and feet and flung them away, and were now crippled and so could not do the things or visit the places which previously caused you to sin” (Sermon on the Mount, p. 89).

  4.   What do I find most helpful for overcoming sexual temptation? (Recommendation: Memorize all the serves on the previous page)

  5.   Read and discuss the following

“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov 16:18).  What level of pride is required to believe that sexual sin could overtake Lot, Samson, David (“a man after God’s own heart”), Solomon, the Corinthians and a host of modern Christian leaders, but not me?  Paul’s warnings deserve a prominent place on our dashboards, desks and computers: “But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted” (Gal 6:1); “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!”  (1 Corinthians 10:12).

 God does not want us to be presumptuous, but nor does He want us to be paranoid.  We do not have to live each day teetering on the edge of immorality or paralyzed by the fear of sudden fall. In the specific context of seeking to be sexually pure and resisting sexual temptation, the wise man says this to his son:

“My son, preserve sound judgment and discernment, do not let them out of your sight; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck.  Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble; when you lie down you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.  Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared” (Pr. 3:21-26).

If we walk daily with Christ, being alert to what’s happening in our minds and implementing steps of  righteousness and wisdom, then we can go our way “in safety” and “not be afraid.” (From: Sexual Temptation: How Christian Workers Can Win the Battle,  Randy C. Alcorn )

6. Relate I Corinthians 7:2-5 to the concern of sexual temptation.

“But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband. The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife. Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” (I Corinthians 7:2-5, NLT)

Scripture dealing with sexual temptation: 

    • Ephesians 5:3-5 “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person–such a man is an idolater–has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”
    • 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body n in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; …”
    • Hebrews 13:4 “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”
    • Proverbs 6:32 “But a man who commits adultery lacks judgment; whoever does so destroys himself.”
    • Proverbs 28:13,14 “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy. Blessed is the man who always fears the LORD, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble.”
    • Psalm 32:1-2,5  “Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.  Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’– and you forgave the guilt of my sin”
    • 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
    • Romans 13:14 “Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”
    • 1 Peter 2:11-12  “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”

Steve Cornell

Sex and Marriage

When couples are preparing for marriage, we help them by looking at the well-known sources of marital conflict. One of them is sex. I explain to engaged couples that the reason for conflict over sex is the very thing that makes it possible. It involves men and women.

Generally, male and female approach sex very differently and couples need to understanding this to minimize the conflict. Analogies are always inadequate but, when it comes to sex, I suggest that men are like microwave ovens and women are like the crock pot. What I am getting at is that the act of sex registers more with men than the relationship leading to it.

If couples want to have a better love life, husbands must be more intentional by taking initiative in cultivating the relationship. Wives must be intentional and take initiative in sexual matters. Wives must realize that they are God’s source of protection for their husbands in the area of sexual temptation. I don’t say this to lay any blame on a wife when a man refuses to resist temptation but, far too often, wives do not take the sexual part of marriage as seriously as they should.

I tell wives-to-be that when a man goes to bed with a woman, there is a good chance he thinks about sex most nights. But when he feels like he always has to be the one to initiate or even has to ask for sex with his wife, a man’s self-respect will be damaged in ways that lead to other problems. This is particularly problematic when a woman uses sexual advances to win a man before marriage only to shut down sexually in marriage. In these cases, deeper changes in thinking need to happen to protect the marriage.  

Open and humble communication are essential in this area. Couples must view sexual frustration as a threat to their marriages. Prolonged sexual abstinence is forbidden in marriage. Scripture specifically identifies this as an opportunity for the evil one to tempt married people because of lack of self-control (see: I Corinthians 7:3-5).

If interested in further consideration of this aspect, consider, “Do you wish you had more sex in your marriage?

Steve Cornell

A sad week in Pennsylvania

Tonight (6-22-2012) a guilty verdict was brought against former Penn State assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky. Another deranged sexual predator who leveraged his position to prey on small boys will never know freedom again. I wish we didn’t have to pay for his room and board! 

On the same day, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a Catholic priest was found guilty of covering up child sexual assault allegations, often by transferring guilty priests to other parishes. Institutional accountability had to come from the government because it didn’t exist in the Church. Surely Penn Sate is thinking about the legal battles ahead as it faces institutional accountability (something missing among coaches). The protect your own mentality is reaping what it has sown. A coach and a priest found guilty on the same day in Pennsylvania — but there is more. 

Earlier this week, our local paper updated the case against Steven Geyer, a former assistant principal of Lancaster Mennonite High School. Geyer confessed to a County Judge that he sexually assaulted male international students from South Korea whom he hosted at his home. He threatened to send them back to their countries if they reported his sexual assaults on them. Religious communities and schools need more internal accountability. Now the government will step in and provide it. 

There seems to be no end to these horrible stories of men sexually assaulting young boys. Parents everywhere will think twice before entrusting their children with authority figures like coaches, priests or even teachers. What a sad reality! 

If you’ve been sexually assaulted, it’s very important to work through your pain with a wise counselor experienced in helping abuse victims. I pray that you will have the courage to confront the past and experience greater levels of freedom from the damaging effects of abuse. As one who has walked closely with others through this process, I assure you that there is hope for a brighter tomorrow!   

Praying for the victims and their families,

Steve Cornell

More Resources:


Sex – differences between men and women

Do you wish you had more sex in your marriage?

I asked this question one night at a large gathering of men from our Church when I was assigned the subject of sex for a Men’s Fellowship night.

When men get together, it can get interesting. When the subject of sex comes up, it gets really interesting! I told the men that I planned to talk openly with them about something that is on all of their minds. 

I asked, “How many of you wish you had more sex in your marriage?” and the response was loud and affirmative. With a kind of male grunt (unique to the species), the men quickly acknowledged their desire for more sex. This might not sound great to women but the truth is that most husbands want more sex in marriage — more, that is, than their wives desire.

A main source of conflict

Counselors have agreed for many years that sex is one of the four or five main areas of marital conflict. I love asking young couples preparing for marriage why sex is a big source of conflict in marriage. If they’re striving for purity in their relationship, one of their toughest challenges is keeping their hands off each other! 

Most engaged couples don’t understand why sex would be a source of marital conflict. It sounds strange to them. So premarital counselors must look down the road and help them to think realistically about life — and, reality is not unclear on this matter. 

I tell singles and engaged couples that one of the primary reasons sex is a source of conflict in marriage is the very thing that makes it possible. I always get a look of confusion from them until I say: “It involves a man and a woman!” Then, after awkward laughter, they return to their confused look. To help them understand, I use the following illustration:

Microwaves and Crock-pots

The point I am making is that men and women typically approach sex differently. A somewhat simplistic illustration I use is the difference between a microwave and a crock-pot. Men can tend to be like microwaves when it comes to sex; women tend to be more like a crock-pots (I didn’t say “crack-pot”!).

Do you get the illustration? Sex for women is typically part of an overall relationship. It tends to be more of a physical act for men. Please understand that I am not validating all that could be implied by the illustration, I am just trying to illustrate general facts.

In most marriages, sex will be more of an area of intentional giving for women. Relationship-building will require more thoughtful intention from men.

A primary reason sex becomes a source of conflict is this fact that husbands tend to want more sex in marriage than their wives. When you factor in how a man often tends to connect his sense of self-respect to sex, things can get really bad if he feels rejected or like he is always the initiator.

I’ve sometimes observed resentment from husbands over the way their wives were sexually aggressive before marriage and shut down after marriage. Some single women (sadly) assume that they must use sexual advances to “win” a man. In doing this, they give him the impression that this is how life together will be.

Couples who don’t follow God’s plan for sexual purity often don’t realize that they’re inviting more trouble into marriage. The need for sexual restraint doesn’t end with marriage. And I’ve talked with men who resentfully express how they had more sex with their wives before they were married. 

Lest I sound like I am picking on women, in a similar way, men are often guilty of using intentional relationship building to “win” a woman only to shift into complacency after marriage. The pastor who performed our wedding charged me with these words: “The graces you used to win her love, use to keep her love.” I need to be reminded of this charge.

Sober words for married couples:

When it comes to the sexual part of marriage, couples should pause over these words:

“But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband. The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife. Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” (I Corinthians 7:2-5, NLT)

If couples want to have a better love life, husbands must be intentional and take initiative in building relationship and wives must be intentional and take initiative in sexual matters. 

Wives, please remember that you are God’s source of protection for your husbands. Couples must view sexual frustration as a threat to their marriages. Prolonged sexual abstinence must not be permitted in a marriage. Scripture specifically identifies it as an opportunity for the evil one!

Teach singles 

Men and women are different. Without some prior discussion about this reality, the differences will likely become unnecessary sources of selfishness and conflict. Many images have been used to explain male/female differences. Men are from Mars, women from Venus; Men are like waffles; women like spaghetti. The differences are real and should be studied by couples preparing for marriage. Once understood, couples should consider the way God can use their differences to build stronger oneness. 

A unique challenge in the Church

The challenge to allow differences lead to oneness is sometimes hindered by an unfortunate tendency to use biblical references to headship and submission to diminish the uniqueness and contributions of wives. When a husband insists that life conforms to his dominant identity, he violates God’s original plan for marriage and fails to embrace the original truth that it’s not good for the man to be alone. 

I’ve also observed women who suppress their identity under more dominant men who frankly need their gifts and strengths. Sometimes these women entertain misguided understandings of headship and submission. Trying to be “submissive wives,” and letting their husbands be “leaders of their homes,” these women violate the original design by not fulfilling a complementary role for husbands who badly need their unique gifts. 

The original plan assumes the necessity of individuality and uniqueness (in both husbands and wives) for the completion of oneness. The two must become one — without one disappearing into the other.

 Steve Cornell 

Don’t forget victims of sexual assault

 


Multiple allegations of sexual abuse against former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky should bring national attention to the subject. While an entire University has been thrown into unimaginable controversy, reaching a new level with the firing of their beloved and legendary head football coach, Joe Paterno, let us not forget the victims of sexual assault.

I admit that sexual abuse is an issue I didn’t think I would encounter very often in pastoral counseling. During a graduate course in pastoral psychology that devoted significant attention to counseling those who have been sexually abused, I doubted that we needed to give so much time to the subject. I was wrong – very wrong. I never realized how much I would be involved helping others deal with this life-altering trauma.

Over the past couple of decades, I have been called to help more people work through the effects of sexual abuse than I could have ever imagined. And sexual abuse is more common than most of us realize. This morning, in our local newspaper, another sad story about sexual abuse was printed beside the Penn State headline. The title read: “Principle accused of sexual abuse: Assistant Principle of Lancaster Mennonite High School put on leave.” One can only hope that these publicized stories will help other victims to have the courage to come forward and get the help they need.

While the media is largely focused on the removal of Coach Paterno, let us not forget the victims. Former coach Jerry Sandusky was charged with sexually assaulting many boys over a 15-year period. Their ages at the time of abuse ranged from seven to fourteen years old. If these allegations prove true, Penn State empowered a monstrous sexual predator with an authority and influence that he leveraged to prey on vulnerable children. It’s unimaginable that they only used verbal reprimands against such evil.

These victims, like most sexual abuse victims, suffered in silence and shame for years. The depth of betrayal involved in sexual abuse generates conflicted emotions that profoundly alter the lives of the abused. Imagine how enamored these young boys were with a chance to be near college football only to be trapped by a trusted public figure who lured them into his demented manipulation and abuse. Think about the fear and confusion they experienced. It was probably their first experience with sexuality. The physical, emotional and psychological trauma are unthinkable. 

Although victims respond differently, none of them walk away without significant and often lifelong damage. During my graduate class, my eyes were opened to a world of darkness that holds victims in silent pain. The more I learned about the issue, the more my heart grew heavy for the victims of this evil.

Most of my counseling of sexual abuse has focused on adults who had been assaulted as children. They come for help because they are struggling to live normal lives. They battle degrees of confusion (particularly about sexuality) and feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. Many seek help because of marital problems that are directly related to their history of abuse.

Since abuse usually involves manipulation and force, victims battle feelings of fear and anxiety. They long to gain full control of their lives and sometimes pursue security through excessive and controllable behaviors like exercise and dieting. They often work hard to conceal their pain because of embarrassment, shame or fear of their perpetrator. Yet they easily spiral into debilitating emotions. It’s not uncommon for them to feel an inability to function in normal life and an overall lack of motivation. Crippling emotions inexplicably grip their lives.

It’s also not unusual for survivors to experience significant loneliness, loss of appetite and inordinate desires to sleep their lives away. Mood swings plague those battling the grip of sexual abuse. Unusual gregariousness can give way to unexplainable periods of depression and crying. Other waves of emotion include self-hatred, panic attacks, irrational phobias and unexplainable anger and rage. They go through life feeling a lack of normality and a sense of being trapped.

Survivors of sexual abuse sometimes turn to other forms of abuse to escape their pain. Obsessive behaviors ranging from alcohol and drug abuse to sexual addiction and promiscuity become ways of “escape.” Sometimes victims even engage in self-mutilation and entertain suicidal thoughts.

Without help from caring friends, most victims don’t recognize how badly they’ve been affected. They tend to suppress the past to survive the present. It’s not unusual for sexual abuse victims to conceal their pain and keep others at a distance. The ability to be in trusting and transparent relationships feels risky to them. Yet they long for close relationships as much as they fear them.

As much as vulnerability feels risky to victims of abuse, it’s a necessary part of gaining freedom. They especially need to confront their abuser. Some form of confrontation is essential to healing. It helps facilitate a clear transfer of responsibility and blame to the perpetrator. This could be done through a written letter or a mediated personal confrontation. Safety is a primary consideration when facilitating confrontation.

The most formidable obstacle to this essential step is fear. Those who have been abused must confront their fears and surrender substituted forms of control that hold them hostage. This often means they must go back and work through the pain of the abuse. As they do this, they must reject all forms of self-blame and any blame that others try to project on them. They also must reject the powerful emotions of shame, guilt and fear that hold them in bondage.

A more subtle challenge for victims is their need to be honest about ways they’ve allowed resentment; anger and bitterness to become emotional means of retaliation. These emotions offer a deceptive sense of control and a feeling of getting revenge but, in the end, they only ruin those who cherish them. In an exceptionally sad way, they also extend the control and abuse of the injury inflicted by the abuser.

One victim of abuse expressed her pursuit of freedom as a refusal to tie her soul any longer to her abuser. As hard as it is, victims must courageously acknowledge and confront their pain. While it is true that the only thing we can change about our past is how we allow it to effect us in the future, we can find healing and freedom.

Yet rarely do victims of sexual abuse reach healing and freedom without the aid of wise counselors. Not every counselor understands the dynamics of abuse and how to help those who face it. If you have been abused only see a counselor who understands sexual abuse and has experience helping victims of it.

A hopeful part of recovery for the victims of Sandusky is the encouragement they can find in each other. They are not alone. I would recommend that they form a group under the guidance of a wise counselor as part of their path to healing.

Relating to God is another difficultly for victims of sexual abuse. “How can I trust God if He didn’t protect me when I was vulnerable?” they ask.  It’s hard to fully understand how God’s control relates to the evil actions of people. And these kinds of questions mixed with feelings of worthlessness and anger combine to obstruct faith in God. Such hesitations and struggles must not be treated lightly. Scripture reminds us to “be merciful to those who doubt” (Jude 22). Adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse need merciful and wise help in their struggle to trust in God and to rebuild their lives.

Steve Cornell
Senior pastor
Millersville Bible Church
58 West Frederick Street
Millersville, PA. 17551 (USA)

See also:

Protect our children by Thom Rainer 

Forgiveness is one thing; Reconciliation another by Steve Cornell