Steven Tracy affirms that The Unique Nature of Sexual Intimacy Makes its Abuse Uniquely Destructive

After writing the post The Unique Nature of Sexual Intimacy Makes Its Abuse Uniquely Destructive, I was reading Steven Tracy’s great book, Mending the Soul [Affiliate link] and came across the following.

Tracy writes:

Sexual abuse is incredibly damaging because, as creatures made in God’s image, sex is the most powerful bonding activity in which we can engage. God’s intention is that in marriage a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and become one flesh (Genesis 2:24). Loving marital sex can powerfully bond, but through abuse it can just as powerfully wound.

I often hear church leaders express great impatience with sexual abuse survivors who continue to experience the damaging effects of their abuse. They make remarks such as, “For crying out loud, that happened years ago.” “Lots of girls get touched like that. Get over it!” “How long is this woman going to nurse this abuse?”

These kinds of ignorant and destructive comments completely ignore the biblical data. In 1 Corinthians 6:15–18, drawing on the bonding imagery of Genesis 1 and 2, Paul declares that the sex act is unlike any other act we commit. When we sin sexually (or, by implication, are sinned against sexually), it forms a unique bonding, which creates damage that goes beyond anything else we can do with our body. As Paul concludes in 1 Corinthians 6:18: “Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.”

Sexual relations are to be a beautiful divine gift that expresses unconditional love and should be a source of emotional and even physical life. Sexual abuse grotesquely distorts the relational aspect of the image of God and the divine plan for sexuality. With sexual abuse, sex no longer gives life but destroys life. With sexual abuse, sex does not express selfless love but destructive selfishness. As a result, sexual abuse survivors struggle to accept their own sexuality and their own bodies. They also struggle in marriage to enjoy sanctified sex. Women who have been abused often can’t admit to being enjoyed and desired by a godly man. Sexual abuse is a sad perversion of the “one flesh” relationship.

Tracy, Steven R. (2009-05-19). Mending the Soul: Understanding and Healing Abuse (Kindle Locations 480-494). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

[February 22, 2023: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to February 22, 2023 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to February 22, 2023 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to February 22, 2023 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (February 22, 2023), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]


UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.

5 thoughts on “Steven Tracy affirms that The Unique Nature of Sexual Intimacy Makes its Abuse Uniquely Destructive”

  1. Thank you so much for writing this from someone who has been sexually abused and then abused also within my “Christian” family on top of it.
    There is another Scripture that I think refers to sexual abuse….Mathew 18:6:

    If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. [NIV]

    Being sexually abused and then not supported by my family has caused me not to want sex at all. I am in a good marriage with a good man and I do have it but I have no desire.

    1. Like the leaders at Penn State [Internet Archive link]1, and leaders in many churches, even families are more concerned with “reputation” than with believing and helping the victim, even when the victim is one of their own. Of course, often the perpetrator is one of their own as well. When the family is one that professes to be Christian, the cover-up can often be even deeper. “Such things must not be spoken of, you know.” That kind of mentality. Thank you very, very much for sharing and we hope that one day you might be able to connect with a good counselor to help you. In the meanwhile, it is wonderful to hear that you have a good marriage.

      1[February 22, 2023: We added the link to Wikipedia’s page on the Penn State child sex abuse scandal. The Internet Archive link is a copy of that page. Editors.]

      1. My abusive father was a deacon, and Elder, a Sunday School teacher and a youth leader, churches don’t seem to look into the lives of who is leading their people / children. My father once said to me “smarten up, I’m an Elder, what will they think”….it stuck with me. Long story but I have a good marriage because God miraculously put my hubby and I together, it doesn’t mean it’s not tough with what I have been through. I do have an amazing therapist and it is because of her that I am becoming free, step by baby step.

        The church definitely has to smarten up and step up! I walk with the Almighty but have a really hard time trusting churches….I was in a very good one for the first time ever but we had to move to a new Province and now finding a new one is really a struggle for me.

        [Paragraph break added to enhance readability. Editors.]

    2. Dear Buckwheatsrisk, I was sexually abused as a child too, but thankfully not by a person who had as much power in the family and community as your father did, with all his fake religiosity. Sometimes (often?) the unkind and judgmental responses of bystanders can be just as or even more hurtful, in the long term, than the evil things the abuser did to us.

      So glad to hear you have a good therapist and are making progress. If you read through other posts on this blog under the category of sexual abuse, you’ll glean a fair bit of my story, including how I am now healed from all the damage that the sexual abuse left in me. It took a long time, and for most of that time I thought I was going to be defectively wired for life, but Jesus eventually brought me into to full healing — praise His name.

      1. I better clarify that as far as I know, my father didn’t sexually abuse me (although it could be possible), it was others I was raped and molested by. My father abused me mentally and emotionally and some physical. I am very sorry that you have been there too but also very happy for you that you have found freedom! I am getting there one step at a time! I will catch up on some of your posts, thank you so much! Oh and yes bystanders are just as damaging!!

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