Listen: Dr Allan Meyer shares with Sheridan Voysey keys to healing from sexual brokenness.
Part 7 of 7 in ‘The Search For Intimacy’ Series
Human sexuality is such a powerful force that if we misuse it, it can leave deep emotional scars.
It’s no wonder, then, that so many people seek therapy over sexual brokenness. In concluding his seven-part sexuality series, The Search For Intimacy, Dr Allan Meyer spoke with Hope Media’s Sheridan Voysey about how to heal from past mistakes.
He believes “the miracle of God’s grace” can undo the damage of misused sex, and recommends a series of steps that can help you move into a new chapter of emotional wholeness.
Note: The following steps are best taken with the support of a pastor / minister, or trained counsellor / psychologist.
Step 1 – Replacing Shame With Dignity
Sexual intimacy impacts the human soul in such a way that many people carry a deep sense of shame: not only about their mistakes, but also about sexual abuses they didn’t choose.
Dr Meyer said this is because sex is far more than just a physical act.
“Those who work in this area realise that restoring people who have been damaged through misused sexuality is one of the most challenging journeys in life,” he said.
“I think it’s because of the depth of the impact of sex. Sex is just not physical; it’s not just emotional. I think it’s spiritual as well, and was designed by God to change us at the core of our being.
“Sexuality impacts us at the deepest part of our being in a way that nothing else does.”
- The Search For Intimacy Part 1 – The Origins And Power Of Sex
- The Search For Intimacy Part 2 – Six Key Principles Of Human Sexuality
- The Search For Intimacy Part 3 – Virginity, Dating And Courtship: A Love Story
He said that people who’ve been misused, hurt, or made poor choices sexually, often feel exposed and try to “cover themselves” — in the same way that Adam and Eve in the Bible tried to cover their nakedness after eating the forbidden fruit.
“There is a tendency, especially in sexual damage, to try to clothe the soul in some sort of covering so that nakedness or vulnerability is lessened,” he said. “I have watched people do that with shame and contempt. It’s like we wrap shame and contempt around our innermost being and it becomes a defining factor. “
Dr Meyer believes God’s intent is to free people from shame and guilt.
“The first thing I want to say to people is, invite Jesus to come to you and cut the cords that have bound shame around your behaviour, or what has been done to you,” he said.
“Allow that to fall to the ground so that He can reclothe you in dignity, and a sense of the beauty of your life. That may sound kind of ethereal, but the reality is that whenever I’ve prayed for people in that way, it has extraordinary impact.”
Step 2 – Healing From ‘Imprinting’ On The Soul
While even the best-trained counsellor may not be erase the scars of sexual intimacy on a soul, Dr Meyer believes God alone can. He said this is the next step to healing from sexual brokenness.
“I have been with people as I have prayed with them that God’s mercy would pass over the “fingerprints” that have been left in the deepest parts of their being,” he said, “and I’ve watched their faces change.
“There is a sense that in some way, on the inside, a miracle has taken place.”
He described “imprinting” from sexual intimacy as something like fingerprints in a wax seal.
“I have watched in my mind’s eye as that wax, through God’s grace and the heat of His presence, brings that imprint out… and people feel like something has been extracted from their being.“
Step 3 – Confessing To One Another
Conscience is the inbuilt sense of right and wrong in mankind, that helps guide our decisions. When we choose to do wrong, our conscience – in Dr Meyer’s words – is “offended”.
At times this prompts us turn from our errors and walk a better path; at other times it causes us to hurt those around us even more.
The Bible story of Amnon, about a man who raped a girl he was infatuated with and then cast her out, is an example of this, said Dr Meyer.
“The conscience, instead of being focused inwardly upon himself, turned upon his object of affection,” he explained. “Instead of rebuking himself, he rejected her.”
It’s a scenario that plays out frequently in modern times, even in married couples when they lose their sexual desire for one another.
- The Search For Intimacy Part 4 – Young Love And The Role Of Parents
- The Search For Intimacy Part 5 – Marriage: Have You Got What It Takes?
- The Search For Intimacy Part 6 – The 5 Tests Of A Match Made In Heaven
Dr Meyer said that in many couples he has counselled, this problem has been rooted in a sense of guilt over having been sexually active before their marriage; an offended conscience.
“An offended conscience is like a seed,” he said. “You can cover it, but it will work its way around the covering and emerge sometime down the track. And rather than maybe rebuking yourself, it turns on the very one you love, [with this kind of thinking]: “if you hadn’t been so attractive, I wouldn’t have acted like I did”.”
The solution to an offended conscience is summed up in one word: confession.
I’ve had couples saying it has totally changed a circumstance in which they believed their marriage was dead. ~ Dr Allan Meyer
“You need to confess what you did,” said Dr Meyer. “The Bible says “confess your faults one to another and pray for one another that you may be healed”.
“I have seen some stunning responses [when] couples have sat together, and maybe years after the event, have said, “forgive me – I pressured you to be sexually active when you would have preferred that we had married as virgins, and I was wrong; please forgive me”.
“In the confessing and the forgiveness [I have seen] their sexual passion for each other ignited all over again. I have had couples saying that it has totally changed a circumstance in which they believed their marriage was dead.”
Step 4 – Confessing To God
The next step in healing from sexual brokenness, is the ultimate form of unburdening: confessing to God.
“One of the great ways of cleansing a person’s conscience, is to confess it to the person that they have offended, but then also to confess it to God,” Dr Meyer said.
“The power of the cross of Jesus Christ, is [that it leads a person] to where they can say to God, “I was immoral. I did things that I was ashamed of. Lord, I made mistakes. Forgive me.”
“At the foot of the cross, there is forgiveness for any person who is willing to ask for it.”
Step 5 – Forgiving Those Who’ve Hurt You
When it comes to sexual mistreatment and damage, forgiveness does not come easily, because it leaves a deep sense of violation. Yet it’s an essential and powerful step towards healing.
“At the end of the day, forgiveness all revolves around the fact that God is willing to forgive,” Dr Meyer said, “so he calls us to be willing to forgive as well.”
He added that forgiveness is not about making light of someone’s sin.
“The difficulty of forgiveness is, it feels like I’m going to be saying it really didn’t matter, like it wasn’t that big a deal,” he said. “But that is not what forgiveness is saying at all.”
Finding A Reason To Forgive
Finding a reason to forgive is a helpful first step, and it’s a strategy that even Jesus used.
“As He was being crucified,” Dr Meyer said, “Jesus cried out, “Father forgive them because – I’ve got a reason, I found a way of forgiving – they know not what they do”.
“If you can help a person to find a way of forgiving it just allows them to approach it. Otherwise it can be a gulf that seems too big to jump.”
Standing In For The Offendor
Another strategy Dr Meyer suggests is to have someone stand, symbolically, in place of the offendor, and ask forgiveness.
“I have found one of the most potent things I can do in helping a man or a woman to experience forgiveness, is to ask them, “If I stand in the place of the one who abused you, can I say to you as a man, ‘I’m so sorry that you were violated and treated the way you were. I’m ashamed at what you have been through. As a man could you forgive me?”
“I’ve watched them struggle heroically and then their shoulders relax, and then they say, “I do. I forgive you”. Then I have watched the tears come tumbling down, across the chasm from being offended, to release, as they have taken those tenuous steps.
“Then they begin the process of saying, “Lord, I do forgive them. What they did was wicked and was wrong but I forgive them, I release them”.
“The power of forgiveness is profound.”
Step 6 – Repenting And Resolving To Live Differently
The final step towards healing from sexual brokenness, especially for those who have treated sex in an unhealthy way, is to repent.
Dr Meyer said this isn’t “feeling sorry”, or hating yourself, but rather changing the way you think.
“The word for repentance is “metanoia”, the turning of the mind,” he said.
“Most people don’t know how to repent about how they’ve treated sex because they don’t know what to do [as an] alternative.
“If sex has been misused in your life and you’re longing for a healing experience, it’s important to come to the God who created you and say, “I’m turning my sex life back towards your control, as the king and ruler of my life. I’m going to set my sexuality apart and honour [it], and the sexuality of others, as precious.”
He said that in essence, it’s about treating other men and women like brothers and sisters, and setting your sex life aside for only your current, or future, spouse.
More On ‘The Search For Intimacy’
- Part 1 – The Origins And Power Of Sex
- Part 2 – Six Key Principles Of Human Sexuality
- Part 3 – Virginity, Dating And Courtship: A Love Story
- Part 4 – Young Love: Should Parents Have A Say?
- Part 5 – Marriage: Have You Got What It Takes?
- Part 6 – The 5 Tests Of A Match Made In Heaven
- More about Dr Allan Meyer and Careforce Lifekeys