Why Every Man’s Battle Backfires: We Should Expect Men Not to Lust

by | Jun 20, 2017 | Libido, Pornography, Uncategorized | 173 comments

Why Every Man's Battle Idea Backfires: If we expect all men to lust, maybe we shouldn't be surprised if so many do. A better, more biblical way of seeing lust.
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Women, you are not living in a dream world if you want to be married to a guy who doesn’t lust.

It is perfectly reasonable, and utterly biblical, to expect that your husband will not lust after other women–or at least will actively fight a battle with this temptation so that he will eventually win over it.

This week we’re dismantling the argument that “men are visually stimulated” necessarily means that “all men will lust” and that this is “every man’s battle”. That does so much damage to women’s self-esteem, and to men’s ability to withstand lust. I know a lot of men who read this blog struggle with lust.

I want you to know that this series is not meant to shame you–if anything, I hope this encourages you to know that your battle is one that can be won!

This post is more of a rant against how we’ve talked about lust in churches, not a condemnation of the many men who are currently fighting the fight. My heart and prayers are with you!

Yesterday we saw how psychological studies do not actually say that lust is “every man’s battle”. Now let’s look at the Bible.

What does Scripture say about “Every Man’s Battle”?

The Bible does not talk about lust as if it’s any more common than any other sin.

In fact, the sin most commonly mentioned in Scripture is not lust at all but greed. Over and over again in the Old Testament God tells the Israelites that they are being punished because of the way they treated the poor. And the sin that is listed as the root of all other sins is not lust but pride.

The Bible does put sexual sins in a category of their own, but not because they’re more common or more sinful; simply because they affect us more.

Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 

1 Corinthians 6:18

When lust is mentioned, it most often is in a list of sins:

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions  and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 

Galatians 5:20-21, NIV

Sometimes lists of sins don’t even specifically mention lust:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.  People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,  without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good,  treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—  having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

2 Timothy 3:1-5

Lust, then, is not a special category of sin that men won’t be able to win victory over.

The Bible shows us that men can have perfectly platonic relationships with women

Scripture also shows that Jesus sought out platonic friendships with women (John 4); traveled with women; had great affection for the women who were with Him (John 20:11-18); and honoured those women (Mark 14:9). And never once did He have sexual feelings towards them. So if we ask “what would Jesus do?” in His relationships with women, the answer is simple. He would see the women around Him as people first; He would respect them and honour them; and He would not lust after them. 

The apostles followed in His footsteps. Paul had many female friends and co-workers, and mentions them in his letters. And yet he’s quick to say that he’s content being single. So Paul defeated lust, and Jesus didn’t struggle with it. They both demonstrated phileo love–the brotherly and sisterly love that we should all have for each other.

The Bible does not lay the blame for lust at a woman’s feet

In fact, Scripture does the exact opposite. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says:

But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 

Matthew 5:28-29, NIV

Jesus believed that the guilt for lust laid squarely at the feet of the guy who was lusting.

Ah, I can hear people say, but we are supposed to be sure not to cause anyone to stumble!

Yes, we certainly are, and I do believe that all of us should be respecting ourselves and each other by dressing with care. But when we make the assumption that men are basically helpless to withstand the pull of lust, then the only way to prevent men’s lust is for women to stop being so darn sexy.

But even if women in church dress better, that won’t solve the problem. Women in the world will still dress provocatively. This mentality says, “Best case scenario, your husband will ALSO want to have sex with you”.  

When we keep our focus on the fact that we love our spouse, we’re far less likely to objectify anyone else. 

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The responsibility to overcome lust lies at the man’s feet

I remember reading Every Heart Restored, part of the Every Man’s Battle series, and being very depressed by it. The thesis seemed to be that guys could overcome lust–but only if women realized how hard the pull was and made themselves very readily available sexually, with enthusiasm.

Now, I’m all for enthusiastic sex! In fact, I think it’s very important for women to see sex as something positive and do their best to get enthusiastic about it. But that can only be done in the context of a healthy, mutual relationship. You cannot force a woman to be enthusiastic sexually to a guy who is sinning against her by lusting after other women. That completely negates her sex drive and denies her needs for security and love.

Plus, this argument does a weird blame-shifting thing. If men are lusting, then they are sinning against women. They are viewing them as sex objects rather than as whole people. Yet somehow, instead of recognizing women as the victims in this scenario, the argument paints men as the victims. Because lust is universal, the guy can’t do anything about it. It’s up to the woman to help him win this battle. And if she doesn’t, then it’s her fault if he sins. The victim has become the perpetrator.

In this line of thinking, too, him not sinning has become more important than her feeling loved and cherished. And her desire to feel cherished like that is seen as unrealistic anyway.

This view is entirely unbiblical. She cannot make him stop sinning; only he can do that. She can make it easier for him, yes. But her needs matter, too. And part of the problem with lust is that it treats sex as if it’s only physical, rather than about an intimate relationship. Defeating lust, then, involves learning to see sex as more than physical.

But you can’t turn sex into something that’s more than physical if you’re simultaneously telling women that their emotional needs don’t matter; only his physical ones do. Obligation sex is neither a good strategy to defeat lust nor a smart one when it comes to promoting great sex in marriage. Here’s a better message about why it’s important to have sex in marriage.

Feeling sexually disconnected?

Like you’ve lost your groove?

Like you’re on two different planets when it comes to sex in your marriage? 

31 Days to Great Sex can help you talk through what’s gone wrong and try some new things to figure out how to make it RIGHT!

 

The Bible tells us that Christian men can defeat lust

If we accept that every man battles lust for their whole life, then we are also accepting the fact that Christian men have one part of their life which will never be fully redeemed.

Does anyone else see a problem with that?

The New Testament is clear that when we come to know Christ, our characters should change.

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.
Colossians 3:5

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.
1 Thessalonians 4:3-7 NIV

We can often sound like we’re making a Christian argument about lust because we talk about it in terms of temptation and sin. But what if the way we’re talking about it is also denying God’s power in helping us get over that sin (see 2 Timothy 3:5)? The Bible doesn’t say, “Hopefully the women will cover up and you’ll be fine”–no, it says to put lust to death in your hearts or you will be punished! 

I am not saying that no Christian man will struggle with lust; we are fallen creatures, and this side of heaven we will all struggle to some degree with all sins, and to a major degree with certain ones. We all have our own weaknesses, and lust is one of the most common one. But to say that every single man will not be able to look at a beautiful woman with cleavage showing without lust in his heart is also to say that Jesus doesn’t make a difference.

Some men will still have to fight the battle, yes. But when we start talking about how every single Christian man struggles with this always, we make it sound like it’s a battle that no man can ever win. If we want our husbands to win this battle, then we need to stop framing it as something that every single man will struggle with for the rest of their lives.

That’s not biblical. And it completely diminishes the power of sanctification of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life. If you’re a guy struggling with lust, please understand that I am not trying to shame you. In fact, I want to empower you! I want you to know that this is a battle that you can win.  You do not have to be a slave to lust; you can see women as complete human beings without the pull to objectify them.

To say that defeating lust is too lofty a goal for men, then, is simply wrong.

God wants men not to lust. God equips men not to lust. The Holy Spirit changes us so that we are no longer slaves to lust. Men don’t just have to avoid looking at women or avoid women altogether (as some book series recommend); hearts can honestly be changed so that they can view women as complete human beings without thoughts straying.

A real man does not lust. A real man sees women as Daughters of God, whole people who are more than just body parts.

And so to all of you women who are heartbroken because your husband stares at women at the beach; to all of you women who are so sad because your husband is always staring at women in restaurants; to all of you women who are so lonely because your husband chooses porn over you; I just want to say–there is nothing wrong with you.

What you are feeling is perfectly natural. You don’t have to get used to your husband lusting. You don’t have to just accept it as “the way men are”.

If your husband is truly doing battle with lust and is trying to win, then join his fight! Be glad that he wants to be more Christlike, that he is admitting he has a problem, and be part of the solution with him. But if your husband isn’t fighting, and is just telling you, “this is how men are”, and that the problem would be solved if women would just dress right, then I want you to know, your feelings are not wrong. It’s okay to be angry and hurt. And it’s okay to want more.

That’s what God created you for, and I’m so, so sorry that you don’t have that. And I’m even more sorry that some streams of the Christian church have told you that it’s not something you ever should have expected in the first place.

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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173 Comments

  1. Sarah

    This is just a random observation, probably not theologically sound, but this post makes me think of Adam and Eve in the garden. Men have been blaming women for their sins literally since the beginning. I guess a guy would say women have been tempting to men since the beginning. That’s kind of a depressing thought, actually. I guess that’s why we salvation so badly.

    Reply
    • Sheila Gregoire

      Yes, we’ve all played the blame game. It’s part of the human sinful condition, I guess. Very sad.

      So maybe it’s time we started saying, “Nope. Ain’t gonna cut it anymore!”

      Reply
      • Ricky

        Men blame women. Women blame men. Women blame women. Men blame men. And we all blame God. Human nature is what it is and certainly not unique to any gender.

        Reply
    • Tom Hillson

      [Comment removed by editor. If you’re going to write a comment that is simply hateful towards women as a group, please go elsewhere. – Ed.]

      Reply
    • W Penn

      As the author astutely noted, Scripture does not grant lust special status, nor does it grant whoring a special status. The author conflates the two and lays the package at men’s feet. No believer can deny the acceptance the world gives lust. Neither can any believer deny that whoring is rampant; the idea that we must accept ever more crass, public display of women’s bodies in the name of liberation and self-expression is purely Satanic. The Bible clearly states that we are not to place temptation before our brothers. Men, keep your eyes where they belong, women, conduct yourselves with decency.

      Reply
    • Jason

      Lust is not attraction, or arousal or even a spontaneous thought, but the deliberate harboring of desire for inlicit relationship , I think is the best definition of what lust is.
      Also what is not talked about is when a guy says “I struggle with lust” he is trying not to think anything sexual when he sees a sexually attractive woman. There has been studies have shown that if you try not to think about something, it will actually cause you to think about it more. Those thoughts you actively try to suppress actually will harder to get rid of . I believe at least this is actually part of the reason guys are struggling so much.

      Reply
  2. Lori

    Thanks, Sheila. Couldn’t agree more.

    Reply
    • Sheila Gregoire

      Thanks, Lori! That means a lot coming from you. If Paul wants to chime in…. 🙂

      Reply
  3. Tom Hillson

    True story: about 25 years ago, I was at a small church service and afterwards a few guys circled around the 80-year-old pastor that everyone admired. A young man asked him “I struggle with lust. Pastor, when did you conquer it?” The pastor replied “I’ll let you know when it happens.”

    Reply
    • Sheila Gregoire

      I’m sorry that that pastor ever gave you the impression that it can’t be conquered. So sorry. I’m sorry that, as a Christian teacher who is held to a higher standard, he did not point you to the power of the Holy Spirit in your life, or point you to 1 Corinthians 10:13.

      Reply
      • Tom Hillson

        For all the women: here’s an analogy I like to use. Let’s say God made a decree that all adults must speak in a deep voice. Now, to most men, that’s no biggie. All they have to do is speak in their normal voice. But, to most women, that is a very big ask. They will have to consciously think about speaking in a deep voice every time they talk. They will often fail and thus sin against God. I liken this to the lust arena. God hardwired men to be visually stimulated sexually. But He did not make women this way, for the most part. Now about the decree to speak in a deep voice, who do you think will fail more often to follow this edict, men or women? Women of course. Now is this a fair decree? I would argue no. Likewise, is it fair of God to say that He wants people to act more like women’s nature than like men’s nature? I feel God is being unfair with men. Now, wait, God isn’t unfair. So maybe there’s a middle ground here. Yes – that’s what makes the most sense then, right? There must be a solution where God is still fair and yet men aren’t shamed without cessation for following their God-given nature.

        Reply
        • libl

          It is called marrying and enjoying your wife.

          Listen, I get it. I am a visual woman. But I NEVER thought God would make me visual and say, “meh, go ahead and ogle the baseball players, or mentally undress the cute waiter.” No!

          God gave me a great singing voice, but He didn’t open the doors for me to be a pop star or Broadway Tony winner. Why would He do that? It is so unfair to give me a great talent, but close the doors to me using it (and making millions of dollars). He knows what He is doing.

          I have actually heard the excuses from single guys that they feel entitled to using porn because God hasn’t given them a wife when they wanted one. Heck, even I fell into the excuse of, “well, if my husband isn’t going to give me sex, I am going to get it from porn.” No! The Bible says that when you are married you are concerned for the things of your spouse. When you are single, you are concerned for the things of God. When hubby and I went through a rough spot and were living more like roommates, I put away porn and focused on the things of the Lord.

          Now, because I have gone through this as a woman, I can confirm that having a loving, affirming spouse and sexually satisfying marriage bed does go a LONG way to fighting temptation. Temptation goes from the overpowering demonic presence in the room to the annoying, easily squashed mosquito.

          Reply
          • Tom Hillson

            libl, I like you post, and I hope you’re right – when I find a loving, affirming spouse, temptation will drop way down! But I still wonder how “visual” you are. You may see a cute baseball player, but I doubt you have the same rush of sex chemicals inside you that most men have when they see a sexy woman. In fact, I know experiments have shown this.

          • Mary

            What experiments are you referring to? A recent study involved men and women watching pornography while their brains were being scanned. Both men’s and women’s brains responded to the visual imagery identically. These results contradicted the common belief that “men are visual and women aren’t”. Another study measured thermal imaging of the genitals of both men and women while they watched sexually explicit images. Both men and women reached the same temperatures (indicating sexual arousal) in the same amount of time. Again, this indicated that women were aroused visually just as easily as men were. So stop presumptuously telling women they aren’t visual and they don’t have the same reaction you have because they do. Women are sexual, too.

        • Anonymous

          Sin is not God-given. Lusting is not “following their God-given nature”. It is sin. To say that it is part of men’s nature so we should accept and excuse it is like saying any sin is acceptable, because “that’s the way God made me”. Women are generally more likely than men to gossip. So does that make it ok? No. We should all be striving to live by the Spirit in everything we do, fighting against our sinfulness. Lust has hurt me deeply in my marriage and made me feel like I’m not good enough for my husband. It is dishonoring to me as the supposed love of my husband’s life.

          Reply
        • Sarah-Epieikes

          If God is not unfair and you still seek some kind of leeway for the nature you regard as your fixed inheritance, then you have to start suggesting some kind of practical middle ground. Perhaps your solution could be to permit a maximum of 3 lustful thoughts a day. Or perhaps you would prefer a redefinition of what constitutes lust. Asking for a middle ground is only an option if you feel both sides can or should shift a bit. So, what could shift in your view?

          Reply
          • Tom Hillson

            Sarah-Epieikes, yes, you’re right, some kind of middle ground. But then, wait, I’d be really believing that God is unfair. God is not unfair. So either: (1) I’ve got things wrong (very possible but no one has ever poked a good hole in my logic), (2) God doesn’t exist (I’ve been leaning this way heavily in the past few years), or (3) God isn’t a stickler/tyrant on this lust/porn thing. Am I leaving out another option?

            As for me shifting, I already try to exercise self-control at times. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve thrown out my porn stash, or turned my head from an attractive chest, etc.

        • Mary

          Just remember that our natural personalities are not at God originally created them to be. The Bible describes us as “in Adam” in our natural state. The implication here is that we sin – just as Adam did; that we are rebellious against God – just as Adam was; that we are, by nature, disobedient to God – just as Adam was.
          We cannot point to our natural state, which is so effected by sin, and say “God made me that way”. He didn’t. Sin has made us that way. Which is exactly why Christ came and offers new birth and a new nature and the Spirit of God to transform our old nature and set us free from power of sin in our lives!

          Reply
          • Tom Hillson

            Mary, I see your point. But then are you saying that all sexual attraction that men have to a woman who isn’t their wife (all women if the man is single) is of the devil, is sinful, is perverted, and is not the way things are supposed to be?

        • Chris

          Tom – please please please stop referring to your lust issues as acting on your “God-given desires.” God certainly did not give you desires to get naked with every woman you ever see, and that is what you are suggesting.

          Read James 1 – God tempts nobody, you are being tempted of your own flesh, and that is NOT of God.

          I appreciate the conversation in these comments and all the points being made on both sides, but I seriously cringe every time someone refers to their sexualization of women as something God made them to do. bleck bleck bleck. Don’t be talkin’ about my Heavenly Father like that!!

          Reply
          • Tom Hillson

            Chris, please explain the God-given desires that men have then. What are they? And also please explain the effects of testosterone. Have you heard of Shaunti Feldhahn? She writes about how a man’s brain lights up with visual stimulation and how it differs with what happens with women.

            Am I giving carte blanche to men? No. But denying what God has done, and what science proves, does men no good either.

          • Chris

            Yes, I know all about Shaunti and her books. I’ve read them along with plenty of other information on this topic.

            The desires that you are referring to are PERVERTED (perversion being anything that deviates from the order originally intended, so desiring anyone other than your wife is perverted).

            As my husband just so aptly put it, your GOD-GIVEN desires are those that for YOUR WIFE and ALL other sexual desires are of the devil.

            In no way, shape, or form, can any human being claim that God gave him a desire to sexualize and mentally disgrace women, who are the Lord’s own daughters.

          • Tom Hillson

            So Chris, are you saying that God originally only had testosterone and other sex brain chemicals course through a man’s body when he gazed upon his wife, but no flow of chemicals took place at all when he saw an attractive woman who was not his wife? Is that what you’re saying? Are you saying that all attraction guys have for women now, even when they’re not married, is sin and evil? I don’t see how you can explain attraction if you feel it’s all perverted (except toward one’s wife).

          • Lisa

            I’ve read Shaunti Feldhahn. She’s done some good. However, her “research” is like asking someone who’s read the package insert on a box of Excedrin to explain what causes a migraine. She has ideas about how to fix things, she’s looked into research (but not very deeply), and the result is yet another book by an author who doesn’t really understand her subject matter.

        • Christine

          It is demonic in nature. Getting delivered of demons of lust and perversion is the answer. This happened to me. I woke up hating lust and open after crying out to God one day….and telling him how much I hated being that way. Women are very prone to this sin too!! I don’t struggle with it anymore and love being able to ficus soley on my husband. I feel fresh and pure….and I get more pleasure from my intense desire for my husband…than I ever got from my lust addiction. Praise God!! I wish this for everyone….to have the thought of random lusting make you sick to the stomach….instead of excited. It is only possible with God. Deliverance is key….

          Reply
        • Debra

          God did not give men lust. That is a choice a learned behaviour the bible does not honor lust he say look once in admiration you look again in lust you might as well commit adultery. This means who wrote this is an idiot full of excuses for his bad behavior. Period no excuse is good enough get over the cave man day those days are over be responsible for your self indulged sexual fantasy dis respect while a woman’s eating a dam hamburger. How narcistic. Really!

          Reply
  4. Tom Hillson

    (You may delete this comment. I just want to respond that my comment was in no way hateful toward women. I was just pointing out the fact that the Bible itself says Eve had a part to play in the fall of Adam. But please feel free to email me to explain why I was being hateful toward women, because I strongly disagree that I was.)

    Reply
    • Sheila Gregoire

      Tom, the Bible NEVER says that Eve is responsible for Adam’s sin. Ever.

      And the idea that Eve “caused” Adam to sin is a toxic thread in Christianity’s history that has been used to hurt women and deny them basic human rights over the centuries. It has no place in the church, and I simply won’t have it on my blog.

      Eve sinned, and Adam sinned. They both sinned. They both made those decisions. And that’s all there is to it.

      Reply
      • Tom Hillson

        Sheila, I NEVER said Eve was responsible for Adam’s sin. I said she “had a part to play”. Did she not?

        Reply
        • Sarah

          Tom, I see you are making a distinction between “playing a part” and being responsible for someone else’s sin. I think we are all responsible for our own sin but we can be more or less helpful to someone else on their journey (1 Cor 8:9, Romans 14:2-3). Adam and Eve both sinned as in they succumbed to temptation – Eve believed a lie and Adam was weak – there is a ton of theological unpicking that can be done about the account of the Fall – but both sinned and neither helped the other – where was Adam when the snake turned up? Why did he eat too when God had given him the command not to?

          Reply
      • Logan

        Shelia, do you believe that people have no influence in behavior or attitude on the sins of other people? It really seems that way.

        I 100% agree that each and everyone of us, regardless of gender are fully responsible for our own sins and our responses to those sins. But you seem to be saying that 1) Not all men are pigs, just the ones that have a serious lust problem 2) Not all men are pigs, but all women are innocent. I just don’t find these things to be true and I find it offensive (I’m not male) that ‘real men’ don’t lust. Fact, some women dress to provoke sexual reactions deliberately. Women enjoy the power they feel and the ego rush of feeling attractive and wanted. I read a Chrisitan author that detailed her experience with this and how God delivered her. We have entire industries where women deliberately do things to evoke sexual responses from men. So let’s please not act as if all women everywhere are helpless victims to the prying eyes and thoughts of men that are unable or unwilling to control themselves. I think a great many of us want to be appreciated for our Person not our Parts, but that is certainly not all of us, and that isn’t even all of us in the Church. Fact, though Christ has freed us from the power of sin, some of us may still have struggles letting those sins go. Maybe those sins are wedded in insecurity and the need to feel wanted, maybe not, but let’s not pretend that we don’t have women in our churches that are not seeking male attention, even lustful male attention.

        Regardless of the influence others may play in our temptations, we are not helplessly strung along by them. We do have the ability, by the power of God within us, to resist those sins and to overcome them. It is not willpower, willpower is only as strong as your emotions or self-discipline at the moment. God didn’t call us to have more willpower, God has called us to trust in Him, whose grace, power, and might is greater than any sin. I agree with you that no person is responsible for the sins of another, but I disagree that a person cannot be an influence in temptation, knowingly or otherwise. I would say that for those struggling, to look for spiritual growth aids, and learn more about ‘training for godliness’ how to surrender yourself to God, and to make pre-decisions to avoid our triggers and pitfalls, literally how to build up the muscle to resist temptation.

        Both John Ortberg and Chip Ingram are great bible teachers that focus on the practical side of Christian living. I highly recommend them for those struggling and failing but still longing to be free.

        Reply
        • Sheila Gregoire

          Hi Logan,

          That’s a great question, and it’s one I’m going to answer at length on Friday–why the idea that a woman can “cause a man to sin” is a dangerous one to promote.

          I do agree that women need to dress with care (although I would argue that EVERYBODY should dress with care, not just women). But I believe that laying the sin for lust at the feet of women has done immeasurable harm over the last few decades, and it’s one that I’m trying to correct. It could be that I’m trying to swing the pendulum too far in the other direction, although I don’t think so. But the “women can cause men to lust by what they look like” idea has caused so much sexual shame which has seriously affected marriages, and it has also contributed to men’s lust issues because it gives men an “out” for trying to work on their issues.

          As for whether women can deliberately entice men, I ABSOLUTELY believe that this is true in many cases, and I absolutely believe that many women do this. It’s just that that is an issue for a different series of posts. This week I really want to look at the danger done when we phrase lust as a problem that every man has and thus no man will defeat, and what happens when we put the solution for that problem at the feet of women, where it really doesn’t belong.

          That’s not to say that women can’t be deliberately enticing; it’s just to say that we need to talk about the lust battle in a very different way if we want to actually conquer it. Does that make sense?

          Reply
          • Logan

            Yes to a degree and I agree that there is a school of thought that wants to excuse men, the ‘boys will be boys’ applied to the Church.

            I just think that many of us do draw a distinction between ‘enticement’ and saying that, in this situation, it is the fault of a woman. I don’t think ‘enticement’ is the same thing as saying a woman is responsible for the sins of the man. I think others would also draw that distinction. I think a woman can ‘entice’ and it is still every bit the sin of the man to lust. Her sin is enticement, his sin is lust. I think we really have to balance this and not try to acquit and convict one side or the other. Both sides do have responsibility here, but neither gender is responsible for what a person does. That falls to the individual.

            James 1:4
            But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.

            Also, Proverbs 5-7 is full of references to avoid the ‘promiscious woman’. I would say that goes also to the ‘promiscious men’. I think those chapters tell us where the danger lies and the consequences of those dangers.

            Adam and Eve. Eve did entice Adam with the fruit, Adam did eat the fruit. He blamed her, but he could have said no. The story does not say that at different times, while each was alone they were enticed seperately, ate seperately, and sinned against God seperately. It is clear that Eve did play a role, but Adam’s sin was his own. God punished them according to their own sins. According to James, we are drawn away by our own lusts and our own desires, so most likely Adam had been thinking about that fruit an awful lot and then Eve offered it to him.

          • Gary Thomas

            Sheila, here’s an example to back up this point and perhaps help people understand what you’re saying. I’m not into shaming anyone, but we’ve all already read about Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky in the 90s. Even if Monica did parade herself in the Oval Office, an honorable man would have thought this through:
            I’m President and she’s an intern; this isn’t appropriate.
            I’m old enough to be her father; this isn’t appropriate.
            I’m married; this isn’t appropriate.

            Regardless of his level of sexual excitement, a mature man would have let his thinking direct his response. In this world, Christian men need to get to the point where they can think through enticements rather than just responding on a primordial level. I think (not to put words into Sheila’s mouth) that that’s the point Sheila is trying to make here, which I agree with.

            Like most discussions, we need to balance the legitimate tension between men feeling very, very vulnerable in this area (and wives showing appropriate empathy) without blaming women for men not thinking things through and then falling. It’s not either/or. Men ARE more vulnerable, in general, than women in this area, but that’s not an excuse for a man to fall and it’s not grounds for a narcissistic demand that every woman dress according to his comfort level. Sheila seems to me to be pushing back against those who are misplacing responsibility for a man’s fall. If I’m unfaithful to my wife with anyone, regardless of how much I may be “enticed,” that’s ultimately on me, not on the person tempting me.

          • Tom Hillson

            Sheila writes: “It could be that I’m trying to swing the pendulum too far in the other direction, although I don’t think so.” I think that’s exactly what Sheila is doing. But I can understand why she would – she feels the pendulum is too far in the other direction, and the natural tendency is to swing it too far the other way.

      • Linda

        Adam has more responsibility in that case. Even was deceived as the Bible plainly states, Adam was not.

        Reply
  5. Zaggner

    The key is to “become”, to not just suppress sun but too overcome sin, to become like Christ. Easier said than done and we too often punish ourselves because we struggle. Or worse, we simply give up. Th growth is in the struggle, the becoming is in the struggle, in the effort we make to align ourselves with Christ. He doesn’t expect perfection from us, he offers us perfection.

    On another note, do we misunderstand this passage, have this scripture been mis-interpreted? I found this post intereting.

    http://www.jasonstaples.com/bible/most-misinterpreted-bible-passages-1-matthew-527-28/

    Reply
  6. J. Parker

    What’s been niggling me so much lately is the idea I’ve heard in a thousand circles that men need to “bounce their eyes” away from women they supposedly can’t resist lusting after. I fell prey to this idea in the past, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that notion was at complete odds with what I had taught my sons — to look people in the eye and treat them with respect. Why wouldn’t I expect that they can do that with girls too? And of course they can, and do.

    Yes, I teach them not to invite temptation into their lives (Game of Thrones, I’m looking at you), but that’s entirely different from dealing with real people in their lives. And thankfully, in my home, they have a father who models not lusting after other women.

    Reply
    • Gaye @CalmHealthySexy

      Yes, I think that the whole “bounce your eyes” thing reinforces an idea that Sheila talked about in the first post – viewing women as a collection of body parts rather than as whole people and daughters of God. I think that this is exactly what the evangelical church has promoted, widely and loudly, for many years. It has contributed to the belief many Christian women have that there is something wrong with them, that they need to make themselves smaller and less visible, and that something is inherently wrong or bad about their bodies. I’m really tired of girls and women hearing those messages in the church (and elsewhere).

      You’re right, J, that we want our sons to view women as people and treat them with respect – to look them in the eye and have a conversation with them, person to person. It’s hard to do that if you’ve learned to view women as a collection of body parts.

      Reply
      • Mary

        Exactly! I am so blessed to have a wonderful husband who has never struggled with last because he simply does not see women as a collection of body parts. He just doesn’t. He’s perfectly capable of having conversations with them without ever looking at their female body parts. He treats women as equal human beings, with respect. Even before we got married (we’ve been married for 22 years), he treated me so respectfully and I noticed that he never ogled other attractive women when we were out together. So I know that not all men struggle with this sin of objectifying women and reducing them to body parts and refusing to see them as human beings. It bothers me that one commenter said men “can’t have platonic relationships with women, ever”. In other words, the only reason a man would have a relationship with a woman would be for sex. He sees women only as sex objects, not able to offer anything else. But women don’t exist just to be used to gratify men’s sexual needs. They are equal human beings. That is so unbiblical. I know men are not “hard wired” to be like this because my husband is a man and he doesn’t do this. It is how men are socialized to treat women. (My husband was also raised in family where he was taught to respect women, so it starts early.)

        Reply
    • Hannah

      I don’t understand why it’s so difficult to have a balanced view in this area. It’s frustrating to me, as a woman, so I’m SURE it’s frustrating for men, when women take such an all or nothing stance in this area. I understand and agree with what Sheila is saying, that as Christian women, we should expect and encourage our husbands and Christian brothers to not lust. However, I can also understand why so many are feeling like she is trying to swing the pendulum too far in the other direction. I am certainly not promulgating the idea that every young man should “bounce his eyes” from every woman who walks by him, but, as Logan mentioned above and as the Bible clearly outlines in Proverbs 7 (among other places), there ARE women who are intentionally trying to entice men to sin (sometimes even in church, *GASP*!), and so yes, there are scenarios where young men should absolutely “bounce their eyes” from sexually provocative women (or images–as in: walking through a mall past a Victoria’s Secret store), and in some cases, get the hell out of dodge. If I’m not mistaken, sexual immorality (that includes lust) is one of the only sins in the Bible that God (through Paul) actually commands us to FLEE from (1 Corinthians 6) instead of standing in resistance. Having a balanced, compassionate view of this issue does not mean I am excusing all men everywhere to give in to their lust or blame women for their sin, but it does mean I can show grace to men who struggle with this sin and not have a freaking cow any time one of them alludes to the fact that this is hard for them and it’s frustrating to live in a world (and specifically the USA) where overt sexualization is encouraged and impossible to escape from. I can expect my husband, my brother, my father, my Christian brothers at church to view women as whole people and respect them while still realizing that there ARE some women who make it very hard for men to do that so they avoid particular women to also avoid sin. Is that so unreasonable?

      Reply
      • Hannah

        P.S. Just to clarify, I am not promoting these books she seems to be talking about. Every Man’s Battle? I’ve never read them, nor have I ever been a part of a church that has endorsed them. If that’s some big part of the “bounce your eyes” movement, I’m not intending to reinforce that. I’ve never grown up with that expression either so I was just responding to your use of it in your comments. 🙂

        Reply
    • Kat

      Is the “Every man’s Battle” book teaching that men can’t overcome”? I haven’t read it and I am looking for resources to help my husband, I don’t want to get him a book that’s intended to help him and have it instead make him depressed or cause him to give up.

      My husband’s faith has been severely damaged. After giving his life to the Lord at 16 yrs , and at the time believing, he has been worn down in his faith over the years to where he gets so confused about whether God even exists, and if He does, whether He is even involved in our lives or whether he has sinned do much that God has given up on him. I don’t even know wherher giving him a faith based book will be helpful for him. Be gets overwhelmed with condemnation over his sins rather than be able to accept God’s grace . Double minded about whether God really exists, really loves him etc. The times he gave in to porn were times accompanied by thoughts that God isn’t real. He has a demon constantly messing with him, encouraging his doubts etc and I am sure trying to destroy our marraige. It has also tried to get him to kill himself, overwhelming him with thoughts that he is worthless, disgusting etc & heaping condemnation on him for the times he has been hatsh (or even gotten physical) with me in the past.

      Sorry for the long comment… I don’t know if a Christian book will help but I don’t believe non heistian resources actually have the answers. I believe this is a xpiritual problem and all of it is aggravated by our enemy who seeks to steal, kill and destroy. Spiritual problems can only be resolved by God and our cooperation with Him.

      Sorry for the huge digression… I really want to know whether the book “Every Man’s Battle” implies that men cannot truly overcome lust, or whether it is written from a biblical perspective.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        PLEASE don’t get Every Man’s Battle! We looked at it in our survey of 20,000 women for our book The Great Sex Rescue, and we found it was extremely harmful. A great resource is Andrew J. Bauman’s The Sexually Healthy Man, or Michael John Cusick’s Surfing for God. They’re both much better. And do check out The Great Sex Rescue! We have a lot on lust in there and you’d likely find it really helpful.

        Reply
  7. Keith Schooley

    All really good comments, as long as we remember that lust is not the same thing as noticing attractiveness. I love how biblical you’re being. The one thing I would add is that most Christians misunderstand what “doing battle with lust” (or with any sin, for that matter) really means. I think that most people are clenching their emotional fists and gritting their emotional teeth and purposing that they are really really really really not going to give in this time. That never works, for the very good reason that it’s fighting on our own, in the flesh.

    I like what James says: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” I think that submitting to God and resisting the devil are two sides of the same coin. I think that submitting to God is how we resist the devil. Don’t fight an agonizing battle trying not to think of a purple giraffe; choose to think of a blue elephant instead. Seek God. Pray. Think about the wonderful things God has blessed you with. Marvel at his creation. Be grateful for his forgiveness. The more you get your head and heart in line with a divine perspective, the less overwhelmingly tempting temptation is.

    Reply
    • Zaggner

      Yes! God wants us to choose blue elephants, focus on the promises that the Lord has made to us. Let’s not allow Satan to distract us from those promises. The Lord never expects us to be perfect. Satan wants us to think that and hate ourselves for it, or even better, give up even trying.

      Love this! “Seek God. Pray. Think about the wonderful things God has blessed you with. Marvel at his creation. Be grateful for his forgiveness. The more you get your head and heart in line with a divine perspective, the less overwhelmingly tempting temptation is.”

      Reply
      • Sheila Gregoire

        Absolutely!

        Reply
    • E

      Another scripture that I use when dealing with temptation is the Parable of the Empty House (Matthew 12:43-45)…where once you clean the house of one demon, if you don’t fill it with something else, other demons will move in in its place.

      Correct me if I’m not interpreting this right, but I believe that this parable is saying that it’s not good enough to get rid of sin or temptation, you have to replace them with other things (things of God, to help you become more Christ-like) I have used this ‘tactic’ a lot if times in my own struggle with all the sins, but I have found it especially useful for the sin of lust, as I went about replacing my indecent, lustful thoughts with prayer for those I was thinking those thoughts about, prayer asking God to take away those thoughts, and I am light years away from where I was a few short years ago.

      Also, I pray immediately (in my head, I don’t want to seem too weird!), I have found it is incredibly difficult to continue lusting (or whatever sin it is) while talking to God!

      Reply
      • Sandy in LA

        Good thoughts! Concrete tools that we can put into action. Thanks for sharing!

        Reply
  8. adc

    This post was great! It should have been your first post i think. The first one created a lot of confusion and it seemed like all men who lust are horrible persons. I guess i didnt understand because i havent heard the message of all men lust thing in that way my whole life. I have heard it sometimes but in my country, Sweden, sin is not mentioned often (sadly) and because Sweden in general is doing a great work in battling inequality between men and women you almost never hear churches talk about how women should cloth themselves or if it affects men and so on. I think most of the blame is put on men (if its ever mentioned). Im glad that you said that some will battle this theire whole life and some will not. As will many people with greed and other types of sin. We will always have something to battle, whats important is that we battle it. So i totally agree. I hope you will write about how a man can conquer this because to say: A man can conquer this and then expect the man to suddenly change is to oversimplifie it. Some men will need only one encounter with the Holy Spirit and they will be free. Others like me have to battle it by fasting and praying and maybe sometimes counseling. I think the problem of lust sometimes goes deeper than we think. You said something about it being a behaviour that we learn and i think thats partly true. We get socialisied in it but i also think there is a spiritual part to. For example when i think back on my childhood the one thing i think about is sex. Because sadly i met sex early. I remember being between 7-9 years old and finding a book with naked women in it. I dont know how it got there but immediately i hid it and took it out at nights and pushed my genitalia against it (sorry for being so graphic). I cant remember that i was ever exposed to these things before. I dont remember much of my childhood but i remember that so clear and also that my little brother told my older brother who took the book away. And from there the spiral went down and down. I started to have incestuos lust towards my sisters, homosexual tendencies, pornography and all sort of crap. It was horrible i felt so dirty but couldnt stop it. And i was just a boy. I dont know if i was ever molested as a child because i have always wondered: “why me? Why do i have to feel this way? Why do i have to have these desires? Why do i have to be this monster? I dont want to!” Some may say: its just to decide to stop but for me it hasnt been that way. Much of that crap i have been SLOWLY been free from especially the incestuos thoughts but that hasnt been easy, Its in the last few years that i have been able to let it go but not by my will but for one reason: Jesus love for me. In all of this crap, in this awful desires He still loves me. And by drawing near to Him through prayer and fasting I have seen Him slowly transforming me. I dont even know if it is right to say that it is by praying or fasting because for a long time now i havent prayed or fast because of a spiritual burn out and i have been so deep in a porn addiction that i couldnt see a way out but He has slowly lifted me up. And i see a way out now. I see a life without this crap and He is teaching me again to pray and fast and seek His face. I cant take credit for that. I cant. So i think it is important for people to show grace where there is someone struggling with all kind of desires and lusts. I say struggling, not those who excuse themselves but those who admit that they have these awful desires and lusts and who just want to be free but still have a long way. We all can find freedome but the way there can be short for some people and long for others and in that we need to support and give strength to each other. I still struggle and my hope is only Jesus Christ.

    Btw i just wanted to comment on what you said about a real man. A real man doesnt lust. i understand what you say but would you then think it is ok for a man doing ministry in strip clubs? I just wonder because i heard an American pastor say that his church had a ministry where they reached out to strippers in strip clubs but it was only a ministry for women. He then told about a man who came to him and said that God had told him to be in this ministry and he said: I dont know what you heard but you wont be in the stripper ministry”. Was that wrong then? I personally dont think it would be a good idea for a man to in such a ministry but it seems like you say that if a real man cant take to be around naked women then he isnt a real man so many men arent real men because we cant withstand all that kind of erotic influence? Isnt that like saying that everyone has to be perfect? You also said that men dont have to avoid women and i guess its true but isnt it appropiate to avoid some situations? I mean why do we tell porn addicts to have a filter on the computer? I am thankful for my filter and when im free i will still want it because as my wife says: “The devil is the devil.” Also if you read what covenent eye says about these things they say that you shouldnt see it as “One day i may be free” because then you will give up if you keep falling but instead see it like this: Take one day at a time and focus on living pure that day. And then you make the same commitment the day after and the day after and so on. Are they wrong by saying that? Just asking because covenent eyes are one of the best filters there are right now.

    Reply
    • Logan

      Hey Brother,

      Not sure if you will see this, but I read your posts from yesterday and just felt so much sympathy for you.

      Know that just because we have a thought, it doesn’t mean that those thoughts originate within us. Sometimes it is just the enemy causing confusion and dismay.

      Know that Jesus died for YOUR specific sins. Not ‘sins’ in general, but your sins. He carried those on the Cross, took the punishment and wrath of God for YOUR sins so that you can walk free.

      Know that Jesus called you and choose you to be His own, we cannot just come to Christ, He has to draw us to him.

      Know that Christ is our great high priest, tempted as we have been yet without sin. Know that He interceeds for us, He goes to God on our behalf to help us with all of our struggles.

      As dirty and worthless as you may feel, know that Christ finds you of infinite value, enough to die for you, to win you, to take your place so you can be free.

      I’m not sure how available these would be in Sweden, but I would highly recommend them. Transformed: The Miracle of Life Change by Chip Ingram and The Me I Want to Be by John Ortberg. The first is a series you can download, order, or stream from his website Living on the Edge. The streaming is free. His study guide is practical, requiring you to dig deep if you want to go that direction. The other is just a really great resource, talking about spiritual growth and struggle in a really conversational tone that doesn’t have so much of the Christianese talk but is still really profound, resonating the truth of God.

      Have hope, dear brother, that God can reach you where you are. Don’t give up, don’t yield your mind or your body to do the things you know you shouldn’t do. The devil works on our lack of knowledge on how to fight.

      Reply
      • Adc

        Thank you for that! I needed to hear that!

        Reply
        • Sheila Gregoire

          I thought it was very well put, too!

          Reply
    • alchemist

      @ adc. Having victory over sin is not the same as never being tempted.
      Deliberately putting yourself into situation where you know you will be tempted is foolish. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Putting a filter on your computer and setting up accountability is not a sign of weakness or failure or not being a real man. It’s a sign of wisdom and wanting to obey the Lord. Remember the story of Joseph. The Egyptians wife was grabbing him and begging him to sleep with him. Of course he was tempted in the moment. But what did he do? Stay and reason with her? Go about his business so that she could tempt him all day? NO! He RAN outside. He was so determined to get away that he tore out of his coat getting out of there. He fled temptation. The Bible never says to tempt yourself deliberately. That would not be a sign of strength/ masculinity but a sign of pride. The Bible says that with every temptation God will also provide a way of *escape*.

      Referencing your story with the stripper ministry – there are many reasons to not allow men to participate in that ministry. 1) the obvious one. Which you seem to have read into the story. The pastor did not believe the man could withstand temptation. This is wisdom. Again, deliberately putting yourself in the path of temptation is both prideful and stupid. 2) The appearance of wrongdoing. Even if this man was 0% tempted, how would that look to the world? What kind of message does that send 3) How would his weaker brothers feel/ think when he goes off the a strip club every week (btw, I don’t even think they go in the club itself. The go backstage to talk to the girls). I’m willing to bet that would make other men’s struggle harder/ more confusing to deal with and might lead people to all sorts of rationalizations and justifications 4) Many of those girls has been sexually abused or exploited by men long before they decided to become strippers. Some of them maybe just do it for easy money. But most people in the “adult entertainment” industry has long histories of abuse. These women do not trust or respect men. The girls would not believe that a man would be there to try and minister to them.

      Reply
  9. Anonymous Guy

    I believe most of the discussion on this would be much more clear if we were all sitting in a room, with a chance to explain exactly what we’re trying to say. Although you defined lust in your first article, the definition is what I believe is tripping men up here.

    I wholeheartedly agree that men should know that lust can be conquered with God’s help. There is no sin we should simply give in to because it seems insurmountable, and we sure as heck shouldn’t give anyone a hall pass. However, I get the impression that we (men) are being told that we shouldn’t even THINK a certain way. In the split second when a man chooses to look a woman in the eye, versus at her skirt, there is a decision making process. A thought, which might even be accompanied by a prayer. No sin has taken place, but that man makes a decision in that moment.

    Is the fact that we think through our mental flow chart evidence that we lust? Because if you’re saying that men have the ability to eliminate even the decision making process, I believe that is very presumptuous. That’s calling people to perfection, and that is unattainable. If I see an attractive woman coming, and say to myself, “She’s a child of God, so treat her as such,” as I look her in the eye, is that proof that I lust?

    So, the pastor in the previous commenter’s statement that said, basically, I’ll let you know when I conquer lust, has a valid point. Many men would say the same thing, but not because they “struggle” with lust, or because they’re undressing women with their eyes. It’s that they’re aware of their temptation, and have to make conscious decisions to move away from it.

    This is not much different than someone who struggles with eating disorders. A family member of mine does, so I have a great deal of experience with this. The eating disorder can be conquered, the sin extinguished, but when she person sits down to Thanksgiving dinner, she has a lot more anxiety than I could ever imagine. She goes through her decision making process. The recognition of her sinful nature and the decision to move away from it will never go away. That is not evidence that she is sinning, it’s evidence that she’s human.

    Reply
    • Sheila Gregoire

      Hi there,

      I think you raise an excellent point here:

      “However, I get the impression that we (men) are being told that we shouldn’t even THINK a certain way. In the split second when a man chooses to look a woman in the eye, versus at her skirt, there is a decision making process. A thought, which might even be accompanied by a prayer. No sin has taken place, but that man makes a decision in that moment.”

      This is SUCH A GREAT POINT. And this is a point where I especially believe that the Every Man’s Battle series did a huge disservice to men.

      See, I don’t think there’s anything wrong at all with noticing that a woman is beautiful. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with seeing that she has a great figure. And when you do see that, you may then decide, “I’m not going to fixate on her breasts; I’m going to look her in the eye and talk to her.” Again, nothing wrong whatsoever.

      But the problem is that the book series made a huge deal about teaching a man to “bounce their eyes”, as if the noticing itself was a sin, or could so easily become a sin. So it really set up this situation where men must be vigilant all the time and even created an almost paranoia that they may lust just by being in the presence of women. We had a woman comment on yesterday’s post about how her husband couldn’t go to the beach with her family because he had no idea how to bounce his eyes enough. No matter where he looked he would “see” women. We’ve set up this situation where “seeing” a woman is somehow a bad thing, when it’s just simply not.

      That’s what I tried to say yesterday. Noticing that a woman is beautiful is fine. Deciding to focus on her eyes is fine. Nothing wrong at all.

      But I think that book series like that have set up this expectation that if a man ever finds a woman beautiful he’s on a razor’s edge where he may sin at any moment. And personally, I don’t see how any guy can live peacefully being told that in this culture.

      How about just telling guys, “It is totally possible to notice a woman is beautiful and still treat her as a whole person and not lust. It is totally possible to look at a woman in the eyes and not have to struggle with not letting your thoughts go anywhere else. Seeing a beautiful woman is not a bad thing.” Let’s free people from totally unrealistic scenarios.

      Fixating on body parts or staring at a woman for sexual stimulation–absolutely wrong. But simply being around beautiful women, noticing that, and then making the decision to talk to them with respect? Not wrong at all. And so perhaps we should stop setting the bar at ridiculous standards.

      Reply
      • Tom Hillson

        But Sheila, a woman’s breasts are literally just inches below their face. Excuse the pun, but they are visually “shoved in a man’s face”. A man’s privates are nowhere near his face. Not only that, but flaccid, they are tiny compared to the breasts of a large-chested woman. And, on top of that, many women show part of their breasts when they show their cleavage. This is like me dangling a chocolate cake inches from a diabetic and then slapping her face when she opens her mouth wanting to take a bite. There is no comparison.

        Reply
        • Sheila Gregoire

          So, Tom, what is your solution? Are you saying that men can’t help but lust because of where a woman’s breasts are? I’m sorry, but that doesn’t sound biblical to me. Or are you saying that unless a woman covers up, a guy will inevitably lust? Again, that doesn’t sound biblical.

          I do agree that women need to be asking themselves: “what is the first impression I’m giving with how I look; whom am I dressing for; and do I appear open, friendly, and approachable?” If a woman (and a man) asks those questions when they are getting dressed, I think we’d all be pleased with the results. But the solution to men lusting cannot be that women cover up, because even if all Christian women cover up, most other women will not. And you still have lingerie stores everywhere you look. Men need to take responsibility for this one, and nowhere in the Bible do I see God letting men off of the hook just because women are too alluring.

          Reply
          • amyrose

            I feel like Tom wants us all to have a double mastectomy for his convenience. Those of us over a AA cup, anyway. He was quite clear: women have breasts, therefore men must lust and it is our fault.

            Not far off from the male principal at Christian school who told me when I was a 20-something young teacher that God made my legs too long and my body was, thus, “a problem”.

          • Sheila Gregoire

            I am so, so sorry that you were told that, Amy. So sorry. I can’t imagine how utterly humiliating that would have been.

          • Tom Hillson

            Sheila, what is my solution? Am I saying to just let guys lust? No, I’m not saying that. I’m just stressing that this is very, very hard for many (most) guys. I don’t think there is a similar temptation for women which is this hard for them to deal with. If there is, let me know. So this is where I feel that God, and many Christians, are unfair (I won’t go into more detail).

            So, what’s my solution? I don’t think I have a solution. I think it’s clear that Christianity and society doesn’t have a solution. That’s why men and women are fighting tooth and nail on this. But what I want to stress is basically you have no idea how hard this is. Everything you say, to me, has to have the disclaimer that it comes from someone who does not really understand the difficulty of the struggle. You may understand intellectually, but you don’t (and can never) understand from a gut level. I don’t blame you for that, of course, but it makes me cringe at the way you word a lot of things, because I know they come from a place that doesn’t truly understand.

        • Gary Thomas

          Tom, every day hundreds of tourists walk through Amsterdam’s famous red light district. Only a small percentage actually “buy.” For every man who tried to say, “I couldn’t help myself” there are dozens who could say, “Well, I did.”

          Reply
          • Taunya

            Amy

            I’m sorry that was said to you. I was told at 17 I couldn’t play basketball because my breasts were too big. I was only a C then… Now I’m a G. Yes I’m. Big. Yes unless I wear a mumu they are big. And after 42 years I’m tired of hiding because some guy can tell they are big. I am wearing a shirt and a bra. Yes, I’m also short and petite. But my Abba made me this way. I can assure you… as a married mother of three, with a belly with stretch marks and breasts that sag without said garments… I’m in no way trying to seduce anyone. I’m trying to overcome decades of bad theology, unwanted sexual abuse and perverted belief about my intentions. I wear what I feel good in, that fits and that my husband likes. I’ve done so much work to get to this point.

            The idea that women dress to seduce men and men look at women with lust are bogus.

            I love this series.

          • Shari

            Tom Hilson, women do have temptations. PLEASE! You have no idea what we deal with. A lot of women (dare i say 99% of them) deal with the temptation to think that we aren’t good enough, or beautiful enough etc. And that’s just one temptation. It’s a comparison TRAP. A snare from Satan himself. Much of this comes from the way MEN see (lust after) women. And Victoria’s Secret isn’t helping. Don’t act like we don’t have temptation. These negative thoughts cause all sorts of emotional roller coasters and leads some to anxiety and depression and eating disorders…. It’s a submit/resist thing for us too.

        • J

          Tom- I hate to tell you, but women who are very visual, do deal with this. Broad shoulders and well muscled arms are just as close to the face as breasts are on a woman. I definitely notice a man who takes care of himself. I get that “flutter.” And then I choose to remember to look him in the eye instead of at those arms and remember how loved I am by my husband (in other news, a body part does not have to be private to stir up lust, ankles used to be scandalous).

          Reply
          • Tom Hillson

            But J, broad shoulders and well-muscled arms are exposed for all to see. Breasts are generally not. It’s like in those African tribes where (I suppose) boys and men aren’t all ga-ga over breasts because they see them exposed all the time. That’s not the case in the US or Canada.

        • sunny-dee

          Tom, it’s not the position of the breasts. I bet you find a way to not spill over with lust over a 95-year-old woman or your own mother or daughter. There’s nothing about “breast” that demands that you lust after it. In Job, he used the word “linger.” If you’re lingering, that’s on you and your thoughts and your choice, not the fact that a breast exists.

          There’s nothing in the Bible that says if it’s really super hard to deal with a sin, then you get a pass and it’s only the easy sins we fight. Lust is apparently a thing for you, but we ALL have sins we struggle with. We all have a cross to bear.

          For me, personally, I don’t have any issue with visually lusting after a man, but my husband is (shall we say) moody and frequently acts like he doesn’t want to be around me. Having a (hypothetical) man treat me kindly or act like he enjoyed my company would be catnip, and I bet I could be extremely vulnerable when the guy had absolutely no idea what was going on. That wouldn’t be his fault, it would be mine, and I recognized that it would be a massive temptation and so I’m very careful with male friendships or work relationships because of that. That’s my choice and responsibility; no one else’s.

          Reply
          • Tom Hillson

            sunny-dee, I’ll just ask you what I asked in another post: name a “sin” that women regularly and nearly-universally commit and are shamed as much as men are shamed with respect to lust.

          • Blair

            You want a supposed “sin” named that woman get shamed for as much as lust? That’s easy, Tom. Immodesty. It doesn’t matter what a woman wears, no matter how covered up she is, there is always a man somewhere complaining about how her outfit is too immodest and making him lust. Unless you’ve had that experience of being criticized and publicly humiliated for wearing something that showed just a little too much collarbone or wrist, I’m not sure you really know the meaning of the word “shamed.”

        • Mary

          I don’t buy it Tom. As a woman, I know instantly when a man is talking to my chest or to my face. And I don’t like it. The distance is far enough for that look to be quite deliberate.

          Reply
          • Tom Hillson

            Mary, I’m sorry, but I don’t get the point you’re trying to make.

      • Anonymous Guy

        Wait a minute, are we actually agreeing on this? 😉

        On a side note, forget what the naysayers are posting on here. I don’t agree with everything you write, and a few things you’ve written in the past have rubbed me the wrong way. But five years ago my wife and I hit a really rough patch. This blog, along with J. Parker’s, Paul Byerly’s and a few others, helped us in so many ways. After some hard years of learning to communicate and re-connect, we have a marriage that is back and track and better than it’s ever been.

        Thanks, and keep up the great work.

        Reply
  10. Tom Hillson

    Every Man’s Battle is a ridiculous book. Filled with junky reasoning. I’m glad many Amazon reviewers have seen fit to slam it, and Sheila too.

    Reply
    • Rae

      Junky reasoning and ridiculously explicit ‘helpful examples’!

      Reply
      • Sheila Gregoire

        I was really weirded out by the masturbation story when the sister-in-law was asleep. Really weirded out.

        Reply
  11. Tom Hillson

    “It is totally possible to look at a woman in the eyes and not have to struggle with not letting your thoughts go anywhere else.” It is also possible for me to run a 5-minute mile. I’ve never run faster than 7:30. I could probably train and train for months or years and get to below 5 minutes. It’s possible, but extremely hard. But Sheila is a woman, and most (not all, but most) will never ever know how hard it is for a man to reverse his God-given urges with lust and attraction.

    Reply
    • Sarah-Epieikes

      It comes down to mind management Tom. I believe everyone has temptations that are stronger for them, and I don’t believe that will ever be easy to achieve perfect self-discipline in this areas. But it is possible to break addictions, whether physical or mental, whether the addiction to looking at breasts, the addiction to over eating or emotional eating, or the addiction to noticing your neighbours faults. It’s hard, extremely hard, and it takes a great deal of effort and getting yourself back up and practising strategies. It may take professional guidance, and if you think God placed women’s breasts too close to their faces, then you may well need help to break that mental link. It is possible.

      Reply
    • Wifeofasexaddict

      @TomHillson look into Pure Desire. Especially if you can find a group in your area, it will help you overcome your problem. The language you are using sounds like the language of an addict. But there is help and there is hope. It’s hard work, but you can do it.

      Reply
      • Tom Hillson

        Wifeofasexaddict, I’m not an addict, but I’d certainly like to be less stimulated by sexual stimuli. I’ll look into Pure Desire, but I hope it’s not a you-must-beat-this-fight-or-your-unsaved-kind-of-heresy thing. Thank you.

        Reply
        • Wifeofasexaddict

          Tom, sex addiction can be hard to spot. Even after my husband confessed to serial one night stands a few years ago, we didn’t believe he had an addiction. When he continued to struggle with porn, we didn’t believe he had an addiction. Even a counselor said he didn’t have an addiction. (Another currently says he does.) But he does have an addiction.

          You have told us that you want to stop lusting, but you are powerless against it. You blamed women for having breasts. You blamed God for making you this way. I am not qualified to diagnose you, but this is the language of an addict.

          Pure Desire will not shame you further, but it will be hard work. It will help you understand why you lust and help you conquer it. It will help you, if you do the work.

          Good luck, God bless.

          Reply
          • Tom Hillson

            This I haven’t done: “You blamed women for having breasts.”

          • Tom Hillson

            @Wifeofasexaddict, oh no, I see the guy who wrote Pure Desire is the guy behind Every Man’s Battle, and we know how messed-up that book/program is. So why should I trust Pure Desire?

    • Faye

      Tom, first, I fully understand that overcoming lust is difficult for you, a human born in sin.

      It seems to me though, that the hardest step is surrender. The only way for you to overcome your lust and me to overcome my gluttony is to surrender to the Holy Spirit. When we trust Him to lead every single decision, we make better ones.

      Yes, the temptation will always be there. Yes, saying no to it will always require a conscious decision. Making the decision ahead of every encounter to surrender to the Spirit makes that conscious decision easier.

      Second, perhaps it would help you when you see a woman, that your first conscious thought would be that she is fearfully and wonderfully made, that she is dearly loved by God and is a treasure to Him. Reframe the object of desire.

      Third, don’t compare your sin or your temptations, to those of others. Yours is not worse or harder. It’s just not. Jesus told us each to take up our own cross and follow Him. Yep, yours is heavy. Mine is too. Trust me, you don’t want to swap.

      Finally, are you involved in a Recovery ministry? I believe you might find valuable help in one like Celebrate Recovery where you can surround yourself with friends who have walked the path you do and are conquering what the enemy set to destroy them.

      Reply
      • Tom Hillson

        Faye, I’ve surrendered – many times. Didn’t work.

        I don’t know why you say my temptation can’t be worse or harder than others. I don’t see why it can’t. But anyway – you say I wouldn’t want to swap with you. Would you mind giving details of why you say that?

        I see there may be a couple Celebrate Recovery groups in my area. I’ll see if they’re active. Thanks.

        Reply
  12. Sheila Gregoire

    Hi Tom, I’m really sorry that you struggle like this. I really am. And I wish you all the best as you fight against it. But please, just don’t believe the lie that it isn’t possible. It is. Biblically it totally and completely is. But you will only achieve this if you fight.

    Sometimes I think the problem, though, is that we fight too hard against lust–and since whatever we focus on expands, we actually make lust bigger. I highly recommend Mark Buchanan’s book Your God is Too Safe, which takes us through how to have an authentic spiritual life, and then focuses in the second half on how to develop spiritual disciplines. I think if we spent more time in spiritual disciplines, much of these temptations would because much less of a problem.

    Reply
    • Tom Hillson

      “But please, just don’t believe the lie that it isn’t possible.” Sheila, where did I write that it isn’t possible?

      Reply
  13. RM

    Tom & other men,
    Why do you care what Sheila thinks and teaches? Unless your wife sits under her teaching, or your wife’s friends sit under her teaching and are influencing her, you’d be far better to forget it.

    She has been rebuked countless times. You and I both know there are literally tens of thousands of christian men, men whose wives and children call them great husbands and fathers, who believe she teaches false doctrine and causes great harm to the church, to marriages, to women, children and men. There are scores of internet blogs & articles stating exactly that with heaps of men and women that state exactly that. Men and women who are bought and paid for by the blood of Christ and try each day to honor and glorify Him.

    Unless your wife sits under her teaching, or is influenced about it, forget it. Pray for her and the women reading here. They are not going to change their minds from some random guy on the internet and his reasoning. They will not change their mind when you quote them scripture that is as plain as day. Move on, wipe the dust off your feet and concentrate your energies elsewhere. God will deal with her.

    If your wife (or daughter/woman relative) is influenced by her, then I would work on that and not changing Sheila’s mind. I know it is a hard battle in the days we live in and the influences all around our women, but ask yourself, why does Sheila have that influence in my wife’s life and then set about changing what needs to be done so that is no longer the case.

    Be strong & courageous in the Lord brothers.

    Reply
    • Sheila Gregoire

      NOTE TO OTHERS: I’m leaving this comment in just so that you can see what I get on a daily basis. I write this blog because I want to encourage couples to have healthy marriages and a MUTUALLY fulfilling sex life. I have written countless blog posts and many books now encouraging women to have a great sex life.

      And this is what I get. I usually delete them, but I thought it may be instructive to see this time how much pushback there is whenever I call men to godly living. (I don’t get the same hate when I call women to godly living, which I do far more often).

      I so appreciate the vast majority of my male readers, many of whom have contributed greatly to this discussion today and yesterday. But I do get attacks like this constantly. So I thought I’d let you see a typical one. Please note the underlying assumption that a husband should get to veto what a wife reads.

      Reply
      • sunny-dee

        That comment is awful, and I’m so sorry it’s not an outlier. 🙁 Hugs and prayers.

        Reply
      • Phil

        Shelia. Thanks so much for what you do. I can tell you this. Today I have a great life. People like you have helped me along the way. What an awesome way to live right? It is so sad to see some of the comments here on your blog. I am reading your blog with viggor this week. So awesome you are offering hope and solutions. I cant wait for tomorrow to see what you write next. I swore I was going to wait to comment later in the week if so moved. But man. I couldnt help but reach out and say thanks and good job and keep it up. I am so grateful for people like yourself who help others in God’s light.

        Reply
      • Blair

        What a creepy comment, jeez. Wow, the stuff you put up with. Yeah, that guy’s a real keeper, all right. *sarcasm*

        Reply
    • Logan

      Your disrespect is shameful. We have many, many different denominations BECAUSE people disagree on interpretations of scripture. You may be very confident in how you interpret scripture, but if you interpret it to mean anything other than God condemning sin, YOU, SIR, ARE WRONG! God created normal sexual desire and drive, and the same God that created has also deemed certain attitudes, thoughts, actions, and desires to be lustful: things like fornication, adultery, laciviousness, pornography. Jesus tells us that if you look at a woman to lust after her, you’ve already committed adultery in your heart!

      Twisting scripture to excuse sin is wrong. It is more than just wrong, it is dangerous. There is room for respectful disagreement, but you crossed a line. Shelia is not a false teacher. She, like all of us, speaks from her experience, and she is not outside the bounds of scripture.

      What God calls sin, you have no right to call normal.
      While you may disagree, you have no right to slander a person or tear down their good name because your pride got hurt.

      Reply
      • Sheila Gregoire

        Thank you, Logan. I appreciate that. And I appreciate the way that you have contributed to this conversation above in a grace-filled, helpful way.

        Reply
    • Keith Gregoire

      Sweetheart, when you get comments like this, let me remind you of the thousands of people who have thanked you for helping to strengthen their faith, their marriage and their relationships with those around them. Our Lord said, “You will know them by their fruit.” Well, I have seen the fruit of your ministry first hand and it would be a terrible shame for you to be discouraged by these sorts of comments. There are some who have a very hard, narrow view of God & His commands. They think they have it all figured out and want to bully others into their hard, narrow view. Continue to resist them. Show the love of Christ to the world. I’ll be standing beside you.
      Your husband.

      Reply
      • Sheila Gregoire

        Thanks, honey! (that’s a real man, right there. ? ).

        Reply
    • Melissa

      I think this quote by Timothy Keller sums up people like RM. “Idolatry functions widely inside religious communities when doctrinal truth is elevated to the position of a false god. This occurs when people rely on the rightness of their doctrine for their standing with God rather than on God himself and his grace. It is a subtle but deadly mistake. The sign that you have slipped into this form of self-justification is that you become what the book of Proverbs calls a “scoffer.” Scoffers always show contempt and disdain for opponents rather than graciousness. This is a sign that they do not see themselves as sinners saved by grace. Instead, their trust in the rightness of their views makes them feel superior.” Every single one of us will find out in heaven someday that we did not interpret or apply something in scripture correctly. Thank goodness we aren’t saved because of the rightness of our beliefs but because of the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for our sins. Be encouraged Sheila because there are lots of us out there that believe the same way you do and are thankful for your ministry. Keep up the good work!

      Reply
      • Sheila Gregoire

        I love that, Melissa! Beautiful.

        Reply
    • Jennifer

      What exactly about this article is unbiblical? If you want spew hate then perhaps you should back up what you say? Are you saying the Bible doesn’t say that men can overcome list? Or is it a woman’s fault? I expect scripture.

      Reply
  14. Tom Hillson

    amyrose, no, I don’t think this is your fault, at least when you’re not highlighting your assets. Of course I’m not advocating for across-the-board breast reductions. LOL. Like my post from a few minutes ago to Sheila, I don’t think I have a solution. That’s part of why this issue is so contentious.

    Reply
    • Sheila Gregoire

      You know, Tom, this isn’t exactly the same thing, but hear me out for a minute. When I was first married sex was AWFUL. It physically hurt me (as I’ve shared in my books, I had vaginismus). My husband and I fought about it all the time. I was under the impression that our marriage would be great if sex were just off the table, because sex was so awful. I couldn’t imagine it feeling good. It was completely bizarre to me.

      What changed was this thought: “If God made sex to be great, and if I believe that God loves me and created me with love, then why would I not want to experience that? Why would I not want to figure out how this sex thing works?”

      I didn’t think differently about SEX. I thought differently about GOD. I decided to believe what God said, and I started a whole research project on how to get to the point where my life reflected what I knew to be true.

      Again, I know we’re not talking about the same thing. But I do think it has some valid similarities. You likely can’t see how lust can be any different than it is now (just like me–how could something that caused me pain actually be pleasurable and something that could help me feel love?). But you don’t have to think differently about LUST or understand lust any differently. You just have to think differently about God.

      If God is big, and if God created you to “be holy, as I am holy”, and if God created you to love all women with a phileo love, then you certainly don’t want to miss out on that. And if He died and rose from the dead so that you no longer have to be a slave to sin, but can be a slave to righteousness, then you certainly don’t want to miss out on those blessings.

      So I don’t think the answer is in thinking about breasts or lust differently. It’s in running wholeheartedly after God so that you can make what you believe about God to be real in your life. I think that starts with spiritual disciplines, as the book Your God Is Too Safe that I mentioned earlier says. But that’s really the answer. Make Jesus bigger than the problem. Make Jesus the thing you concentrate on.

      When I stopped trying to see sex as something good and learned to see the GIVER as someone loving, then things changed for me.

      I hope that that can help you reframe things, too.

      Reply
      • E

        Amen, Sheila!

        Tom, this change in thinking really does work!

        Reply
      • Stormy

        Amen, Sheila!!!! Yes!

        Reply
      • Tom Hillson

        Thanks Sheila. “make God bigger than the problem”. That might be the ticket.

        Reply
        • Sheila Gregoire

          Oh, I’m so glad!

          Reply
      • Kay

        Yes! Spot on Shelia! This is how we grow, we conquer with Christ battling for us because how we believe is exactly what is our reality.
        I seen in the above comments about lust being compared to an eating disorder for girls on thanksgiving. Well, I was (am) one of those girls. I also am a female who is very very visual, so much the things I have read and I have felt like I should of been born a man or what is wrong with me, and have spoken to tons of women who do not share the same feelings or thoughts or struggles that I do. I can say that the struggle with an eating disorder would be of the same extent with those who are an addict or have viewed women their entire lives since young pre-teen years as objects from their own conditioning and or whoever they were around/raised by (parents, friends, family, lifestyle) to believe in in women in general by physical appearance and our culture by what we allow or get involved in with our sight, ears, etc,.
        My story is not that uncommon though and is on the rise because of sin in the area of lust, pride, and greed. I was 7 years old when I seen my first porn magazines and video covers of my neighbor friend, who was also a girl, stumbling across this was nothing new for her but for me it sure was. Her father owned a video store and kept all his supplies in their garage that he didn’t at the store. The impact was huge! Being a girl and growing up on Disney films that in the heart of all little girls was a prince who loved and protected her to then seeing what a man did with a woman was a change in my thought process and feelings with a boy in general on the level of this is what happens.
        From there, my parents went through a divorce when I was 8. My mom left my dad after having an affair (emotional) for a year. At 11 years old my father remarried and we spent a lot of time at my step-mom’s parents home (her mom and her step-father). I was sitting in the spare bedroom playing solitaire and mineswipper on the computer when all of a sudden my step-mom’s, step-Father came and sat by the bed beside me at the computer desk and started putting his hands up my shirt. I was in a complete shut down terror. I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t scream, I couldn’t move. This continued on for almost 2 years. And the frequency and intensity of each time got worse to even him pressing his male gentials on mine after I tried to get away, and him seeing his moment picked me up and held me there. I couldn’t do it anymore. I told my dad that he was touching me, without explaining what he did and my dad didn’t believe me. He told me that we can’t just ruin someone’s life with thinking he was touching me. I was heartbroken. From 12 years old I believed I was only meant for, as a female, to be a man’s sexual toy. And that is all that we as females are. A temptation, a sexual quest, a visual aid to feel the gaps in between the next female whose eye he catches. I was completely broken by then. I didn’t care about myself anymore. I began being bulimic, to be obsessed with body image as if that was all I was….my physical form, a body. I lost my virginity at 14 years old to a boyfriend who then broke up with me because he claimed I wasn’t a virgin because I did not bleed. I didn’t realize that all I was to him was a trophy of my virginity. That put me down a path of for a couple years of being a toy. I was totally broken. From constant sexual assault in school in hallways to friends homes, by boys. By men. Never once did I ever dress inappropriately. Never once did I show too much skin. In fact I hated the idea of what my body looked like I dressed more in baggy clothes or gym gear and tshirts. The only thing I had in view was my face! At 16 I was pregnant and got married to the 19 year old boy who had 3 affairs in 1 1/2 years of marriage and he left me for the last one. I then met my husband after that and we have had our ups and downs and I can say he doesn’t view women the same anymore. I’ve seen what God has done and what He continues doing in him. And I can say that that God has did an awesome patchwork of all those lies I believed about myself, women and men, to be replaced with the truth! And I can say that He can heal, He can fix, He can grow you where by whichever sin has destroyed you and you can become someone who is closer and closer to being Christ like than you were yesterday. My battle with an eating disorder is over! My struggle with being visually focused wrongly with lies is over! Because I believe in my God, His perfect ability to completely renew your heart, your beliefs, your mind, your thoughts, and where your weaknesses were, there now lies scars but made new and into your strengths. Sometimes where we are the most vulnerable and weak, is exactly the place God needs you to let go, and fully give Him all of you.

        Reply
        • Sheila Gregoire

          Oh, Kay, what a beautiful testimony! Thank you so much for sharing that! Isn’t it beautiful what God has done in your life? I’m so, so sorry for all the things that you endured as a child and as a teenager. My heart breaks for you. But I’m so glad that in Christ the bad does not have to be the end of the story!

          Reply
    • Logan

      @Tom

      The thing about lust or any sin really, is to call it for what it is. It is a good thing, gone bad. Used improperly. Soiled. You were made to delight in the body of a woman. God asks that you control your urges if single, and direct your sexuality toward your wife. That is his will for you. Alcoholics don’t get to claim immunity for sin because they are tempted to drink. Morbidly obese people can’t blame food for existing because they are overcome by it. It seems like you have given up the fight against lust. You do that at great danger to your soul. God intends for us to be changed, transformed, not become a more judgemental moralist. We may become baited, but we don’t have to swallow the hook. You need to believe it and accept it. If we are slaves to sin, it means that we lose our will. That sin becomes our master. We go where it wants, we want what it tells us to want. We lose much of our reasoning ability. But God is greater, and he has defeated sin. You have to know that, feel that, live that. It seems like you are being blinded by your sin, and the devestating effects it can have not just on you but on others. Please don’t rebel against God. He does mean what he says. He will not be mocked. He has ways to humble us if we decide we don’t wan’t to willingly bow. His love is so great he went to a cross for us. His love is so great that he will do whatever it takes to win us. There is a solution. Falling on the Lord that loves us. Jesus ALREADY broke the power of sin over us. We have to accept that, repeat that, take it to our hearts so that the power of that truth helps us fight our sins.

      1 Corinthians 10:13
      No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

      Look for the exit. If it means you can’t go some places, so be it. If it means you have to stare at the ceiling so be it. Jesus overcame sin. Jesus accomplished his purpose. He declared, ‘It is finished’.

      Reply
      • Sheila Gregoire

        Very well said, Logan!

        Reply
      • Tom Hillson

        “You do that at great danger to your soul.” That has the faint smell of heresy Logan. I’ll assume you didn’t use the correct wording.

        Reply
        • Logan

          Smugness…the tell-tale sign of the self-righteous.

          You can comfort yourself with whatever doctrine you think justifies your continual sin despite the Hebrews 6 warnings all that you want. It is dangerous. You do have to face the consequences of your sin, even if you are saved. God punished his own chosen nation time and again, great punishments, but his desire was always to draw them back. It is clear though, that you are only willing to listen to those that will pet you in your sin. I fear those same people will comfort someone (maybe even you) right to hell. Maybe you are willing to be broken like David was, his sin reverbrating through his children, destroying his kingdom.

          Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. Galatians 6:7.

          No need to reply. I will not be responding further.

          Reply
  15. Mandy

    My husband would be cheering loudly at this post. I think those so vehemently against this post are people who have been defending a certain book you reference. For the record, my hubby said in his opinion that book is highly dangerous and put more sin thoughts into his head than he would have ever had on his own. To him it created an environment for sin and he told me
    to put it in the dumpster rather than give it to goodwill. We’re the parents of 3 boys(and one teen girl), oldest turning 16 in two weeks, so I always try to view things from that perspective. Thanks for all you work in this ministry!

    Reply
    • Rae

      I wish everyone realized the dangers of these books!!! My husband and I read the Young Man’s battles book and we were shocked by how graphic it is, and how unhelpful! There are fantastic resources on this, try finally free by Heath Lambert or Sexual Detox by Tim Challies. Great books! They point you to God and his grace, rather than ‘just don’t do it’. You can bounce your eyes for so long, but if you don’t get to the root of the issue it will only be a temporary fix.

      Reply
    • sw

      I read those books when I was trying to understand and recover from my husbands porn addiction and they made me feel so terrible. I remember feeling hopeless that this was how it supposedly was for men. that I was suppposed to just accept it. Im encouraged that my gut sick feeling wasnt uncalled for. I dont always agree with everything on this blog, or other blogs either for that matter, however I have gained valuable wisdom and insight from them, and am so thankful that there are so many resources for women available.

      Reply
      • Christa

        Now, I’m a little freaked out that I trusted my husband’s judgement when he said these books were excellent and he went thru them with our 3 sons. I’m afraid they’ve caused damage to my boys and their thought process .

        Reply
        • Lydia purple

          I don’t know the books but I know that you don’t fight bad things (sins, bad habits, negative thinking) with focusing on all the examples of what to avoid. Sometimes a concrete example is helpful to make a point, but usually naming something to be clear is enough. like saying “game of thrones” is a wise thing to avoid because it leads to lustful thoughts and sometimes actions. It’s very precise but still doesn’t cause anyone who doesn’t know game of thrones to imagine things he hadn’t imagined without it being mentioned. The way to clean your heart from lust is to focus on the holy thing you’re supposed to attain not the sin you try to avoid. that is true for any sin or bad habits even that aren’t sin. If you think in ” “don’t look” the whole time you are actually obsessing the whole time about the sin you try to avoid. Instead one should try to have a positive and very clear action plan. Something like “she’s a child of God, look her in the eye, treat her with respect” . We need to overcome evil with good, not by focusing on the evil.

          So just from the few comments about those books I wouldn’t ever want to read or recommend them to anybody.

          Reply
          • Sheila Gregoire

            Exactly, Lydia!

  16. Moos

    I’m curious what you think of the book Through a Man’s Eyes by Shaunti Feldhahn? Do you put it in the same category as Every Man’s Battle?

    Reply
    • Sheila Gregoire

      I know this is terrible, since Shaunti is a friend, but I actually haven’t read it! It’s sitting on my shelf right now, along with about 25 other books I’m sent by publishers.

      Reply
      • Moos

        Time to read it ?!

        Reply
    • Kay

      I would say it has that same gut feeling of wrong. It is by statistics and interviews but it basically feels the same. Statistics rise because of rise of porn remember this.

      Reply
    • Lisa Manske

      It’s helpful to understand how damaging purity culture is in the churches that preach it. It’s a horrible book to actually understand the complex issues involved in sexuality, attraction, and lust. It’s not a well researched book, unfortunately. Feldhahn completely ignored how our culture forms the brain’s responses. This becomes very evident when you look at cultures where female nudity isn’t an issue. Or our culture 100 years ago when images didn’t bombard children’s eyes. The book also ignores the fact that men who didn’t grow up constantly being told to avoid temptation don’t struggle nearly as much as men who were taught women’s bodies are stumbling blocks.

      It’s a very one dimensional book. And it leaves the reader with the impression that all men are fighting lust every time they leave the house. And that simply isn’t true.

      Reply
  17. Logan

    I’ve spent too much time here today, but I just want to say that I have been greatly helped by this blog and Shelia’s books. When I want to be a selfish spouse, Shelia has challenged me to be otherwise. One of the biggest things she has helped me with in one of her books she mentions that we have to treat our spouses like our neighbors. We instinctively know how we ought to treat others, but we get small and petty with our spouses. She taught that our spouses are our neighbor too and we should instead of assuming the negative (intentions, actions, or otherwise) we should assume the positive and give grace. I have to treat my husband as my neighbor and love and forgive him the same as I would a neighbor or friend that I had a disagreement with. God expects that of me. I didn’t get that before I read it. I do now.

    She has great daughters who really are so intelligent and really just impressive to be so young, so clear on what God wants of them. I think all of us want children that love the Lord above anything else. Whatever she did right, I would like to do also. I love her parenting posts.

    So Shelia, keep it up! It is hard to put yourself out there with keyboard warriors ready to tear into you! But you are helping people to grow and helping couples to heal. It is not unnoticed or unrewarded, even if the people you help are in different countries and thousands of miles away. God sees, God knows, and God has called you to help others. You are fulfilling that.

    In the vernacular of our culture…haters gonna hate.

    Reply
  18. Melissa

    This is an issue that I have thought about a lot. In fact, my husband and I have discussed it at length. A commenter (Tom, I believe) asked if women had any sin that they struggled with as hard as men struggle with lust and the answer is yes. Women struggle with envy, coveting and comparing. Now, I know you are thinking it isn’t the same but it is. It is part of our nature to a certain extent to compare and if we allow our minds to continually go there then envy creeps in and then resentment. Women can make themselves and their entire families miserable because of envy and comparing. Then we try and fight it by finding all the reasons why the person we envy doesn’t really have it better than we do. Women will say things like “Yes, she has a bigger house than us and a pool but she has to work outside the house to have those things so she obviously has her priorities mixed up or she would have a smaller house and no pool and be home with her kids all day long.” Or “yes, they go on amazing vacations but the dad has to work so much that vacation is the only time they see him.” So rather than just be learning to be content and deal with the sin of envy we have to turn to judging and putting other people down (which of course is another sin). Now, if we are to take this comparison a step further than the logical conclusion would be that because it is so easy to cause others to envy that a good christian wouldn’t buy nice cars, a big house, nice things or go on great vacations and they most certainly wouldn’t post anything about those things on Facebook. Now could someone be making money and possessions into an idol in their life and worship it more than God? Most certainly! However, that is their sin to deal with and God is big enough to deal with it without me trying to be the Holy Spirit in their lives or guilt them into living a poverty life style to ease my envy. Envy is my sin to deal with and no amount of staying off Facebook, not being friends with those who have more than I do, etc. will deal with my sin until I am willing to call it what it is and seek God’s help in dealing with it. So, yes, women do have sin issues that are just as deep and just as much a part of how we are wired as lust is for a man. The difference is that it’s easy to see how ridiculous it is to blame someone else for that sin. No one is alone in this fight against sin. That is the comfort in it. We all struggle, we all mess up but we also have a Savior who died as payment for that sin already and is more than willing to help us in overcoming sin in our lives as well. And I agree with Sheila that what we focus on grows. Sometimes we have to turn our focus off of our sin and onto more of God. Less of me and more of Him.

    Reply
    • Sheila Gregoire

      This is the heart of EVERYTHING: “Less of me and more of Him.”. He must increase; I must decrease. Beautifully said, Melissa, and great example.

      Reply
  19. Toni

    There are a lot of very kind people on this post and only a few that are intentionally malevolent. Unfortunately the malevolent ones have had the ‘loudest’ responses, and they seem to be unwilling to face their own responsibility, so I’m going to speak plainly: Blaming another for your sin is not repentance and will not get you forgiveness. If you want to be forgiven, the bible is clear that you must repent.

    Saying you MUST sin. You are “hard wired” to sin is refusing to acknowledge the amazing gift that Jesus has given you when He saved you. He has given you a new, clean heart. He has also given you hope, a source of help and strength, and a promise of victory. If you doubt the saving power of Jesus Christ, then where is your faith?

    We will all have a particular battle with sin. Some lust, some lie, some battle addiction. None of us are given a permission to continue with our sin of choice just because the battle is hard. Just as you must work hard to achieve a standing in the Olympic games, there are times when you must work hard to avoid sin. To say that “you can’t help it” is childish.

    Reply
  20. James

    Sheila,
    I appreciate your broaching this difficult subject! I’m joining late in the conversation, but I have a couple of questions/thoughts:
    1) When you say Jesus was not tempted, you remove part of his humanity which can lead down a dangerous path (1 John 4: 2,3). Jesus was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4: 15).
    2) Jesus words: “He that looketh at a woman to lust….” has the same purpose as Jesus’ teaching to the rich young ruler. We don’t naturally understand the spirituality of the law, thinking that we do pretty good. We aren’t. See Romans 3: 9-20, Romans 7: 14 — “I am carnal” , not “I was carnal”. When God shows me what I really am, total corrupt, then by the Holy Spirit, I have no other place to go than to Jesus and tell him, Jesus, I did it again…. Jesus “cleanse me from secret faults”. When Jesus brings up the spirituality of the law, I am put in a vice…..I must, but I can’t, I must, but I can’t. It squeezes me till I look to Jesus the Great Substitute who looked and never lusted, who receives sinners (not those who have it all together). Not that I don’t keep trying, I do, I must….and via sanctification, the sin is mortified (killed), yet the flesh never dies till I lay in the grave.
    Please understand me rightly: All men are totally corrupt. All women are totally corrupt. The answer is in the gospel (He for me), not in keeping the law or me doing better!

    Reply
    • Sheila Gregoire

      Hi James,

      Great comment! Thank you.

      You’re right about point #1–I should have phrased it better. I said that He didn’t have sexual feelings towards them, but I really meant that He didn’t lust after them, and He truly saw them as whole people. I didn’t mean to imply that He wasn’t tempted, only that He never succumbed to the urge to lust or objectify those women.

      As to point #2, i couldn’t have said it better! Beautiful.

      Reply
  21. Ngina Otiende

    Far too many women grew up hearing that it’s their responsibility to help men not to lust/sin. And obviously if I can blame someone else for my sin, it makes it less likely that I will stand up against it. It makes for the perfect sin storm. And I am sure the enemy is pretty happy with that status.

    I LOVE that you have done this series. I know it will help many. At least the ones that want to be helped. For the life of me I can’t understand why someone people are missing the fact that you’ve stressed personal responsibility to both. Blessings and God’s strength as you tackle this subject this week. Praying for you!

    Reply
  22. Wynd

    “We’ve set up this situation where “seeing” a woman is somehow a bad thing, when it’s just simply not.”

    Job 31:1 – “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?

    Some translations say “gaze lustfully”. Some (such as American Standard Version) just say “look”. “I made a covenant with mine eyes; How then should I look upon a virgin?” Connotation, Denotation. Reflect on the difference between the two verses for a moment. Depending on the translation, one could say “don’t look with lust (e.g. mental strip show), but someone (many do) might simply say “don’t look”.

    This establishes (depending on translation) a Biblical precedence for the “eye bounce”. In an effort to avoid sin, this is held as a godly standard to achieve. I have encountered many preachers, teachers, and writers that have used Job 31:1 as a model for avoiding lust – if you can avoid looking at anyone under 75 (at all, ever) who has a XX chromosome (exempting family/wife), then like Joseph in the house of Potiphar, you will be fleeing sin.

    Disagree (I do), or use a different translations, but realize there are huge swaths of population whose interpretation on this issue hinges on a single word; and that a Scriptural prescription can easily seem to be “don’t look at all, ever”. Matthew 5:29, the verse immediately after Jesus’s equating of lust and adultery, prescribes eye-plucking as a remedy for this particular sin. A man not going to the beach because of no safe spaces to which to “eyebounce” suddenly seems kinda tame in comparison. I have encountered a large number of teachings that hold that even noticing someone is good-looking, or feeling any attraction at all for someone not spouse, is lust, and therefore adultery … and should be thus avoided whenever possible.

    In my growing up/puberty years:
    Noticing = Lust = Adultery
    Attraction = Lust = Adultery
    Erotic dreams = Lust = Adultery (I have encountered theology professors that say sin in a dream is no different than sin in real life, offtopic).

    Of course pornography and mentally undressing someone were also lust as well.

    For me it was an impossible burden – if I go to school and notice that some of my classmates, are in fact, female, then I have broken the seventh commandment about adultery just as surely if I had bedded them. Even if I was very careful to avoid everything in my waking life then I would be betrayed in my sleep.

    Alcoholics turned to Christ and left the bottle. People of every disgusting stripe turned to Christ and their lives were transformed. It was then devastating to me that I prayed so often as a teenager to have these obviously sinful desires taken from me only to have them remain. No amount of prayer or fasting or memorizing scripture erased my sex drive that kept “noticing” people around me. Not only did this mean I was a monster and a freak (because clearly nobody else struggled this way) but irredeemable as well.

    Reply
    • Sheila Gregoire

      Wow, Wynd. Just wow.

      Thank you so much for sharing that. What a horrible, horrible thing to grow up believing! It reminds me of what Jesus said to the Pharisees: “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.”

      The proper translation of the word “look” in that verse is “gaze lustfully”, I do believe, but thank you for pointing out how important proper translation is. That’s terrible.

      I am just so very, very saddened by all of this. I desperately hope that we can start teaching young people better about this so that we can avoid this terrible burden that was put on you! I’m talking about that tomorrow, and I hope it really helps.

      Again, thank you for sharing. That’s such an important perspective.

      Reply
      • Lydia purple

        The Hebrew word in Job 31:1 does mean to look, to examine, to observe, to gaze. There is nothing in the verse or word saying lustfully. But the word used for looking is not simply referring to the ability to see (= notice) actually the Hebrew root is also connected to the words build and understand. It clearly refers to someone choosing to keep looking and building up a mental image. We use it frequently in modern Hebrew to tell someone to look closely, to observe, to think about what they see. In the case of the Job verse which refers to a married men looking at a virgin makes absolute sense, because he has no business examining in his mind any other women except his wife because that may lead to lust. Notice, he still can see her, but he doesn’t observe or continue to gaze at her, because of the effect it may have on him. It’s smart men avoiding temptation. To make a doctrine of this verse is just plain stupid, it is a clear statement of the choice of one particular men who has made a covenant with his eyes. Can we use it as an example? – yes! Make it a law? – nope!

        Reply
        • Sheila Gregoire

          Thank you for that, Lydia! It’s great to have someone from Israel on the blog! I still want to come and meet you one day. 🙂

          Reply
          • Lydia purple

            Yes! I would love to meet you and have some coffee and show you some pretty birds 😉

    • Debra

      No one says appreciating a pretty woman is wrong look appreciate dis engage. If you starring oogling continuing to DISRESPECTFULLY use her body for your sexual desire your…WRONG. the bible says nothing about it being okay. Nothing. You can use his words to suit you if you will but how about looking at a pretty woman and seeing her mind heart and sole cause guess what she has them not just boobs ass and a vagina and to add your your enjoyment. We women hate that. We don’t find you attractive doing it we do not get off on it it is not a compliment and when your with a woman we think your an asshole and we feel sorry for your wife…girlfriend. Your just a huge loser. So how’s that. No excuses grow up your no longer 14.

      Reply
  23. Chris

    So today I was at work and listening to the pumps whirl and did some praying and reflecting on the ways that I have commented on this blog. Then i saw “RM”s comment and was stunned. Sheila, maybe you just need to ban male comments. Your blog was (i think) supposed to be a place where women could come and listen and be encouraged to improve various things in their marriages. They likely have some very (or slightly) frustrated men sitting in their own living rooms. They don’t need to come here and here frustrated men lashing out. The RM person clearly has issues but like Eliza sings in “Burn” i am removing myself from the narative and from now on i will just read and not comment.

    Reply
  24. Terrell Bosarge

    Good, good read! I applaud you in taking a stand against what the world and the church would tell you is “normal”. As a man, I know that we can appreciate the beauty of a woman without lusting after her. It is possible. Pastor David Hatton has a lot to say about this in his blog. He was an RN in labor and delivery for many years and struggled with a double mindedness with regard to how the world and the church told him he should be viewing women. Great job! Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • Sheila Gregoire

      My husband, as a physician, said the same thing to me yesterday. He was wondering if the men writing “every man’s battle” were honestly assuming he was lusting the whole time he was in medical school seeing adult women naked. Doctors seriously don’t. But somehow we frame it as if it’s inevitable.

      Reply
      • Pi

        My husband is a healthcare worker and said he could never really turn it off. I want what this article is saying to be true and it restores my hope. I also fear my husband lusts after other women. I’ve sometimes wondered if he has or has had a pornography addiction or fantasized about other women, because he would refuse me for sex sometimes, never initiated, and felt distant and far away during sex. It also just seems about physical release to him and not emotional connection. I despair I’ll ever have the depth of connection and open communication I so crave and want and need. He’s very private and doesn’t share much, and has gotten upset and yelled at me anytime I’ve wanted to talk about sex. He used to stare at attractive women when we were out, even. at church. He doesn’t as much anymore.

        He’s a decent husband in some ways–not very hard working but works just enough to pay the bills, helps a little around the house. He just seems to want to watch tv for hours and hours every day. He works a night shift. I feel like something in the foundation of our relationship has not been right, but he refuses to talk about anything and yells and blows up and storms out and stonewalls for days. So I’m afraid ti ever rock the boat and just try to pretend everything’s fine, but something is not quite right–if only the inability to have a mature open stable conversation,

        Reply
  25. Nicole

    Sheila, I just wanted to thank you and applaud you for broaching this subject. It’s most definitely not an easy one to address! Honestly, I wanted to jump up and clap at everything you said!
    I remember reading through Every Man’s Battle with my husband and being thoroughly repulsed. My husband even asked me to throw it away, as he felt the book painted very graphic pictures in his mind of the very thing he was trying to fight! I remember feeling completely discouraged as a wife to know that there was nothing I could do other than be available for sex to stop my husband from sinning and dress modestly so that other men wouldn’t sin. It basically normalized lust as being “hard wired”, and the book actually made me nauseous. I’m so glad I threw it away. I was very disappointed that a Christian author could make it all seem so hopeless, which only exacerbated the problem. It’s been really refreshing to read this series, and has restored my hope that it doesn’t have to be the way it is. Like the Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”
    I am thankful my husband and I have moved forward, but we didn’t move forward because he tried to normalize lust. He owned his sin, repented, and rebuilt trust. I’m still learning to trust him, and it’s a process, but God is good! Thanks again for all you do! 🙂

    Reply
    • Sheila Gregoire

      Oh, that’s so wonderful, Nicole! It sounds like you’ve got a great man there! 🙂

      Reply
  26. Crystal P

    Amen! I keep thinking of the verse in 2 Corinthians 10:3-6 that commands us to take every thought captive to the glory of God. If I can follow that advice and get victory over negativity and anxiety (which was present almost all the time to some degree), then I firmly believe that men can take ownership of their thoughts and retrain their brains to honour women in how they think of them. Dr. Caroline Leaf, a Christian neurologist that has spent many years researching the power of our thoughts, has found that it is possible to retrain and rewire our brains to think differently. Jesus paid the price for our redemption and that means it’s possible to have a renewed mind.

    We are no longer the old, sinful nature when we entered a covenant with Christ; we are now new creations with the mind of Christ in us. We just need to learn how to practice living from a place of redemption rather than sin. I believe that if men ask God what is at the root of their lust, renounce whatever lie they may be believing, and claim God’s truth over that area instead, their thoughts will start to change.

    The simple truth is, all of God’s children have been washed clean by Jesus’ sacrifice, are strong and mighty in Him, and are empowered by the Holy Spirit to live righteous lives. The more we realize and believe that truth and choose to live by it, the more our lives will become aligned with who God created us to be.

    Reply
    • Sheila Gregoire

      Very well put, and very biblical! I’ve heard other people recommend Dr. Leaf’s material before; I’ll have to look into it! Thank you.

      Reply
  27. John Dunn

    Just thinking about how you approached this problem, and yes it is a problem, you say in your opening, “If we expect all men to lust, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised when so many do!” Isn’t that argument applicable to most everything? Like “If we expect all women to dislike sex, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised when so many do!” I take issue with your argument not the fact that most men lust, which is true by the way, lust is sin and most of us struggle with sin. I am not sure a woman can truly understand how a man thinks when it comes to lust, there is no rhyme or reason, that makes it difficult for us to battle. It is not as easy as flipping a switch, if it were, problem solved, I for one would love to be without that burden in my life, I fight the battle constantly, most men do. I don’t have the answer and I admit that. I am not sure you can either if you don’t truly understand the problem from a man’s perspective.

    Reply
  28. Angie

    “They are viewing them as sex objects rather than as whole people. Yet somehow, instead of recognizing women as the victims in this scenario, the argument paints men as the victims. Because lust is universal, the guy can’t do anything about it. It’s up to the woman to help him win this battle. And if she doesn’t, then it’s her fault if he sins. The victim has become the perpetrator.”

    Bingo.

    Great job on this series.

    Reply
  29. paul

    You wrote: about the Every Heart Restored book: “The thesis seemed to be that guys could overcome lust–but only if women realized how hard the pull was and made themselves very readily available sexually, with enthusiasm.”
    I have not read that book so I don’t know, but I’m honestly asking, was that the actual thesis? Did the authors state this was their position? I’m asking because, though I’m thoroughly enjoying these posts and their serious call to men to man up and not give into the cultural pressure to just accept lust as unconquerable, I am also struggling to see the source materials you are referencing (like Every Man’s Battle) as actually holding these extreme positions you are working so hard to knock down. I pulled my very old copy of EMB off the shelf the other day, to go back through it to see if it even remotely teaches that men cannot have victory over lust and that they have to accept it as a natural part of the Christian life. I didn’t get past the cover. The subtitle reads “Winning the war on Sexual Tempation one victory at a time.” Now, that’s just the sub title. Twice the authors use victory language. “Winning” and “Victory”. I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and go back through the whole book, but where do Arterburn and Stoeker remotely ever teach that every man will inevitably lust, that they can’t get victory and that it’s ever a problem to be blamed on women? Does it just seem that way? Others may teach that. My concern is with what sounds like your accusations against these two men and the whole EM’s series of material that has helped many men for decades now.

    Let me be clear on my position so you know where I stand. I stand with you on the following: Lust is absolutely a sin that can be fought and conquered in this life, by God’s grace. My lust (or any other sin) is never, ever someone else’s fault. Someone may help me along in the battle, but when they don’t (purposefully or accidentally), it is NEVER their fault that I sinned. I always have a choice.

    Where I’m struggling: I’m struggling to see who out there actually holds the positions that lust if just an inevitable sin that men always have to deal with till they die and that women can be blamed for men sinning this way.

    Reply
    • Sheila Gregoire

      Hi Paul,

      That’s a great question, and one I wanted to explain more but quite frankly all my posts this week were already at 2,500 words!

      I know that the authors of the book would not say that the thesis is that no man can defeat lust. Absolutely.

      But from the illustrations in the book–that all men must learn to bounce their eyes, along with the rather graphic descriptions of lust that are rather disturbing–as well as the title itself it gives that impression.

      And so it’s more the “every man’s battle” approach than it is the actual authors. But this thought is pervasive. We hear it when we’re told that women need to cover up or men will lust. We hear it when we’re told that women need to have sex or men will lust. We hear it every time women are blamed for men’s sin.

      I doubt that anyone would write a book that blatantly says that. But the underlying theme is there, and it’s there in the Christian subculture every time we hear that men have to learn how to “bounce their eyes” or they’ll inevitably sin; and every time we hear that women are to blame.

      It’s gotten into the culture, even if that was not the authors’ intention.

      And we need to change the conversation.

      As for Every Heart Restored, I read it about a decade ago. I can’t remember much of it, except this sickening feeling the whole time I was reading it, and the illustration of a woman who decided to have sex every day for a year, even though she felt used, to see if that would help him.

      Reply
  30. Cici

    I’m so glad that not all men struggle with lust. This is one of the reasons I didn’t wanna get married. I thought all men had this problem. Thank you Sheila. I won’t settle for a weak man.

    Reply
  31. Elaine

    Possibly one reason this subject can be difficult to understand is because it’s hard to differentiate between the TEMPTATION to lust and the actual ACT or sin of lusting. Even Jesus, the holy, sinless Son of God was almost certainly TEMPTED to lust after women, because Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was IN ALL POINTS tempted like as we are, YET WITHOUT SIN.” Jesus, though probably tempted, NEVER, EVER ONCE gave in to the temptation and lusted after a woman.

    Easy to talk about but perhaps not so easy to differentiate in everyday practice? Satan loves to tempt us with lustful thoughts, then immediately turn around and accuse us as though the temptation itself were our fault and we’d already sinned just by being tempted. (If we believe that falsehood, it sets us up for defeat because we feel so guilty and helpless.) On the other hand, someone might indulge in a little lust while excusing himself with the false notion that “These pleasurable thoughts are just a temptation that I can’t control or be held at fault for,” when, in actuality, he has fallen into an act of deliberate sin which he certainly can and should overcome by the grace of God.

    Temptations are technically out of our control, though if we don’t give in to them, they usually become less over time, and we can certainly cry out to God to “lead us not into temptation.” Sin, however, is something over which the blood of Jesus most definitely can provide victory, and I agree; no Christian should be guilty of lust.

    But I guess I’m asking… what does it MEAN to lust? When does external temptation become an actual internal sin of lust? And is it lust if you’re imagining an act of sex that’s not related to any specific person? Maybe I’m stupid, but… what IS lust?

    Reply
    • Dean

      Hello Elaine,

      I personally consider as lust every occasion when something other than my wife invokes in me thoughts of sexual nature: be it another woman, or a picture of such, or a brief fantasy, etc.

      When such a thing happens, I consider it my duty to immediately revolt against it, and to quickly guide my thoughts to completely different directions. If I fail to do that, if I continue dwelling on the thoughts of lust, I would consider this a relapse, which is a really very undesirable thing.

      Initially I thought that lust is not a sin, since it is something I cannot control, since it comes from the outside; and that relapse is a serious sin, since it is my choice to indulge in the thoughts of lust.

      But then I realized that if I systematically push lust away and never indulge in it, it starts happening less and less often. With time the brain learns to ignore the stimulus before the stimulus can produce an effect.

      So now I think that lust is a sin, and is avoidable. If one keeps on pushing it away, it stops coming.

      Reply
  32. Carlene Seghers

    I know I’m really late in joining this conversation Sheila. I’m reading it for the first time today, and maybe no-one other than you will see this. But I’d like to highlight something you said in the article above. You said, “Defeating lust, …involves learning to see sex as more than physical.” I read your posts regularly, and regularly take breaks. Too often they make me tired, and sad. Because too often our society and even your articles focus on the physical, and a person’s ability and freedom to experience physical pleasure.

    SEX IS SACRED. It has to do with God; it’s about Him! Until we focus away from self, flesh, my experience, and your experience, we’ll never find conclusive answers to these age old questions, or experience victory that lasts, and never fades! Debates will continue when the focus is me or you, his experience or her experience. Ephesians 5:32 clearly identifies sex is a physical act that points to a spiritual truth: when two become, we’re making a statement about Christ and the Church …Him and Her! When that statement reflects righteous unity, God is glorified and the marriage strong. When that statement is broken and confused by any form of unrighteousness, the Church becomes irrelevant and righteousness and holy sex an idyllic notion, with little meaning. God embraced human sexuality when He made a man’s penis a symbol of righteousness through circumcision, and through sex married couples may celebrate that righteousness in Truth! The righteousness of Christ placed in the Church is life-giving, after all. These are the compelling truths that empower my husband to turn away from sexual images and his past sexual history, and they are the truths that healed our marriage.

    Reply
  33. RC

    What bothers me is that basically the lust issue says men are no different from dogs or other animals in their urge to lust and have sex. Men are created by God in the image of God which makes their sexuality very from a dogs instinctual urges. I believe the bouncing of the eyes technique in the book can be very helpful to men who are truly trying to break this habit of lusting. The porn that is so available and so anonymous now more than ever is a big part where men have to be proactive and protect themselves and their marriages by doing whatever is necessary to keep their marriage bed pure.

    Reply
  34. Mister

    I agree that lusting and sexual immorality is a sin that can be conquered.
    I agree that men have no one, but ourselves to blame for our sinful lusts.

    I know, firsthand, that lust (which is akin to adultery, as Jesus said) is sinful because of how negatively it has impacted my marriage and has made my wife feel insecure and like she can’t trust me.

    I know that we hold the key to conquering any sin when we surrender to Christ and ask Him to renew our minds.

    The problem is, I’ve already surrendered my life to Christ and have accepted the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and yet, the problem persists. Why?

    Let me be clear. I was addicted to porn for almost two decades before I got married. I did surrender to Christ, who changed and renewed my mind to the point where porn is disgusting to me. I haven’t regressed into looking at porn, although I did have one regression where I was looking at random, “soft core” pictures of women, without masturbating, but I’ve since stopped that as well. So, I have come a long way.

    What hasn’t stopped is my noticing women while out in public, despite being married to my wife (who I do love and who is very attractive). (to be continued)

    Reply
  35. Mister

    (continued from previous).
    I notice that my eyes are drawn to certain body parts, like wide hips and full thighs. You say that it isn’t a sin to notice attractive women, or even attractive features/body parts, so according to your definition, I haven’t lusted, however, even #1 has caused immense problems in my marriage. I never do #3, which you said was undressing women with my eyes, or fantasizing about them being in sexual positions. #2 is difficult for me to say yes or not to. Yet, my wife is upset to the point of not being able to cope and possibly wanting to separate with me over it. I don’t blame her for her feelings, of course. It just makes me wonder, though, if most marriages are irredeemably effected by this. How many marriages are free of this and is the reason they’re free of this because the wife has the “body parts” her husband desires. But then I think what happens when the wife gets older and loses her shape. Does the struggle continue?

    My wife, as a result of my lusting, which I admitted to her, is now of the opinion that she must not be my “type” after all and that this problem will continue, so why stay married. My perspective on it is that, it’s true, I can’t help but notice a woman’s figure and wide hips and full thighs arouse me, but that my wife also arouses me and I choose her because I love her, the whole package, not just body parts. My wife is special and she can’t be reduced to just body parts, which is why I wouldn’t leave her. I guess the problem is, she feels like she doesn’t want to be thought of as second best for any reason. I do get her point of view, but at the same time, we’re both strong Christians and don’t believe in divorce. Plus, even if I were to remarry a woman with wider hips and fuller thighs (putting the theological implications aside), I don’t necessarily think that would completely solve the problem and I might still notice other women.

    My question is, are things too far gone for us? Are we doomed to live together in a sexless, loveless marriage if we stay together?

    And also, how important is it to marry a woman who satisfies those deep body part cravings (i.e. wide hips, full thighs)? Can a marriage survive if those cravings are not met?

    Funny thing is, if my wife gained 15-20 pounds of healthy weight, it would do a world of good, but when I mentioned this to her, she was very hurt.

    Reply
    • Mary

      If your looking at other women is so obvious to your wife that she is hurt to the point of not wanting to be married anymore then you have definitely crossed the line. If you really loved your wife and cared about her feelings you wouldn’t continue to objectify other women (and tell her to change her body). Also, you mention “the wife is getting older”. So are you. Have you considered that you aren’t physically perfect, either? You should marry someone because you love them, not because they have wide hips and full thighs. That’s not a basis of a solid relationship. People are more than just body parts. Does your wife really mean so little to you that you want to continue hurting her deliberately to make a point? You’re willing to throw away your marriage to satisfy your lost for an imaginary better woman?

      Reply
  36. Lady Di

    ITS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT TO ALLOW THE HOLY SPIRIT´S POWER TO TRANSFORM PEOPLE’S LIVES: THIS WILL ULTIMATELY DESTROY ANY TEMPTATION !

    Reply
  37. Mike Mahon

    So, I don’t have a problem with the sentiment of the article per se. what kept sticking out to me as I read was the author kept telling men, in order to be a real man, you have to battle lust. The title of the book in question is “Every Man’s BATTLE.” The whole point of the book isn’t to say that every man lusts, it’s that every man battles against lust. The book was very helpful to me in my struggle against lust. One of the most common side-effects of lust is shame. Especially for Christian men. We know that lust is wrong, but have no one to talk about it with, confide in, confess to, etc. It’s very taboo in the church too! So, we battle quietly, alone, ashamed, insecure, etc. All common effects of sin. But then, there’s this book that says there are men out there who relate, and confess, and fight, and pray, and understand, and it is so refreshing to know you’re not alone! That’s the heart of this book. It is not saying every man lusts, so keep on listing. Quite the contrary.

    I am 13 years porn free and fighting lust with lots of victory. But I cannot do it alone. I first need God, then my wife, then my Christian brothers to battle with me.

    No differently, my wife struggles with anger. She needs God, me, and Christian women to battle anger and resentment with her. Her anger affects others just as powerfully as my lust. I don’t judge her when she slips up. I love her, show her grace, speak the truth when necessary, and we move forward.

    Because of my recovery from porn and the story I have, I’ve been able to speak to thousands of men and women about my story. I’ve seen victories and failures along the journey, but in the end, lust has become a platform of grace for me to be bulnerable about my weaknesses and to open the door to confession, honesty, and healing in other’s lives.

    Just a different perspective to consider.

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      Totally agree with this statement. I personally loved the book and it changed my marriage completely for the better. I don’t understand why women attack a writer/article/statement directed towards men? For example, articles directed to men regarding sex, women are the FIRST to respond ‘men are suppose to love their wives…..’ Lust is absolutely every man’s battle whether you like to hear that or not. And in marriage, men are not to have platonic relationships with women, ever. Anyone reading this, please consider why you like certain blogs or follow certain people. Because it’s biblical or does it make you feel better?

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        “men are not supposed to have platonic relationships with women, ever.”

        Romans 16–Paul mentions 10 women out of the 29 people that he greets. They are his “fellow workers”, his friends, apostles, people that he loves.

        He gives Romans to Phoebe to deliver it.

        Would you say that’s “platonic”? Would you say they had relationships? “Greet one another with a holy kiss.”

        You have a far lower view of men than the Bible does, and that’s sad.

        Reply
  38. Megan

    Hey! As a young single woman, I am very thankful for this article series. I would love for you to write a book talking about these things, too! To put all these posts into one physical thing I could hand to friends to spark conversation and change. That would be so cool!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m working on it! 🙂 I really am. We have a 3-book book proposal out to a big publisher right now, and I’m hoping it gets picked up! 🙂

      Reply
  39. Jane P.

    I’ve read dozens of articles on Christian men and lust: what it is, what the Bible says and that it must be “fought”. Every article leaves out this fact: Jesus was tempted in ALL ways and He died on the cross for ALL our sins. Many authors seem to assert that the only sin Jesus won’t help with is lust, that men must “do battle” and “be accountable to yourself” all on their own without any Divine help. It’s hard to talk to God about it because it’s pleasurable and we don’t want to give up something that makes us feel alive. But when it’s inappropriate to be attracted, we have to ask God to remove it so we can have a brother-sister relationship with that person.

    I’m a single middle-aged woman and I’ve never been attractive. I’ve sometimes grouched at God why He made men so they only want the cute ones. Having never had a romantic relationship, I’ve dealt with lust in myself. Many times I have asked God to take away the feelings I have for a man and replace them with brotherly love. It works. And that kind of love is, after all, the second greatest commandment.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      This is so insightful, Jane. Thank you! I think you’re right–it is the one sin that we think God can’t help with.

      Incidentally, I’m sorry you feel unattractive. That must be difficult in this world that values superficial things.

      Reply
  40. Victoria Mowery

    I am unable to read through all of the comments, so forgive me if I’ve missed where this may have been discussed already!

    Do you have an opinion on the book called “Through Every Man’s Eyes” by Craig Gross and Shaunti Feldhahn?

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      We talk about that book quite a bit in our upcoming The Great Sex Rescue. We did find that the idea that all men are struggling with this is not consistent with reality or with the Bible, and is very harmful to women’s marital and sexual satisfaction.

      Reply
    • J

      I am halfway through this book and have wanted to toss it into the garbage since reading the title. (This book was recommended by a Church friend) and I have to say that it disgusts me. I was raised by a wonderful father who never ogled at women or made me ever feel like a sexual object. I feel that this book is an excuse for bad behavior. Many people can suffer from lust without the Holy Spirit guiding their lives. Men and women. But not every man or woman. I have a problem with any book that says that “Every Person” struggles with the same thing. We all need Christ in our lives I believe, but we all don’t have the exact makeup or struggles. This book disgusted me and I think I will need some counseling and time to get these upsetting thoughts out of my head. It makes me feel that I would never want to get married if I believed that all men were just animals. I have been friends in my life with many emotional and very committed men. I have men who are friends who are highly communicative, wonderful, emotional and normal people. We have had wonderful times together and I find them to be very high functioning, well-rounded human beings. Maybe some men struggle with this, while others may be work-alcoholics or alcoholics. But to say every man struggles with one thing is to reduce people to all being the same and makes men look like predatory monsters. If a man is struggling with this, I suggest he invite the Holy Spirit into his life and start looking at people like individuals with emotions, struggles, and stories of their own – and not like just a piece of meat for sexual gratification. God reserves one person for us to do that with – our spouse. I think that once we realize that life is not just one big smorgasbord for our sexual gratification, we will do better. This view has helped me in life as well – to not view the opposite sex as just expendable for my gratification. I did not like this book at all and I do not like this line of thought. Thank you so much for writing this very helpful article! I will be throwing this book in the trash momentarily! 🙏💖

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        So glad you found this, J! And, yes, definitely throw that book in the garbage! We have a big book coming out in March called The Great Sex Rescue where we look at some of the really harmful beliefs the evangelical world has propagated, and some of the books that have propagated those beliefs, and try to set the record straight. You’d likely really enjoy it!

        Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thanks, Barb! I think that was one I was looking at earlier this month. So interesting all the brain scan ones that are coming out lately that show that “visual” is not just a male thing, but that women have largely been conditioned out of it. Just fascinating.

      Reply
  41. Hannah

    I’m not going to lie. I have been looking at these comments and have gotten exhausted at reading Tom’s comments.

    I grew up believing that it was normal for men to lust and I learned that I blamed women for what they wearing. It never occurred to me that this was a mans actual responsibility. I have a past of an abusive relationship where my boyfriend confirmed these lies. He would often ask me not to wear yogi pants because I was “causing him to lust”. And one night he took my out on a date and I wanted to dance. He didn’t so I said fine I’ll dance and he said “if I do men will just list after me.” We aren’t talking a club style dancing just basic steps dancing and I wasn’t even wearing a revealing dress. Today I am married to a wonderful man, and the fact he believes and knows that men are responsible for their own lust issues. The fact I now don’t blame women for how they dress, and that I know without a doubt it’s a mans choice what he thinks and looks at has been tremendous and brought freedom. I use to be afraid of how I dress to not cause men to look at me, but I am not going to frump myself down. It’s like sometimes the church has shamed women. And it’s been hard overcoming that shame. It’s exhausting fighting the triggers of shame that I am somehow not enough or dangerous just because I am a women. If anything it’s men who appear dangerous if we can’t trust them to treat women like human beings. Sigh. This is my rant. It’s been hard as a women growing up in the church.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      It has, Hannah! I’m so glad you saw the red flags and ended up finding a good man instead!

      Reply
  42. Anonymous Person

    Old conversation I realize this. But, a 3-part question to anyone who disagreed with Tom:

    Is there such a thing as dressing “immodestly”? How do you define that? And if so, why is it a bad thing?

    Reply
  43. Mary

    There are plenty of men who don’t “struggle with lust” constantly. My husband is one of them. So I know all men are not “hard wired” to view women as a collection of body parts rather than as human beings. Men are socialized to see women as objects rather than people. My husband was raised in a Christian family and taught to respect women as equals. He is perfectly capable of talking to a woman without staring at their breasts.He just doesn’t see women that way. He treats me with respect and he treats all women with respect. We’ve been married for 22 years and he has never looked at porn, had an affair, or ogled other women. I also have friends in my church whose husbands don’t lust after other women. So this is not a problem that “all men” struggle with. Men who have been raised to disrespect girls and women from an early age are going to be susceptible to the socialization of men that tells them they are are supposed to treat women that way. They become incapable of seeing women as anything other than a collection of body parts. Then they claim they’re “hard wired” that way. It’s such nonsense.

    Reply

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