Weeks before I got married, I remember breaking down in my childhood bedroom with my parents and my husband-to-be wondering what happened to me over the last 23 years that lead to so much sexual brokenness. It was easy to pinpoint some decisions I’d made, but other parts of my story felt so shameful at the time that I didn’t even know how to face them. Unfortunately, there is so much shame tied to sex, especially with women, and I know that shame thrives in darkness. It needs to be brought into light, and God wants it to be brought into light (John 12:46). In my experience, the world that appears to be increasingly more accepting has actually made me feel the most shame, and only when I found Jesus did I feel loved and accepted no matter what had happened in my story.
With outdated school curriculums, churches that tell you not to do it until marriage and then leave you to figure out how, and a culture saturated with fictionalized sex scenes in both main stream media and pornography, where do we start? I’m not ready to get too personal about this online, though I believe that God has used and will use my story to bring glory to Him, but there are some books, blogs, and podcast episodes that have really influenced my sexuality in college and now as a married woman. God has been increasingly putting these resources on my heart to pass along, even though it’s scary to be so open about sex. Over the last few years, He’s given me opportunities to share my story one-on-one with people in my life, and I pray God reaches even more people with this post! If you’ve ever heard bits and pieces of my story, thank you for listening. Thank you for making me feel comfortable and confident enough to share. I know God wants me to share more here eventually, but I’m scared of the consequences.
If you’re uncomfortable reading this, I invite you to give that feeling to God and ask Him why that is rather than judge me or tell me I shouldn’t be posting about this. Though a couple of these resources were shared with me by friends, I had to find most of them on my own. The people who can publicly speak and write about such a taboo topic are so brave.
Disclaimer: I do not agree with every single point and theological standpoint in these resources, but they’ve greatly helped me in my own journey.
1. The SoulScripts Sisterhood created by Jordan Lee Dooley
This resource doesn’t exactly exist anymore, at least not the way it was the winter of 2016 when I found it. I actually blogged about how encouraging I found Jordan Lee Dooley‘s SoulScripts Sisterhood portal and Facebook group in my post Broken Glass, and only now five years later am I living out what I said I wanted to do then. The sub-group I joined was an accountability group for sex, purity, and dating, and for the first time in my life, I didn’t feel alone in things I had been struggling with for YEARS. Many of the women I met also had blogs, and I unfortunately didn’t keep up with them, but if any of you happen to be reading this now, just know how deeply your transparency and vulnerability impacted my life. Unfortunately, I haven’t kept up with following Jordan as much as I have with other influencers like her, but I just recently listened to Annie F. Downs’s live recording of That’s Sounds Fun with Jordan, and even though they didn’t talk about sex, I was reminded why it was that Jordan was SO empowering to me back in 2016.
2. The Mingling of Souls: God’s Design for Love, Marriage, Sex, and Redemption by Matt Chandler
I read this book in 2017 before I got engaged. Matt Chandler breaks down The Song of Solomon, a timeless story of romance, sex included. I would encourage both men and women to read this book to learn more about God’s design for sex. Spoiler alert: it’s not just meant for reproduction!
3. The Refined Woman & The Refined Collective: Kat Harris
To be honest, I found Kat Harris last week by accident when I was desperately searching for a post I knew Jordan Lee Dooley had made back when I actively followed her. I think God wanted me to share Kat Harris and her brand The Refined Woman and podcast The Refined Collective with you instead! I specifically found the following episodes encouraging because NO ONE talks about this topic EVER: Part I: Is Masturbation A Sin? and Part II: Is Masturbation A Sin? She just might be the bravest person I’ve mentioned in this post, and I am HERE for it. There are plenty more episodes where those came from, so I encourage you to do some exploring on her pages.
4. The Girl’s Night Podcast by Stephanie May Wilson
Steph has been one of my favorite people to follow since a friend recommended her book The Lipstick Gospel to me and I spent my entire 20th birthday reading it. I was also quite literally introduced to her by one of my littles in college while we were in Nashville for spring break. She’s an author, a blogger, and a podcaster, and she has so much wisdom to share. One of the best pieces of advice I read on her blog was something along the lines of in setting boundaries with physical intimacy while dating, it’s not about how close to the line you can get without crossing it, it’s about setting boundaries that are honoring to God. She has several blog posts and podcast episodes specifically about sex — even a few with Kat Harris! The latest one I’ve listened to is Girls Night #124: Modesty, Purity, and Sex — Unpacking the Messages we Heard Growing Up
5. Sheet Music: Uncovering the Secrets of Sexual Intimacy in Marriage by Kevin Leman
This book is EVERYTHING. I’ve ordered nearly 10 copies on Amazon, and I gift them to all of my gal pals for their bachelorette party. A friend shared her copy with me during my first year of marriage, and I’m telling you, this book changed it all for me and my husband. In fact, when I was planning this post, I asked him what sex resources he found helpful over the years, and his answer was me… but trust me, what he meant was this book. Be careful with this book if you’re not yet married, but this is something every married couple needs on their bookshelf. This book helps couples unpack any sexual baggage they’re carrying and move forward in the marriage to experience sex the way God created it, pleasure included. This book has it all from scripture to positions.
6. The Sexually Confident Wife & The Fantasy Fallacy by Shannon Ethridge
After reading Sheet Music, I was on a mission. I found these on Amazon, and while I would recommend them both, The Fantasy Fallacy: Exposing the Deeper Meaning Behind Sexual Thoughts was both the most convicting and healing book I’ve ever read in my life. If you have or someone you love has ever struggled with sexual thoughts that you would NEVER want anyone to know about, I would recommend this book. Even if you’ve just wondered why our culture was so obsessed with 50 Shades of Gray, Shannon Ethridge does a great job peeling back the curtain to our minds with both scripture and science to back up her claims. The Sexually Confident Wife: Connecting with Your Husband Mind, Heart, Body, Spirit builds more on Sheet Music, just solely from a woman’s perspective.
7. ONE Extraordinary Marriage Podcast
Tony and Alisa DiLorenzo at ONE Extraordinary Marriage are so fun to listen to in their short, informative episodes. I got my husband interested by reading episode names, and as soon as I read 639: YOU SEXY BEARDED MAN, he was all for listening. They do a great job inspiring conversation about sex within marriage, and I’m so grateful to the friend who recommended this to me after a conversation we had about how people in general just don’t talk about sex, in a real way, enough. Tony and Alisa do coaching as well, and they even have a fun shop with sexy items on their website.
If you made it this far, my prayer is that you now have a few safe corners of the internet to turn to as you navigate your own sexuality. Sex doesn’t have to bring shame, even if you’ve made mistakes. Though I’m not ready to publicly post my story, I welcome DMs and personal messages if you want to talk about anything. I’d love to be what I didn’t have when I was in your shoes.