I’ll never be able to kick porn for good!
I hate sex. I’ll never be able to enjoy it with my husband.
I’m damaged beyond repair.
I can’t have a great sex life if I don’t have a beautiful body.
Have thoughts like these ever crossed your mind? If so, where do you think they come from?
Sex is a spiritual battleground. We can see obvious ways that the devil is at work through evils like sex trafficking and sexual abuse, but many of his most effective schemes are more subtle (like the examples above). In fact, you may be in the middle of a spiritual battle and not even know it.
Jesus said that Satan is a liar and that his native language is to lie to us. One way to discern the nature of the spiritual battle in our lives is to identify his lies. Think of it this way: When you look at the strongholds in your life, you will always find Satan’s “calling card” of lies.
Underlying Satan’s more subtle deception are a few foundational lies that impact how we think about God and sex. Below, I want to share with you four of these lies that often represent a stronghold in our lives and marriages.
Lie #1: God doesn’t care about sexuality.
Over the past several decades, we have witnessed a change in attitude about sex and sexuality. Rather than viewing sex as something that is tied to marriage and procreation, we treat it as simply a form of recreation and self expression. Rather than gender being rooted in a biological reality, it is now often considered a subjective experience.
Even many Christians think about their sexuality as a personal category of life that God doesn’t have much to say about. Christian singles have sex with little thought of God, and married Christians assume that as long as they are not having an affair, God has little to say about what sex should look like between them.
Having studied this topic for a decade, I can say without any hesitation that God cares deeply about your sexuality. In the Garden of Eden, when Eve interacted with the serpent, he asked her the question, “Did God really say…?” You may be falling for that same strategy. Yes, God really did say that sexuality is sacred and that He has a will for your sex life.
Lie #2: God’s design for sex isn’t for your good.
You may not wrestle with the truth of God as much as you question the goodness of God. Why would a loving God:
Give me a desire and then say I can’t act on it?
Tell me that I can’t marry the person I love?
Want me to stay married to someone I don’t love?
The God of the Bible just seems cruel if He limits sexual expression to a man and a woman in a lifelong, committed relationship. Just think of all the people this excludes!
The crafty serpent in the Garden of Eden also used this ploy. He tempted Eve by causing her to doubt the goodness of God’s command. “God is holding out on you!” I once heard a pastor say, “There is nothing good outside of God’s will for you.” Do you believe that?
Taking a step back, we need to understand that romantic love and sexual expression have been elevated in our modern culture from good things to absolute essential elements of a fulfilled life. God seems cruel only if sex and romance are crucial to happiness. You will not understand God’s goodness in His design for sex if you don’t understand the goodness of God’s design for humanity.
God did not create you for sex, for self-actualization, or even for marriage. He created you for intimate fellowship with Himself. The greatest thrill of your life is not meant to be your wedding day (or night), but the daily journey of knowing that your life matters because you are connected to the eternal God of the universe. You were created to be a world-changer!
Only when we see the bigger story of life can we appreciate the goodness of sex, but also accept that we can live fulfilling lives without it.
Tweet: God did not create you for sex, for self-actualization, or even for marriage. He created you for intimate fellowship with Himself. The greatest thrill of your life is not meant to be your wedding day (or night), but the daily journey of knowing that your life matters because you are connected to the eternal God of the universe. @drjulislattery
Lie #3: God won’t forgive sexual sin.
During temptation, the devil works to convince you that sexual sin is no big deal. After you’ve sinned, he will work just as rigorously to convince you that you must now live in perpetual shame. Russell Moore observed, “The devil works in two ways: by deception, ‘You will not surely die’ (Genesis 3:4), and by accusation, ‘who accuses them day and night before our God’ (Revelation 12:10) ... No one is more pro-choice than the devil on the way to the abortion clinic and no one is more pro-life than the devil on the way out of the abortion clinic.”1
Yes, sexual sin is serious. It often has significant physical, emotional, and spiritual consequences—never take these lightly. Likewise, don’t fall for the concept that Dietrich Bonhoeffer called “cheap grace.” In other words, don’t step into sin with the safety net of knowing that God will forgive you. That is an affront to Christ’s sacrifice!
However, if you have confessed and turned from your sin, God’s will is that you walk in freedom. Not only freedom from your sin, but freedom from the shame and condemnation of your past.
Do you believe that God has separated your sexual sin from you as far as the East is from the West? That He does not hold it against you? That you are “cleansed from all unrighteousness”?
Lie #4: I’ll only be safe if I hold onto my anger.
God hates bitterness as much as He hates sexual sin. Your spouse may have been the one to look at pornography, but you have responded by developing a critical and resentful heart over time. Paul tells us that Satan wins when our righteous anger sours into bitterness and unforgiveness. While it is sometimes very appropriate to feel angry, you also have to be careful that it doesn’t harden your heart. “'In your anger do not sin': Don’t let the sun go down on your anger” (Ephesians 4:4). Anger is like milk. It has a shelf life before it spoils into something quite rotten.
Recovering from infidelity and other forms of betrayal is a long, arduous journey. Marriage experts estimate that it takes most couples between two and five years to fully recover (many never do). Whether or not there is reconciliation in a relationship, it is essential for your own spiritual health that you release your anger. That may not (and probably should not) happen right away. But we often end up hanging onto anger because it becomes our form of protection.
You may believe that anger and bitterness are the only barriers that will keep people away from that tender wound in your heart. You become convinced that holding the grudge will keep you safe. Neither of those things are true. You can set up necessary boundaries without nurturing your anger when you trust the Lord to be the God who sees all, who cares deeply for you, and who repays according to His justice.
David was deeply wounded and betrayed by friends and even his own son. Yet, he continually chose to find protection and shelter in God. “In you, O Lord, I have taken refuge” (Psalm 31:1).
Friend, we need to recognize that lies can feel a lot more powerful (even more true!) than the truth. Your heart is a great spiritual battleground. Are you aware of the lies that keep you from experiencing the freedom that God offers you in every area of your life, including sexuality?
Authentic Intimacy exists to help you understand God’s truth about sex so that you can identify and fight against the lies that keep you stuck. If you are ready to take the next step, here are a few helpful resources:
1 Onward: Engaging the Culture without Losing the Gospel by Russell Moore
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