Our souls are wounded by any direct violation of our dignity. But wounds come not only by the presence of the negative, but also by the absence of the positive – by abuse and by neglect.
A child is neglected when he is not given basic food, shelter, and clothing. And likewise, a child suffers emotional neglect when he does not receive a positive emotional atmosphere.
Neglected children often experience a failure to thrive. While they might otherwise be functional, there is a struggle to move toward their potential.
The same seems true sexually.
Even with good parents who provided for us physically, emotionally, and spiritually – many of us were neglected in our sexual development.
Beyond the mechanics of baby making and “safe sex” practices, most of us received little to no direct guidance on what it means to be a sexual man.
We were left mostly on our own – piecing together what we could from friends, media, and porn.
And like physical or emotional neglect, there is also a failure to thrive when we suffer neglect sexually.
For some, this leads them to repress and deny their sexual selves, perpetuating the neglect. In marriage, for example, there might be difficulty initiating or receiving sexual advances – leaving our wife now neglected.
For others, there might be a constant need for sexual reassurance. Sex becomes a compulsive need not for the pleasure, play, or intimacy, but rather in our attempt to fill this nameless void inside.
Still others become sexually demanding and critical – unable to tolerate any deviation from their own expectations. Here we attempt to manage our insecurities by trying to control others.
Sexual neglect is hard to name because there is no apparent “abuse” present. The harm comes from what was not given – direct guidance, instruction, and training.
It’s possible that much of our sexual shame, confusion, and frustration can be traced back to sexual neglect.
While we cannot change the neglect of our past, we can actively choose teachers, coaches, and mentors today.
Redeem the neglect in your story and pursue all that God has for you as a sexual being.