“How we express ourselves as sexual beings is one of the fruits of our hearts, expressing either submission to Christ, or slavery to Self.”(p. 28)
Men are sexual beings. Women are less sexual. All men struggle with sexual sin. There is something wrong with a woman who struggles with sexual sin. Men need help to overcome sexual addictions. Women don’t need help, because they don’t have sexual addictions. These are some of the messages that our culture sends, causing some women to be too ashamed to be honest with themselves and others about their sexual battles. Christian women often fear that no one will understand their struggles. Many churches offer help for men to receive freedom from sexual addictions, but how often do we see it discussed amongst women? Sexual Sanity for Women, by Editor Ellen Dykas of Harvest USA, is a workbook that gives women the freedom to discuss their relational and sexual sins and to find healing from them. Harvest USA is a ministry “committed to offering hope in Jesus to men and women struggling with sexual brokenness and sin.”
Sexual Sanity for Women is made for groups of women to journey through together. Many women would benefit from reading this book individually, but it is all the more powerful to participate in a group. A woman looking for freedom is likely to be more diligent and accountable while participating in a structured setting. Each group session has a key concept that is discussed in the main body of each session, reflection questions (for group discussion and individual reflection), and reflection readings. There are twenty sessions, each one being just enough material to stimulate thought and discussion without overwhelming the participant with too much information.
The goals of this workbook are to help women identify their sin and allow the truth of the gospel to help them find freedom from the sin. As a framework for helping individuals understand how sin is a result of our hearts being influenced by the world around us, Harvest USA uses what they call the “Tree Model”. The workbook spends ample time going over the many components of the tree, such as seed, soil, roots, shoots and fruit. Each component is discussed in depth and aids the participants in identifying the patterns of sinful behavior in their own lives. The “Tree Model” is also helpful in explaining how they can begin to create new, healthy patterns in their lives.
“Our pasts do not define us, nor have they caused us to willfully choose any of the relational or sexual sins we struggle with now”. (p. 52)
As part of the tree model, Dykas does a fantastic job of encouraging the women participants to “name” their sin, rather than getting creative with how they explain their “issues”. Finding healing and freedom from relational and sexual sin requires the participant to not only “name” the sin, but to allow the redemptive message of the gospel to bring hope.
“If you were to encounter Jesus today, you could have confidence that he would not condemn you but would show you love and mercy. You could also be confident to know that he would not focus exclusively on your outward behavior and sins, but rather on the deeper motivational issues that arise from the core of who you are in your heart.” (p. 10)
Sexual Sanity for Women does a commendable job in guiding women to not hide their face from God as they work through these issues. Every lesson in this book ends with a powerful message of how the gospel pertains to each topic discussed. This prepares women to identify the truth as they are faced with future temptations in their lives. A strong gospel message is the critical foundation to any workbook that claims to help individuals to overcome sin. Otherwise, the participant is left with nothing but suggestions and encouragement. While those things are good, they will not give lasting hope and motivation to the participant.
Remember when Jesus said, “Whoever is without sin, cast the first stone”? Women who struggle with sexual sin do not need to live their lives fearing the stones and criticism of others. The gospel provides a way for women to receive freedom and healing, as Jesus did that day when He defended a prostitute amongst hateful men. He gave her forgiveness and a fresh start.
Women don’t have to be overlooked, silent or confused about their sexuality. It’s part of how women were made beautifully and wonderfully as sexual beings. Sexual Sanity for Women (along with Sexual Sanity for Men) is a life-changing resource for Christian women everywhere. It should be in the hands of every church counselor, pastor and mentor who wants to know the truth about women’s struggles and how to help them overcome.