Negative judgments of one’s sexual identity, behaviors, attractions, thoughts, or feelings result in sexual shame, a specific type of shame. According to Pulverman and Meston (2020), sexual shame is connected to one’s prior sexual experiences and acts. It involves issues like sex and sexuality, sexual wants, and very private parts of sexual identity that are unavoidable, such as attraction and gender. Sexual shame affects behaviors such as addiction, homosexuality, and adultery. In this context, the essay focuses on the latter and provides clinical and Biblical views.
People overpowered by sexual guilt and shame tend to conceal their sexual impulses or activities because they see them as undesirable or unworthy. Psychological splitting, which occurs when a subject considers part of their personality unacceptable, is a frequent consequence of sexual shame (Unthank, 2019). The disowned aspect of one’s personality still exists, but it does so only in private, where it is often entangled with guilt.
Internalized sexual shame may be a component in developing depression and anxiety symptoms. Additionally, those with high levels of sexual shame may struggle with closeness in their sexual and romantic relationships, leading to unequal desire, more conflict, and partner resentment (Pulverman & Meston, 2020). According to Balswick and Balswick (2019), unfulfilled desires belong among the first steps toward adulterous actions. They result in partners beginning to separate and seeking fulfillment within other relationships.
Clinical and Biblical perspectives on countermeasures against adultery agree on openly confronting the shame’s source. The former primarily focuses on in-depth evaluation to invoke acceptance (Unthank, 2019). The latter proposes the same, highlighting the importance of working on it as a couple (Balswick & Balswick, 2019). Additionally, if adultery has already occurred, the Bible states in Peter 5:10: “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” (English Standard Version Bible, 2001). Hence, God will help one restore one’s marriage and sexuality even if the sin was made.
In conclusion, sexual shame may result in many sexual behavior deviations. Adultery can also be caused by sexual shame; therefore, clinicians study the causes of such behavior to help people confront them. Bible also urges not to suppress undisclosed emotions and rely on partners to overcome the problem. Interestingly, both approaches align in the case of adultery, despite their common tendency to approach scientific issues differently.
Balswick, J., & Balswick, J. (2019). Authentic human sexuality: An integrated Christian approach (3rd ed). Downers Grove, Intervarsity Press.
English Standard Version Bible. (2001). ESV Online.
Pulverman, C. S., & Meston, C. M. (2020). Sexual dysfunction in women with a history of childhood sexual abuse: The role of sexual shame. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 12(3), 291–299.
Unthank, K. W. (2019). How self-blame empowers and disempowers survivors of interpersonal trauma: An intuitive inquiry. Qualitative Psychology, 6(3), 359. Web.