Today I was asked how I would have responded to my husband if he had pointed out that I was sinning and then showed me in scripture where that was explained.
The way I responded when my husband pointed this out was not pretty. Not pretty at all. My religious upbringing was not one where sin was discussed. My parents never talked about anything as sinful, and church, Sunday School, and youth group rarely mentioned it. We talked about choices, but everything was laid against a backdrop of what was best for us and how our lives would be affected later by our bad choices at the time. Even now, I have to be intentional and methodical in thinking about sin. So for me, naming my sexual gatekeeping sin would’ve bounced right off me.
So, here’s what I said, with multiple variations over several years.
- Now you’re throwing the Bible at me? Do you want me to hate God now, too?
- Who are you to judge me and tell me I’m sinning? I want God’s forgiveness, not yours, and God understands perfectly well why I dont’ want anything to do with sex.
- So now you’re picking and choosing which verses justify your obsession with sex. What about the ones that say you’re supposed to die for me and sacrifice? Why do you get to pick which verses matter?
- Why is it that the only thing you can see is my so-called sin? Why is it that you don’t see/appreciate the laundry, the fact that I’ve put up with [insert all his annoying behaviors] over the years, the fact that I get along great with your parents, the fact that our kids are generally happy and healthy? Why can’t you see the rest of who I am/what I do?
As I explained this, I was shaking–because thinking about this brings to mind other things I said that I can’t bear to see in print and don’t like remembering–things against God, direct and indirect insults about various aspects of my husband’s body and character.
I was a gatekeeper for the first ten years of our marriage and a gatekeeper/refuser for the next ten years. I can’t truly remember the first time my husband said anything about it to me, although I do remember a conversation ten years in, and at that time, I had the “oh, great, here we go again” thought in my head so I know it wasn’t the first time. My husband suffered for a long time just from the lack of sex and intimacy; when he pushed and I pushed back, he suffered even more.
I will never understand why he stayed with me, when I was trying so hard to push him away and not have to truly let him in. I certainly don’t deserve him. But what he put up with in me over the years has modeled Christ’s sacrifice for me in a personal and real way.
Truly, his forgiveness of me has demonstrated God’s love more than any other single thing in my life. I told him that this afternoon. I was crying the whole time (I’ve been doing that more as the barriers between us continue dropping), and he just held me. That unconditional love was what I’d been seeking from him without even knowing it.