by Paige Eavenson

Growing up in a conservative Christian home, sex was certainly not the topic of discussion at the dinner table, or really anywhere else for that matter. I was pretty much raised that “good girls” don’t talk about that stuff and they most certainly don’t “do it” until they get married. Somewhere during my teenage and young adult years I picked up the lie that only “bad girls” had sex, and that it was something very naughty that a “good” Christian girl should only do with her husband.

While I do believe, based on God’s word, that sex is intended to be only with your husband, it took me quite a while to overcome the feeling and belief that it was something naughty. In my early years of marriage I struggled with the balance of being “holy” one moment and set apart for God, and then a “hottie” the next moment set apart for my husband. I couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that God was okay with me being both, and that He actually created me to have sexual desire and wanted to  fulfill mine and my husband’s desires through each other .

Those first years of marriage I read several books on marriage but I never really read much on sex. There were no Kindles or ebooks, and frankly who wants to be seen in the local book store reading a book about sex and how to do it. Not this “good girl!” However, if someone had given me Sheila Gregoire’s book The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex, I would have gotten rid of some of those lies I believed and enjoyed the gift God gave my husband and me a lot sooner in our marriage.

Sheila Wrae Gregoire, popular speaker, author and blogger of To Love, Honor and Vacuum, covers all the nitty gritty when it comes to sex in her book. Whether you are married or engaged, this book will equip you and inspire you to make the most of the gift God has given us good girls. In Sheila’s book, she covers just about everything your mom might have been too embarrassed to tell you. Sheila does not hold back in her writing and she will teach you how to have a “Pure, Holy and Hot Marriage,” and even give you some pointers on how to light the fireworks and get the spark back in your marriage bed in a clean, not perverted way.

This book is primarily for those engaged and or married, but I believe it could help women whether you are a virgin or not, to know the truth about sex, what it was intended for and how to make the most of it according to God’s design.

With all this said, I’d love to hear from some of our readers. If you could change one lie you believed in regards to sex what would it be? Or if you could warn another friend about having sex before marriage what would you tell her?

 

Paige Eavenson and her family have been part of Grace Family Church for 13 years and she currently serves on staff as a women’s small group coach. A homeschool mom of three, Paige is an avid reader who loves collecting new friends and helping people get connected into small groups. You can learn more about Paige on her blog, www.sincerelypaige.com

 

For July, we invited women involved with Beautiful at Grace Family Church to anonymously share how sex has impacted their lives. While their testimonies reveal past hurts and poor choices, each woman has seen her life and relationships restored through the power of Jesus Christ. We pray their stories bring hope and healing to your life.

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If you knew me 12 years ago, you would’ve known me as a good person. I came from a nice family. I had asked Jesus into my heart at an early age and grew up in church. I even graduated from Christian school. I understood that Christ loved me, died for me and forgave me of my sins. Yet early in my marriage, I found myself entangled in an affair – something I never thought I’d entertain the thought of, let alone do. Those kind of things happened to people I knew, not to people like me.

To everyone that knew us, we had a happy, normal and successful marriage. But behind closed doors our marriage was struggling. My pride and need for approval led me to regularly put others needs above my husband’s. I always made time for my interests – my job, my friends, my hobbies, my family – above spending time with him. I’d always been the more outgoing of the two of us. I controlled our social calendar and filled it to the brim with events. I didn’t need his permission. I wasn’t going to miss out on the fun because of him.

At the time, I thought my walk with God was fine. We went to church pretty regularly – when we weren’t too tired from going out the night before. It was enough to feel like we were being good Christians on Sunday, while still being able to go our own way the rest of the week.

While I was busy with “my life,” my husband began to feel more and more isolated. If I didn’t “feel” like being intimate with him, I didn’t. Sex began to seem like another “to do” on my list of things to accomplish. His love language is physical touch. Mine is quality time, (which I mistook for social time with friends). So, like many men do, my husband turned to pornography. When I found out about it, I felt hurt and rejected. I couldn’t understand how I could possibly have played a role in “his sin.”  That was his problem.

I began to spend more time with one of my male co-workers. We’d become good friends and would regularly be sent on business trips together. Like “friends” do, we would share life stories, including our marital frustrations. At the time, I didn’t see how sharing those intimate, emotional things would open the door of our hearts and ignite imaginations of, “What if…”

It wasn’t long before emotional turned physical. The whole time I kept thinking, “This isn’t me. What am I doing?” But the truth was I liked the attention. I’d always wanted to be the center of attention – in school, in friendships, in my marriage. And when I wasn’t getting the kind of attention I thought I deserved from my husband, I allowed someone else to meet that need in my life.

During this time, one Sunday my husband and I were sitting in church, (got to keep up the appearance!), when our minister was preaching on forgiveness. He said, “Sometimes God will ask you to seek forgiveness of someone you’ve offended, and you don’t know the outcome – whether or not they will forgive you. That’s not the point. God wants you to trust and obey Him, and leave the outcome up to Him.” I knew God was speaking directly to me. It was time to tell my husband what was going on.

On the drive home, I said a silent prayer. “God forgive me. I’ve sinned against you. I’ve hurt your heart and grieved your Holy Spirit with my actions. It ends today. Change me. Humble my pride and heal my brokenness. I know I need to confess my sin to my husband, but I’m scared of what might happen. Jesus, help me…”

That afternoon I told my husband what had been going on and I asked him to forgive me. What happened next was nothing short of a miracle. He told me he forgave me, that he loved me, and he recognized we both had played a role in the breakdown of our marriage. We wept and held each other, and that day recommitted our marriage to each other and to God.

After many years of healing, I began to ask God how I did I fall prey to an affair. I knew better. I knew Him. I wasn’t the kind of girl who did stuff like this.

God led me to this verse, “Sin whispers to the wicked, deep within their hearts. They have no fear of God at all. In their blind conceit, they cannot see how wicked they really are.” (Psalm 36:1-2) The Holy Spirit began to show me that while I understood God’s love, forgiveness and mercy, I did not understand what it meant to fear the Lord. To fear the Lord is to be afraid to offend God. The fear of the Lord brings protection and wisdom to your life. When you don’t fear God, your conscience becomes weak and you can’t discern right from wrong. You begin to live life with an attitude of, “If I mess up, it’s okay because God will forgive me.” And while that’s true in part, what God wants is for us to fear Him – to not even entertain the idea of messing up in the first place – and when we do mess up, to seek repentance and “go now and sin no more.” (John 8:10-11)

In the 12 years that have passed, God has brought humility, healing and freedom to our hearts and our marriage. It hasn’t been easy, but His grace and mercy have overflowed as we’ve walked hand-in-hand, committed to see our marriage restored to what God intended it to be.

 

By Kristin Bonham

 

Two years ago, I was given a book called Permission to Speak Freely written by Anne Jackson.  I was unprepared for the profound impact it would have on me… I was a pastor’s wife, raising 3 kids, leading in a ministry to college age students and “minding my own business”. 

 

In the book, Anne gives herself permission to speak and also invites other women to share the thing they are “afraid to say in church”.  She tells about her addiction to pornography in her late teens and early twenties, how it consumed her and led her into fear and depression.  Anne says that the purpose of the book is simple, “to show you that you’re not alone in your battle with fear and secrets. We are not isolated in our brokenness.”

 

This is where God started opening my eyes and letting me see beyond my own little world.  In middle school, I was exposed to pornography and erotica by a friend and my parents had no idea.  I thought the solution was put those memories away and choose not to think of them again. Easier said than done.  I naively thought I would be able to shield my kids without remembering what it was like for me.  When I read Anne’s book, God was telling me it was time to get my head out of the sand and start being real.  I needed to get over my fear of talking about uncomfortable subjects and be willing to speak up!

 

Last year, GFC had Craig Gross, founder of XXXchurch.com speak at our weekend services.  He talked about the staggering statistics of men and women who are addicted to or impacted by pornography and the sex industry.  Hearing that it is not just a problem for men might surprise many of you, but I suspect not.  If the statistics are even close to accurate, more of us than we realize have been exposed to and are potentially living in a trap set by porn. 

  

Pure Heart by Shellie R. Warren is a book I recommend every woman read.  If you don’t need it, someone in your life does.  If you have young women in your life, they need to read it.  Shellie is very open about her sexual history and brokenness.  She doesn’t pull any punches here ladies!  While I haven’t experienced all that she shares about, I found myself relating to her in ways I had been afraid to look at.  The book cover states, “Whether single or married, all women must cope with issues surrounding body image, lust, adultery, sexual addiction, sexualized images and more.  Shellie helps women understand and embrace the true purpose and role of sex in their lives.”

 

I have been on a mission to put these subjects in front of women and create a safe place for them to be honest and open, unafraid of judgment and condemnation.  Things that are hidden have power and when we bring them out in the open, they loose their strength and the journey to healing can begin.  Pure Heart, along with a Sexual Integrity curriculum, is used in our Beautiful Heart groups starting in September.  For more information, email beautiful@gfconline.com and check out our April blog post about Purity.

 

Kristin is the women’s ministry director for Grace Family Church.  She’s been married to Chris for 24 years and is mom to Taylor, Abby, and Casey.  She loves the beach, New York City and traveling with Chris to anywhere tropical.  She collects books and reads some of them.  Her favorite part of the week is Sunday lunch with family and friends around the table.

 

 

By Kristin Bonham

I have to admit that until a few weeks ago, I was out of the loop about the NY Times Bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey.  Since then, I have talked to several women who have read it or have been drawn into conversations about it… Apparently, it’s the hottest thing this summer and a “must read”.

In the author’s website description, here’s the quote she leaves you with, “the Fifty Shades Trilogy will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever.”  Wow.  I have had experiences that I wish I hadn’t, seen images I wish I hadn’t seen, and I don’t want anything that will stay with me forever, especially erotic fiction.  

For the month of July, the Beautiful Blog will be all about Sex.  Women will be telling their stories and we pray you will be inspired and given hope.  We are not judging anyone who has read the books.  We are here to tell the truth and the truth comes best from real people with real stories who have been restored and healed by a Real God. 

The Beautiful Staff agrees that the following article from Dannah Gresh articulates well why we are not reading Fifty Shades of Grey and why you should steer clear of it too.

 

I’m not reading Fifty Shades of Grey.
by Dannah Gresh

I wasn’t planning to announce this, but I can’t help myself. I told my husband, Bob, that I didn’t really want to get involved. But then, I found out my girlfriend’s 70-year-old mom has her name on a long wait list at the library to borrow Fifty Shades of Grey. And then my mom told me that a relative I love and respect for her strong faith had already devoured the book. She regretfully “can’t get the images out of her head.” So, here I am. In an attempt to keep the images out of yours, I’d like to explain to you why I’m not reading Fifty Shades of Grey.

 

Reason #1: Let’s start with the facts. Fifty Shades of Grey is classified as erotic fiction. According to one online dictionary, this genre of literature is defined as that which has “no literary or artistic value other than to stimulate sexual desire.” I’ve been studying what God says about sexuality for fifteen years. According to Him, there is only one who should stimulate sexual desire in me: my husband. Since that’s God’s plan for my sexual desire, anything other than my husband creating arousal in me would be missing the mark of God’s intention. (Translation: it is sin.) Jesus said it this way: “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.” The same is true of a woman looking at or reading about a man. Reason #1? I believe reading erotica is sinful.

I guess I could stop there, but it won’t be enough for some of you. So let’s go to reason number two.

Reason #2: The Bible has said for thousands of years that lust is hurtful and harmful. Guess what? Biopsychologists and others are studying the effects of lust, pornography, and erotica on the brain and the body. They are finding that the Bible was, in fact, right. Over time your body becomes conditioned to self-stimulation and gratification. It’s not just a preference. It’s physiological. The lust cuts a literal pathway in your brain tissue that’s kinda like a rut. A rut you better be prepared to get stuck in. While at first a little bit of erotica might give you a taste for your spouse, overtime that rut reminds you how great you are at self-stimulation and how powerful your imagination can be. You’ll become less interested in real sex with your husband. (Both SELFmagazine and The New Yorker ran articles on this phenomenon in recent years. They both suggested that if you want to have a great sex life, you better push pause on porn!) The fact is, erotica robs you of real sex. It’s not good for your marriage or future marriage.

Reason #3: OK, we’re girls. And, sadly, a few of our guys have looked at porn. How’d that work for ya? How’d it make you feel? Did it cross your mind that you could never compare to the perfection created by lights, camera, and Photoshop? Well, he can’t compare to a plasticized, vanilla interpretation of manhood either.

Reason #4: Do you know what BDSM is? Bondage, dominance, sadism, and masochism. If you don’t know what those words mean, be glad. If you do know, you should understand that the most damaging part of Fifty Shades of Grey is that God created sex to be a partnership that’s fueled by love and self-giving, not pain and humiliation. It’s not just that this book misuses sex, it redefines it into something evil and transgressive as the lead character dominates in a hurtful manner. How women can enjoy that, I can’t understand! But I do have a theory. It seems to me that in our emasculating culture there is a hunger so great for strong men that women will stoop to Bondage, dominance, sadism, and masochism for just a taste. Do yourself a favor, don’t!

You might be wondering if I’ve read the book. I haven’t. I don’t need to. There are many things in this world I need not partake in to discern that they are going to be harmful to me. God has given me more than fifty shades of truth in His Word and when just one of them is in conflict with my entertainment choices, I choose to pass! To be clear: I wouldn’t drive my Envoy into the front of an oncoming semi-truck any more than I would open the pages of Fifty Shades of Grey. I love my marriage, my God, and myself too much.

If your heart resonates with mine, please take a moment today to post these words on Facebook or twitter: “I’m not reading Fifty Shades of Grey.” If you have friends who need help understanding why, send them to this blog. I’d be happy to explain.

You can see Dannah Gresh’s original post and comments here. 

 

Kristin is the women’s ministry director for Grace Family Church.  She’s been married to Chris for 24 years and is mom to Taylor, Abby, and Casey.  She loves the beach, New York City and traveling with Chris to anywhere tropical.  She collects books and reads some of them.  Her favorite part of the week is Sunday lunch with family and friends around the table.