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“So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’ Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”  Genesis 2:21-25

And so right from the Creation of the world we see woven into God’s perfect design for humanity: sex. Intimate and pure, this becoming of one flesh was created with care. The Bible expounds on a variety of ways in which sex can be used within marriage from procreation to the healing of grief (2 Samuel 12:24).  But it is in the very next chapter of Genesis when the serpent enters into paradise and tempts Eve to sin. That choice by Adam and Eve would lead to a fallen world and a corruption of humanity. Sex would be just one of many things that would become desecrated in the fall. The damage to sex and sexuality across history and cultures has been enormous. Women and girls have paid the greatest price, but the impact on men and boys cannot be ignored.

A once beautiful act of intimacy and love within a marriage union has become broken in so many ways. It’s practically impossible to even list the ways. One of the most obvious of these is sexual violence.  This could be is greatest of oxymorons. How sin has managed to turn sex into an act of violence and power is unthinkable. The statistics on rape and sexual assault are staggering. In the United States, 1 in 5 women will be the victim of rape in their lifetime according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. Globally, that number is more than 1 in 3 women (UN Women). In some nations, particularly war-torn areas and those with extreme poverty, find those numbers far greater than this average. Sexual assault is used as a form of warfare. Women are often gang raped for the purpose of terrorizing and punishing communities, in order to leave women physically unable to bear children, or in some cases for the purpose of impregnating them with the children of a different tribe or ethnicity. This article from Time, “The Secret War Crime”, goes into greater detail on the issues surrounding this horrific crime that includes the gang rape of small children and elderly, the physical damage done by sexual assaults by guns, and the shame and stigma victims suffer by husbands and family members that blame them for the assault.  The article cites that in the Congo alone there have been 50,000 children born in the past 2 decades of civil unrest and war. The children conceived by rape are all too often abused, neglected or even killed. Another form of sexual exploitation is sex trafficking. Equality Now reports that globally there are approximately 20.9 million men, women, and children trapped in the global sex trade. Children make up around 2 million of those victims.  Daily, these victims face repeated rapes for the benefit of their traffickers. They suffer abuse and violence above and beyond the physical and emotional scars of their exploitation. 98% of these victims are female.

FGM 2Sexual assault, while widespread, is not the only form of sexual violence. In cultures where women are considered less than men, their value is often seen only in what they can provide for men. In many cases, that focuses greatly on their ability to gratify men’s sexual needs. The reverse ideal, however, is not considered true. This can come in the form of sexual initiation camps, female genital mutilation, and sacred prostitution. In many countries, child marriage is not two love-struck teenagers getting married at 17; it’s the arranged and forced marriage of a young teen or pre-teen to a much older man.  Polygamy is a practice in many nations is one in which a man can have multiple wives, but a woman may not have multiple husbands. Inequality in property rights, education, voting, and accessible health care all impact women. These inequalities often lead to poverty and some women feel forced to “choose” prostitution as a means of survival.

In America and many Western societies, sexual violence often looks different. The connection between sex and violence is often found in one’s own home, just a mouse-click away. The increasingly violent nature of pornography is detrimentally impacting cultural norms and the way in which young people are thinking about sex. Advertisers regularly sell products with sexual images, images that all too often have violent overtones or treat women as objects to be used rather than human beings. The sexualizing of children and the cultural acceptance of violent sexual acts in “entertainment” adds to a distortion of that which God called “good.” It is no wonder that the rates of domestic violence are so high.

We live in a fallen and broken world. All too often that brokenness impacts the sexual relationships that God designed. However, as Christians we have a different view than much of the world. We understand that we were made in the image of God.

“So God created man in His own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”  (Genesis 1:27)

The world is broken, but we have been restored.  We are the means by which Jesus has established the healing of this nation. It is by His blood that the sinner is made new, and it is by the hands and feet of those who love him that the message of hope will be spread throughout the world. We are His ambassadors on this earth; entrusted with the sacred duty of healing the broken hearted. The world is ready for this message, and we have been equipped with the Holy Spirit to actively pursue justice for the nations. So what’s stopping us?  Go and pour yourself into an organization that is doing the work of seeking justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God. (Micah 6:8)

“And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’” (Revelation 21: 5a)

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Written by Barbara Seidle

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