So it’s been out for a bit now, but my wife and I recently saw the movie “Redeeming Love.” There’s not a more fitting title for this story, and we walked away shaken deep with the powerful storyline and redemptive themes.
As the story unfolded, you could see the depth of trauma the main female character went through. Also, the main male character showed a powerful picture of God’s unswerving love, patience, and forgiveness. I sat there and couldn’t not think about all the children, all the women, and men out there who’ve experienced similar sexual trauma and neglect often from young ages. I left pondering the depth of human needs being twisted into a world of deceit and captivity that takes innocence and replaces it with shame.
Whether we’re talking about brothels from the 1800’s or modern day brothels/prostitution, online paid hookups, massage parlors, and human/sex trafficking the world of sexual coercion fills our history and modern times alike. We as humans are created as sexual beings that search for meaning and fulfillment. Sadly, in this search, the sexual craving distorts and becomes a primary driver for meaning or the primary feeder for acceptance. In the end both fall drastically short of what we’re actually searching for in life.
We’re created by our Maker to love, accept one another, and likewise find acceptance. Our sexual nature weaves all this together, but that acceptance and love is on God’s terms as our Designer. His design for love is one that shows respect and acceptance toward each other. We end up chasing what we think will give us this love and acceptance in a world of hurt and pain from others’ neglect or abuse where we end up as collateral “damage.” We’re left feeling like we are “damaged” and we attempt to glue the broken pieces back together ourselves. So often this leads to a complicated web of relationship hookups, sex, porn, and substances that promise so much but in the end feel incomplete.
In all these aspects, we end up using others to feed our own attempts to make sense of this life. Sex trafficking doesn’t just happen in the kidnap style we think of from Hollywood, but it more often than not happens through a grooming relationship built on trust. Connection and dependence—even if unhealthy—is formed and this deeply rooted desire for love and acceptance is touched. Tragically, that root ends up being the rotten seeds of shame, confusion, and slavery. Addiction and trafficking looks from the outside like insanity, just as this woman from the “Redeeming Love” movie went back time and time again to her past. Once that trust in one’s search for love and acceptance is broken, being in the presence of actual love and acceptance feels soooo awkward and even twistedly wrong—but at the same it feels soooo right. This by the way affects more than just human slavery, but also other aspects of sexual distortion like toxic relationship hookups or even pornography.
The movie portrayed this inner tension so well. Recovery ultimately is more than just living sober from a substance or from that toxic relationship or from violating people through images and videos or from settling for shallow validation that is actually abuse. That woman found herself in the arms of her true lover who completely accepted her. She had found HER sobriety in this sense, yet everything inside her screamed to run back to hell itself. She didn’t ultimately find recovery until she faced her emotions and tore them apart with WHY she felt the way she did… untangling her inner thoughts regarding her past abuse and her relentless search to make sense of this in the ways she did in her brothel lifestyle.
And this is the powerful unspoken mic drop of the entire movie if there ever was one. As the movie closes, you’re left seeing the fruits of a broken woman who realized she wasn’t broken at all but could be as intended… redeemed, fully accepted and fully loved at the same time. She was NOT her past, she was not her mom, she was not her guardian, she was not a whore, she was not helpless or hopeless. She was her own person made to be truly loved and accepted, and she was capable of truly loving and accepting others.
There’s not a better title to this story other than what it’s called, “Redeeming Love!” As the movie ended, I sat there blown away at the absolute fierce love of God pursuing us the way that husband did. My wife and I overcame some deep emotional and sexual challenges in our past, and I’m SO thankful for her fierceness working through things with me. We are truly stronger today because we’re facing our past, grieving, taking ownership, and moving forward.
Finally, I thought about all those I now know in recovery who are bravely facing their own past and healing. Some of the fiercest people I know are now friends of mine who have literally walked through the flames of hell. I sit with them in the flow of everyday life and work, and I’m so rocked to see how those hellish flames are not only extinguished but are replaced with fierce, radiant light. While the smells of hell’s flames are gone, there are still scars…. Oh but here’s the thing!!!—those scars aren’t hidden in shame but are fiercely shown to the world in ways that don’t glamorize the past darkness but instead radiate God’s redeeming light!
So no matter what hell you’ve experienced—even if you can still smell hell’s flames on you—you matter and you have purpose. You were created to be loved and accepted and to love and accept others too. God is still there, He hasn’t left you no matter what others have done to you and no matter what you’ve done as well, His love remains. Slowly open your heart to His redeeming love and begin healing.
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