Today's post was written by Carla Garikes, one of our Brook Hills members and women's small group leaders.

Several decades ago we told ourselves it was okay to have sex with our boyfriends 'if' we really loved them. In the years that followed, the world told us that sex was a natural and expected part of any dating relationship, and we should and could keep it casual. Sadly, no one told us that believing and acting on any of those lies would leave our souls broken in ways we could not imagine.

Truthfully, many of us knew that God said sex was something for married couples only. Like Eve, though, we doubted God's Word, and like Eve, we came face to face with shame and regret. Those feelings of shame and regret were powerful and either forced us to spiral down into a pit of more self-destructive behavior or to fall on our face in repentance.

Ahhh, repentance! The place we meet Jesus and our healing begins. Healing takes time, but God is patient and faithful and pleased to complete this work He has started in us. He gives us His Holy Spirit, the Bible, gifted pastors, grace-filled friends, and often sound Christian books.

One such book is Sex and the Soul of a Woman by Paula Rinehart. A seasoned counselor, Rinehart, confirms what we already know, "Sex outside its intended bonds is as destructive and soul tearing as it is healing and redemptive inside the bonds it's meant for." The world tells us that we should embrace sex as a normal, even healthy, part of any relationship we have with a man. This book, however, contains story after story of women who have said yes to sex outside of marriage only to find that 'casual sex' is an oxymoron.

The author invites us to see the truth that God has given us a desire for a relationship that endures, and He created in us the capacity to bring an ever increasing level of depth and intimacy into a relationship with a man. In other words, God designed us to attach in relationships. The more physical the relationship, the stronger the attachment becomes. Why then, do we give away pieces of our soul to men we cannot not trust to cherish us?

Through the pages of Sex and the Soul of a Woman, Reinhart, compassionately helps us acknowledge what we have lost, shows us how to get our hearts back, and shares with us how Jesus sees us. Whether we are the woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, or the woman who washed His feet with her tears, He neither condones or condemns. He shows us mercy. He is trustworthy and His love for us is steadfast.

As we are healed and transformed into the women God created us to be, Reinhart challenges us with these words "...people never really change very deeply until someone catches them in their shame and is not appalled." May we graciously offer other women a safe place to share their stories and introduce them to Jesus, the only One who can restore their souls.