Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Glimpse Into My Past

One of my readers recently asked me to elaborate on how my past as a promiscuous single affected my marriage, both during my refusing years and also since I have been totally healed. I took the liberty of posting this reader’s questions here along with my response.

The reader asked:
“Do you think the beautifully sexual relationship you two now share has more than "made up" for those painful 25 years? Even if you haven't, I'm sure both of you will continue to pursue "making up" for it, as often as possible.”

Well, that is certainly an interesting way of putting it but to be honest--- If we were trying to make up for the painful past… I mean, how can you make up for it? What could we possibly do today and tomorrow which would erase the yesterdays? The idea of pursuing a great marriage bed now in order to make up for the past is not even remotely in our thinking.... so I do not even "go there". It would be a depressing, self-defeating thought. We live today and tomorrow to make our present and future the best it can be… period!

Then the reader said:
“I'd like to see if you can go into a bit more detail over how your promiscuity hurt your married sex life in a later entry. It's a common stereotype that a promiscuous woman in a relationship will be as "generous" after the vows are exchanged, so maybe a little more detail on your story there could help derail that silly notion.”

I believe I have talked about this a number of times both on a marriage forum and on my blog but I will touch on it again here. First of all, it is no longer a stereotype that a promiscuous woman will instantly and forever be a sexually generous wife. That is just an old myth as far as I am concerned. Contrary to that myth, too many times I have read about women who slept around a lot as a single. Then they married and vowed to remain true to their spouse but before they knew it, they were refusing sex because of the guilt that they carried around with them. That common scenario is the more typical stereotype. So yes, the idea that “promiscuous women turn into sexually generous wives” is a totally untrue notion.

While single I lived as a whore for a number of years. It did not matter to me if I flirted and slept with single men or those who were married. I enjoyed them all, falsely believing that the married ones were wrecking their marriages all on their own… that if they were not sleeping with me, they would be sleeping with someone else other than their wives. That was my reasoning, my excuse to continue the lifestyle until just before meeting my soon-to-be-husband.

GR and I both grew up as Roman Catholics. In a time period of less than a year-- we met, married and began attending a Protestant Church together. As soon as we started going to church and "got saved” in Protestant fashion our marriage bed began to fall apart. Ironic--- Here we were thinking our souls were being saved for the first time while simultaneously our marriage bed was slowly spiraling downward in destruction.

As we began that Christian walk, reading our bibles and hearing the Word taught and preached, the whole idea of having sex, quickly became dirty and sinful to me. In my mind I could not separate sex as I used it in my single days from having sex with my husband. It all blended together as I disassociated myself from being a sexual being in a foolish attempt to avoid the guilty thoughts.

Marital sex was never mentioned in our churches back then so of course going to the pastor for help was the furthest thing from my mind. Remember- Sex was dirty to me so I felt that to reveal my whorish past and my present sexual refusal, would have caused the pastor to see me as a dirty, sinful person.

The cultish churches we were in back then did not help our situation. Yes, looking back we now know that they were, indeed, cults. Three years into our marriage GR and I were being “groomed” for church leadership. This was the way they "hooked" people in and got them to stay. By the time we were married for 4-5 years we were involved in a number of leadership ministries. To admit that I had a serious problem with my marriage bed was a sure way of getting booted out of leadership and I was not going to let that happen if I could help it. I had an image to keep up. Yes, “pride” was my guiding force; pride was my god.

Any time a person turns from a sinful life there is a process of emotional healing which must take place in order for them to become healthy, whole and free from guilt. If you try to “stuff it” it will only come back later with a vengeance to bite you. This is part of where my thinking got screwed up. When we "got saved” we were constantly being reminded, “Your past is forgiven. God will never bring it up again so do not look back anymore; only look ahead.” What they neglected to tell us and what I was too young and dumb to know is that we do not instantly forgive ourselves, the baggage does not just disappear when God forgives us. We have to be proactive to work through it.

Incidentally, this is a big part of why GR and I no longer subscribe to the doctrine of instantaneous salvation. In Protestant circles people say, “I got saved on October 10, 1989,” as if on that single day they went from being an emotionally crippled heathen to becoming a perfectly healthy Christian. But the point in my life when I began to heal was actually much later on when I learned to view Christianity as a journey which would take my entire life to complete. In the year 2000 when I realized that I had “not arrived” as a wife it gave me new understanding-- I had to change in a huge way before I could even begin to be the wife GR needed. Sure I could say, “I got saved in the year 2000," ...the year we became Orthodox Christians, the year I began to heal, but that year only marked the beginning of a slow healing process.

Here is something I learned on my journey and it may be common sense to some of you or perhaps you do not believe this the way GR and I do. Getting saved or, in my case-- becoming an Orthodox Christian, makes us a "new creature" but what exactly does that mean? It DOES NOT mean that we instantly become healthy and whole or that we become better than those who do not trust in God. If it is a "genuine" conversion it only means that from now on God will make us more aware of our short-comings and make us more accountable than we have ever been. If it is a genuine conversion we allow the Holy Spirit to sweep in every dirty room and in every dark corner of our life. Sin and pride can no longer take residence in our life when we become a new creature in Christ. That is not to say that we stop sinning but we no longer LIVE in sin. There is a difference.

We cannot ignore our emotional baggage or ignore current or future emotional issues, going on the false assumption that we get saved, God snaps his fingers and BAM… we are instantly healed of everything, that we have no reason to seek help. Those who do ignore their issues only prolong their healing.

So this guilt I was carrying set the stage for an emotionally and sexually crippling marriage. It went on for about 20 years while we were in churches which repeatedly preached the message—“… cleansed by the blood, by His stripes you ARE healed”. Those who dared to say, “But I still need help,” or “I need to see a professional,” were told that they lacked faith to believe that God had already healed them. The rule was--- If you had faith, you did not need outside help so you suffered silently. If you needed help, you lacked faith to fully trust God and was labeled as an immature Christian (ie, one of the signs of a cult).

Those were the most difficult, painful years of our Christian walk and hence, in our marriage bed. I compare those years to folks who say, "I would NEVER want to go back to my painful teenage years." There were other factors which also contributed to my refusing. Most of them are listed in the right side bar in the article entitled “About Me” so you can see them there.


Leftmost said...

Thank you for this post. I find it informative and insightful, I hope you wouldn't mind if I share it.

Gemma said...

Not at all. There are many like my dh and I who suffered silently for years in cultish churches, living with an unhealthy marriage bed.

so blessed said...

And then there are those of us in the Protestant faith who believe that there is an initial "crisis" experience, AND a journey of faith. There is an initial, single point in time when we come to realize that we are sinners before God, acknowledge those sins and believe that He can forgive them, and actually seek His forgiveness. And then the journey begins; that life-long journey of ever, always drawing closer and closer to His good and perfect will for our lives.

Much like a good marriage, actually. There is that initial moment of commitment at the wedding, but we work out that commitment every single day in our relationship.

Gemma said...

so blessed said: "And then there are those of us in the Protestant faith who believe that there is an initial "crisis" experience, AND a journey of faith."

Yes there are for those of you who are not in cults. I hope I didn't offend my Protestant friends by what I wrote in this article. Just to clarify again, we were in a cult.... a nondenominational cult.

Hiswildcherry47 said...

Hey Gemma,
You did not offend me in the slightest. I am quite happy reading a healthy smattering of red-blooded truth referring to some of the heinous flagrancy, which takes place under the guise of so-called Christianity, in cult-like non-demoninational churches.

My husband and I have vascillated between the non and the denom. churches, coming up empty handed and totally beside ourselves with fury at the usage of well meaning church goers who are simply trying to attend a house of worship.
My heart has been grieved, through the years of serving our Lord Jesus Christ, because of innocent sheep being ab-used and mis-used.

There are many who have sordid tales to tell and an open ear is necessary to give them a safe place to offload in the hopes that they too may find a place of peace in their faith journeys.

So blessed, thank you for your post. I believe you to be genuine and thank God that there are those such as yourself who are 'doing good' in their churches of preference. I appreciate your presence, in somewhat difficult times, in the Body of Christ.

so blessed said...

Oh no, not offended at all, Gemma. I was just pointing out the diversity of belief within Protestant faith; that there are some who are all about the "crisis experience," others who are all about the "journey," and then those of us who subscribe to both trains of thought. Great post - and good dialogue!

And to HWC 47 - thanks for your kindness!

job29man said...

Protestant here. My doctrinal beliefs on salvation have been evolving, mainly due to pressure from the resurgence of Calvinism in the Church.

As Calvinists make inroads into many denominations with their peculiar "predestination" message that seems to point to a kind of "Puppet Play" by God that results in a maddening condemnation of any thought that there is a role for my decision and will, I find myself swinging the opposite direction from them.

Now I'm moving more into the "salvation is a lifelong journey" thinking. I believe you once said something like "I was saved. I am now being saved. I will continue being saved in the future as I work through my salvation." Words to that effect.

I like it. I'm getting less tolerant of the mentality that "I was "saved" on Dec 7, 2002 at 5:26 pm, so now I can do what I want and not be in danger of hellfire ever again. I reserve the right to not produce fruit in my life, and I may not be mature in my faith, but at least I've got fire insurance!"

This seems to be a recipe for all manner of "Christian" willful rebellion and victimization of the ones we love.

Gemma said...

Job said: "I'm getting less tolerant of the mentality that "I was "saved" on Dec 7, 2002 at 5:26 pm, so now I can do what I want and not be in danger of hellfire ever again. I reserve the right to not produce fruit in my life, and I may not be mature in my faith, but at least I've got fire insurance!" This seems to be a recipe for all manner of "Christian" willful rebellion and victimization of the ones we love."

Just one thought--- The whole "I was saved on Dec 7, 2002 at 5:26pm" mentality..... that was never the intention of Martin Luther. If more people would study his works apart from what their pastors tell them to believe, they'd understand what you are now seeing. I'll be honest, I'm not a subscriber of the bulk of Luther's doctrine but the way so many Protestants interpret his beliefs is soooooo way off the mark. Job, may God bless you as you continue on your journey.