Question:

Hello!

Thank you for considering a biblical answer to my question! I am a 37 year old believer in Christ since childhood, mother and wife to my believing husband for over ten years. I have a spiritual conflict that has bothered me from just before my marriage. It has become like an obsessive compulsive fear or disorder that my husband and I have tried to help me with. I know God has tried to help me with for so long, but it is still a huge struggle. It affects my relationship with my husband, children, self and God very much, and I know I need total freedom from this! Since first getting involved in petting (sexual sin) with my then fiance who is now my husband, I started getting really ashamed of my body and sexual response. Before that, although I passionately followed the Lord in many areas of my life, I was trapped in lustful fantasies and masturbation. I would put anyone that I chose into my mind and have sexual relations with them. This sin was opening the door for very open spiritual oppression in my life. I felt very oppressive fear, had major panic attacks, etc. Praise God that none of that has happened, and I am fully committed to the Lord, no longer openly committing adultery in my mind or body. By body I mean that I accompanied the mental adultery with masturbation, and I turned away from this sin never to return again.

At that time before my marriage, my parents were threatening divorce because they both had been involved in adultery. That part of my world was crashing. Also, I and my fiance went farther than we ever had sexually and knew it was wrong and that God was really displeased. It caused my fiance and I to have shame and guilt in our relationship. It caused some major panic attacks for me, and I was also in college full time and working part time, trying to hold down my life there, too! So I started getting very hypersensitive to my body during my college days and life. I almost constantly overanalyzed my body, and when I would feel strong emotions (joy, pain, pleasure, laughter, fear, etc) I noticed that experiencing strong emotions in my body felt like the beginnings of sexual arousal. Before this time, I had never feared or over-analyzed that or my body! Now, however, I was sure I was starting a sexual response toward whomever I was around whenever I would have a strong emotional reaction around them, like being happy to see them, laughing around them, etc. With strong emotion, I feel some increased blood-flow in my sexual organs, and it is like what I have studied online to be called "emotional arousal," which is very similar in very many ways to sexual arousal. I started having the irrational fear I was a lesbian because I'd feel this around women. However, I also felt it around anyone, I was just hyper sensitive to it around women and children. I started remembering and facing that a young childhood friend, who was molested from the age of 2 by an uncle, used to touch or snuggle me inappropriately during my preteen years. I didn't stop it enough, so I worried this made me a lesbian. Then, at the same time I was facing my sexual abuse at during early childhood by a babysitter, so then I worried that because I was sexually abused as a young child, that I would then sexually abuse young children. This last fear has been a constant companion to me many years.

I now have worked myself into so much fear over my body and its response to strong, bonding emotions like love, affection, care, concern, laughter, etc. I even experience it when I see a cut on someone I love, like an adrenaline and a hormone surge of compassion that strikes me immediately in my genitals. I feel like I must be spiritualizing or majorly overanalyzing my body and fearing that I am somehow sinning all the time. "What if, every time I feel any surge of blood in my genitals, I am getting the beginnings of being turned on to whomever I am around?" And, of course, the most awful thought of all is when it is around my children!

I am only writing to you about my greatest struggle, not all of the wonderful and amazing things God has done in and through me and through our marriage, but this question is to get spiritual clarity and guidance.

I read your quote today:

"Sin is hard enough to deal with, without calling something sinful that God hasn't. "Do not be overly righteous, nor be overly wise: Why should you destroy yourself?" (Ecclesiastes 7:16). If we set up standards beyond what God has defined, we set ourselves up for a fall because typically they involve things which we cannot prevent from happening. The result is people beating themselves up over things which are a normal part of life."

This quote seems to be exactly what I am doing. I am totally looking for and fearing my body to sin and I have allowed myself to irrationally (I hope it is irrational) fear that feeling any hormonal surge around our kids, or others, has to automaticallly be a sexual response, rather than just being a strong emotion that is full of Jesus' life and love and just living for Him and enjoying our lives. I am stuck in my head and obsessing, checking and re-checking my body for some sort of feared sexual response. I just want to have spiritual freedom and the full freedom to love and be loved, especially with our children. They are the ones that my obsessional and irrational fear is mostly now related to because that is the worst thing I could imagine doing to them or to my relationship with God. I think this deeper fear of "what if I do something that is so irreparable to our lives and my dearest relationships and then lose my salvation and lose my family and lose the love of everyone I hold dear?" is driving this. Also, I believe it is related to spiritual oppression from the lusting, mental adultery, and masturbation with lust that I was committing in my young days.

I asked some doctors on a web site if they thought that it is normal to feel what seems like the beginnings of sexual arousal when you feel strong emotions, and they said, "Yes, it is very common and normal. Nothing to be afraid of, either!" One psychologist suggested on a web site that I may have persistent genital arousal disorder, but I do not think that is what it is. It is just that my whole body is connected, and emotional pleasure enacts my pleasure centers and that is it! I have been so confused over whether I am sinning or not, and I just want biblical support that I am not and freedom from this fear! I am trying to serve God so meticulously that I must be over thinking this whole thing. I try with all my might to trust that the way God made our bodies is absolutely perfect and that my body is not constantly sinning. I think I need to trust Him a lot more, and trust His wisdom, and truly believe that He wouldn't allow my body to do this involuntary thing that would be forcing me to sin every time I feel a strong emotion around someone! Please let me know what you think, and again, thank you for your time and insight!


Answer:

The problem isn't that your body is making you sin. It is the interpretation you are placing on your body's natural response. Your husband understands this far better than you realize. Every male from shortly after puberty deals with physical responses called spontaneous erections. Actually both genders get these responses but since a woman's response is not as noticeable, it is often dismissed as an odd feeling.

Boys quickly learn that anything, everything, and nothing in particular bring on these responses because it has to do with both the heart rate and a muscle in the pelvic region that clamps down on a vein preventing blood flow from the genitals to return to the heart. The combination causes the genitals to swell -- in men it is called an erection. Nervousness, excitement, or sexual thought can trigger this physical response, and so can strong emotional feelings.

In your life you discovered that sexual stimulation triggers this response, but you mistakenly concluded that all similar responses mean it is sexual stimulation. This is the same false conclusion that leads some to have fetishes or conclude they are attracted to the same sex. The physical response is triggered by many things and sexual stimulation is only one of them.

Another false conclusion is that just because you are having a physical or emotional response to something, that it means you must act on it. "He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, But whoever walks wisely will be delivered" (Proverbs 28:26). When you put your emotions in the driver seat, you'll have nothing but trouble because your emotions can be manipulated. Any movie can prove that point. It doesn't matter what you feel before you watch, the director will have laughing, crying, or swooning before the end. In the same way, your body's physical responses can also be externally manipulated. But you decide what you are going to do regardless of these responses, this is what God means by self-control (Galatians 5:23; II Peter 1:5-6; II Timothy 3:3). Emotional and physical responses come as a result of the decisions you make, but they should not be basis for making those decisions.

All decisions are grounded in the solid standard of right and wrong. "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome" (I John 5:3). Where we might have a choice between two things that are right, we might use other factors, such as logic or gut-feelings to sway our choice, but first came the knowledge that both choices were correct. Sin, in the same way, is doing something that is against God's law. Emotions do not make something sinful. It is the law that defines sin. "For apart from the law sin was dead" (Romans 7:8). That is why men are responsible for their sins. They understand to some extent what they are supposed to do or not do, yet they do not follow the law by their own choice. "The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself" (Ezekiel 18:20).

So relax. You are not a lesbian, nor do you choose to be a lesbian. You are not a child molester, nor do you choose to be a child molester -- in thought or in action. You know such things are wrong and you reject them, and that is all that matters.

My husband and I want to thank you deeply from our hearts for your answer! God used your help to help free me (and thus us) from many years of a ball and chain of worry and fear that was hanging on me and that hindered my walk with God and our family relationships. The truth will set you free! I praise God for it, and am very grateful that you let Him use you to encourage countless people. God bless you in all that you do! Thank you so much! Your ministry is making an impact on people for Christ, and He will honor you always for that.