Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Kim Gaines Eckert’s new book Things Your Mother Never Told You: A Woman’s Guide to Sexuality (InterVarsity Press, 2014).

God created you as a sexual being, but in this fallen world that’s full of sexual brokenness it can be challenging to live your sexuality out in healthy, faithful ways. Myths about sex abound in our culture: Sometimes sex is presented as a god, with people devoting themselves to it as an end in itself. At other times, sex is portrayed as something evil, with people feeling ashamed of the sexual feelings they naturally have. Women often receive especially confusing messages about sex in our culture, which urges them to be provocative at times and makes them feel insecure at others.

But no matter how sex and femininity have been distorted in our world, the fact remains that sex is something good that God invented and gave humanity as a gift. Our sex drives create the desire within us for union with someone outside ourselves, which ultimately points us to the union we can have with God through loving relationships with Jesus Christ.

God redeems brokenness and wants you to enjoy wholeness in every way, including sexually. Here’s how you can find sexual wholeness as a woman:

Approach sexuality holistically. Keep in mind that your sexuality isn’t just one part of you; it encompasses your whole self. The sexual decisions you make affect you to your core and impact every part of your life.

Reject sexual expressions that make you feel dehumanized. Authentic sexuality should always make you feel more human – not less so – because God created sexuality as an integral part of your humanity. Keep in mind when deciding how to express yourself sexually that love and respect for yourself as a child of God should always be reflected in your choices.

Understand that sex is more than an act. Since sex is a sign of the eternal union that God wants to have with the people he loves, any type of sexual behavior is significant. Sex is more than just the act of intercourse through vaginal penetration; it also involves a broad spectrum of other sexual behaviors that couples express on a continuum, such as holding hands, kissing, caressing, touching body parts, masturbation, and oral sex. When considering a particular kind of sexual behavior, ask yourself whether that behavior is an appropriate way for you and your romantic partner to reflect God’s loving, relational nature.

Consider the sacred purpose of sex. Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you regularly that sex is sacramental. Keep in mind God’s purpose for sex: to teach you more about how to love him and others. Sex is relational because God has a relational nature (between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and it unites two people into a one-flesh relationship, sex is fruitful because it draws couples to create something wonderful together (from children to other creative results of their relationship), and sex is pleasurable because God designed spouses to enjoy it together as a taste of the joy that comes from a loving union and finds its ultimate expression in uniting with God in love.

Understand the principles that govern how God has designed men and women to relate to each other. Those principles are: unity and difference (God created people in His own image (unity) as males and females (difference), order and equality (just as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all fully God, men and women have distinct gender differences and yet are fully equal), and loving relations (God intends for men and women to give and receive love to and from one another, just as the parts of the Trinity do).