There are two versions of our cultural narrative about the sexual revolution that began in the 1960s.
The first version is the one most often told in the media, and it goes like this: “The sexual revolution was a good thing. It has allowed people to remove the shackles of repressive, puritanical morality and experience freedom. People are sexual beings, and they need to explore their sexuality when they feel ready, without fear of guilt or shame.”
This theme is drummed into our heads continually, especially in movies and on television. Think of shows like Friends or Sex in the City, which casually promote the idea that you can have sex with multiple partners with no effect on a future marriage relationship.
The second version is different: “The sexual revolution has brought about untold harm. The idea of sexual freedom outside of marriage may appear to be attractive, but the reality is darker. When we live outside the boundaries that God set up for our benefit and protection, we move into a world of risk and danger that is much more profound than many of us realize.”
This is the story told recently on FamilyLife Today. There are millions of adults today who have not come to terms with the sexual choices they made in the past—they are ignorant about the effects of those choices on their relationship with God and on their marriage. Discussing this issue was Barbara Wilson, author of The Invisible Bond, who spoke frankly of her sexual past and the impact it had on her current marriage.
During her senior year of high school, Barbara began a sexual relationship with another student, and ended up marrying him at age 18. Divorced just two years later, she then entered a period of casual sex and promiscuity that included an abortion and didn’t end until her second marriage.
Barbara and her new husband (who knew about her past before they were married), both began growing in Christ, and they had children. As she went through the years, Barbara often asked God for forgiveness for the choices she had made, but didn’t realize how much the baggage she carried from her past was affecting her marriage. “There is something about the wound of abortion and your sexual past that goes to such a deep level that stays there and impacts you over and over and over again,” she says, “until you bring it out into the open and God is able to shine His truth on it and set you free from it.”
On the FamilyLife Today programs and in her book, Barbara talks about the danger of sexual sin. 1 Corinthians 6:15-20, she says, indicates “it is the one sin that we commit against ourselves. … In God’s economy, or God’s terms, sex is much more than just a physical thing; it’s a spiritual and emotional and even a chemical union that happens the way God created us,” she continues. And when you experience that oneness with someone, you can’t tear that oneness apart easily. “When you have sex with somebody, you leave a part of yourself behind with them, and you bring with you a part of that person into your future.”
For 25 years, Barbara says, she kept her past hidden. She felt that her family and friends would reject her if they knew what she had done. “It really felt like someone had locked me away inside of a prison—I wasn’t allowed to let anyone know who I really was.”
What she didn’t realize was that the sexual revolution had produced many people just like her. This became evident when she decided to tell a close friend about her past … only to learn that this friend had a similar past.
Barbara talked about the way her past affected her marriage, the process of revealing her past to family and friends, and much more. More than anything I was impressed with the sense of freedom she felt because of Christ’s forgiveness and because she is finally released from the guilt and shame of her former choices.
As Dennis Rainey said as he closed one of the programs, “This is the essence of what Christianity offers. Jesus Christ stepped out of eternity to offer absolute, complete, 100 percent forgiveness—to wash our sins clean. … The Prophet Isaiah said, ‘The spirit of the Lord is upon me because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted … To proclaim liberty to the captives and open the door of the prison to those who are bound.’
“Jesus Christ is not a fairy tale. He is the Lord God. He stepped out of eternity, walked this planet, and He lived the perfect life, which none of us can live, and He went to the cross and died for our sins and took the penalty of that sin … and He’s alive today and He’s seated at the right hand of God the Father and because of that … He can offer forgiveness.”