Kay Warren, wife of Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren, has shared how the sexual abuse she endured as a child led to her to choose “resilience” which in turn allows her to be a “much more effective minister for Christ.”
In a recent interview with Christian Today discussing her new book Sacred Privilege, Kay opened up about her past pornography addiction, her experience of childhood sexual abuse, and how her experiences affected her marriage.
“I was molested as a little girl,” she said. “I can’t hide behind that and I am the one that has to take responsibility. I think those choices lead to resilience, they lead to the ability to hold on in the harder times and it allows me to be a much more effective minister for Christ when I am spiritually healthy. Ministry is hard and if we are going to last we have to look in the mirror and take responsibility for growing close to Jesus.”
Earlier, Kay revealed she was sexually abused at the hands of a church janitor when she was just four or five years old. In an attempt to deal with the “confusion and internal struggle” she felt, she became addicted to pornography.
“It is impossible to overestimate the effect of discovering pornographic magazines in a neighbor’s home when I was babysitting, partially because we didn’t talk about sex in our conservative home, plus the expectations to be perfect, not to stumble in any way,” she told CT. “It all came together in a very toxic way that left me divided, two different people: there was the good girl who loved Jesus and wanted to be a missionary, and the girl who was a complete and utter embarrassment to Jesus…there was a fear of being disqualified from serving Jesus or even being a Christian.”
She added, “I would start that cycle again of shame and remorse and promising God I would never do it again and feeling more shame: a familiar cycle to every one of us, never going to think that again, and when we do feeling overwhelmed with shame and hopeless creatures.”
At just 21 years old, Kay and Rick married — but marriage was anything but easy for the young couple.
“I had told Rick about being molested as a little girl-he was the first person I ever told-but because I was so unemotional about it, he figured it wasn’t that significant an incident to me and basically forgot about it,” Kay recounted in a article published in Christianity Today. “I kept my occasional ventures into pornography a complete secret. Between the effects of the unaddressed molestation, the resulting brokenness in my sexuality, and the off-and-on pornography fascination, it shouldn’t have been a surprise that sex didn’t work.”
Nevertheless, the pair “limped through” their first year of marriage, and by the second year were living in “marital hell.” Their misery confused both of them, as they “loved Jesus with all our hearts and we’re committed to the local church.”
Eventually, Rick and Kay decided to seek out counseling, and soon began to experience healing in their marriage.
“God has worked in our life together-and he’s used our marriage struggles and failures to draw us closer to him and to each other,” she wrote. “We know we are the best thing that has ever happened to each other. I am in love with the man God brought into my life so many years ago.”
“Each of us is not who the other was looking for, but each of us is who the other desperately needed to become the person we each are today,” she concluded.
Kay frequently uses her social media accounts to raise awareness about sexual abuse and encourage victims to seek help. Earlier this year, she participated in the #MeToo movement.