In this post, I’m talking to those of you who are grappling with some form of sexual perversion and a devastating belief that all of those immoral fantasies and impulses are causing massive problems between you and your Creator. Not all of you are dealing with both of these issues at the same time. Among my clients who are dealing with severe sexual traumas, only some of them are at a point where they consider pleasing God to be a very important goal. Others aren’t ready for a serious pursuit of God yet, and still others haven’t had the chance to even meet God, so He seems irrelevant to them. I work with people where they are at, and when your soul doesn’t know God or care very much about Him, you need a different kind of help than souls who do care about God. For therapy to be effective, it’s important that we respect the current priorities of each of your elements. Not knowing God certainly doesn’t mean you can’t make fabulous progress in recovering from sexual trauma. But once God becomes a very important Being to your soul, your personal relationship with Him adds a whole new level of complexity to the crisis and we aren’t going to get very far in helping your soul feel better unless we resolve its fears about Divine judgment.
For serious God seekers who are also dealing with sexual trauma, the common assumption is that God is holding your soul responsible for what your mind is doing. Your mind is the part of you that keeps creating those upsetting fantasies. Your mind is the part of you that is pushing you to do a bunch of disturbing sexual behaviours, or to watch other people doing those behaviours via porn videos. Contrary to what your soul assumes, your mind doesn’t do these things because it’s just a dirty little pervert. As offensive and disgusting as your soul finds your mind’s behaviours, your mind is actually doing those behaviours for positive reasons. It’s trying to find a solution to a problem. That’s it. It’s not trying to wallow in immorality just for a lark. It’s not trying to mock God or defy His Authority or spit all over His moral code. Your mind doesn’t care about God the way your soul does. To your mind, God seems totally irrelevant, and that’s the way your mind is supposed to feel about God, because that is how God designed your mind to work. So when your soul views your mind as a carnal little rebel, your soul is wrong. Your soul honestly does not understand why your mind is behaving the way that it is, so your soul is just making up its own assumptions and running with them. Those assumptions are quite false, and if your mind is going to have a chance to recover from severe trauma, your soul needs to get off of its case and stop trying to punish your mind for having shady motivations that your mind doesn’t even have.
When souls aren’t interested in pursuing God, we can usually get to work on helping the mind pretty fast. But when souls deeply care about pleasing God, we often have to focus on the soul first, and get it properly educated about how God views the mess that you’re currently in. For serious God seekers, the level of soul distress is often much higher in these situations than it is for non-God seekers. Soul-driven suicide is a common problem here, and often your soul can reach a state of such intense torment that you feel like your soul is suffocating internally. Severe soul distress can absolutely destroy your quality of life.
God is awesome. God is the beginning and end of everything. He is the One who sustains our existence, and He is the One who defines our value as His creatures. So your soul is quite correct when it acts like God’s opinion is of supreme importance, because it really is. But where your soul is going wrong is in assuming God is angry at you when He’s really not. That is a mistake you can’t afford to keep making when you’re already grappling with the burden of severe psychological trauma. This situation is already hard enough without your soul chucking all hope out the window and declaring you to be eternally damned. So we need to get you educated so that your soul can understand how easy it is to stay in a good place with God no matter what kind of sexual or mental problems you’re dealing with.
To help your soul start getting a grip on truth, I’m going to explain some key aspects of Divine judgment. I talk about Divine judgment in other articles, and on my spiritual counselling site, but here I’m going to focus specifically on God’s view of sexual perversity, because that’s the issue your soul is panicking over right now. At the end of this post, you’ll find a chart you can download that will summarize the principles I’m about to explain. I encourage you to save that chart to your phone or somewhere that it is readily accessible, so that whenever your soul starts becoming stressed over what your mind is doing, you can refer to the chart and understand why you and God are still in a good place.
It is vital for your soul to keep the lines of communication open with God. This means you need to keep talking to Him, and you need to be receptive to Him talking to you. When souls feel ashamed, a common instinct is to stop talking to God or to start trying to hold up His end of the relationship by putting words in His mouth that He’s not actually saying. Here is where you might imagine God saying harsh things to you that you’re really just saying to yourself. Or you might start coming up with a long list of miserable things you need to do to make up for the fact that your mind keeps producing those terrible fantasies. When souls are in this kind of crisis, if they’re talking to God at all, their prayers often consist of apologies, grovelling, and promises to do better that they have no hope of keeping. This kind of pattern is only going to make you become distant from God over time, because you’re not allowing the relationship to happen anymore. You’re just talking at Him instead of talking to Him, and then you’re shutting down and refusing to acknowledge anything He’s trying to say to you. So we need to take down the walls and learn to be more receptive to what God wants to say to you.
The Divine Perspective
Unlike you, God has an accurate understanding of how you were designed because He’s the One who created you. God sees your mind, body, and soul as the separate elements that they are. When your mind and soul do things, God sees both their behaviours and their personal motivations. God designed your mind and soul to be very logical beings, and that means they don’t do things at random without any purpose in mind. Your mind and soul are extremely purposeful beings, and they always have self-serving reasons for doing the things they do.
To God, motivations are far more important than behaviours. For example, your soul can worship God because it is trying to express it’s sincere love for Him, or your soul can worship God in an attempt to manipulate Him into doing what you want. Simply going through the behaviour of worshiping God does not mean He is pleased with you. God always judges you by your soul’s intentions towards Him. When your soul’s intentions towards God are negative, He is displeased with you, no matter how “righteous” or “reverent” you are behaving. When your soul’s intentions towards God are positive, He is pleased with you, no matter what kind of unholy mess you look like to others.
It’s very easy for sincere God seekers to get caught up in very negative behaviours even though their souls have positive intentions. For example, when you injure your own body as an act of penance, your behaviour is negative to God, because He is not a fan of self-harming. But in that moment, God doesn’t judge you by your behaviour. He looks beyond the behaviour and considers what your soul’s true motivations are. When He sees that your soul is sincerely trying to appease Him because it thinks He is upset with you for some reason, God is very pleased by your soul’s sincere devotion to Him, even though He still doesn’t like what you’re doing.
When we get caught up in negative behaviours, but our underlying motivations are positive, God doesn’t become angry with us. The only way you can develop an actual problem between you and your Maker is if your soul is embracing negative attitudes towards Him. Spiritual rebellion is always an intentional, informed act. You can’t succeed at rebelling against God unless you know what He wants, because to rebel, you have to intentionally do the opposite of what God has told you to do.
Now here is where I want you to take a moment to honestly reflect on what your soul’s true intentions towards God are when you start apologising and repenting and asking Him to forgive you because of all of the nasty images in your head. Suppose you watch a porn video because you just couldn’t resist it, and then you masturbated and climaxed to it. Now you’re wallowing in shame for being such a perverse little worm. In this moment, your soul is judging you based on your behaviours of watching the video, masturbating, and intentionally focusing on those sordid images. Because your soul finds all of your behaviours morally offensive, it condemns you as being a gross little rebel. But how does God judge you? God judges you by your soul’s intentions towards Him. What was your soul doing while you were having your moment with the porn? It was probably just sitting there feeling horrified. It might have been trying to stop your mind by using some bullying tactics. Yet in these moments, your mind will usually win the battle, and you’ll feel like you have no choice but to go along with what it wants you to do, which is masturbate to the images that it has chosen for you to focus on.
God judges you by your soul’s intentions towards HIM. When your soul is attacking your mind, that’s a soul-mind issue. Often in these situations, your soul develops an intense hatred of your mind, and in some cases, also your body, because they are the ones who keep insisting on doing things that your soul hates. Does God judge you by your soul’s attitude towards your mind? No. Does God judge you by your soul’s attitude towards your body? No. God judges you by your soul’s attitude towards HIM.
Now once the porn is put away, your soul will usually turn its focus away from your mind and onto God. Here is where you experience that tidal wave of shame and self-loathing as your soul grieves over the fact that the God who it dearly loves undoubtedly thinks you’re a disgusting worm. Feeling powerless is terrifying to all humans, and in these situations, your soul often feels like your mind and body are destroying its personal relationship with God and your soul can do nothing to stop them. It’s rather like finding out that the neighbourhood gossip is filling your partner’s head with a bunch of lies about you, and your partner is believing those lies even though they aren’t true at all. Soon you see clear evidence that your partner’s view of you is becoming quite negative. You’re losing the relationship all because of that horrid gossip and your partner’s refusal to believe you when you try to tell them the truth. If you deeply care about your relationship with your partner, feeling the relationship being torn away from you bit by bit will be agonising.
For sincere God seekers who also have severe sexual trauma, much of their soul’s angst is usually coming from the belief that their relationship with God is being slowly destroyed in front of them and they are powerless to stop it. The more you love God, the more grieved your soul will be by feeling that distance between you and Him slowly grow wider and wider. Often in these cases, your soul reaches a point of such despair that you feel like you can no longer pray. Even trying to think of God can trigger such intense pain and grief that you feel like a knife has been plunged into your soul. The distance between you and God can seem almost palpable at times, and His rejection of you can seem so intense that you can actually feel your prayers bouncing off of an iron sky and being deflected back down to earth because He has created a physical barrier between you and Him.
If your soul is resonating with any of the feelings I just described, here’s what you need to understand: the distance is an illusion. It’s a figment of your soul’s imagination (which was often inspired by demons who love to try to amplify this kind of soul agony). The truth is that God hasn’t gone anywhere, He hasn’t turned His back on you, and He certainly isn’t rejecting your prayers. The tragic irony in these situations is that God is actually speaking very tenderly to you in these moments, but your soul is the one throwing up walls and refusing to acknowledge what He’s saying to you. So the problem is not that He is rejecting you; it’s that you are rejecting Him. Clearly we need to fix this problem, because what an epic waste of time it is for your soul to be suffering so intensely over problems that do not actually exist. God isn’t over you. He hasn’t walked away. The relationship is not lost. You’re just spiritually stalled at the moment. It happens. We all get stalled in various ways along the path of spiritual maturity. But this is a fixable problem, so there’s no need for plunging into despair.
At this point, some of you are going to be thinking, “Yikes, if I have been rejecting God, surely He’ll be angry at me for that!” Before you start stressing about a brand new problem, let’s remember that God judges you by your soul’s attitude towards Him. Why has your soul been shutting down on God? Many of you will find that you shut down on God because you thought He rejected you and you’re actually trying to respect the fact that He wants nothing to do with you. In other words, you are still trying to please God, even if it means accepting His rejection of you. God judges you by your soul’s attitude towards Him. There are many ways to communicate your love to God, and a lot of those ways appear to be very negative on the surface. Crying in a corner because you’re mourning the fact that you and God are over is a very grim situation, yet you don’t get that upset about losing God unless He was extremely important to you in the first place. We don’t feel sad when useless junk leaves our lives. But we are devastated when we lose our most precious treasures. When you’re mourning over God like you’ve just lost something precious, He hears the love your soul is communicating loud and clear. Is God going to be angry with a soul who is placing such a high value on Him? Of course not.
When you can barely choke out an apology to God because you feel so racked with shame over offending Him with your actions, your soul is once again declaring how important God is to you. You won’t feel terrible about displeasing God unless pleasing Him is extremely important to you. Is God going to be angry with a soul who cares so much about what He thinks? Of course not.
When you avoid talking to God because you’re convinced He’ll say something harsh to you and you know you couldn’t bear the pain of hearing Him clearly communicate His disgust with you, your soul is once again proving how much it cherishes its relationship to God. God’s rejection of you simply wouldn’t be such a devastating experience unless His acceptance of you was vital to your soul. Is God going to be angry with a soul who cherishes Him so much that it can’t bear the thought of losing Him? Of course not.
What I want you to be learning here is that what God hears when you talk to Him is often very different than what you think He hears. This is because God always looks past the words and actions and He reacts to your soul’s true motivations towards Him. God never misses your soul’s declarations of love, no matter what form they come in. This is a critical point to understand when you feel like you’re drowning in grief over the thought of losing God, because the very fact that you care enough about Him to mourn the loss of Him so intensely proves that nothing has been lost at all. God always responds to your soul’s attitude towards Him. When He sees that your soul deeply cares about Him, He is delighted with you, regardless of what kinds of struggles you’re having. It’s that simple.
Now demons attract to traumatised people like moths to a flame, because where there is trauma, there is internal suffering, and demons personally benefit from all forms of suffering. Imagine that you were terribly thirsty and you come across a small shot glass with some water in it. Naturally you’re going to grab the thing and gulp it down. But then suppose you see a faucet that could provide you with an endless stream of lovely, hydrating liquid. You’re going to be all over that faucet, and you’re going to try to stay close to it as long as you can.
Demons are in a different situation than we are. While our physical bodies need to eat physical food and water to survive, demons have different needs. Demons can’t get the same benefits from a hamburger that you can, but they benefit from your internal distress in ways that you can’t relate to at all. This is why demons attract towards humans who are in some state of distress. It’s also why demons will try to do things to make you feel distressed if you’re feeling happy at the time they come around. Demons need you to suffer for some very practical reasons. They have other reasons for delighting in your misery, but the key thing I want you to learn here is that demons have their own personal motivations for wanting to you to be miserable. In other words, they are the ones with the problem, not you. It’s commonly thought that if demons are heavily targeting you, that’s a sign that you have some kind of spiritual or mental deficiency. But no, demons target you for their own selfish reasons, not because you’ve done something wrong, and not because they are accurately communicating God’s view of you.
It’s vital to understand that demons will do anything to increase your internal misery simply because they need you to suffer. Once you understand how self-focused demons are, you can avoid the trap of trying to use their actions as some kind of measure for how God feels about you.
It’s also important to understand that demons adjust their tactics to match the priorities of your soul. If you really care about God, demons will try to use that fact against you by telling you God is angry with you when He really isn’t. There are two main ways that they do this. One is by trying to imitate God’s Voice in your head. The other is to create negative imagery in your mind which they can then get you to associate with God. Common examples here are images of God glaring down at you, laughing at your pain, or spitting on you in disgust. Such images are created by demons, but then your soul accepts them as accurate portrayals of God and that is when they do damage. Demonic harassment always has two stages to it: first they act, then you respond. By the time your soul is convinced God hates you because of your sexual struggles, it’s pretty much guaranteed that demons have gotten involved in your situation, and that they have been presenting your soul with a lot of “evidence” that God is disgusted with you. Of course that evidence will be nothing more than their parlour tricks, but demon theatrics can be very effective and difficult to identify if you don’t know anything about spiritual discernment.
Spiritual discernment is about learning to accurately identify the true source of a communication. When you think God has just said something to you, you need to ask some important questions before you just accept that the message was really from Him, because it’s quite possible it was just demons trying to imitate God in order to throw your soul off track.
Now spiritual discernment is a massive topic, but there are a few basic principles that can greatly help you when you’re dealing with soul shame. The first principles is this:
God’s convictions are always clear, specific, and doable.
God’s convictions are like commands. He might be telling to do something, or to not do something. Either way, His convictions will always have the same qualities of being clear, specific, and doable. If you think God has said something to you that does not line up with these three things, then you need to reject that message as coming from Him.
A second vital principle of discernment is this:
When God has a problem with you, He will always show you the way to immediately get back into a good place with Him.
Immediately is the key word here. When you think that there is a problem between you and God that you can’t possibly fix right now, then you’re mistaking that message as being from God when it really wasn’t. Your own soul and demons can come up with a lot of impossible commands, but since God is the Supreme Authority, His commands are the only ones that matter.
Here’s a third important principle to understand:
God judges you by your soul’s response to Him.
A porn addiction is an entirely different issue than your soul’s response to God. Watching porn is a physical activity. God judges you by your soul attitudes. When you think God is angry at you, you need to be able to identify a specific negative soul attitude that your soul is intentionally embracing. If all you can come up with are physical behaviours and perverse sexual fantasies, then you have no grounds for assuming God is mad at you. Your relationship with God is a soul thing, not a body or mind thing.
Here’s a fourth vital principle of discernment:
God wants you to succeed with Him, so when He has a problem with you, He can be counted on to clearly communicate that to you in a way that you can understand.
The fabulous news here is that the burden is not on you to try to keep yourself on the right path. God never expects you to read His Divine mind or pick up on vague hints that He drops. God cares far more about this relationship than you do, so if He feels your soul is responding to Him in a way that’s causing real problems, He’ll tell you. He won’t be vague in such moments, He’ll be clear. He won’t just tell you once, He’ll harangue you. You simply can’t miss God’s convictions because He knows how to make your little soul register exactly what He is saying. But this topic brings us to another very important principle:
God always goes direct in His relationship with you, and He wants you to talk directly with Him.
Okay, so your pastor just finished a passionate sermon in which he insisted that God thinks watching porn is a vile sin. Now you’re feeling like horrible because porn owns you right now, and you just can’t resist it. Here is where you need to realise that your pastor isn’t God. God always goes direct. If He’s really as angry about your porn watching as your pastor claims He is, God will communicate that message directly to your soul. But what else have we learned about God’s conviction style? When He wants you to do something (or in this case, stop doing something), He will give you a command that is clear, specific, and doable. Is it doable for you to “just stop” when you’re dealing with a strong addiction? No. You know that, and so does God, because He’s the One who invented the mechanics of addiction. Also remember that God judges you by your souls’ response to HIM. According to your pastor, God is mad at you because of a physical behaviour (watching the porn). Or He’s made at you for a mental activity (focusing on those perverse sexual fantasies). The problem with this logic is that neither of these things are a soul attitude.
When you do something in life, your soul always responds to what you’re doing. In that moment, your soul might also express certain feelings towards God. Watching porn, masturbating, and focusing on sexual fantasies are all activities which your soul will respond to. But while your soul is responding to the activities, it may or may not say something to God. Plenty of porn addicts don’t know who God is, so there souls aren’t expressing anything to Him at all as they grapple with their addictions. You don’t have to care about God to hate yourself for watching porn. Plenty of porn addicts are drowning in guilt and self-loathing without any thought of God. To offend God, you need to intentionally defy Him on a soul level. You can’t do that when you don’t even know who He is. Simply responding to your own behaviours is not the same as expressing a specific attitude towards your Creator.
What I want you to learn here is that within religious communities, a whole lot of guff is being taught regarding the subject of Divine judgment. There are many religious people who will make adamant declarations about how God views certain behaviours and the people who do them. There are many people who will try to play God in your life by declaring how He feels about you even though they are not authorised to do so. No one is authorised to judge you on God’s behalf. Even legitimate preachers and prophets who God has commanded to speak to you are still not authorised to replace Him in any area of your life. God always goes direct and that means that if He speaks to you through another human, He will also confirm directly to your soul that that is what’s going on. So you’ll hear the human talking, then you’ll also hear God saying directly to your soul, “I’m talking to you through that other person right now.” But here’s the thing about God talking to you through other people: if it’s really Him talking, whatever is said will line up with all of the discernment tests we’ve learned about in this post. His message will be clear. If He wants you to do something, He will be specific, and the thing will be actually possible for you to do given your current resources. If He has a problem with you, it will be because of the way your soul is responding to Him, not because of something your body or mind is doing.
Don’t be impressed with the fancy titles people give themselves. Words like anointed, prophet, and seer are utterly meaningless. All you should care about is whether the message they’re saying to you is actually coming from God or not, and unless it lines up with all of these discernment principles, you need to reject it for the guff that it is.
Life is about pleasing God, not the folks who claim to be His representatives on earth. If your pastor thinks you’re a disgusting little perv, that’s an issue he’ll have to work out with God when God is ready to mature him in that area. You need to keep your focus on pleasing God, because His opinion is the only one that matters. You can’t even know what God wants from you unless you’re willing to listen to Him, and that is why keeping the lines of communication open is so important.
God is very easy to succeed with. Whenever you think pleasing God is some impossible task, you’re misunderstanding what He expects from you in that moment. In such a case, ask God to help you. Don’t just ask a human. Asking other people for advice is fine as far as it goes, but you shouldn’t be accepting anything they say about your standing with God until you hear from Him as well. God doesn’t always answer us right away, so we need to be willing to adjust to His timing. But remember: He cares a lot more about this relationship than you do. He’s not going to stand back and say nothing while you drift down some rebellious road. You can’t ruin your future with God unless you put a lot of effort into fighting against Him on a soul level.
In the chart below, I list several situations that commonly trip up sincere God seekers who are struggling with shame over their sexual trauma symptoms. Use this chart to help yourself practice good discernment skills in moments when you’re trying to sort out how God feels about you. Don’t apologise or repent until you are certain there is a problem. A lot of you have developed a negative habit of constantly repenting for rebellious soul attitudes that you don’t actually have. Others of you are treating God like He’s mad at you all the time and never allowing for the possibility that He’s either not mad at you at all, or that He’s entirely over some momentary rebellion that you went through in the past. The way you respond to God reinforces your soul’s beliefs, so if you keep responding to Him incorrectly, you’ll keep reinforcing false beliefs, and those beliefs will only cause your soul to remain distressed and miserable. To get out from under shame, we need to understand the truth about how God judges us, then we need to align our soul’s behaviour with those truths.
When you go through your discernment chart, many of you will discover that God isn’t upset with you even when you think He should be. God doesn’t take His cues from you. He doesn’t follow your lead in this relationship. He makes up His own mind about you, and if you want to progress with Him, you need to acknowledge that His opinion trumps yours. No matter how much your own soul is disgusted with you, and no matter how much you want God to agree with your soul’s point of view, you need to leave room for Him to have a very different perspective. God is the Supreme Authority. If He says it’s all good between you and Him, then that’s how it is, and you need to put effort into aligning with His assessment.
To learn more about Divine judgment, see the following posts: