Embracing God’s Design of Love and Sexuality Verses Counterfeits that Hijack Relationships

embrace gods designThis topic isn’t an easy one — our sexually powered culture, the pressure we put on ourselves and allow others to put on us, can be exhausting and confusing. I have wrestled with this topic my whole life. But in asking God to help me write this, He replied, “Julie, you are becoming whole in this journey, your wholeness is in me, your love is in me.” So I sat in a hotel room and listened to God. I asked him, “Why this ache God? I’ve had it my whole life, but now you’re beginning to fill the ache with love and joy.”

I have spent many years filling this ache with less wild lovers (men that really couldn’t or chose not to love me the way God created me to be loved) They only made the ache more painful. Sometimes the ache became excruciatingly painful. But now I am experiencing abundant love to heal this ache.

As St. Augustine said, “Since love grows within you, so beauty grows. For love is the beauty of the soul.”  To fall in love with God is the greatest of all romances, to see Him the greatest adventure, to find Him, the greatest human achievement.”

St. John of the Cross said, “The unmortified appetites result in killing a man in his relationship with God. The soul is wearied and fatigued by its desires. The desires disturb it, allowing it not to rest in any place or in any thing so ever…the desires and indulgence in them all cause it greater emptiness and hunger.”
My testimony

You see, before I became a Christian, I was ravished in my sexuality in every way. I was conceived in an affair, and then terrorized and sexuality abused from the man who raised me and then treated me like his cute little red-haired mistress my whole childhood. Then, in my early teens, he sold me into sexual slavery to whomever would want me. This lasted for about two years.

At 16 I became pregnant possibly with his child and was forced to have an abortion. That abortion devastated me in every way. I hid the pain of my sexual abuse by becoming promiscuous, partying and becoming a prostitute. But what I didn’t know that this was a distorted way to fill my love needs. It was destroying me. I ended up having another abortion in those years. My pain was destroying me and my children. But then with conversion, God began to meet my intimate needs.

God’s design

“From the beginning God made them male and female” (Matthew 19:4).

Our maleness and femaleness, our sexuality, is the “fundamental” fact of human existence. John Paul 2 Theology of the Body says: “Our sexuality is by no means something only biological but concerns the innermost being of the human person.”

I was looking at my sexuality upside down. I was looking in the trash can when I should have been looking at my sexuality as the beloved of Christ designed. My yearning for intense communion or Eros can’t and shouldn’t be equated to lust or meeting someone else’s lustful needs.

Lust reduces Eros to a base quest for pleasure at the expense of others.

You see, I began to see the fullness of Eros which implies the upward impulse of the human spirit toward what is true, good and beautiful. This has become my longing, this is my prayer every morning when I get up since the day I became a Christian.

So in writing this, I began to rejoice! I have this! I know this! More than anything in the world I know this love!

I experience this even though I am a single woman. This “fullness of Eros” I have for a lifetime, and I don’t need to look any further. It’s been a mystery that enraptures me, transforms me in love and points to divine romance and union with God Himself. It leads me way beyond myself and helps me to not misdirect my sexual desires, which only brings great pain and frustration and despair.

Intimacy with God

“Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me” (John 14:21).

He wants the same thing that you want. He wants to be loved. He wants to be known as only lovers can know each other. He wants intimacy with you. Yes, He wants your obedience, but only when it flows out of a heart filled with love for Him.

Have you heard that within every human heart is a place that God alone can fill? Lord knows we’ve tried to fill it with everything else to our utter dismay? But what we need to know is that there is also a chamber in God himself, into which none can enter but the one, the individual YOU.

You are meant to fill a place in the heart of God no one and nothing else can fill. He longs for you. God wants to live this life together with you, to share in your days and decisions, your desires and disappointments. He wants intimacy with you in the midst of the madness and mundane, the meetings and memos, the laundry and list, the carpools and conversations and projects and pain. He wants to pour His love into your heart, and He longs to have you pour yours into His. *He is not interested in intimacy with the person you think you are supposed to be with. He wants intimacy with the real you. (*from John Eldredge’s book Knowing the Heart of God)

We are often afraid of our sexuality as it says in Gen 3:10: “I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid myself.” We long for intimacy with God and one another. Like Adam, we are often afraid to reveal our true selves. Before sin, the first man and woman stood naked before God and one another without fear or shame. They lived in profound intimacy with God, the land and one another.

To begin reclaiming true sexual intimacy in our lives, we must have the courage to face our fears. Adam was afraid because he was naked. We must allow God’s perfect love to cast out that fear (1 John 4:18)

We can be overcome, intoxicated on the love that God has for us. This is where we can find our true ecstasy. Our union and intimate relationship with God can totally satisfy the deep “ache” within us for love. The intimate love of spouses is actually a sign of something infinitely greater. This shows us the ultimate purpose and meaning of human sexuality to point us to union with God.

The truth of the matter is we are in an intense battle both with our spouses and our intimate union with God and for our femininity.

He sustains us

The good news is in Psalm 73:23-24, 26: “I am always with you, you hold me by my right hand, my flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart — and my portion forever.”

The road is not entirely rough. It would be a dreadful mistake to assume that our beloved is only waiting at the end of the road. Communion, love, grace with Him and other warriors along the way sustains us on the way as well as worship and liturgy.

My Grandmother loved me like no other. She was only about 4 feet 8 inches, a tiny little woman, but so filled with love. She used to say to me, “Julie, I may not be very smart and I may not be very pretty but I can love better than anyone!” And that she could.

I left home at 18 years old to save my life from abuse. About every other year I would save money in a jar for “my trip to see Grandma.” I would borrow a car or pray my broken car would make it, call my grandmother and tell her I was on the way. I would drive the 1400 miles across Minnesota, North Dakota and Montana and with a trembling heart drive through town (secretly so my parents wouldn’t know as I was too afraid they would come after me and hurt me) into the mountains to see my Grandmother.

She lived at the bottom of the mountain and no matter what time I drove up her driveway, she would be sitting in the chair by the window waiting. That little body of love would jump up, burst out of the house and run to me. She would take me in her little arms and love on me. She would excitedly bring me into the house where she would have all of my favorite foods spread out — the fried chicken, the jello salad, mashed potatoes and gravy, and so much more. All the food I loved including huckleberry pie because that was my favorite. She loved me like crazy.

I would be so exhausted from the long hot trip through the mountains.  I remember one time confessing to her how I was living at the time. I told her, “Grandma, it’s not good.” She would say she knew, and that she didn’t want me to live like that, but that she loved me regardless. She told me that she would just pray for me more and more and love me more.

Now, that is true love. She was God’s gift to me.

Julie Woodley, MA, is founder and director of Restoring the Heart Ministries as well as a Gateway Counseling Center Therapist. For information visit Rthm.CC or call


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