The Past: Sex

Sex has a way of getting deep into our minds and hearts. We recall sexual things more easily and more vividly than most other memories. This means our sexual past has more power to mess us up than many other things from our past.

The Past: Sex

One of the big ways our sexual past affects us is that it created our sexual preferences. The things that first aroused and pleasured us tend to stick with us. For example, I grew up in the era of tube tops*, and my first contact with a girl’s breasts was after she had pulled her tube top down for me. So for me, tube tops are inherently sexy. If Lori walked in wearing a tube top it would get me going like nothing else she could wear. (BTW, Lori doesn’t own a tube top, which is fine, I’m just making a point.)

Our early sexual acts have a similar influence. Be it a sex act we engaged in, or the one we fantasised about because we saw it in porn or heard about it from friends, we find those things especially desirable, arousing, and enjoyable. This can become a problem if some of what’s on your “best sex” list is on her “I’d rather not list”. 

The opposite can also happen. If we tried something and it went badly, we might have little or no desire for that sex act. What we want to do and don’t want to do sexually is largely a result of early sexual programming. If we’d been exposed to different things, our desires would be different. As an example, miniskirts were out of fashion when I was a teen, so they don’t do nearly as much to me as they would do for a guy who was a teen in the 60’s. Yes, miniskirts show a lot, but I don’t have the early sexual connection older men have.

Another place our sexual past affects us is guilt and shame. I’ve never met a man who escaped his teen years without some sexual sin, and most of us did more than a bit. Aside from porn, there’s early sex play as kids, trying to sneak a peek, wrong thoughts about a teacher or other older woman, and various forms of sex in our teens and 20’s. Guilt over these things is rarely enough to stop us from doing them, and that can build up and cause problems later. We might feel so guilty we struggle to enjoy sex once we marry, or we might have overrun our conscience so often we no longer feel appropriate guilt and boundaries. Some men start to associate arousal with doing things they should not, which can lead to wanting to do wrong things with one’s wife because “naughty” is exciting. 

There are a couple of things you can do about all this junk. Start by realising what Jesus did on the cross covers all our sins, including the sexual ones we did over and over even though we knew they were wrong. Then have some hard, brutally honest discussions with your wife where you share your sexual past. You don’t have to give share every detail, but she should have a good understanding of what you did before you were with her. Anything that produced strong arousal and/or shame needs to be shared. Anything you watched over and over in porn, or obsessed over in your fantasies also needs to be shared. Doing this helps her understand the things that have made you who you are sexually, and it also gives you some freedom by taking away the power secrets have over you.

What about masturbation?: I didn’t list this among the various sins because I don’ think masturbation is wrong. I actually think it’s God’s provision for our sex drives when we shouldn’t be having sex. That said, if we think something is wrong, then for us it is. If you thought masturbation was sinful when you were doing it, then for you it was regardless of how you feel about it now. If that adds masturbation to your list of sins, deal with it too.

* For the younger guys here, the 70’s tube top was a stretchy tube with no straps that was just big enough to cover the breasts.

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