The Unique Nature of Sexual Intimacy Makes its Abuse Uniquely Destructive
1 Corinthians 6:15-18 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! (16) Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” (17) But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. (18) Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.
As we have seen in the comments to other articles in this blog that address the issue of sexual abuse perpetrated upon the abuse victim by her “husband,” (see Do you tell others about the sexual abuse?) one of the most damaging forms of abuse is that of sexual abuse. Ironically, this is one of the abuser’s tactics that is least talked about. He can carry out atrocious acts of rape and sodomy, yet do so while enjoying a cloak of secrecy and darkness.
The Apostle Paul’s statement to the Corinthians provides us with some insight into why sexual abuse is a particularly powerful tool for evil. Indeed, these words tell us why so many abusers choose this form of weaponry. Notice that Paul zeroes in here on the “one-flesh” aspect of sexual intimacy. We know this from way back in Genesis: and the two shall become one flesh. Here, Paul says that the same one-fleshness happens even when God’s design for human sexuality is abused: he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her. As a result, just as there is remarkable blessing in our sexuality when it is practiced within the pattern God has ordained (one man, one woman who have covenanted to one another for life), so that same powerful blessing, if distorted, turns into a terrible curse. Thus, sexual sin has a unique aspect for destruction. The one who violates it sins against his own body. Like fire, sexuality has tremendous power to bless, or to consume.
And I think that the abuser knows this. He recognizes the power of sexuality. He understands that here is something that he can take, twist, pervert, and use it to especially damage another human being. In his sexuality, he can perhaps even use an kind of ultimate weapon to bond his victim to himself, thus providing him with the power and control which is the real object of his lust. From the victim’s standpoint, this same sexual attack comes with an “intimacy” of evil that infects her body, mind, and soul in a way that perhaps no other kind of abuse can.
I would also suggest that Paul’s final instruction here sheds real light upon the necessity of separating from the abuser: “Flee from sexual immorality.” Why? Because it is sin, and it is a particularly destructive sin. Paul, of course, was instructing the Corinthians to cease from sinning sexually themselves. I am not implying here that a victim of sexual abuse is sinning. That guilt lies solely with the abuser. However, it would seem very proper that we also apply this instruction to flee sexual immorality to the victim of sexual abuse. Run! Leave! The thing is terribly damaging to you. It bonds you to your abuser in a uniquely destructive way. (I’m thinking here of the old vampire movies where the victim always becomes the slave of Dracula once she is bitten. Nowadays vampires are being exalted as good guys who have been misunderstood. But then that’s another story). But my point is that if Christ would have us flee in particular from sexual immorality because it is so powerful and damaging, surely would He not also mean this instruction to victims as well?
And thus, in this light, we shudder at any notion of telling an abuse victim, and especially a victim of sexual abuse, that the Lord requires her to return to her Dracula and let him keep sucking the life out of her. “Who knows,” she is often told, “you might just one day lead the old Count to salvation in Christ!” Yeah, right.