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What Do I Do With My Sexual Desires?
“What do I do with my sexual desire?” I’ve heard this question from men and women of every age, from those who have never married and from those who find themselves “single again.” I have also heard this question from married people who, for one reason or another, do not feel sexually satisfied within marriage. (Presione aquí para leer en español).  If you follow Christ, you aim to steward your sexuality in a way that honors God’s design. God created sex to be an expression and celebration of the covenant promise of marriage. This means that most Christians will have sexual urges and desires that they cannot act on while honoring God at the same time. As Paul wrote, there is no temptation you experience that is unique to you. Many other men and women know the ache of denying their sexual desire for the higher purpose of honoring God. But what do you do with that ache? And how do you make it through a lonely night when sexual temptation is all around you? In our day, sex means nothing and everything at the same time. On the one hand, the culture presents your sexual choices to be as non-consequential as what you choose to eat. Sexuality has been gutted of spiritual and relational significance. At the same time, sex has been linked with your identity, your maturity, and your personal fulfillment as a human being. Sex has become the “catch all basket” to bear burdens it was never created to carry. Just like that craving for chocolate or the restlessness of having to sit still for hours on end, our bodies experience genuine physically-based desires and urges. But there is a difference between a physical urge and a need. Your body does not need sex, even if those longings feel very much like a need. However, you have genuine needs that may be channeled into sexual desire. For example, why is it that a woman might experience insatiable cravings for sex when she is single, but her desire completely disappears once she’s married? Her body hasn’t changed enough to explain her drop in desire. More likely, her longing for sex wasn’t really about sex. She used sex to meet underlying, and perhaps subconscious, needs. We usually experience sex as a need (not simply a longing) only when it is linked with greater underlying needs. Resisting sexual temptation definitely involves elements of self control. However, a more effective strategy than continually “white knuckling it” is to reflect on the underlying source of your sexual desire.   You need intimate connection. Sarah had recently become a Christian. Over lunch, she honestly shared with me about her battle to stop having casual sex. “There is this guy I met at work. We barely know each other, but I am attracted to him. We started flirting and the next thing I knew, I found myself in bed with him. How do I stop wanting to have sex with random guys like this?” I asked Sarah, “Did you feel better after you had sex with him?” She honestly answered, “No.” Then I asked her to reflect on what she got out of the encounter. Was there any moment during which it was satisfying? “I just wanted to be held and touched. It felt great in the moment to connect to someone even so briefly. And then I felt disgusting and rejected afterward.” We live in a world where it’s easy to feel isolated… especially as a single person. You weren’t created to live in a small apartment all by yourself, working sixty hours a week and being entertained by a screen during your free time. You were made for intimacy. Whether or not you are married or have children, you need touch, you need to share life with people, and you need to be known. While our pace of life often sabotages intimacy, it offers sex as a cheap replacement. Sarah didn’t hook up for sex. She used sex so she could experience a fleeting moment of connection and affirmation. Clues that this might be underlying your sexual desire: Temptation is the greatest when you are feeling lonely. As you evaluate your relationships, you can describe very few of them as intimate connections. Address this need by: Pursuing authentic friendships. Connecting with a local church and getting involved. Developing an intimate relationship with the Lord.   You need comfort. When you have sex or masturbate, your body releases “feel good” chemicals like endorphins, oxytocin, and serotonin. God designed this release to reinforce the bonding between a husband and wife. Over time, a married couple learns to seek comfort and pleasure by pursuing and responding to one another. Many learn to use sex or masturbation as a form of self-medicating. Sexual temptation is less about the desire to have sex and more about escaping feelings of anxiety, restlessness, or depression. One of the leading movements combating porn is called Fight the New Drug, reminding us that sex can be misused as a drug because it can hijack the natural pleasure centers of the brain. You then become dependent upon the drug to navigate the challenges of life or even to relax or fall asleep. This is not how God intends us to use the gift of sex, whether we are single or married. Clues that this might be underlying your sexual desire: Your sexual temptation is the greatest when you experience physical or emotional discomfort. You regularly feel anxious or depressed. You use sex to reward yourself for working hard. Address this need by: Naming the underlying discomfort you are feeling rather than interpreting it as sexual desire. Cultivating healthy ways to find comfort and self care like artistic expression, talking to a friend, worship and prayer, essential oils, cleaning a closet, or taking a nature walk. Seeking help from a counselor or sexual addiction specialist.   You need to be “spent.” Research shows that workaholics often experience low sex drives. The same is true of people who engage in demanding exercise routines. One reason for this correlation is depleted testosterone by too much work and lack of rest. While depleting our testosterone because of overwork is a bad thing, this also shows that God gives us many ways to direct the energy that may be experienced as a sexual drive. Testosterone is a “green light” hormone in the body that plays a role in risk taking, competitive behaviors, energy, and concentration. While the impact of testosterone is greater in men than women, both genders experience a higher libido as testosterone increases. Although it’s a bit more complicated than this, think of testosterone as a regularly-generated fuel that burns up when you “spend” it. God gave us testosterone and other brain chemicals not only for their role in sex, but also as a natural means of prompting us to impact our world in meaningful ways. One of the greatest correlations for people battling pornography is boredom and a lack of purpose. When you wake up every day to exciting projects and challenges, you are addressing your emotional and biological need to have an impact in the world. You may also find that, by the end of the day, you are too tired to think about sex! Clues that this might be underlying your sexual desire: You experience more sexual temptation when you are bored. You feel challenged in your everyday activities (including work, hobbies, service). You regularly engage in vigorous exercise to the point of feeling a “good tired” by the end of the day. Address this need by: Pursuing challenges. (If your work isn’t challenging, pick up a new hobby or project.) Getting involved in a volunteer activity that stretches you out of your comfort zone. Making plans to exercise when you typically feel most tempted.   You need healing. Kaley grew up in a home that looked perfect on the outside, but behind closed doors, her father sexually abused her throughout her childhood. While Kaley hated sex, she also found herself in a cycle of sexually acting out followed by self-contempt and shame. She felt like her life was spiraling out of control after two abortions, a life-threatening STD, and losing her job because of sexual misconduct. Why would a woman like Kaley continue to put her life at risk and compromise her future because of sex? Wouldn’t the abuse she suffered as a child make her want to avoid sex instead of insatiably seek it? Trauma from our childhood often plays out and seeks expression in our sexual temptations. This is true not just of childhood sexual trauma, but also our early experiences of feeling out of control, abandoned, neglected, or dominated. My friend Jay Stringer wrote the excellent book Unwanted to help people understand the link between past trauma and unwanted sexual behavior. We are drawn to sexual experiences as an ineffective way to address painful patterns from the past. Clues that this might be underlying your sexual desire: You find yourself drawn into sexual situations or fantasies that also repel you (for example, BDSM). You have a love-hate relationship toward sexual outlets. You have significant trauma in your past that you haven’t worked through with a counselor or mentor. Address this need by: Acknowledging that your pain from the past doesn’t stay in the past and that God is inviting you into healing. Seeking help from a counselor who has training specifically in trauma recovery. Considering reading Jay Stringer’s book, Unwanted*   A mature Christian learns to be aware of desires rather than driven by them. As you grow in your relationship with God, you may find that He helps you address sexual temptation by meeting you in the underlying wellspring of those temptations. There are many passages in the Bible that implore Christians to avoid sexual immorality. We need to take this teaching seriously. Yet we must also pair it with the call to abide in Christ Jesus. He is the source of our strength to resist temptation. Abiding in Christ means that our lives are completely surrendered to and united with Him. God will not magically change your behavior without first transforming your heart. This internal work goes beyond filters on your iPhone and new resolutions to resist temptation. Friend, don’t let the enemy discourage you because of your continued struggle with sexual temptation. Instead, receive the invitation to pursue the life-changing journey of walking intimately with Jesus. You may also find the following resources helpful: What Defines an Intimate Relationship? (blog) "Is Masturbation a Sin?" You May Be Asking the Wrong Question (blog) Java with Juli #338: Single & Sexual Java Pack: Single & Sexual How to Choose a Wise Counselor (blog)   *This is an affiliate link. AI may earn referral fees from qualifying purchases. Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash
¿Qué hace que una relación sea íntima?
¿Qué hace que una relación sea íntima? Hace unos años, estaba hablando en un campus universitario sobre el diseño de Dios para la sexualidad. Durante un descanso, una joven se me acercó con una pregunta. “Dijiste que Dios me creó para la intimidad. ¿No es la intimidad lo mismo que tener sexo?” Esta valiente mujer expresó una confusión que creo que muchos experimentan. La intimidad y el sexo se han convertido en sinónimos. Por ejemplo, una niña de once años desarrolla su primera amistad significativa con una compañera de clase. Comparten secretos, se dan la mano y piensan el uno en el otro. Esto es intimidad. Sin embargo, en el contexto actual, es probable que esta niña pequeña se pregunte si este vínculo quiere decir que es lesbiana o bisexual. Desafortunadamente, ella no tiene otra categoría para una relación íntima más que definirla como sexual. Esta es también la razón por la cual nuestra subcultura cristiana no ofrece un espacio para que tenga lugar un profundo afecto de hermano y hermana, entre los adultos. Se presupone que cualquier relación íntima es de por sí romántica o sexual. Desafortunadamente, algunos teólogos modernos abordan la Palabra de Dios con este marco limitado de intimidad, sugiriendo que Jesús tuvo una relación sexual con María Magdalena e incluso con el apóstol Juan. También sugieren que la relación de David con Jonatán era sexual porque era muy satisfactoria e íntima. ¡Qué forma tan limitante de ver la intimidad y qué gran distorsión de la enseñanza bíblica! La intimidad sexual es una forma muy específica de intimidad, pero no es la única, y tampoco es la más significativa. A medida que aprendemos a través de la vida de Jesús y de la de muchos de sus seguidores, podemos y debemos experimentar relaciones profundamente íntimas sin que sean románticas ni sexualizadas. Sí, tengo una relación íntima con mi esposo, pero también tengo una relación íntima con mi mamá, con algunos amigos cercanos e incluso con mis hijos. Estas relaciones son profundas y enriquecedoras, pero claramente no son sexuales ni románticas. Entonces, ¿qué hace que una relación sea íntima? Si bien este es un tema bastante complicado, aquí hay tres elementos específicos de cualquier relación íntima. 1. Compromiso a largo plazo Aunque puede que sientas una conexión inmediata con un nuevo amigo, la verdadera intimidad solo puede desarrollarse a lo largo del tiempo. La intimidad implica un proceso de aprender a confiar el uno en el otro, ya que cada persona en la relación le da prioridad al otro. Esto significa que un grupo de amigos puede ser íntimo. De hecho, la Biblia nos anima a construir intimidad no con un solo creyente, sino con muchos en la familia de Dios. Mi esposo y yo tenemos un pequeño grupo que se ha estado reuniendo de forma constante durante los últimos cuatro años. Cada uno de nosotros tiene como prioridad reunirnos, enviarnos mensajes de texto y orar los unos por los otros. El nivel de intimidad en este grupo es mucho mayor ahora que hace unos años. En la amistad, el potencial de la intimidad crece a medida que priorizas la relación y el tiempo que pasan juntos. Es por eso que las relaciones familiares (hermanos, padres, hijos adultos, nietos) tienen el potencial de ser profundamente íntimas. 2. El proceso gradual de ser conocido El pasar tiempo juntos no es suficiente para forjar la intimidad. Puede que pases todos los días con tu cónyuge o con tu compañero de trabajo, pero puedes sentir que están a kilómetros de distancia el uno del otro. Un elemento clave de cualquier relación íntima es el profundo conocimiento mutuo. Desde niños aprendimos que hay ciertos aspectos de nosotros mismos que no le mostramos a otras personas. Rápidamente nos volvemos hábiles para decir lo que creemos que la gente quiere escuchar y aprendemos a interpretar un rol específico para encubrir feas verdades sobre nosotros mismos. No puedes tener intimidad si llevas una armadura emocional. Intimidad y autenticidad no son lo mismo. A medida que maduras, aprendes a ser auténtico con todos. No pretendas ser alguien que no eres. Pero en tus relaciones íntimas, te sientes lo suficientemente seguro como para que la gente sepa más de ti. Este es un proceso gradual de construcción de confianza. Estoy bastante segura de que has experimentado el dolor que causa el compartir íntimamente con alguien que se aprovechó de tu vulnerabilidad. Jesús era consciente de este peligro, por eso la Biblia dice: “pero Jesús no confiaba en ellos porque conocía todo acerca de las personas.” (Juan 2:24 NTV). Jesús consistentemente demostró cómo establecer límites con las personas, confiando solo en unos pocos en su círculo íntimo. Recuerda que Jesús solo llevó a tres amigos con Él, para que estuvieran cerca, mientras luchaba la noche antes de ser crucificado.  3. Un sentimiento de afecto y apego Aunque nuestros sentimientos pueden engañarnos, también son un componente importante de la intimidad. Siento un profundo afecto por las personas con las que estoy más cerca. El proceso de compartir y ser amado fomenta el afecto y la conexión. Jesús mostró un profundo afecto cuando lloró por sus amigos María, Marta y Lázaro. Se preocupó profundamente por sus  discípulos, diciéndoles, sin avergonzarse, cuánto los amaba. El apóstol Pablo puede parecer un teólogo estoico en algunas de sus enseñanzas, pero fíjate en sus cartas, con qué frecuencia expresó apego y afecto por sus amigos, compañeros de trabajo y aquellos a quienes discipulaba. Estos son solo algunos ejemplos: " Dios sabe que no miento cuando digo que los extraño y los quiero con el tierno amor que Jesucristo me da." (Filipenses 1:8 TLA) "Por eso les envié a Timoteo, a quien amo como a un hijo…" (1 Corintios 4:17 TLA) "Sin embargo, hermanos míos, aunque nosotros nos separamos de ustedes por un tiempo, siempre los recordábamos con cariño y deseábamos mucho ir a verlos." (1 Tesalonicenses 2:17 TLA) Puede que te preguntes, ¿dónde encaja el sexo en esta imagen? ¿El sexo cumple algún papel en la intimidad? ¿Y cómo sabes cuándo los sentimientos de cercanía están destinados a ser sexualizados? Te advierto que puede que no te guste mi respuesta. Es completamente contraria a lo que probablemente te haya enseñado la cultura e incluso algunos círculos eclesiásticos. ¿Estás listo? Aquí va… La intimidad sexual no es un sentimiento o experiencia que sigues, sino un viaje que eliges. Elijo buscar la intimidad sexual con mi esposo porque tengo un pacto matrimonial con él. Elijo no alimentar los deseos y pensamientos sexuales con nadie más. Comparto muchos aspectos de mí misma con amigos íntimos y familiares, pero solo comparto mi “yo sexual” con mi esposo. A medida que él y yo compartimos este aspecto sagrado de nosotros mismos, agregamos intimidad sexual a las muchas otras facetas de nuestra relación.  Los sentimientos de excitación y deseo sexual pueden aparecer y desaparecer a lo largo de la vida, pero eso no define la intimidad. Administramos nuestras experiencias sexuales en función de nuestras elecciones, no al revés. Amigo o amiga, tú y yo fuimos creados para la intimidad. No fuimos creados principalmente para el matrimonio o el sexo. Esas son expresiones únicas de intimidad que elegimos; no es algo con lo que simplemente nos topamos. Cuando confundimos la intimidad con la sexualidad, fallaremos en invertir en las relaciones centrales que están destinadas a sostenernos a través de los desafíos de la vida. La iglesia no debe ser solo el lugar donde escuchamos un sermón, sino donde encontramos a “nuestra gente”. Los amigos no están destinados a ser personas transitorias que ves ocasionalmente, sino aquellos que están creciendo para conocerte más íntimamente a través de un viaje y un caminar compartido. Nuestro mundo se está convirtiendo en un lugar desesperadamente solitario, en gran parte porque hemos igualado la expresión sexual a la intimidad, y haciendo de la expresión sexual un sustituto para la intimidad. Nuestra verdadera necesidad es experimentar relaciones comprometidas en las que confiemos el uno en el otro lo suficiente como para ser verdaderamente conocidos y aceptados por lo que somos. ¿Qué pasos necesitas tomar hoy para caminar hacia la intimidad con tus amigos, con la familia de tu iglesia e incluso con tu cónyuge?  
¿Por qué es tan difícil sanar?
Tina y yo nos reunimos para vivir un proceso de consejería hace varios años con el propósito de trabajar en algunas experiencias traumáticas de su pasado. Un año después de terminar nuestro trabajo juntas, Tina regreso para un “chequeo”. Compartió conmigo que en ese año se había sometido a cirugía, radiación y quimioterapia por cáncer de mama. Lo que dijo a continuación me sorprendió. La consejería fue más dolorosa que lo que viví físicamente durante el último año. Estoy tan contenta de haber pasado por este proceso de sanidad, ¡pero nunca pensé que sería tan difícil! Muchas personas dicen “no” al proceso de sanidad porque no quieren pasar por el dolor de descubrir sentimientos, miedos y recuerdos enterrados. Eligen cojear por la vida en lugar de seguir el arduo camino que nos lleva a ser libres del pasado. ¿Por qué tiene que ser tan difícil sanar? ¿No es suficiente ya haber sufrido el trauma? No hay duda de que Dios es capaz de quitar el miedo, el dolor y la tristeza de forma milagrosa. Sin embargo, la mayoría de las veces Él nos pide que caminemos a través del dolor y la tristeza para llegar al otro lado de la sanidad.  Habiendo caminado con muchas personas a través de su proceso de sanidad del abuso, la traición, la pérdida y la decepción, a menudo he querido pedirle a Dios que acelere las cosas, pero Dios nunca ha sido alguien que prefiera tomar atajos. Su sanidad es certera y milagrosa, pero a menudo requiere nuestra paciencia a través de tiempos de duda. Cuando Dios sana nuestro quebrantamiento, sus caminos no son como los nuestros. He estado leyendo el relato de cómo Dios liberó a su pueblo de la tierra de Egipto, y creo que hay muchos paralelos para nosotros en nuestro camino haciala liberación y sanidad. Aunque Dios escucha y ve el sufrimiento, su liberación no suele ser inmediata. Cuando leemos las historias del Antiguo Testamento, a veces no las ponemos en orden secuencial y perdemos el panorama general. Los israelitas no empezaron como esclavos en Egipto. De hecho, inicialmente, Egipto fue un lugar de provisión. Recuerda, José fue vendido como esclavo allí. Interpretó el sueño de Faraón sobre una futura hambruna y rescató a su familia de la inanición. Es alrededor de 400 años después que tiene lugar la historia de Moisés y la opresión de los israelitas. El pueblo de Dios había estado sufriendo durante muchos años antes de que Dios compartiera con Moisés sus planes de liberación.  En nuestra comprensión humana, nos preguntamos: “Dios, ¿por qué no viniste antes?” Tal vez te preguntes eso acerca de tu propia situación. ¿Por qué la sanidad tiene que llegar ahora en lugar de que Dios te proteja del daño desde el comienzo? Cecil Murphy, un hombre piadoso que experimentó abuso sexual en su niñez, le hizo a Dios esta misma pregunta. Cecil concluyó: “Sirvo a un Dios de presencia, no a un Dios de protección”. Si bien Dios no protegió a los israelitas del trato cruel y la opresión, Él estaba con ellos. Dios le dijo a Moisés: “Ciertamente he visto la opresión que sufre mi pueblo en Egipto. He oído sus gritos de angustia a causa de la crueldad de sus capataces. Estoy al tanto de sus sufrimientos. Por eso he descendido para rescatarlos del poder de los egipcios, sacarlos de Egipto y llevarlos a una tierra fértil y espaciosa. Es una tierra donde fluyen la leche y la miel…” (Éxodo 3:7-8 NTV) A lo largo de las Biblia, vemos a Dios animando a hombres y mujeres como Moisés, Josué, José, Daniel, María y Pablo basándose en que “yo estoy con ustedes”. Esto no es un consuelo trillado cuando verdaderamente consideramos que el Dios del universo ve, escucha y se preocupa por nuestro dolor. Dios tiene un propósito al retrasar la liberación. Cuando Moisés le anunció por primera vez a los israelitas que Dios tenía la intención de rescatarlos, se llenaron de alegría y adoración. “Entonces el pueblo de Israel quedó convencido de que el Señor había enviado a Moisés y a Aarón. Cuando supieron que el Señor se preocupaba por ellos y que había visto su sufrimiento, se inclinaron y adoraron.”( Éxodo 4:31 NTV) Mientras buscas al Señor para que te sane, habrá momentos en los que verás su gracia y te regocijarás. Y luego habrá otras temporadas en las que el camino hacia la sanidad parecerá mucho más largo y doloroso de lo que pensabas. Esto es lo que les sucedió a los israelitas. Cuando Moisés comenzó a pedirle a Faraón que dejara ir al pueblo, las cosas empeoraron antes de mejorar. Faraón estaba furioso e hizo que la carga de la opresión fuera aun mayor al decirles a los israelitas que hicieran ladrillos sin proporcionarles paja. Estos mismos israelitas, que creían y adoraban, pronto se quejaron cuando la liberación inmediata no llegó. Los israelitas les dijeron a Moisés y Aaron, “¡Que el Señor los juzgue y los castigue por habernos hecho repugnantes a los ojos del faraón y sus funcionarios! ¡Ustedes mismos les pusieron una espada en la mano, les dieron una excusa para que nos maten!” (Éxodo 5:21 NTV) Moisés no pudo discutir con ellos. Se volvió al Señor con la siguiente queja: “Señor, ¿por qué trajiste toda esta desgracia a tu propio pueblo? ¿Por qué me enviaste? Desde que me presenté ante el faraón como tu vocero, él se ha vuelto aún más brutal contra tu pueblo, ¡y tú no has hecho nada para rescatarlos!” (Éxodo 5:22 NTV) Querido amigo o amiga, puede que te sientas exactamente así a lo largo del camino de sanidad. Tal vez clames a Dios: “¡Esto no es sanidad ni en lo más mínimo! ¿Por qué me diste falsas esperanzas?” El Señor te respondería de la misma manera que le respondió a Moisés. Le recordó que cumpliría sus promesas y las cumpliría con su mano poderosa. No fue de la forma que se imaginaban y tampoco fue en el tiempo que esperaban. Sin embargo, Dios le pidió al pueblo de Israel que confiaran y estuvieran seguros de su liberación: “Te libertaré de la opresión que sufres y te rescataré de tu esclavitud en Egipto. Te redimiré con mi brazo poderoso y con grandes actos de juicio. Te tomaré como pueblo mío y seré tu Dios. Entonces sabrás que yo soy el Señor tu Dios, quien te ha librado de la opresión de Egipto.” (Éxodo 6:6 NTV) Dios tenía trabajo que hacer. su propósito no era simplemente liberar a los israelitas, sino darse a conocer como el Señor Dios. Él endureció el corazón de Faraón para que su gran poder se mostrara ante el mundo. A lo largo de su liberación, los israelitas no solo tuvieron que esperar en Dios, sino que también experimentaron plagas espantosas. Algunas de las plagas, incluyendo ranas, moscas y jejenes, los afectaron tanto a ellos como a los egipcios. También fueron testigos de los horribles gritos en medio de la oscuridad y la muerte a su alrededor. A pesar de lo milagrosa que fue la división del Mar Rojo, ¿puedes imaginarte el miedo de caminar a través de él con una pared de agua a cada lado? Todo esto tuvo que ser muy traumático. En el camino hacia la sanidad, muchos de nosotros también experimentamos grandes dificultades en medio de la liberación de Dios. Aunque no hay faraón, hay un enemigo que no quiere que seas libre para adorar a Dios. De diferentes formas, se está librando una batalla celestial por la redención del pueblo de Dios. Sabemos quién sale victorioso, pero, a pesar de esto, la guerra es traumática. A menudo, la familiaridad de la esclavitud es más atractiva que el miedo y el dolor de la liberación. A lo largo del proceso de liberación de Israel, los que se encontraban en medio del drama desearon que Moisés nunca hubiera venido a ayudarlos. Aunque eran esclavos en Egipto, era una esclavitud cómoda y predecible. "¡Si tan solo el Señor nos hubiera matado en Egipto! Allá nos sentábamos junto a las ollas llenas de carne y comíamos todo el pan que se nos antojaba; pero ahora tú nos has traído a este desierto para matarnos de hambre.” (Éxodo 16:3 NTV) Si estás en medio de tu proceso de sanidad, es posible que sinceramente desees no haberlo comenzado nunca. Te sientes atascado; no puedes volver a donde estabas, pero seguir adelante parece demasiado doloroso. Pero así como Dios fue fiel para liberar a su pueblo de la esclavitud, ¡Él será fiel en tu proceso! He conocido a muchos hombres y mujeres que se han sentido atrapados en el proceso de sanidad y que han querido volver a una esclavitud predecible. Desearían nunca haberse encontrado con la pornografía o desearían que los recuerdos del abuso hubieran permanecido enterrados. Puede que Dios haya prometido un lugar de sanidad y descanso, ¡pero parece estar tan lejos! El proceso de sanidad requiere fe. Dios terminará la buena obra de sanidad que comenzó en ti. A fin de cuentas, nuestra liberación se trata de Dios, no de nosotros. Como seres humanos, lo más natural es asumir que somos el centro de la historia. Tu tragedia se trata de ti, y Dios es simplemente un personaje secundario en tu drama. Si bien esta es una suposición normal, también es falsa. Dios se preocupa profundamente por cada uno de nosotros, pero Él es el centro de la historia. En última instancia, tu proceso no se trata de ti... se trata de Él. Hubo más de un millón de personas (muchos israelitas y otros que se unieron a ellos) que salieron de Egipto. Sólo conocemos algunos de sus nombres. Cada uno de ellos participó en uno de los mayores eventos de la historia de la humanidad, pero sus recuerdos han sido olvidados. El único y el más importante a quien debemos recordar es a Yahweh, el Dios Todopoderoso. A final de cuentas, todo lo que sucedió se trata de su gran amor, su poder y la soberanía de su voluntad. A pesar de que tu proceso de sanidad es muy personal, tu mayor propósito es dar testimonio del Sanador y Redentor. Dentro de cincuenta años, los recuerdos de nuestras vidas se habrán ido, pero el testimonio de la fidelidad de Dios pasará de generación en generación.   Preguntas para la reflexión personal: 1.      Lee el Salmo 139. ¿Qué significa para ti el hecho de que Dios esté contigo a lo largo de tu proceso de sanidad? 2.      ¿Cómo has sido tentado a “regresar a Egipto” en medio del dolor en lugar de continuar en el camino de la sanidad y la liberación? Cuando te sientes así, ¿qué puede ayudarte a perseverar? 3.      ¿Cómo está siendo Dios glorificado a través de tu historia? ¿Cómo se está dando a conocer a través de tu vida?  
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What Defines an Intimate Relationship?
A few years ago, I was speaking at a college campus about God’s design for sexuality. During a break, a young woman approached me with a question, “You said that God created me for intimacy. Isn’t intimacy the same thing as having sex?” (Presione aquí para leer en español) This brave woman articulated a confusion that I believe many experience. Intimacy and sex have become synonymous. For example, an eleven-year-old girl develops her first significant friendship with a classmate. They share secrets, hold hands, and think about one another. This is intimacy. Yet, in today’s climate, this young child is likely to wonder if the attachment means that she is a lesbian or bisexual. Unfortunately, she has no category for an intimate relationship other than to define it as sexual. This is also why our Christian subculture has no room for a deep brother-sister affection among adults. Any intimate relationship is assumed to be romantic or sexual.  Unfortunately, some modern theologians approach God’s Word with this limited framework of intimacy, suggesting that Jesus had a sexual relationship with Mary Magdalene and even with the apostle John. They also suggest that David’s relationship with Jonathan was sexual because it was so fulfilling and intimate. What a limiting view of intimacy and a gross distortion of biblical teaching! Sexual intimacy is one very specific form of intimacy, yet it is not the only or even the most significant form of intimacy. As we learn through the lives of Jesus and many of His followers, you can and should experience deeply intimate relationships that are not romanticized or sexualized. Yes, I have an intimate relationship with my husband, but I also have intimate relationships with my mother, some close friends, and even my sons. These relationships are deep and rich, yet are clearly not sexual nor romantic.  So, what defines an intimate relationship? While this is quite a complicated topic, here are three specific elements of any intimate relationship.  1. Commitment to one another over time While you may feel an immediate connection with a new friend, true intimacy can only develop over time. Intimacy involves a process of learning to trust each other as each person in the relationship prioritizes one another. This means that a group of friends can be intimate. In fact, the Bible encourages us to build intimacy not just with one other believer, but with many in the family of God. My husband and I have a small group that has been meeting together regularly for the past four years. We each make it a priority to get together, text each other, and pray for one another. We are far more intimate with this group now than we were a few years ago. In friendship, the potential of intimacy grows as you prioritize your relationship and time you spend with each other. This is why family relationships (siblings, parents, adult children, grandchildren) have the potential to be deeply intimate. 2. A progressive journey of being known Time together is not enough to forge intimacy. You may spend every day with your spouse or co-worker but feel miles apart from each other. A key element of any intimate relationship is deep knowing of one another. It sounds cliche, but some define intimacy as “into me see.” From the time we were children, we learned that there are certain aspects of ourselves that we don’t show other people. We quickly become skilled at saying what we think people want to hear and playing a part to cover up ugly truths about ourselves. You can’t be intimate if you wear emotional armor. Intimacy and authenticity are not the same thing. As you mature, you learn to be authentic with everyone. You don’t pretend to be someone you are not. But in your intimate relationships, you feel safe enough to let people know more of you. This is a progressive journey of building trust. I’m quite sure you have experienced the pain of sharing intimately with someone who took advantage of your vulnerability. Jesus was aware of this danger, which is why the Bible says, “He did not entrust Himself to the crowd because He knew what was in their hearts” (John 2:24). Jesus consistently demonstrated boundaries with people, trusting only a few in His inner circle. Notice that He only took three friends with Him to be near Him as He wrestled the night before He was crucified.  3. A feeling of affection and attachment While our feelings can deceive us, they are also an important component of intimacy. I feel a deep affection for people with whom I am closest. The journey of sharing and being loved forms affection and connection. Jesus showed deep affection when He wept for his friends Mary, Martha, and Lazurus. He cared deeply for His disciples, telling them unabashedly how much He loved them. The apostle Paul might seem like a stoic theologian in some of his teaching, but notice in his letters how often he expressed attachment and affection for his friends, co-workers, and those he discipled. Here just are a few examples: "[God] knows how much I love and miss you these days. Sometimes I think I feel as strongly about you as Christ does!" (Philippians 1:7-8 MSG) "I have sent you Timothy, my son whom I love…" (I Corinthians 4:17) "Do you have any idea how very homesick we became for you, dear friends? Even though it hadn’t been that long and it was only our bodies that were separated from you, not our hearts, we tried our very best to get back to see you. You can’t imagine how much we missed you!" (I Thessalonians 2:17-18 MSG) You might ask, where does sex fit into this picture? Does sex have any role in intimacy? And how do you know when feelings of closeness are meant to be sexualized? I’m going to warn you that you may not like my answer. It’s completely contrary to what you’ve likely been taught by the culture and even in some church circles. Are you ready? Here it is… Sexual intimacy isn’t a feeling or experience you follow but a journey you choose. I choose to pursue sexual intimacy with my husband because I have a marriage covenant with him. I choose not to nurture sexual desires and thoughts with anyone else. I share many aspects of myself with intimate friends and family members, but I only share the sexual me with my husband. As he and I share this sacred aspect of ourselves with each other, we add sexual intimacy to the many other facets of our relationship.  Feelings of sexual arousal and desire can come and go throughout your lifetime, but those don’t define intimacy. We steward our sexual experiences based on our choices, not the other way around. Friend, you and I were created for intimacy. We were not primarily created for marriage or for sex. Those are unique expressions of intimacy which we choose; we do not just fall into them.  When we mistake intimacy for sexuality, we will fail to invest in the core relationships that are meant to sustain us through life’s challenges. Church should not just be the place you hear a sermon, but where you find “your people.” Friends are not meant to be transient people you occasionally see, but those who are growing to know you more intimately through a shared journey.  Our world is becoming a desperately lonely place, in large part because we have co-opted sexual expression to be a substitution for intimacy. Our true need is to experience committed relationships in which we trust each other enough to truly be known and accepted for who we are. What steps do you need to take today to walk towards intimacy with friends, your church family, and even with your spouse?    Learn more about building intimacy in your relationships with these blogs by Juli: Are You a Good Friend? 7 Keys to Building Healthy Friendship  7 Ways We Unknowingly Sabotage Intimacy in Our Marriages 
What If I Want Sex More Than My Husband Does?
I get asked this a lot. A woman often sheepishly approaches me at an event and says, “I’m one of those women you talked about who has a higher sex drive than my husband. What should I do?”  Because women in this situation defy the stereotype, they sometimes feel shame and inadequacy. I must not be pretty or sexy enough. Is there something wrong with me? For many women, the "men always want sex" stereotype has been fed to them for so many years that they assume their husband will always be initiating and constantly in the mood. When he isn't, they sit silently and make a list of all the things that must be wrong with them. STOP! Practically every couple has difficulties to overcome in their sexual relationship. Each husband and wife has their own unique set of strengths, weaknesses, and areas of incompatibility. If this is something you’re struggling with, please don’t add to it by assuming there must be something wrong with you. Despite what you might have picked up in Christian circles, there is nothing in the Bible that says that a husband should or does have a higher sex drive than his wife. In fact, the Bible assumes that both the husband and wife have sexual needs. I Corinthians 7 records Paul’s teaching that many use to promote a “wifely duty.” Here is the passage: The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband.  The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer (I Corinthians 7:3-5a). Did you notice that a “husbandly duty” is mentioned even before the “wifely duty?” Interesting, huh? Even in Paul’s day there were probably women who were frustrated by the lack of sex in their marriage. Start with a conversation. Have you and your husband talked about this issue? Because these are such sensitive topics, many couples only address sexual differences when they are fighting. Instead of talking, they settle into patterns that lead to rejection and frustration. You initiate or hint toward intimacy and he turns you down. You get angry and lash out or avoid him. This kind of pattern becomes ingrained until even the mention of sex becomes a powder keg. Both husband and wife feel misunderstood and marginalized. You will never solve the problem until you learn to talk about it with the goal of understanding each other and getting on the same team. One of the first things to do is start a conversation with your spouse and not assume the worst. One wife put it like this: I would count how many nights in a row we weren't having sex and feel worse and worse about myself and our marriage. As friends were saying things like, "I can't get my husband off of me! I can't even change in front of him because he always wants it," guilt and insecurities filled my mind. After months of frustration, I sat down with my husband and explained that I felt like we weren't having enough sex. He responded with, "I never would have thought that. Why don't you ever tell me you want it or initiate?" I realized that I had carried the expectation that men will always pursue, and I hadn't shared my desire and drive with my husband. My sex drive is still higher than his, but instead of filling myself with guilt, I have now learned to talk with my spouse and show him my needs.  Initiating isn't just a man's job! This has not only helped my internal struggle, but our marriage as well.  Problems or conflicts become much more manageable when you can talk them through without blaming or hurting one another. Spend time asking God to show you the right time, to give you a sensitive heart, and the right words to express yourself. What if my husband never wants sex? We need to distinguish between a wife who has a higher sex drive and a marriage in which the husband never wants sex. One situation represents a normal difference in desire while the other likely indicates a deeper underlying problem. If you tend to be the one to initiate sex, but your husband is eager and responsive, I wouldn’t worry about it. While men typically think about sex more often than their wives, this is not always the case. There are some men who are more comfortable expressing love verbally or by enjoying activities with their wives. Other men avoid initiating sexually because they are afraid of rejection but are eager to engage when their wife initiates. While men and women have various sexual appetites, it’s not normal for a man never to want sex with his wife. If your husband is simply not interested in sex, it’s important for both of you to understand and address what is getting in the way of his desire for and enjoyment of sex. Sometimes, the problem is a physical roadblock, like thyroid disease, low testosterone levels, medications that interfere with sex drive or performance, obesity, or exhaustion. Stress, grief, and depression can also lower sex drive. One question I’d encourage you to ask yourself: do you think your husband feels dominated or overpowered by you? In some marriages in which a husband isn’t sexually aggressive, he is also passive in other areas of the relationship. When a wife is bossy or critical, sometimes this impacts a man’s confidence and results in sexual passivity. If this describes your marriage, I’d encourage you to pick up a book I wrote called "Finding the Hero in Your Husband." It will show you how to use your power as a wife to build up your husband in every area, including sexually. Your husband could also be dealing with an emotional trauma like childhood sexual abuse. As difficult as it is for a woman to talk about molestation, it is infinitely more uncomfortable for men. Dr. Dan Allender’s "The Wounded Heart" and Cecil Murphey’s "When a Man You Love Was Abused" are wonderful resources, in addition to counseling, in helping you and your husband work through painful past issues. Sadly, some men have other sexual outlets that keep them from desiring sex with their wives. An extramarital affair, habitual masturbation, a sexual fetish he is too ashamed to admit, or porn use could all come between the two of you. A lot of men were introduced to porn as boys and engaged with it throughout their teen and young adult life. The images from the past are seared into the brain and impact a man’s sexual response in his marriage even years later.  His brain is trained only to respond to more and more graphic sexual stimuli, so he is unable to enjoy normal sex with his wife. As you might imagine, it is very difficult for a husband to admit to his wife that he is engaged with porn or some other form of immorality. Instead, he makes excuses and often continues secretly with porn, masturbation, or another sexual outlet that will keep up with the demand. The encouraging news is that we can rewire our brains to learn a healthy sexual response. As porn impacts more and more marriages, God is raising up men and women to minister in this area of redeeming male and female sexuality. You may find help through BeBroken and Pure Desire Ministries, or Focus on the Family's network of Christian counselors is a great resource to help you find a counselor in your area. What about my needs? The truth is that while marriage is intended to fulfill our sexual needs and desires, millions of married men and women are sexually unsatisfied. Many who bail on marriage do so because of their sexual disappointment and frustration. I encourage couples to do everything they can to meet each other’s sexual needs. If sexual intercourse isn’t possible, find other ways to enjoy sexual intimacy together. Teenagers seem to be able to figure out how to be sexually intimate without having sex--why can’t we? Don’t allow this issue to be swept under the carpet. Even the Bible says that sex is an important part of marriage that should not be neglected. If your needs are vastly different than your husband’s needs, work together to find the right balance or compromise for mutual sexual fulfillment. You may have a spouse who is unwilling or unable to sexually satisfy you. While sex is an important part of marriage, remember that it is not the most important part. Marriages ultimately don’t die because people stop having sex; they die when people stop keeping their promises. God cares deeply about the covenant you and your husband made with each other. He also understands the limitations and longings of these bodies of ours. Because sex seems like such an earthy part of life, we often don’t bring our sexual concerns and frustrations to God. I would encourage you, friend, to pour out your heart to the Lord. Ask Him to bless your sex life but also ask Him to use the difficulties and frustrations to help you become more like Him.   Excerpted from 25 Questions You’re Afraid to Ask About Love, Sex, and Intimacy by Dr. Juli Slattery. © 2015 by Moody Publishers. Used with Permission. (Presione aquí para leer en español)    *AI may earn fees on affiliate links.