Sex is a natural expression of human nature, but there are certain spiritual states that sweeten the draw.
Disclaimer: Illicit sex (e.g. sexual promiscuity, casual sex, premarital sex, fornication, adultery, etc.) is immoral and destructive to one’s overall satisfaction in marriage. This article is not intended to endorse the practice of illicit sex, but only to examine why illicit sex is so enticing, satisfying, and so prevalent in society and the church.
In a previous post, Why do Christian women have the reputation of being whores? (February 23, 2019), I made the following statement.
“Truth be known, the only times I have ever seen women spiritually glorified is when they were having an affair, or were just about to. I’ve seen this so often, that now, whenever I see a woman glorified, I automatically jump to this conclusion.”
As discussed in a follow up post, Hitting a glorified nerve at Patheos (March 4, 2019), Suzanne Titkemeyer at Patheos jumped on this statement and wrote…
“This seems so wrong!
So [Σ Frame is saying] if you seem happy, or glorified, or spiritually fulfilled you are either having an affair, or will have one.”
Yes, it does seem wrong! This incongruency was one of the main points of that essay. But the question still stands: Why is illicit sex so enlightening?
At about the same time I wrote the first post linked above, my Pastor posed an insightful question: “How does your sex life affect your relationship with God?” He gave this question to me as a topic of introspective meditation.
Our next talk took place after I had pondered the question for a couple weeks.
My Pastor was surprised when I told him that some people feel blessed by God when they have illicit sex, including myself. In the past, I had the notion that God blessed me when I engaged in illicit sex, especially after my first wife left me.
He said he had never met anyone else who said such a thing, and so he asked me to explain.
I took a couple more weeks to think it over. After contemplating my Pastor’s questions, I have a little bit more nuanced understanding of this phenomenon. I came up with a number of reasons why people engage in illicit sex, and these are contained in the remainder of this post.
In my life, I have put forth an impressive effort (in my opinion) to resist the temptation to fornicate. But there have been many occasions in my life as a single or divorced person in which I was not able to abstain from venery. From these experiences, I have identified a few conditions that must be met, before my faith, self-control, and will-power become insufficient for avoiding illicit sex. These include,
- Experiencing deep bonding and love – See the next section below.
- Feeling lonely and unloved – See the next section below.
- Feeling respected and appreciated – There were times when I was caught unaware by an exceedingly smooth, respectful woman who patiently and cool-headedly set her crosshairs on my genetic material. Her sweet hearted diligence eventually paid off for her, leaving me with no regrets. These women were typically around my age, or a couple years older than me.
- Intense desire coupled with spiritual degeneracy – There were a couple periods of my life in which I was sufficiently desperate that my desire took the driver’s seat. Of note, a divorce will invariably do that to a person.
- She’s too hot and too easy – The woman making herself available to me was above the threshold limit of my temptation.
In my experience, whenever two or more of the above conditions were met simultaneously (with the exception of (1) and (2), which are opposing states), my willpower to resist was rescinded, and I was definitely going down for the O count. Fortunately, I’m at the age now where I can see her coming.
Feeling loved versus feeling unloved
Conditions (1) and (2) of the previous section deserve special attention. Feeing alone and unloved has been a long-running theme in my life, and those times when I felt loved were rare, unique experiences, so I believe this is the crux of the matter. I’ve often struggled with the question of whether illicit sex is simply raw idolatry that fills the void of feeling unloved, or if the draw of illicit sex has more to do with me experiencing unconditional love. After pondering this question for a time, due to my pastor’s prodding, I realize that I’ve had a little of both, depending on the circumstances.
The concept of how one turns to idolatry (or worshipping false gods) to fill an urgent emotional need is well known to me and my pastor (and hopefully the reader as well), so here I’ll expound on how feeling loved might expediate illicit sex.
In answer to my Pastor’s inquiry, I felt blessed for many reasons, which are all concomitant.
- I felt loved, or I “fell in love”. I didn’t feel like I needed to do anything to maintain this, so it had the impression of being unconditional love.
- I was trusting, but I wasn’t really aware of it. I just wasn’t afraid that they might do something to shame me, hurt me, or betray me.
- I had an open heart. I felt emotionally and spiritually alive, and I felt God’s presence, so I remember those moments very vividly.
- I was in a state of spiritual humility, because I was expressing my needs to women, and I was getting a positive response.
- I was being more of my true, authentic self.
- I’m sure I was exercising faith, but I’m not able to describe how.
- I was facing the fears which had caused me to squelch my authentic self (which impulsively does wrong things), and attempting to overcome them.
- I was learning to trust myself, especially my sexual nature. I’ve come to understand that this was very important for my personal growth.
- I felt confident, and I had a positive reaction from people. I felt desired by women.
- I was experiencing the immediate thrills of fulfilling my sexual desires.
When I experienced all of these together, it gave me the impression that I was blessed whenever I was engaging in illicit sex.
It’s rather complicated (and somewhat controversial) to explain, but if one knows in one’s heart that one is unconditionally loved, and can somehow feel loved and accepted on a visceral level, then this may be sufficient to overcome one’s fears of guilt, shame, and punishment, and reinforce a sufficient amount of confidence, faith, and trust to expose the passionate, authentic self. Moreover, being one’s authentic self will often bring out the worst in a person – that which had long been repressed by fears of censure and rejection. For many people who grew up in a religiously stifling atmosphere (like me), feeling deeply loved and genuinely accepted can become a sexual liberation blowout.
In conclusion, when I told my pastor that “illicit sex made me feel blessed”, it seems that I had the correlation right, but the cause-effect relationship wrong. Having the experience of falling in love, bonding, and feeling accepted and blessed are not a direct result, or “reward”, of my wrongdoing, but rather an inherent result of being humbled and opening my heart. My engagement in sexual relations was also an expression of this same state. Because of this reflexive fundamental attribution error, I was not aware of this correlation until my Pastor posed the question contained in the title of this post.
- Σ Frame: Why do Christian women have the reputation of being whores?(February 23, 2019)