Does the fact that “men are visually stimulated” mean that all men will struggle with lust?
That’s certainly the way it’s commonly presented. We hear things like “Every man’s battle” talking about how the biggest struggle all men face is battling lust. We’re told that women have to dress a certain way or they will cause men to lust. And women simply can’t understand how bad it is for men, so we should accept it and deal with it. Even the best-selling Christian book Love & Respect approaches sex that way.
What if that approach is wrong? What if it’s not just unbiblical, but it’s also a misrepresentation of the psychological research, too? And what if that whole approach has actually made the problem of lust worse?
That’s what we’re going to spend the next three days looking at. Last week I wrote a post on Facebook arguing that if we honestly think that a man can’t worship well in church if there are women showing cleavage, then perhaps we have a bigger problem than the women showing the cleavage?
That post went crazy. This is obviously something that struck a nerve. And so I thought it was time to flesh it out.
On Mondays I usually share a reader question, but I’m going to start the discussion by sharing a comment from that post. One longtime reader (love you, Misty!) wrote:
A woman I used to go to church with posted a FB rant about a teenage girl wearing a short skirt to church which she said caused her husband to “lust”.
1) your husband is a pedophile (the girl was 13-14)
2) if your husband is “lusting” with you standing right there and while in the sanctuary then he is so far gone that you can barely see him on the horizon.
I completely agree with Misty. And yet, that poor woman disparaging that young girl has believed the “men are visual and thus will lust” argument hook, line and sinker.
So here’s what we’re going to do. Today we’re going to look at what “men are visually stimulated” actually means by studying the research. Tomorrow we’re going to look at why it’s biblically perfectly reasonable for a wife to expect that her Christian husband won’t lust. Then on Wednesday we’re going to look at 12 ways we can help Christian men stop lusting (and they’re not what you think!) Thursday I’ll wrap up with a post on what a healthier message regarding men’s sex drives and sex in marriage is. And then I’ll follow it all up on Friday with what I think we should be teaching girls about modesty–and how to teach girls to dress appropriately without adding guilt or shame.
But first: What is “lust”?
When I’m talking about lust, I’m not talking about normal desires, like an engaged couple who is struggling not to succumb to temptation by sleeping together before marriage. I’m not talking about the sexual frustration that singles experience, or even some marrieds can experience during periods of sexual drought.
I’m talking about the idea that a man will see a woman who is not his wife and will fixate on certain body parts, automatically become aroused and start mentally undressing her or imagining he was doing things with her.
There’s a continuum that goes something like this:
- A man notices a woman is attractive.
- A man fixates on certain body parts for the purposes of sexual stimulation.
- A man mentally undresses her or imagines things with her.
The first is not a sin. (Let me reiterate that: there’s nothing wrong with noticing that someone else is attractive! There’s nothing even wrong with noticing that someone has a good figure! That just means that you have eyes). But the latter two certainly are.
So when we’re talking about lust, we’re talking about men deliberately entertaining thoughts about a woman’s body, not simply noticing that she is pretty.
Do men lust automatically because they’re visually stimulated?
Men are visual compared to women. Psychological research has shown that when men are aroused, the visual portions of their brains are lit up, whereas when women are aroused, the relationship centers of our brains are lit up. We really do relate to sex in different ways!
I absolutely believe that.
But I also think that too many people have misrepresented what the psychological research says, and made it say more than it does.
It is one thing to say:
For most men, arousal results primarily from visual stimulation
and quite another thing to say:
When a guy sees visual stimulation, he’ll become sexually aroused
Do you see the distinction? Psychological research definitely says the former. Yet whole doctrines on women’s modesty have been written assuming the latter. That’s quite the leap. One says that men will tend to become aroused by cleavage or seeing sexual imagery. The other says that when a man sees a pretty woman’s body, he can’t help but become aroused. He can’t help but lust. It’s the natural reaction.
But what if that’s simply not true?
Dr. Gian Gonzaga from UCLA did a study where he asked university students to (a) pick a picture of a person they found attractive and then (b) write two essays, one where the participant thought about their partner in a lustful way and then another where they thought about their partner in a loving way. If, at any point while writing the essay, the participant thought of the picture they picked instead of their significant other, they put a little check mark in the margins of their essay. The funny thing is that when the participants were remembering a loving memory, their number of check marks dropped significantly. More than that, they were less able to remember why they thought the person was so attractive in the first place!
When we keep our focus on the fact that we love our spouse, we’re far less likely to objectify anyone else.
As well, studies have shown that both men and women tend to focus on women’s body parts more than the woman as a whole. We don’t do that for men, though. Gervais and colleagues found that when they showed non-sexualized images of men and women to undergraduate students and then showed them two images, side by side, where one image had slightly altered the chest or waist of the model, people weren’t very good at picking out the right one for men, but had a much higher success rate with women. We have programmed our brains to see women as parts, but to see men as whole beings.
See, we have two types of processing: global and local. Global processing means we take the whole picture into account. Local processing happens when we focus on the parts that make up the whole (e.g., recognizing a house by the front door). When people look at men, they see the whole person and don’t focus so much on individual body parts.
When we look at women, though, our brains pick apart that woman and scrutinize each individual aspect. And here’s the thing: women do it just as much as men!
The good news is that with one simple task it was easy to train students to use global processing for women, too, and the researchers concluded that this is a habit that could be easily unlearned. All the men have to do is think about how much they love their wives, and this tends to make this problem go away.
If you want to stop seeing women as a collection of body parts, keep your spouse utmost in your mind.
Men are visual, but lots of things affect how men react to that stimulation
Lust is not automatic. Or, even if it is right now for some men, it doesn’t need to stay that way. When men are vigilant in remaining loving to their wives and focus on nurturing that love, other women have little effect on them, and when men train themselves to see women as whole people rather than body parts, struggles with lust are far less common.
Quite frankly, to get back to that man who “lusted” because of the 13-year-old in a miniskirt:
If he was a decent guy she should have been able to walk buck naked in front of him and his only thought should have been one of pity for her.
He knew her personally and he knew she was 13. Lust is a choice. What he did was not “normal” or “automatic”. It was degrading, disgusting, and bordering on pedophilia. So why do we believe that a 13-year-old girl can “cause a man to sin” just by wearing a short skirt?
Are we treating lust as if because it’s natural, it’s almost good?
With the way we talk about the struggle–like it’s “every man’s battle” and “men are naturally visually stimulated” and “a man is wired to react to a pretty girl”, then it almost seems like we’re saying that if a guy gets turned on by strangers, that’s simply the way God made him. Indeed, if a guy doesn’t struggle with lust, then maybe he’s not a real man?
Lust is not seen as something that’s a sin as much as it is something that’s hard wired into all man. I sometimes get the feeling reading certain authors and blogs that part of “biblical manhood” is being obsessed with certain female body parts. But this isn’t what the Bible says:
1 John 2:16
For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.
God didn’t make men to lust. That isn’t a “normal” or “good” part of being a guy.
But come on, Sheila. Lots of guys do struggle with lust.
Yes, they do. And I in no way mean to disparage those guys.
In fact, if you are actively doing battle with lust right now, I applaud you. If you are in a battle, then you are deliberately struggling against sin. And the fact that you’re fighting is a victory in itself!
And so I want to give you hope.
That’s really my whole aim in this series of posts: to give both men and women hope that lust can be overcome.
To the men, I’d say this: Yes, many men struggle with lust. Yes, you have a greater propensity towards that than your wife likely does. But please know that this is NOT every man’s non-ending battle. While lots of guys struggle with lust, not every guy does. Please know that there are men who honestly have overcome this struggle, or even who never battled it much at all. It is possible to have a high sex drive and not be overcome by all the women around you.
You can beat this. It isn’t inevitable. You were not created to lust, and God didn’t pull a bait and switch, creating you to automatically sin and then getting mad at you when you do.
Your struggle is real, just like people’s struggle with overeating or with gambling or with alcohol. But God promises that you can get through it (1 Corinthians 10:13). Even though everyone around you may tell you it’s inevitable, it’s really not.
What happens when we assume that all men lust?
If this is everybody’s battle, then it’s a battle no one can really win. You are virtually helpless. And then it becomes so much easier to blame other people for your sin–like the poor 13-year-old who made a bad clothing choice.
And maybe that belief, in and of itself, is what makes the battle with lust so much worse. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the states with the highest rates of pornography use are also those states where the ultra-conservative wings of Christianity and Mormonism dominate–the ones that talk about “every man’s battle” the most. We’re setting people up for defeat by telling men “this will always be your battle” and by telling women “your husband will always be tempted by other women.”
Tomorrow I want to say to women who are heartbroken, it is perfectly reasonable to expect your husband not to lust. You aren’t being selfish. You aren’t “not understanding what it is to be a guy”. You are living out biblical principles and asking your husband to live up to his wedding vows. And I’m so, so sorry that the Christian community has made women think that men are animals, can’t help themselves, and will automatically lust if a 13-year-old wears a short skirt.
Do you want MORE for your sex life?
- Gonzaga, G. C., Turner, R. A., Keltner, D., Campos, B., & Altemus, M. (2006). Romantic love and sexual desire in close relationship. Emotion, 6(2), 163-179. Retrieved from here.
- Gervais study retrieved from: https://www.livescience.com/21806-brain-male-female-objectification.html
I am a guy, and I am so enraged by this post that I can’t get the words out right now. When I calm down, I’ll write something with reason in it and not just anger.
I hope your rage is at a man who can blame a 13-year old for his own sin and not at the author of the post. As a father of two girls, I personally found that very upsetting.
While I, too, find that story disturbing, I just wanted to point out that it was the mans WIFE who blamed the girl in the short skirt, we don’t actually know what that man was thinking (or even if he was lusting after the girl at all).
Tom, I look forward to reading your perspective on this once your anger has cleared!
This article makes the point that men lust either by choice or by simply being too passive about their bad thought habits. It separates a man’s lust from a woman’s immodesty. If men lusted because women were immodest, then only women would ever be punished for a man’s lust.
However, ladies, it is true that you don’t know how frustrating this is for us. Also, for the untrained, undelivered mind, lust will likely be automatic until a man grasps that it does not have to be and then grasps how to be victorious in this area. And that truly is an arduous lesson to learn.
The fact is that many men are poorly educated on the right way to fight this battle. They may desire to win, but that doesn’t mean they know how. Even a man who is truly passionate about God may not be trained or mentored by anyone truly experienced enough to help him understand how to combat the 3 step downward spiral of his thought life listed above. Sisters, remember, please, that Satan is a very real enemy for you as well as for us. We can defeat him, but we cannot do so until we are trained and well armored.
Just like women, men may be pillars in some areas and yet they may be babies in another area. There is severe lack of solid training for men here mostly because it is a subject of great shame. The wiser men in church have a lot of work to do in making this a more common focus for discipleship.
There are multiple reasons God commands women to dress modestly and appropriately. One of them is so that you do not add to the trouble that one of these “little ones” – these untrained Christian brothers who do not understand their own minds. And in today’s sexually charged society -whether you accept it or not – most Christian men fall into this category. Many men are fighting this battle alone or they are trying to team up together, but the struggle is still very real and painful.
The Bible is clear that no one is punished for another’s sin. However, you can be guilty of “causing your brother to stumble”. Moreover, ladies, dressing modestly is a command from God. It is no less a command than is defeating lust. So, if you are defending your tight apparel, your bikinis, your low cut cleavage, and your short skirts and shorts, then what does that say about your own character? What is your motivation for disobeying God here? Whatever it is – it will not stand before God’s command. What you are doing – whether you see it that way or not – is seductive for an untrained man. If a man acts seductively toward a woman, he has done evil in God’s sight. The same will be true for a woman.
So, men should obey God’s command to gain control over their thought lives so they can handle the very real temptations in this world. They should not settle until they achieve full victory and can walk through a crowd of naked, seductive women without sinning.
And yet, women, are you perfect? Do you fantasize about a man who pulls all the right heartstrings? If you met such a man, could you possibly be seduced by him? Or would you at least find such a man distracting at church? So it is obvious that women, too, should obey God’s command and dress modestly. Your own thought life must be mastered too. And what you choose to wear is as much a product of your thought life as what a man chooses to focus his attention on.
Hansel, I actually dealt with the “do not cause a brother to stumble” argument at length. What many forget is that often the modesty message actually causes young girls to stumble, because they are told there is something wrong with them so that adult men will lust after them. It’s actually a very damaging message. In our survey of 20,000 women that we recently took, the idea that all men lust is one of the strongest predictors of women’s lack of orgasm or sexual dissatisfaction and sexual pain. This isn’t okay. The person who is stumbling, when it comes to the lust message, is actually often women, who are hurting. Please read that message, where I go through the passages in context to see what the underlying message was that Paul was concerned about, and that Jesus was concerned about.
I find it upsetting, as well, as a father of two girls myself,but that doesn’t make it any less normal for the male brain to be distracted by it– our ancestors took wives who were that age, and we’re not all descended from raging pedophiles. They’re females of our species who exhibit secondary sexual characteristics, so they’re likely going to stimulate a response on some level of the brain.
Pedophilia (or more accurately hebephilia) involves attraction based largely on, it seems, the innocence and naivety of the object of said attraction. Was the man wilfully lusting after the girl, or just distracted by exposed flesh on a female exhibiting signs of nearing sexual maturity?
That is not really true. 13 year old girl has not yet fully developed pelvis and uterus and our ancestors knew it. Royals who married at that age held the wedding night until the girl was matured enough so the marriage would not end with death in childbirth or one child-marriage.
Oh no, I’m upset at Sheila’s take on much of this issue. More to come. I have to work now.
oh because you to act like a wild beast and not like a normal human being? most of us women have higher sex drives than men but we always let the men slide. END THIS NONSENSE AND START TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR ACTIONS!
Possibly the most hypocritical thing I’ve seen here yet, and very uncharitable as well. Most women have nowhere near the sex drive that the average male does. And there are vast differences in the way women lust and men lust, unless the woman is completely damaged by abuse.
I’m sorry I ever stumbled onto this site, as it seems to be a gathering place of harpies who have no interest in a realistic discussion, much less Christian compassion.
I’m curious–do you think it’s a sign of Christian compassion to call women “harpies”?
From what I understand from my husband, he can see nudity and not actively lust. It may light up the “automatic arousal dispenser,” but he can choose whether or not to take the bait. I believe him because I have experienced it myself.
Where we disagree is that I believe we ought to avoid such stimuli (don’t watch Game of Thrones, for example). He feels he can see, look away, not actively lust and thus it isn’t that big of a deal so long as he isn’t actively watching it to get off, or so long as it doesn’t affect how he sees me.
I also realized something different between us. He may see, but it doesn’t stick in his mind unless he puts in there on purpose. Me, it sticks forever. If we watch a movie together and there is a boobs scene, he will remember the movie, but not the boobs. I will agonize about the boobs and forget about other movie details.
“Remember that movie about the aliens and the space jump?”
Me: “You mean the one with the racy shower scene and all the boobs?”
“What boobs? I don’t remember it having any nudity. It was a good movie!”
So I have chosen to believe that he can see but not lust. Though I don’t like that he sees so much.
That’s really interesting, Libl. About the not sticking in his mind part. I’d love it if other men commented on that one!
I do think Game of Thrones (or things like it) is a real issue if you watch it, get aroused, and then want sex with your spouse. That’s just creepy.
But I also do believe that people can see and not lust. I wonder if, though, we’ve made it so that guys especially think that if they just notice a woman, they’re lusting? I don’t think men can stop noticing women. But you can certainly stop ogling, staring, or imagining things. But noticing is not a bad thing. And I think we’ve conflated the two, making men feel really guilty for something they shouldn’t be feeling guilty for (and perhaps that’s why so many people think that “all men lust”).
In the circles I grew up in, noticing was definitely considered the same as lusting.
Really, Rachel? Wow, that’s too bad. But you see, I think that may be a big part of the problem!
My husband and I saw Wonder Woman last week on our date night (we both thought it was great!). We were talking about “noticing” afterwards, because we were talking about this blog series and I was using him as a sounding board. And he definitely “noticed” that Gal Godot was really pretty and had a good figure, and that all the Amazons did, too. But I really didn’t feel anything bad about that (after all, I noticed that Chris Pine was very good looking as well!). That didn’t mean I wanted to sleep with Chris Pine. That didn’t mean that I was memorizing his body or anything like that. It definitely didn’t mean that I thought twice about him afterwards (although now I’m reminded of the conversation Keith and I had!). But you can’t help but notice when he’s right in front of you, or when Wonder Woman and the Amazons are right in front of you.
But I had no worries about Keith during the movie, and he had no worries about me.
If someone is good looking and they’re right in front of you, a person will notice. To pretend otherwise is crazy, or to expect that people won’t is completely unrealistic.
But we can certainly expect that people can notice that someone is beautiful–and then let it stop there. Then not do anything else with that information. After all, Scripture says that Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Esther were all very beautiful (along with some other women). People obviously noticed–and yet that wasn’t a sin.
I EXPECT that may husband may notice that other women are beautiful, but that he will also see them as whole people, not body parts, and that he will also love and cherish me in the forefront of his mind.
I feel as if my husband was also taught that seeing = lusting, or that if he sees he MUST lust. He refuses to go to the beach because he feels it is too exhausting to constantly bounce his eyes and never have any safe place to look. *sigh* He tries so hard though, and I appreciate it so very much, but I think the battle is harder for him than it had to be thanks to purity culture.
Having three girls has helped him to see women as individuals to some extent, though. He said he now mostly just feels terror because he knows it is only a few years before that will be our girls.
Hi Kay, I remember you telling about your husband’s struggle with the beach before!
You know, I had never really thought about how the purity culture can impact men to the detriment, too, but it really is true, isn’t it? It sounds like your husband has believed that “seeing” is sinning. Like if he sees a woman who is pretty he’s therefore crossed a line. But you can’t stop what you see; you can certainly avoid lingering looks, but if you happen to see a woman, that really is okay. It’s what you do afterwards.
I do think that having daughters can really help, because you know how you want men to treat them. But this is a great point–that too many people have believed that seeing or noticing is a sin, when it really isn’t. And we’ve attached a lot of shame to that.
This gonna come off as rude though that is. Or the intention but women really need to stop writing about what men deal with and vice versa you simply have no clue. It’s the same as people writing books on drug addiction and what addicts deal with. They simply don’t know and your husband will never be completely honest with you about what goes on in his head
To Joe Glass – please forgive me if this seems harsh. I think you underestimate the power of human empathy. My husband is incredibly honest with me. That has been hard, but it has helped us to be honest with each other throughout this difficult time dealing with his troubles. I’ve spent months going to his (male, since that seems to prove to you somehow that it’s more of an authority on the matter) therapist with him (he had some childhood trauma which I will not go into here), and both of them have been honest and helped me to understand what this is like. I am naturally empathetic and have dealt with an addiction of my own, so I do understand to some degree the feeling of being a slave to your thoughts and your actions. Now, of course we as women cannot say that ‘we absolutely know and understand 100% what you deal with’…but neither can you say that to us about the emotional pain husbands put us wives through as a result of your behaviour in getting angry, being in denial, and childishly throwing out the insult that ‘we just don’t understand’, and blaming it on women or how they dress, etc.. It’s true, there are things we can never fully understand about each other as men and women. BUT – I do believe that when a wife tries to understand what her husband is going through, and vice versa, it is truly something that can strengthen the relationship in trust (due to honesty), and in compassion and kindness as each person makes a genuine effort to understand and support the other. Of course every couple is different … but your harsh dismissal of people’s attempts to be fair and to understand, but also to speak the truth and hold each other accountable in love, seems unfair and unkind. It is difficult, this struggle…but I believe what Sheila is really trying to say here is that there is HOPE, and that we mustn’t believe the excuses that many people in the Christian community fall into…we always have a choice. Sometimes it’s easier to think we don’t. But I believe that the first step to true freedom from any type of addiction or dependency is to recognise that you actually DO have a choice and you CAN take responsibility for your actions and thoughts, and if you truly do want to be free and not be a slave to your own thoughts, you MUST take responsibility for them. That is the first step…healing is possible. I pray that God will help you to appreciate that, even though you may not agree with what is written here, you will understand that the general intent of all of this is a genuine desire to understand and hold each other to the truth in love, which is a very Biblical thing. Please forgive any frustration that this may cause you, and my prayers are with you for a hope filled heart and future.
“Noticing” as you put it Sheila is “ok”, but lusting is not. The problem with this, is that there is a bit of a gray line there. What are you actually noticing? Noticing that Gal Gadot has sexually attractive features, such as nice breasts, “sexy” legs or but? Saying they are “pretty” is dodging the issue that pretty in the case of a beautiful woman is “sexually attractive” to many/most men.
Separating those two is difficult. Because I find another woman sexually attractive does not mean I want to jump in bed with her, but the very words “Sexually attractive” puts arousal and sex into it. The woman or teenager wearing sexually attractive clothing to church shouldn’t be a problem if I take your arguments to their logical conclusion.
You said yourself that the girl should be able to walk by naked. Why isn’t that ok? Why isn’t wearing extremely revealing clothing to church ok? Why? Because it is tempting? Why is it tempting? because it is tempting others to lust. Why is it tempting them to lust? because men find that sexually attractive.
Ugh…It’s such a circular argument or discussion. Frustrating, because I want to agree with you, but I see the next arc in the circle that takes us right back to the other side. Finding a woman “Pretty” is ok. Why is she “pretty”, because it is attractive. Why is it attractive? Because it arouses you sexually? You’re aroused sexually. Are you lusting? And there’s the gray area, You are naturally sexually aroused in some way by a “pretty” woman, but are you actively lusting just because you got aroused? Pretty Mountains/sunsets/Nature and Pretty Women are “pretty” for very different reasons.
I do understand what you’re saying. But we know that Jesus was tempted in every way, but did not sin. This means that Jesus noticed that women were sexually attractive. You can notice something and then do absolutely nothing with it.
Think of it like envy. Just because you find someone else’s mansion gorgeous does not mean that you are envious of it. It could become envy, if you dwell on it, or if it makes you think of your inadequacies. But it is not, in and of itself, envy.
To say that noticing that a woman is sexually attractive is lusting means that we are telling men that they must be blind or else they are sinning. And logically that makes absolutely no sense.
God does not ask us to blind, and God does not ask us to lie. We aren’t supposed to simply not believe what our eyes tell us. If someone with an exceptional figure walks by, it’s not like we’re supposed to tell our brain, “she doesn’t actually look that good.” No, it’s that you can see that she looks good–but then do nothing about it. It’s what you do afterwards that matters.
If noticing really is lusting, then we should all be blind. And that’s not what God wants.
Sheila, I really do think that this is a huge part of the issue. I think that the church, especially in its more conservative wings, has focused on sexual sin as the most important sin, conflated temptation toward the sin with the sin itself, and then identified noticing a woman’s attractiveness with temptation toward lust.
This is basically the Christianized version of the secular “men are inherently pigs (or else gay)” trope.
Yes, thank you! And that’s what I’m focusing on in Part 2–which is up now!
Ok, I’m going to be one of those guys who comment on this. Yes, a guy can look and not lust. This has simply not been a problem for me. And it has nothing to do with my sex drive or state of sexual satisfaction in a given moment. If anything, I consider myself to have a very high drive but my drive will be only for one person alone, my wife. The more we grow in true overall intimacy (emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and physical) the more I am turned on by her and the higher my drive even seems to be. Never-the-less, it changes nothing about how I view or could lust after another woman I may see, no matter how beautiful she may be. I don’t. I do not have to practice the eye bounce but neither do I linger because I have also chosen not to push my limits and choose to honor my wife (and God) and to build a hedge of protection to ensure it. I recently attended a men’s group that studied “Every Man’s Battle” and was very bothered by its premises regarding male lust. I too believe the typical church discourse has been damaging to men and created a self fulfilling prophesy where men are convinced that lust is inevitable and that they will and do. I also know when I am most susceptible and those few times have in truthfulness been a conscious wrong headed indulgence, not a result of something I could not have avoided doing. Even then, I have chosen to to learn from those times and make better choices. I do not though do it alone, I leverage the strength of a gracious God as well. Thanks for addressing the misconception head on.
Thank you so much for that comment! I’m glad to hear from more guys, especially ones who have experience with this mindset
JT – your comment gives me so much hope!! Thank you for sharing your story – my husband and I have shared such a difficult path since we got married nearly two years ago, and it gives me so much hope to think that there may actually be light at the end of this tunnel after all. I’ve grown up around that whole ‘making excuses for guys’ and ‘blaming the women’ thing…and it’s so difficult to feel as though it’s somehow all my fault. My husband has not made me feel this way though, for which I am thankful. But anyways – I just wanted to say thank you, and prayers for your marriage and your victory in the Lord!
This topic is very tough for me. I was married for 30 yrs and at the end of my marriage my Christian husband told me that he never once thought of me in a sexual way. He said that he only thought of the internet & movie women. From the day we were married he controlled sex, like 6 times a year and I wasn’t allowed to go to him for sex. To most men I’m very attractive. This was clearly his problem but it has effected me in a very detrimental way. I’m so afraid to get with another man, but I desire to be with a man, however I don’t want sex outside of God’s covenant.
As a man who grew up hearing that “men think about sex every 45 seconds” but has ever actually only thought about sex maybe once a week at most, this post is refreshing. Yes, men are visually-oriented. Yes, we are drawn to beautiful things such as sunsets over the beach, the spires of Notre Dame, a 1930s Art Deco Bugatti, and a good-looking woman (clothed or otherwise — it doesn’t matter). That doesn’t mean we have to resign ourselves to automatically lusting when we observe something beautiful. It is what we do with our thoughts that makes it lust and makes it sin, and we don’t have to go down that road. When we see women (and men) as unique embodiments of the Imago Dei pointing us to God rather than tools for our own selfish desires, lust becomes a much weaker and insignificant temptation.
After reading your articles on this topic, I have been actively working on seeing women and not lusting, whether in person or on a screen. I grew up in the purity culture and was addicted to porn for 15 years. Books like Every Man’s Battle helped me overcome that by training my eyes and brain to avoid seeing stimulation, but your perspective has caused me to believe that I can see a woman and not automatically go to sexual thoughts. I now am getting good about just seeing it as beauty not sex, and immediately thinking about my wife’s beauty. Its still a learning process, but it has been very liberating. I feel a lot of weight lifted off my shoulders.
Chris, I’m so glad! Thank you for sharing that.
So what learning process, should I be learning to see the beauty of a woman and as whole woman, sheila?
And I also weather what I do is lust or not? Because living I was feeling shamed by women actions, so let me explain.
First, let me say that I am a single man who don’t even masturbate, and only get sexually aroused when I am stress, but then I calm myself down but no sexual thoughts come to my mind during the arousal time.
Now, let me say the example I was about to say, I faced this alot of times a week when I am sitting down and a girl walks by in front of me, where my eyes are looking, so she covers my eyes with her poops, and all I could do is close my eyes, but no sexual thoughts to mind, is that lust ?
And let me say one too, because that’s most of my shame for lust comes from, when I am talking to my female friends, we are talking and laughing, but sometime conversations stops and I get anxious, frustrated to so my look down, may noticing her cleavage, or maybe now she thinks I am checking her out or whatever, and they and I know it and I start blaming myself, is that lust?
But also tbh, lately after struggling with this for years, poops sometimes distracted, and also huge breast, because I was thinking about avoiding them for years, now it’s even harder for me to do.
For the record I used to struggle with porn btw 2014 and 2020, which adds to me to be the cause for my blame.
My husband is the same way, he doesn’t remember sexual content and I can’t remember anything else and it really turns me off to the movie. We have both agreed to not watch shows/movies with nudity/sexual content as a way to honor Christ and the privacy of the people in the film. When it’s not about ‘you can’t do this because it bothers me’ but instead ‘does this honor God?’ it helps us both be in the right mindset and then neither of us feels marginalized.
Research would prove differently. Mean can pull up an image from the mind that they have seen in the past into eternity. I believe men can choose not to lust as we have self control but for a man to say he hardly noticed something would indicate he simply may not want that fight…
I very much LOVE your blog and everything you have to say. I always agree and fine it enlightening and motivating. However, I found it very upsetting and insulting that you would call out ‘Mormonism’ as teaching that men will ‘always be tempted with lust.’ I am a happy member of this church and it does NOT teach this. Men do have a higher temptation with lust, which my church warns against, but it doesn’t say that they are doomed to lust their entire mortal lives. We do have modesty standards, but they are for ourselves and to show our Heavenly Father and those around us that we respect our bodies as a gift from God. Yes, people in my church are not perfect, but people in no church are. Sometimes culture, and old traditions morph into something incorrect, and I would agree that some in my church have been taught about lust and modesty for the wrong reasons. However, God and His doctrine is perfect and I believe that your article definitely gave hope and accurate representation of lust and modesty in this mortal state. I just feel sad that you would mention Mormonism as a ‘problem’ when the doctrine of Mormonism is not what you claim it is and is not always or perfectly portrayed in its imperfect people. I was just very saddened that you would call out my religion as harmful when I love Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ very much and only wish to serve them and do what is right. I feel you do too and don’t feel this is kind or fair to your readers who may be of a slightly different faith.
I would like to thank you for your articles though. I am actuallly excited to read this little series. It is a hot topic in today’s religious conversations and I very much agree with your perspective. Just please leave specific religions out that you aren’t giving accurate representation of.
I’m sorry for any offense, Kaylee! I was reacting more to the rate of porn use being so much higher in Utah than in other states. Just as I don’t think true Christianity teaches “every man’s battle” (as is obvious with this blog series!), I don’t mean to suggest that it’s a doctrine of the Mormon church, either. But I do think it’s very cultural in conservative religious circles, both Christian and Mormon (as the surveys show). But I did not mean to say that Mormonism held this as a tenet of belief (just like I don’t believe orthodox Christianity does either).
She actually said “the ultra conservative wings” of Mormonism AND Christianity (there was no singling out Mormonism). And having grown up in the latter, I fully agree with Sheila and her research. No offense here. Just happy someone with a voice is finally taking a step toward exposing the unbounded problems with this pet doctrine of my youth.
As a Mormon, I’d be lying if I said i hadn’t heard “dress modestly to keep the young men keep their thoughts pure!” But I agree that is a culture thing not doctrine thing.
To Sheila: I do think the Utah porn consumption (and other conservative states) numbers have several facets besides just the conservative culture:
Example: State control of access to in state porn distribution (magazines, strip clubs, x rated movie shops and theatres, etc).These studies are often on online porn consumption. Numbers would be drastically different if they could accurately report porn gotten from other venues.
*help the young men
My husband and I had a long talk about this topic this weekend. He’s a wonderful man and only has eyes for me, but does want the Christian community to be careful not to underestimate that men need to be careful and stay on top of this temptation. He especially relates to the parts about girls/women being created not to be objects of lust, but vibrant and important parts of the Christian community; and that it would be much more powerful to tell teens/young men/people struggling with lust that there are many godly men who battle successfully with this, work to create good habits and mindsets, and only desire their wives, rather than basically condoning the sin. It was such a good conversation we had, and I’m thankful that you brought it up so we could have it. Looking forward to the rest of the series.
Hi Megan! Oh, I’m glad you had that discussion! That’s EXACTLY what I’m trying to say. This is a really big problem for a lot of guys. But to say that it’s “every man’s battle” makes it sound like it’s inevitable. Let’s instead show that the solution (the Holy Spirit in you) is bigger than the problem (lust). Sure, let’s warn men of the dangers of lust, but let’s never make it sound like it’s inevitable or that you may be battling it your whole life!
I’m a man and I first of all want to say thank you for explaining what lust is. I have many times looked at a women and because I thought she was beautiful I had sinned but I guess I haven’t. I usually look away so that I don’t follow the two other steps by I must say it is not easy all the time. I have been training myself to look away for years but it hasn’t come easy. I like the post but there are something that confuses me. I am not so good at writing in English but I will try to explain what I mean. I feel like your saying that lust shouldn’t be a problem for a man who loves his wife because it’s not natural. And I guess I agree but I still think that there are something’s that are biological. When we as humans fell everything got twisted including our sexuality. And sadly that has become our reality. I do believe a man can battle lust but to say that it isn’t many men’s battle is to make us feel like monsters(at least it sounds like that). What do you do when your body reacts without being able to control it? Is it my fault that I suddenly get aroused when I see something that I interpret as sexual. Breast is one of those things by the way. . (And I just want to point out that the Bible sees breast as something sexual some people say that there is no scripture that breast are sexual but read proverbs 5 where it says that a man should be saitisfied by his wife’s breast.) now, how I go after there is my choice but to say that a guy shouldn’t react when he sees someone naked seems like you don’t understand how it is for some men. I can agree that the hung with the 13 year old girl is one thing but what if she was a naked 19 year old girl? Would he still be that condemned if he had a hard time to battle the urges in his body? It sounds like you expect men to not react at all and I do believe there are men who wouldn’t and that it great for them and believe me I would do anything to not be able to react but as it is now my nose would react and I would have to really focus not to watch. I am not saying that wife’s shouldn’t expect theire husband not to look but it sounds like a real man who is in love should never be tempted in situations like that. And then you are expecting perfection and if that is what you are expecting then we should say that every Christian should
Be able to overcome any sin and never sin. If that is possible then I guess I’m heading to hell because if it’s not lust it’s envy or anger or something else that I have to battle. So I agree that we can’t blame women and I guess when you will write what women can do it’s to pray and teach about holiness to men and that is the key. We men need to learn that we don’t have to lust and that we have to fight this but I do believe that there should be some grace from
Women too but it’s every women’s choice. But we can’t neglect that there is a biological part in this. This is a battle for many men and to say it shouldn’t be is to neglect that we as humans aren’t perfect and that sin is a reality. All of us struggle with some sin and it would be like saying you shouldn’t have that problem and condemn the person for having it. Unless as I said before you believe that we can be perfect on this other side of heaven. I am not saying that men should excuse theire behavior like some say but at the same time see that for many men this is a struggle. Even if they are or aren’t in love with theire wife’s.
Thanks for your comment! It brings up a lot of things that I’d like to say, but I just didn’t have room in this post (it was already at 2,200 words!)
Some of the issues you raised I’m actually going to talk about tomorrow when we turn to what Scripture says. But let me just say this: I do believe that men are far more tempted in this direction than women are (though some women really are, too!). But that is not the same thing as saying that EVERY man is tempted, or that EVERY man will battle this his whole life.
We all have sins that we struggle with. For some men this will be lust; for others it may be greed or pride or alcoholism or gambling. And if you are fighting the battle and pulling on the full armour of God, then that is great! Being engaged in the battle really is most of the battle.
But here’s my issue: when we frame this as something which is universal, and which men can never get over, then I believe that we set men up for failure, and we actually create a much bigger problem than was there already.
I think what happened over the last two or three decades was this:
1. Guys were struggling with lust and feeling as if they were animals/perverts
2. Pastors and authors began to preach on this, to help guys overcome the problem (so far, so good). So they started talking about how “every” guy struggles with this (uh oh).
3. Guys who were struggling no longer felt alone, and felt like they could fight. That’s good.
4. But now lust was “normalized”. It became expected that all guys would struggle with this.
5. Because all guys struggle, then they can’t really overcome it. So now women have to be the ones to help them–by having sex more so they won’t have affairs; by dressing modestly; etc.
I just think the conversation has turned. We need to get back to what Scripture says: we all struggle with sin. But we do not need to be slaves to sin. And that sin does not need to define us. I’ll have more on this tomorrow (and that’s a long post, too!) so stay tuned!
Ah ok now I understand what you mean and I agree with that. It just sounded very judging in your post but I guess because I struggle with this and have to fight with it every day it’s easy to feel condemn over it. But I agree we have to see that there is a way out. At the same time as Christians need to understand that it’s not easy for everyone. As with everything in Christ it’s all about balance. We need to say that there is a way out but also show grace because that ways is different for everyone. I get envious when I read about wife’s that say that theire husbands don’t lust anymore(altough because I am suspicious as a person we never know what really goes on in a persons mind, but if that’s the case it’s great) because I still do. I have fought for a long time . I used to fast two times a week so that I would live pure and I would still fall and I still struggle with this. Do I believe I can be free? Yes I do but i don’t know when. I don’t have a switch for this and to say that it’s just about the will is to simplifie the issue. If it was about the will we would be able to live sinfree. So there has to be a balance on how we speak about this because I believe as a women it can be easy to be judgemental too. I believe it’s right to get angry and to confront it should be done but there should also be grace. As you say many men are tempted in this and to get angry and judge them because they struggle is not the right way I believe. I am now talking about the men who accept that what they are doing is wrong but have a hard time with this. It needs to be a combination of truth and grace. The men that won’t accept needs more truth so that they will accept and the ones who really want to be free but have a hard way to get there needs truth and grace. It’s actually the same with the “pedophile ” husband you were talking about. It may seem disgusting and awful for us but he is a human. We live in a fallen world and because of that all strange kind of thoughts and feelings can come. Thankfully this man hasn’t acted on this feelings as far as we know and if he would he should be punished really really hard. I have a daughter myself so i would want to kill the guy but here is a guy who is admitting that theae feelings come. What does he need? Truth about this and grace so he can get free if he accepts. We need to be just as Jesus . He came with truth and grace and we need to be able to give both. God bless!
I just have to add that someone commented this on facebook : “I haven’t read the article yet, but I can promise you that men who lust after woman either have no respect for them as humans and those men should be avoided or know it’s wrong but don’t care enough to develop discipline and self control in order to stop degrading woman.” and you said thank you. This man clearly doesn’t have this problem
But one answer would be : or they are humans that struggle with this because of theire sinful nature our past experience or a bad upbringing. This is what I am afraid of that posts like this will make. It will make people condemn others who struggle with different sins then others. And yes there are men who don’t want to accept and they have to be addressed but what about all who do struggle and fight but have a hard time winning? What will happen? Thy will continue to feel like monsters and hide theire sin more because according to you and the person that wrote they are people who there should avoid. We who struggle with it are monsters then and by agreeing with that message you are actually doing what you said you didn’t want to do:en start to feel like
Monsters and will start to think once a monster always a monster. As I said before truth and grace. I understand that you want women to feel free to dress like they want but if it leads to people being condemned even if they struggle then I think it’s a high price. Paul once said that if my brother gets offended by me eating meat then I will stop eat meat. That’s how we should love each other. (1 Corinthians 8) And seeing it from that perspective no women will die from it showing theire cleavege. I am not saying they aren’t allowed to altough I would prefer not but I am just saying that they won’t die if they don’t,
Adc, that’s a very good point, too. I think this is the difference: If a guy is genuinely struggling with lust, then that is good. He is engaged in the fight. But if someone just says, “men are hard wired” and “I can’t help it when a woman wears that”, then that is an entirely different thing. He’s not taking responsibility. He’s blaming it on her. And that’s really what I’m reacting to.
I’m sorry if I gave a different impression; I do get worked up about this because of the horrible harm that has been done to women and the shame put on women for “causing men to sin”. But I understand how you might also get worked up about this.
And again, I just want to say to everyone who is honestly engaged in the battle: God is with you. His armour is available to you. This is a battle that you can win.
But to everyone who says that “all men lust” because women cause it–I really have very little sympathy. And we’ve seen some of those stories in the comments on Facebook as well.
I think that noticing and your body responding (maybe without your consent) is still in the non-sinful category.
Women’s bodies respond to sexual stimuli too. Actually, we respond to a much broader category of sexual stimuli (according to the methods used in the study. increased blood flow to genital etc.) We just don’t notice cognitively. The men in the study responded to sexual stimuli that corresponded with their sexual preferences. And they registered their biological arousal, because it’s a lot more, well, obvious. The women in the study responded to all the kinds of sexual arousal but didn’t notice.
All this to say, your body responding is not sin. You dwelling on the stimulus and deliberately stimulating yourself further with your mind is sin (Sheila’s 2&3).
I think the problem Sheila is addressing is 2 fold. – in some ultra conservative circles noticing a beautiful women and your body responding is conflated with lust. This sets men up for a hopeless battle. It is physically impossible for them to not notice. That makes the men feel hopeless and like monsters. And if they expected to do something that is impossible (not noticing) the only way out is for women to wear shapeless garments that totally conceal their bodies.
It will also normalize 2&3, because if 1 and 1.5 (noticing or an erection) is inevitable, and no distinction is drawn, then people will conclude that 2&3 are inevitable also – because no distinction is drawn. So men just give up.
It’s the same kind of dynamic with the purity culture. Virginity (specifically and intact hymen) is held up as the standard of sexual purity. Or taken to mean the same thing. So if a girl messes up once, she reasons she’s “impure” anyway and then decides ot just sleep with anyone and everyone. Because what’s the use? Which is obviously untrue. Chastity is not a one time thing. It’s a way of life and also applies to married people (in a different form obviously). It also covers not lusting.
Both of these scenarios is stupid and are based on poor language choices and trying to add to the scripture. Living by works.
Hi alchemist! Great to see you here today; I always love what you contribute. And today is no exception. Very well put!
Not only as animal but sometimes as a monster, for how I was treated.
My husband has always said it’s a choice to lust. He struggled with lust in his teens but has overcome it. He also said that as a society, we expect men to not be able to control it, but they really can. It’s all about choice. I grew up in a conservative Christian home of a single mother that made it seem like men didn’t have a choice. They were doomed to be lustful for the rest of time. That came a lot from her upbringing. Not until I met my husband did that change. I still struggle with the insecurity of even “noticing”, but I am learning to overcome that viewpoint as well. Love the article, as I always do. Thanks for addressing this controversial issue. 🙂
Wow, sounds like you have an awesome hubby! (So do I! 🙂 ). I’m sorry your mom gave you that impression. Interestingly, and this is a point that’s been coming up on the Facebook discussion of this post, it isn’t always MEN who promote the “all men lust” idea. Quite often it’s women, acting out of hurt and insecurity. And then it’s other women who shame girls and women for what they wear, etc (just like the woman who left the Facebook post about the 13-year-old girl).
This is a thought that’s being promulgated by women just as much as men, I think, and it really does need to stop!
He is pretty awesome. 🙂 In my experience, I have heard it from women way more. I grew up without a father so that could have contributed to that. It scares me to think my daughter or son could get caught in these lies. I was and it is very heard to rewire your brain to think differently. God just keeps showing me His truth, which is the best hope of all. 🙂
If we’re not looking, this has the tendency to set up a weird dissonance. We expect Christian females to dress in anti-lust mode, so that (supposedly) their Christian brothers have a chance to view them in non-sexual ways. But we can’t expect the same behavior from non-Christian females, so do they end up being thought of as fair game? I know in Muslim cultures they do. You either cover yourself, or you’re a whore.
YES! Such a good point. I’m glad you brought that up. That’s one of the points I’m making in tomorrow’s post, too.
I think that husbands struggling with lust can get free of it in the same way in which it is possible to quit porn. It all starts with strongly committing to permanently quitting masturbation. Then, the dedication to quit masturbation fuels the ability (and need) to say internally a very strong “NO!” to all temptations that come along: porn and porn-like stuff, fantasies, looking at other women, etc., etc. After sticking to that for a while, the brain builds a reflex to automatically turn attention away from such stimuli. When the brain is kept free of such stimuli, it makes non-masturbation much easier, and not masturbating gives the motivation to stay free of stimuli, and not to replace one stimulus with another. With time it becomes easier to stick to this, and there are many benefits: more energy, more fulfilling intimacy, more solid marriage.
You’re so right, Dean, and I love that you said that the man needs to say “NO!” Too often when we talk about lust we put the responsibility on women–you can never wear this/that/those or you will be making a man lust.
Although I agree that women need to dress respectfully of both themselves and others, the real solution starts with the one doing the lusting. Not with the 14-year-old who just happened to develop earlier than her classmates.
(Saying this as someone who was really negatively impacted by how modesty was taught in the churches I grew up in)
I completely agree on this one, thanks so much for your input on this!!
Shelia, I feel the confusion and possible anger from some of the commentors comes from lust not really being defined. Where is the line drawn between normal, automatic sexual responses in men and when does it become lust? I think the example here is also part of the problem. I think if the example were a 27 year old woman who is dressed for church as for the club, with the same response by the husband the comment section would not be challenging the post so much. The actual example here is not a normal one, even a lustful normal one. That I think is why the pushback is strong, because there is a confusing connection (albeit I think an unintentional one on your part) of lust, sexual response, and abherrant sexual behavior with the ‘everyman’ concept discussed altogether. It is a messy buffet of horrible inferred connotation over what you probably do mean, your denotation.
I also want to say that I see another problem with this ‘all guys do it’ mentality. It provides an easy way for pastors, teachers, people in general to excuse adultery in those same circles…but he is JUST a man…
Anyway, that is just my thoughts. I also want to say that I think the church does a pretty good job at calling out sin (unless one is in a liberal denomination), but does a very poor job at teaching people how to fight sin, how to live in a practical way that honors God. I think we talk a lot about spiritual warfare, walking in the Spirit, crucifying the flesh, but I worry that so much of that is now just cliche because so many people seem to lack the knowledge on how to win against sin. It isn’t mere willpower, because willpower will fail. It is the power of God flowing through us. But people need to be easily able to find out how to plug into that. We sing about the power of Jesus being able to Break Every Chain, while so much of the church is living in chains of sin. I believe the power of God is able, abundantly able to Break Every Chian, but we have to teach more on the actualities of that. Just some thoughts.
I know a lot of people are disagreeing with you on this, but I completely agree. I’ve felt for way too long we have put all of the responsibility on women to keep themselves modest so as not to be a stumbling block. Believe me when I say- I have been insanely modest in my clothing- but that has not ever stopped men from shouting out at me while walking down the street. I’ve experienced a lot of street harassment in my life and it had 100% nothing to do with me. It had everything to do with those men who did not control themselves. I’ve had plenty of healthy relationships with men that are not my husband. Probably, a lot of those men have thought I am pretty, but that doesn’t mean they have had sexual thoughts about me. I think that many men and women struggle with lust. We can’t ever put the blame on someone else for our sins, though. If seeing women in bikini’s or men without their shirts on causes you to lust after them- then you need to avoid the beach and catalogs. It can’t be on the people at the beach to dress for you. No one can possibly know what will cause you to lust. That’s not their responsibility. I’m glad you are sharing about this, because I think we need a wake up call. I realize now that the attitude take on by well meaning Christians has caused me to feel that because I have boobs, I’m a stumbling block to all the men around me. What a really big burden I carried for a long time, because of those lines of reasoning. I have even asked God why He would make me in such a way that I would cause others to sin. What a bunch of crap that was to believe for so long.
Thanks for that, Keelie! I totally agree. Feeling ashamed of your body because it causes other people to sin is just ridiculous.
I think you’ll enjoy the rest of the week! I’m going to flesh this out (if you’ll excuse the pun 🙂 ) a bunch more!
I’m excited! Very glad you’re addressing this.
Hey, Keelie & Sheila — I want to add something quickly to Keelie’s comment about the the beach. I do think a lot of what we think of as immodest and thus likely to make men lust is culturally dependent. Growing up in a beach-side town, our youth group thought it was the weirdest thing that our church camp in Central Texas demanded girls and guys not wear shorts or swim at the same time. The people from up north didn’t think it as strange, but they hadn’t spent the summer heading to the beach with their youth group peers. Since we did, it was no big deal to see people in swimsuits. I’m not saying none of the guys lusted; I’m just saying it wasn’t a given that they would. I even remember my father telling me that if a guy wanted to, he could lust after a girl wearing a potato sack.
What we found so funny on our trip to Kenya was that cleavage was no big deal but shoulders were a huge deal. It definitely is cultural!
Sorry for going off on a tangent….but being Kenyan, I did not notice these cultural “blind spots” until I read it from your blog a few years ago! It was such an eye opener because I was fresh off the boat and struggling with the American culture!
I love how you’ve fleshed out the thoughts and I hope people get the heart of the post without being distracted, because you’ve done such a neat job.
You cannot deep yourself into meat soup or chicken soup and go and pass on a bunch of hungry dogs and expect not to be touched or eaten. There’s nothing wrong in putting on decent clothes because it shows how you respect your body. And those who likes exposing their body parts to whom do they advertise it? To the wild dogs off course as they like to be complimented and the same dogs will devour them like jezebel. If u tell me that David was in the mood for sex before he could see Bathsheba’s nakedness he could have inquired from one of his wife but why did he go for the causer ? It is not lack of self control it is about what triggers you at that moment that wants to fire at . Think about if David saw Bathsheba in her proper clothe , would he have done what he did? Just like if fire isn’t brought near the dry grass fire wouldn’t have to start.
Just want to point out–you’re calling women food. That’s part of the problem–the objectification of women.
Also, Bathsheba was following the law by doing her ritual purification after her period. She was in private. It was David who was peeping down. It was David who was inappropriate.
She was being a good Jewish woman. He was being a letch.
YES! This! I grew up in a super conservative “don’t cause your brother to stumble” church culture, but was a woman who struggled with lust.
I knew from my experience that it didn’t matter what guy was wearing, I could undress him in my mind and imagine us sleeping together in seconds with no issue. No one really ever talked about women lusting and when it came to lust, it was always attached to modesty. Men lust *because* women are immodest, but as a woman, I was lusting after men who were perfectly modest. It was confusing to me. When men were ‘immodest’ (which the fact that we can’t define that should prove how sexual biased our standards are) it just made it easier to imagine. Less clothes to take off.
Then, I went to Bible college, and a friend decided to poll the guys on campus for her devotion on modesty. She asked them, other than the “obvious” to identify what parts of women’s bodies aroused them (which was basically synonymous with lust).
The answers: collarbone, ears, ankles, calves, the tendons on the neck, feet, eyes…
And it dawned on me that men lusted exactly the same way I did as a woman. Doesn’t matter what she wears, if a guy is dealing with lust, he’s going to lust after her.
THEN, the clincher. I was listening to a radio talk show on the way back from an even once and the DJ was interviewing a secular music artist and he was talking about picking up women at the bar (it was somewhere with very limited radio options and I needed to stay awake- lol). He said that he actually found modest women the greatest turn on. He said that if he saw to women dressed like (expletives), he would just ignore them. “They leave nothing to the imagination,” he said. No, he wants the girl who’s covered up, because “there’s mystery.”
And I was like… “Well! Great! Now MODESTY can “cause my brother to stumble.””
So, I re-thought my approach to modesty, because it can’t be about keeping men from lusting or else I am going to be wrapped in a (loose-fitting) potato sack and locked in a closet somewhere.
When I was a teacher at a Christian school in my 20s I ended up on the “dress code committee” in charge of revisions to the existing dress code. Because the building was not air conditioned, they had decided to allow shorts in warm weather months (early fall and late spring). We had to determine an appropriate length. In the course of the discussions, I was forced to stand up and be the example of why longer shorts were better. The administrator in the group explained to the room that I was a good example of the problem with shorts as my legs were “just too long” and no matter what I wore, unless it was a long baggy skirt, I would be a “stumbling block for men” and my body was “really just a problem”.
I can’t tell you how damaging it is to be told BY YOUR BOSS that God made you wrong and your existence is essentially a “problem” for every male person you ever meet.
That is just terrible. Did anyone stand up for you and say how utterly inappropriate and unbiblical that was? Seriously, that actually falls into the category of sexual harrassment, too. That’s just really, really wrong.
I agree with you, Keelie, and am also happy that Sheila is taking on this topic. I’m sure you’re going to take a lot of heat for it, Sheila, because you’re challenging the status quo – a status quo that puts much (if not all) of the blame for lust on women. Thanks for getting this conversation going.
I’ve had very honest conversations with men about the issue of lust, and you’re absolutely right: it’s something most men battle with at some point or way in their lives, but it’s not inevitable and it’s not impossible to achieve victory. I now know plenty of husbands who say they notice a pretty woman, but they don’t lust. Indeed they treat women the way Christ did — as persons, not body parts.
I also think it’s very different to say to women that dressing modestly does help guys out with this issue, and another thing altogether to say that a woman wearing yoga pants or with a peek of cleavage is inviting a man to undress her with his mind (which is just ridiculous) or that she is to blame for his sin. I think it’s going to be a very poor argument before God to essentially say, “She made me do it.”
When it comes to lust or noticing women, most men who are trying to honor God and their wife are constantly aware of ‘the line.’ The line is sin, and it’s smudged, elusive and deceptive. Have I crossed it? Did I take a second glance? What did I think when I did? How old was she anyways? Why did I just do that – again?! (And then comes repentance, guilt, and self-condemnation). Even if you never cross it, you’re always aware of it. It’s not something you just stop or decide not to do, and then it’s gone. It’s like most challenges in life, in that you have to be intentional about your decisions on a daily basis.
This post, while obviously well meaning, over-simplifies both the problem and the solution. Maybe it’s my own insecurities coming out, but it reads a bit like, “Hey, men, we can fix you!” No one wants to be fixed – they want to be understood. Men need to be humble and disciplined in their weakness, but we need women to understand that there is a deep vulnerability there. The goal should be to work toward the center together. We all need to show each other a little grace.
I really don’t think this article oversimplifies things. I agree that this can be a struggle with some men. To say that ALL men struggle with the same thing is just wrong though, that really oversimplifies things. There is nothing simple about this.
Some men do struggle with this, but others struggle with pornography or even gluttony, drug addiction or any other number of sins. It is a choice if you are going to continue in that sin or claim victory over it with Christ. I get very frustrated when I hear that it is so hard for men to control, yes overcoming sin in our own power is hard, even impossible. Unfortunately we live in a broken world and sin is a very real part of it. There are many that have been able to claim victory over this and that is one of the points of this article. You are not doomed to always have this struggle.
Thanks for commenting, and I really do understand that the struggle is real
I guess what I’d like to comment on is this point you brought up: “No one wants to be fixed – they want to be understood.”
Is that really so important? Like, honestly, is it absolutely critical that women understand how hard it is for men to see women as whole people, and not objectify them? Sorry if that sounds harsh, but that is what we hear.
Because I honestly believe that most men think that it IS vitally important that women understand this. I’m not exactly sure why–is it so that we’ll dress differently? Is it so that wives will have more sex? Or is it for some other reason?
Those are the two most commonly mentioned reasons in books and sermons. And I guess what I would say (and this is really what Thursday’s post will be about, and I do say it better and at greater length there), is “why is it so important that women understand?”
Because here’s what I see happening. Men struggle. So then they start talking about how every guy struggles. Then we create modesty rules for youth groups and churches. Then we start talking about how wives need to have more sex so men can keep their thoughts pure.
And so women have heard this–a LOT–over the last few years. We’ve heard over and over and over again about how much men struggle and how hard it is for men not to look at a woman and focus on her body parts.
And we’ve heard how if men are sexually frustrated in marriage, they’ll be tempted to stare at other women all the more.
But here’s my question: do MEN know what effect all of that talk has on women? Men have asked women to understand. And this week, what I hope to do is to help men understand how women feel when this is what we are told, over and over again. Because I think it seriously backfires. The more women hear about how all men find it hard not to lust after other women, the less likely we are to want to have sex, the more likely we are to be ashamed of our bodies (which also makes us not want to have sex), and the more we’ll find sex distasteful.
So perhaps the goal should not be for everybody to understand each other. Maybe it should be that we all look at what the Bible says a healthy sex life is and a healthy thought life is, and then we all pursue that, and we all get accountability partners when necessary. But I’m just not sure that telling women endlessly what a hard time men have not objectifying them does a whole lot of good to anybody.
Does that make sense?
When I said, “No one wants to be fixed – they want to be understood,” that wasn’t just referring to men who might lust. That’s people in general. Married couples especially tend to learn this the hard way.
This post struck me that way. “You might be broken, but it doesn’t have to be that way!” Yes, of course. As with all sin, that is the case. I believe sin rests squarely on the shoulders of the sinner. I don’t blame men’s lust on women, how they dress, none of that. You sin, it’s yours. Carve it out of your life. But the visual temptation in our society is very real. Failing to understand what that struggle feels like, even for the most Godly of men who don’t lust, is missing a very important discussion point. And, by design, a woman will never be able to completely understand it.
I believe change happens when we stop trying to change other people, focus on our own hearts and pray for God’s healing and wisdom. Men need to hold each other accountable, talk about it in bible studies, and above all else treat every woman as a unique child of God who deserves respect.
Women need to examine their own hearts. As a man, I’m not qualified to say what that entails.
I feel like I am a woman who is able to understand it. Watch the sweeping generalizations as I know of plenty of women who struggle with lust. We just don’t address it because the script is women don’t, but BELIEVE me, they do. I have e-mail after e-mail from Christian women talking about their struggles with lust, and I don’t mean the Christian romance version, I mean the pornographic version.
I think it’s important to try to see the point Sheila is trying to make. She’s not saying the struggle doesn’t matter. In fact, she is it DOES- the difference between her “it matters” and your “it matters” is who it is mattering to.
In Christian communities throughout the country, the problem of a man’s lust falls squarely on the woman. Men are wired this way, we’re told, and we have to essentially save them from themselves. I went to a church camp in high school where the pastor, from the podium, during a chapel, said that if a man rapes a woman it is because either she or some other woman was immodest. Why? Because men are visually wired, they cannot help it, and women need to be considerate of that.
It’s the “they cannot help it” attitude that is being called out. This struggle needs to matter, yes, but it needs to matter to the men. It can’t matter if they have a “well, I can’t help it if she wore that tight dress. What was I supposed to think about her?” attitude. As long as our struggles are someone else’s problem, we’ll make excuses not to fix them.
Same thing when we normalize something. I have seen a Christian dean say, “We just assume that all the men who come to our campus watch porn” or a Christian author say, “Every guy has masturbated.” When we make it sound like everybody is doing it, we again make it sound like it’s no big deal and that it doesn’t matter. The point is, it does matter. Lust is no small, ok thing. It matters, and it needs to matter to the people doing the lusting.
Very well put, Jessica! Thank you.
And, yes, I know that many women battle with lust, too. I’d like to write more on that (or have you guest post? 🙂 ), but this week I’m really addressing the issues that you’ve brought up here. Because I’d like to put this to rest once and for all–I feel like I’ve touched on it multiple times but never really fleshed it out, so I hope we can do that!
Thanks, Jessica–that was really well said.
Jessica, thanks for the reply. I do understand what you’re saying – I just think we’re saying different things. I don’t understand the struggle women go through with this, beyond what my wife and I have discussed. I think it’s very hard for members of the opposite sex to truly understand what the other goes through.
In regards to how the church has perpetuated this idea that lust is normal and ok, that’s wrong. I don’t argue that. I made a comment in Sheila’s latest post as to what I, and other men (in my experience), struggle with. I feel like I’m chasing my tail here, though, so I’ll probably bow out.
I’m going to stick my neck out here a bit.
I really don’t think it’s fair to call a man a pedophile for reacting to a 13 year old’s body. Pedophiles are people who are attracted to pre-pubescent children. My 13 year old body was about the exact same body I have now at 30. I was maybe a bit skinnier and my hips and but have gotten a bit wider. But I weighed about the same, I had the same waist (I’m hourglass shape), same height, I had a C/D cup boobs. I had a woman’s body. A man noticing and reacting to that isn’t automatically a pedophile (if he knows I’m 13 and undressing me with his mind he’s still a creep, and he’s definitely sinning. But I don’t think the charge of pedophilia applies.)
I know some 13 year olds still look like children. But calling men who notice adolescent girls up till 15 or 17 pedophiles is counterproductive and unfair. 12-15 years old was a perfectly reasonable time to be married for probably the vast majority of human history.
For example: In Sense & Sensibility Marianne is 16. Colonel Brandon is 35. It’s made pretty clear that he fell in love with Marianne right at the beginning of the book. I don’t think it was just platonic feelings on his part. I think they didn’t get married until Marianne was 19, but still. It is made clear throughout the book that he is an honorable man with outstanding character. Interestingly Willoughby’s, who is the creep/ horrid scumbag, of the book, age isn’t given. But I got the impression he was young. Similar age gaps exists in Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and in Jane Eyre. Mary, the mother of Jesus is thought to have been 13. Joseph was already a carpenter. Not an apprentice to a carpenter btw, a carpenter. I think the Jewish boys started their apprenticeships at 13. Fairly sure the apprenticeship was at least 5 years. Probably more. Just saying.
I absolutely agree that saying that *all* men struggle with lust and *all* men do pornography is defeatist and it does contribute to the boys will be boys mentality. Which is utter rubbish. But I also agree with the commenters above that we should not demonize men for struggling with lust. Characterizing a man who notices a teenager as a pedophile is not particularly helpful to the point you are trying to make and reinforces the “men are animals” narrative.
I hear what you’re saying–I do. And personally, I’ve always been a tad creeped up by the Brandon-Marianne thing.
But here’s what I’d say: in this culture, an adult man having a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old is absolute ICK. It’s YUCK. It’s got pretty much the equivalent yuck factor as incest, I would think.
That definitely wasn’t the case in Jane Austen’s day (and the Mansfield Park first cousin romance is serious ICK to me, too), but it is today.
And what the neuroscience studies on lust show is that how we think of people determines how the arousal process works.
Show a man a picture of his daughter, sister or niece in revealing clothing and he will not be aroused. The incest taboo kicks in.
So arousal isn’t automatic. There are certain functions in our brain that short-circuit it when it’s not appropriate. And I guess that I would just hope that for adult, Christian men, the “she’s only 13!” function would definitely kick in here. While other cultures may not mind the age, ours does. Whether that’s valid or not is up for debate, but culturally, it is a big no-no. And I think the brain studies are showing that we can decide what we will respond to. So I would hope that they would choose this!
(But I did use the wrong word with pedophilia. The real term is ephebophilia, which is attraction to pubescent children).
I agree with Alchemist here. I don’t think anyone is suggesting that an actual sexual relationship between an adult and a 13-year-old is appropriate, especially in modern, Western society. But plenty of 13-year-olds are as developed as a grown woman, and a man can notice her just as he would notice a 26-year-old. And then when noticing gets conflated with lusting, all of a sudden a guy gets called a pedophile for noticing a fully-developed woman’s body.
Honestly, I think the fact that the girl was 13 kept getting trotted out in the post because it was a convenient straw man. I have huge respect for you, Sheila, and I agree with you on almost everything you write (including most of this post), but I think that this was an unfortunate rhetorical device, the effect of which (intentional or not) was to paint the guy as creepy if he has any issue with this. It also leads you into some self-contradictory conclusions. “If he was a decent guy she should have been able to walk buck naked in front of him and his only thought should have been one of pity for her,” and yet she’s characterized as a “poor 13-year-old who made a bad clothing choice.” Seems to me that no clothing choice is “bad” if being “buck naked” is an option.
For many women it is taboo to get aroused by a man other than their husband. For a husband it can also be taboo to get aroused by a woman other than his wife. It is something that any husband can accomplish, even if it often requires some work. But very few men do that, as there is no expectation of them to be like that. On the contrary, often the expectation is that they get turned on by any pretty woman they see. If the expectation could change, men would change too.
I agree with you Alchemist.
Obviously our society has shifted to later sexual activity and marriage, longer life expectancy and also longer childhoods, but people’s bodies aren’t taking longer to develop, so I don’t think that men should feel dirty for NOTICING these girls. I DO think that they should be stopping at noticing, no matter what the age of the female they are looking at (is she old enough for me to lust after? Shouldn’t come into it!)
God impregnated Mary when she was about 12-13. Obviously, He thought she was ‘woman enough’ to be the mother of Jesus! I’m not saying our society has it wrong with later marriage/sex (God put those law makers in authority for a reason!) but I do think that a lot of men torture themselves unnecessarily about noticing these young teen girls and feeling dirty because of it. I like Sheila’s definition of lust where noticing but not lingering and dwelling on it is not the sin.
1. “It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.” ~ Romans 14:21
2. “Women should adorn themselves modestly and appropriately and sensibly in seemly apparel” ~ 1 Timothy 2:9
3. If we are truly humble and seeking after our Lord properly, then us – as women – will seek to cover ourselves and not show our bodies off ( except to our spouse privately ).
Romans 14:3 The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
I have been beaten over the head with the modesty scriptures which have had rules added to rules added to rules attached to them. For me – the rules are the stumbling block. As a child I was fully convinced that God made my body so beautiful that it was an ugly disgusting thing…very twisted I know, but there it is. When I was molested, I never told anyone because I knew it was my fault.
I now dress for utility and for beauty. I’m not dressing to show my body off, I’m dressing for the tasks that the day will bring. No one but God and myself can define modesty for me – as this verse says NO ONE else can judge me. Freedom in Christ is a precious thing and a huge responsibility.
I have a hard time even with the “noticing.” I know it’s unreasonable, but whenever there’s a pretty girl around, I just think “he’s noticing how pretty she is and thinking that she’s prettier than me.” It’s really unfair to him but…when I found out my boyfriend (now fiance) had watched porn it really crushed me. For someone who I thought only had eyes for me and was crazy about me to be looking at other “hotter” girls just killed me. He’d never watched it in his life until after college for about a year and a half. He was guilt ridden and once he confessed to me he stopped cold-turkey. He constantly assures me of his love and affection and of how beautiful I am, but that feeling whenever there are pretty girls around is horrible. I know it will kill our marriage if I don’t get a grip on it.
B, how long has he been without the porn? Does he have accountability in place? Please don’t marry him until plenty of time has gone by (at least a year) that he’s completely clean. You probably need someone else involved, such as a counselor or mentor couple. Porn wrecks lives and marriages. I can’t tell you how much heartache I have suffered because I didn’t know enough, ask enough questions, or take the right steps before we said our vows.
He never looked at it in highschool or college…it began almost a year after college. I think the most he looked was once a week and the least once a month. He told several people after he confessed to me. He hasn’t looked in about 10 months now.
That’s great, B! I do totally agree with AC–unless there’s accountability in place and they’ve honestly quit, it’s really dangerous. But it sounds like he’s sought out people to help him, and he’s committed to stopping. I’d just recommend that you both sit down and talk to a counsellor and work through your issues with this before you decide whether or not to get married, because it is a really huge thing. But the fact that he has confessed and that he’s trying to beat it is so great!
I feel the same way that you do. I think when we talk about lust and looking it’s always about how hard it is for the men. But what about the wife or girlfriend next to him who notices him “noticing”. There are never any articles to men about how that makes their wife or girlfriend feel and how devastating and humiliating it is. It destroys you to the bottom of your soul and makes you feel inadequate, ugly, fat and so self conscious all the time. So on edge.
Ok here is my 2 cents–not so much about lust, but about modesty. I dress quite modestly, and I always have. I believe this pleases God. God did make clothes for Adam and Eve, after all. It seems that the fig leaves weren’t enough! And in the epistles, women are told to dress modestly, but I’ve always been told that’s good for men too. So I dress modestly for God, not for men, and who might or might not look. I think the reason why we do things is so important! If I was always thinking about how men see my body and if they will lust or not, I think I would just feel gross all the time.
I don’t know if this analogy fully works, but I guess the physical response to seeing an attractive woman is similar to the physical response to seeing a ‘mouthwatering’ delicious cheesecake. If you are trying to make healthy eating choices, you will probably still have the physical response (salivating) but you will turn away from the food and not continue to dwell on it. Your mind won’t become fixated on how it would feel to sink a spoon into that cheesecake, how it would be a taste sensation on your tastebuds as you eat it, how it would give you a sugar rush once you’ve eaten it. Instead, you will focus on something else, have a drink of water, go for a walk, whatever it takes to intentionally not ‘go any further’ with that cheesecake! ?
And just like with lusting, there are going to be people who have no idea about the struggle I am talking about with said cheesecake (because they can see a cheesecake and not even care!)but that doesn’t mean the struggle isnt real. But just because it is hard, it doesn’t mean that it can’t be done, or that we shouldn’t even try! Self control is a fruit of the Spirit, whether it is applied to lust, gluttony, anger, laziness, gossiping, etc!
I would say the analogy works because once you have made a decision to stay away from sugar, your taste buds stop craving sugar and if you eat it you would feel sick instead of satisfied. And that sick feeling will kick in, instead of the salivating and the craving for sugar will lessen or disappear. That is a point made in this post: a man who struggled with lust can overcome it by training himself (with the help of the Holy Ghost) to turn away and control the thoughts. The lust will diminish with consistency. My pastor loved to say ‘you can’t stop a bird from flying over our heads but you can stop it from making a nest in your hair’s.
Thanks for adding that – what you said is totally right! In the early days there are cravings, and that is where the ‘all men lust’ or ‘i could never quit sugar’ messages are so dangerous…because it leads to a defeatist attitude.
What I find the most interesting about the psychological research is that neuroscientists have determined physiologically male and females are not “wired differently” from genetics, but rather from socialisation. The crappy and unbiblical views aren’t coming from genes (at least from what neuroscience has taught us) but from the way these kids are being raised. Loved this article so much!
I loved that research, too. Science is really kicking a lot of these harmful beliefs in the teeth these days.
Here is one statement that Sheila wrote that is definitely wrong: “If he was a decent guy she should have been able to walk buck naked in front of him and his only thought should have been one of pity for her.” Perhaps his CHIEF thought should have been one of pity, but he is not an indecent guy if it wasn’t his ONLY thought.
He knows her and she is 13. That is still a child. Our minds are capable of registering that “this is a child” and “that is inappropriate”. That’s why we’re not animals!
Sheila, you just proved my point. You said our mind is capable of registering that “this is inappropriate”. So a decent guy could have at least 3 thoughts then: (1) attraction/arousal, (2) the thought that (1) is inappropriate, and (3) pity.
I think Sheila’s saying a decent guy wouldn’t even get aroused, because he would already have her in the ‘off limits’ category, because he knows her and knows she is 13. Same as (I’m going to assume) men aren’t aroused when their 13yo daughter walks down the stairs in a short skirt.
Question for all: what do you consider inappropriate attire for church? What would a woman or girl wear that would make you not allow her to enter into the church service dressed as she is?
Is she a Christian or a non-Christian? If she’s a seeker, then she can come in absolutely anything. Her heart matters more, and I hope everyone would agree.
If she’s a Christian, then I would ask these three questions: What is the first impression people have when they look at me? Who am I dressing for? Do I appear approachable and friendly? If those things are right, then there really shouldn’t be any problem. Those are the questions that I taught my daughters to ask, and they’ve always dressed well. And that’s what matters–where the heart is.
Rules are not of God. And they’re cultural anyway.
Oh my Sheila, what kind of church do you attend? If a seeker girl comes in with a thong bikini, your church would just let her come in? You would affect your Christian brothers that way? Why wouldn’t you stop her at the door, lovingly pull her aside and tell her why she’s not allowed to wear that in God’s house, and then give her a covering to wear into the service. Notice that I am not turning her away. Notice that I am not telling her she cannot go in. Notice that I am not saying she is not welcome. I am just showing respect for the people in the church, and to God as well.
When have you ever seen anyone come to church in a thong bikini? That’s a very extreme example. Someone who came to church like that would either be under the influence or in distress. I would be troubled by a man tempted to list at someone in that state
That is a highly unlikely scenario. Unless your church is in a red light district or beachfront, in which case you should probably be prepared for such a scenario! As a woman, I will tell you that the minute you stop a girl like this at the door and hinder her entrance in any way, you have sent the message loud and clear that she is not good enough, not welcome, not wanted, and you think you are better than her. She will not stay, and she will leave ashamed and embarrassed. And you will have lost an opportunity to share Christ – who ate with publicans and harlots. Learn to look past the clothes!
Mary, very well said. It’s time to stop seeing women who come to church as boobs and butts and start seeing them as people who need to be shown Jesus just as much as the men in the church.
First, Jesus said: It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. So yes, if the woman coming to church was in a thong, you welcome her with open arms. You do NOT tell her that she’s not good enough for the sake of men already saved by telling her “cover up”. There is absolutely zero biblical evidence that we should do otherwise. Her heart and soul are more important. When she is saved, of course there’s a time for conversation about what clothes say to the rest of the world, and how what we wear can act as a testament to faith. But before? HECK NO.
Second, Paul said: if someone is a Christian, we need to hold them to a higher standard. BUT he also said very clearly that if anyone is NOT a Christian, we are to hold them to no standard at all (It’s in 1 Corinthians 5–that chapter deals a lot with how the church is to act towards nonbelievers.)
Jesus hung out with prostitutes. I’m guessing not all of them were dressed modestly. But do you know who Jesus yelled at for what they were wearing? The Pharisees (Matthew 23:5). Why? Because they were dressing in a way that they said was to honor God, but was causing them to simply be higher than the lowly, less-holy people in the city.
But Rebecca, I would do the same if a guy showed up in a speedo only. I’m not seeing women as just boobs and butts. I would put a covering around a guy in a speedo too.
But I understand your argument about not showing ANY displeasure in what the woman is wearing (not wearing), at first. I take my suggestion back – I’d let her in as is. (And Budgie and Mary are right – my example is extreme.) And I’d let the guy in the speedo in as-is too.
Tom I agree! Woman have to watch how they dress, it does affect men and woman can be the cause of wrong feelings of we don’t be careful. That’s how God made it and He didn’t make us or plan for us to go around immodest. It’s just so sad.
Rebekah, I’d appreciate it if you’d read the last post in this series–a look at the “don’t be a stumbling block” Bible passages. I think they say far more than we think they do, and saying that women can cause men to stumble and thus women are responsible isn’t an accurate reading, if you look at them closely.
Do you truly believe that it’s better for a teenage girl to kill herself than to inadvertently cause a man to sin by what she wears? Because that is actually what the passage says, if you believe that this is the interpretation.
I think it’s far more nuanced. We are all to be respectful in our dress, but God did not cause men to automatically lust, and women are not the solution for men’s lust.
Rules are not of God…unless you are a man, then they certainly apply I think you seem to be stating.
I’m sorry–but I have no idea to what you’re referring? What rules to men?
Question: did God make men to be sexually visually stimulated or not? If He did, why did He?
alchemist writes “Women’s bodies respond to sexual stimuli too. Actually, we respond to a much broader category of sexual stimuli (according to the methods used in the study. increased blood flow to genital etc.) We just don’t notice cognitively.” I’ve heard this before, and it still makes no sense to me. If a woman’s body responds, but she doesn’t know it, then is she really responding? How can your body respond but you not know you’re getting excited? If you don’t know your body is getting excited, are you IN FACT getting excited? I say no. Another reason women are FAR less sexual than men, and generally have FAR less libido than men.
The reason why women are less libido is not really less libido. It is from what culture has taught us about ourselves as women. Mostly shame. And or the constant worry of what we’ve been taught or went through because we are females in this culture. Which as not picked apart our sexuality and bodies. Women respond to everything sexual and sensual. We have learned to in this culture and past to shut it down voluntarily or involuntarily.
New studies can be found about how women’s brains light up the same as men’s when viewing sexually stimulating people AND women’s brains remained lit up longer then men’s.
The one website was misspelled
mind body green.com
“When people saw the pictures of men, they saw the whole person”. Uh…..no. When people saw the pictures of men, they did not see anybody at all. To say “thats ridiculous, i saw a whole person” is avery childlike response, you must dig deeper. Men are, for evolutionary reasons, completely invisible. The people in that study noticed the different photos of women because they paid far more attention to the photos of women in the first place.
“I am not sure why you want to be understood” We will just let that one go.
On one of these blog posts a while back Sheila, you wrote about being around certain Christian groups and having warning bells go off in your mind. I do not remember the exact context but it was something to that effect. While I enjoy reading your blog and applaud what you are trying to do, I have had several of those bells go off while reading here. I know that you are not aware of it, but your blog sometimes comes across as being anti male. I try to remember that you didnt grow up with brothers or dad, and that you did not raise a son to adulthood. I am sympathetic to your view being somewhat biased and do not fault you for it. It is there however, and it seems like it is increasing.
I simply don’t understand how it’s anti-male to say, “hey, men, maybe you don’t need to be enslaved by sin anymore! Jesus is big enough!” I think that’s very PRO-male–I think that saying, “every man lusts and there’s no escaping it” is actually very anti-male! Because it seems, to me, to be telling men, “God made you flawed. You will always sin. There’s no escaping it.”
And, please, don’t commit the logical fallacy of believing simply because Sheila is a woman she’s biased on this topic. I’d also advise that you read on for the rest of the week, since she’ll be going more into detail about the topic so you can better understand her points before jumping to conclusions.
Rebecca, you’re right that saying that men can’t escape lust is not a good attitude. But Sheila is arguing for the opposite extreme, that all the onus lies on the man, and this is not a good attitude as well. This lust issue is just another issue where the truth lies somewhere in the middle – either extreme is unhealthy and disrespects one gender.
Tom, Sheila is not arguing for the opposit extreme – whatever that might be. She is saying that men are more likely to struggle with lust, but that we need to stop saying that this is normal and making excuses for why they can’t stop lusting. Lusting is not an automatic response that a guy has no control over. What Sheila is arguing for is that we start to expect guys to take responsibility for their own thoughts and actions and not blame women’s immodest dress for the sin of the men. I do not say that to excuse the women either. If a woman dresses to get sexual attention or in any other way that is dishonorable towards God then this is between her and God. But if as a result a guy falls into temptation and decides to sin (either in his mind or actions) then that sin is between him and God. We can’t blame women for men’s lust. What Sheila is aiming for is a message of hope and redemption for the men. A call to fight for a life free of lust because it is possible in Christ. Actually Jesus himself is calling the men to take full responsibility for lusting and to do whatever it takes to gain victory over this sin.
27“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.
Matthew 5, 27-30
So the questions here really is, if you as a man struggle with lust are you willing to do whatever it takes to overcome this sin? Or do want to keep lusting after women because you secretly enjoy it but then guilt is bothering you so you put it on the women “because she dressed to sexy so I couldn’t help but…”
The belief that men are lusting animals that is toxic for both men and women and it is keeping the men of the church enslaved to a sin that they should gain victory over. I don’t want to dismiss the intensity of the struggle, I am sure it can be very hard if on every corner there are pictures of naked women in suggestive poses, but the truth is that you were called to live a holy life in victory over sin! That Sheila is addressing this issue with the focus on helping guys, not defending women’s clothing choices, should encourage you and give you hope.
I am looking forward to the rest of the posts!
Lydia–“The belief that men are lusting animals that is toxic for both men and women and it is keeping the men of the church enslaved to a sin that they should gain victory over.” Exactly!
Are there women that do dress immodestly to provoke a sexual reaction, yes. This isn’t touched on here, but it is still true nonetheless. That is her sin. Can it cause problems for men who lust, yes it can. But ultimately, that lust is in the heart of the man, and it is on him. To say that an immodestly dressed woman should have NO EFFECT on a person struggling with lust is just absurd. But her sin does not cancel out his sin.
Men do have unwitting sexual responses (like morning erections). I think people can have sexual arousal responses to images or people that are unintentional, probably more so if they already struggle with lust, with sexuality always lingering in the back of the mind anyway. But just because it happens, it doesn’t mean we are powerless victims that HAVE to be carried away with the thought or feeling. We do not. God gives us power to resist and fight, the ability to focus our attention elsewhere. It is when we let our thoughts and bodies run wild that we fall into sin.
I want to state clearly, lust for many is a besetting sin. It is more than just a struggle that can be easily defeated by learning to view women as whole. It is usually many ingrained habits, with those habits appearing for self-medicating purposes. It is a big issue, but no sin is fought by excusing the sin or blaming the opposite sex. Ultimately, your sin is your struggle even if the reactions and behaviors of others can make it worse. If we are Chrisitans the power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us. We have to cooperate with that Spirit to overcome besetting sin. We have to change our habits and behaviors, identify our triggers, and pray always, with every thought and every feeling that we know is of God. I think many sins, including lust, drives us to hide our sin, to keep it away from our prayer life so God doesn’t see how bad it is. But God does see and He wants us to trust him with our deepest sins and our greatest fears. And when we do, that is when we can have a breakthrough.
“Men are, for evolutionary reasons, completely invisible.” Exactly Chris! As a man, I would rather be objectified even than ignored. But we men are, as a gender, ignored. How much better it would be to be complaining that women are giving me the WRONG kind of attention than NO attention! I feel women are spoiled.
I do think this needs attention. Maybe Paul at The Generous Husband could cover this. My husband has mentioned similar to me. And I have felt this way, too, about women who are undeniably beautiful. Why complain about guys noticing you all the time!? At least you aren’t invisible as a plain Jane!!
As for women being less sexual than men…I must be an anomaly. I am a very sexual woman. Dudes, marry the plain janes. You won’t be able to keep up with us in bed!
Tom, this idea of “dont’ complain about being lusted after, at least you’re being noticed” is incredibly toxic. It’s the less extreme version of saying, “I know you were raped, but at least you had sex.”
When I am lusted after, I am being sinned against. I am being brought down to nothing but an object. I feel unsafe, I feel like that man, if he can look at me that way, could also do much more to me, seeing me as an object, and I am too weak to be able to enforce my “no”.
When a man lusts after me, he breaks my trust. This person who I am supposed to be able to trust as a brother in Christ has defiled that bond. He has allowed his sin to creep in and disrespect me to the core of who I am.
So no, it’s not better to be lusted after than it is to not. Never be sad that people don’t sin against you–that’s an incredibly harmful and triggering statement.
Don’t underestimate the hurt that women have gone through because of men’s unwillingness to truly deal with this issue. Complacency here has led to true scars.
This is actually a really interesting thread. I think libl has a point–most women like to be noticed. But at the same time, there’s a line where it just plain feels dangerous. If I’m walking down the street and I get whistled at (it’s happened), I don’t feel flattered. I feel scared, just like Rebecca said.
But then we often get upset if we don’t get extra attention in social situations.
I remember once I was walking in my subdivision with my two daughters (Rebecca was 15 and Katie was 13 at the time) and a van full of guys whistled and clapped when they walked by. Then they saw our faces and realized I wasn’t a teenager (I guess I look good in jeans or something). I was absolutely incensed because KATIE WAS 13!!!! And they were in a van. A bunch of guys in a van. That feels really, really dangerous.
I don’t think guys understand unless they’ve been through it.
Yes, we want to be noticed in social situations. But we don’t want strangers to ever comment on us. Ever. That’s scary. And so I don’t know what the right line is there.
(And as someone who is married, I actually DON’T want to be noticed now. I just want to look good for my husband!)
Rebecca, you’re not realizing how good you have it as a female, and even more so as an attractive female. I’m not comparing what it’s like to be lusted after vs. not lusted after, for a single incident. I’m comparing what it’s like to be openly desired by the opposite sex vs. not being openly desired by the opposite sex, for a lifetime! How many times has the opposite sex expressed interest in you? How many times have men expressed interest in you in a non-intentionally-threatening way? How many boys or men have said they liked you? How many boys or men have asked you out? Now, how many times have rude sexual comments been thrown your way? Perhaps quite a few – I don’t know. But think of this scenario now: that you NEVER have been told by a boy or man that they like you, that you NEVER have been asked out, that no boy or man has EVER said you are pretty or desirable. A horrible, scary thought, huh? Really contemplate on that – really think about if so far in your life, NO boy or man has EVER complimented you on your attractiveness, or EVER felt attracted to you enough to want to date you. Now, get this, this is what many (or most) men have had to experience! Men, in general, don’t get asked out by women, they don’t get noticed, they don’t get lusted after, they don’t get ogled, they don’t get catcalled, they (as Chris has said in a post) are IGNORED! Now, I am exaggerating a little, but just a little! Most average-looking women are given attention by the opposite sex more than even above-average-looking men! As a woman, and an attractive one, you cannot begin to imagine what that feels like. It is not untrue to say that you are spoiled in this regard.
You only see the times you have been lusted after, or had lewd looks or comments thrown your way. You take for granted the many, many times that a boy or man has gone out of his way, often out of his comfort zone, to let you know that you are a desirable person. Now, the big question: would you trade what you’ve experienced so far in your life with being IGNORED by boys or men? That means no dates, no husband (if you’re married), NO being told that you are desirable in a physical way. Think about this hard and I’m sure you wouldn’t make the trade.
I (and many other men) would trade places with you any day of the week, and twice on Sunday.
Tom, what you’re not getting is that it’s not a compliment. It’s a threat. I have been in situations where I have been catcalled and I immediately went to the closest public washroom and cried because I had been so scared by the three 6 foot 5 men walking towards me, whistling at me. It is scary. And saying that I’m lucky for that is absolutely abhorrent. Again: it is scary. It is not taken as a compliment. Instead, it reminds me, as a woman, that I am always in danger. Always vulnerable. Always just a few seconds away from having my freedom taken away from me.
Just because one side of the coin is difficult doesn’t mean the other one isn’t. Both are hard, for different reasons. But one is hard because it’s difficult being rejected. The other is hard because you’re worried for your life. Don’t forget that. Women’s experience is something that you, as a man, will never have to know, and you should be grateful for that. But don’t cheapen it simply because you haven’t experienced that fear before.
Rebecca, I guess I will always be jealous of your situation. Like I said, I would TRADE with you (or with many other women’s life experience)! Now, I really don’t want to trivialize the fearful experiences you’ve had. You’re right, I’ve never worried that a woman wanted me so much physically that she might harm me. But my pain (and the pain of many men) and sadness is daily, almost constant. Yours is not. If your situation is so bad, would you trade with me? You wouldn’t, right? What does that say then?
If you could walk only a month in most guys’ shoes, and know what it’s like to be ignored and overlooked, you would have an appreciation that you just do not possess now. Women generally have NO idea how good they have things. I really feel you can not even fathom what I’m talking about – it is a foreign concept to you. I might as well be talking Swahili. (But I realize the reverse can be said of me – but then I still would trade with you or many other women.)
Rebecca can actually speak some Swahili. 🙂 (Sorry, I know that’s totally not the point of the comment, it just made me smile.)
Tom, what exactly are you hoping to achieve by taking part in commenting on this blog? Do you want pity? Do you want permission to lust? Do you just want a sounding board for ‘it’s not fair’?
My advice is that if you want to be desired and have attention paid to you, then start acting in a desirable way. LISTEN to what the ‘type of woman’ you are trying to attract is looking for, and live your life like you are someone worth having in their life.
Based on what I can tell about you from reading your comments on a couple of blogs over the past few weeks, if you come across anything at all like that in real life, I think you are probably not so much being ignored by women as being AVOIDED by them.
I am not saying this to be mean. I am not trying to be hurtful. I know that you appreciate rational and practical thought (I share your appreciation for such things!) so I am trying to give you some practical, rational things to help your situation.
Basically, the only person you can change is YOU. You can rant about how unfair life is to men compared to women, and how lucky women are, but that won’t actually change anything about your situation! But if you start to change, you might be surprised with what you find happening in your life…
I would start with a bit of Philippians 4:8, which is basically positive thinking. Think about the good things, no matter what your situation. For instance, instead of thinking in a negative way that women have it so much better than you, how about thinking about all the good things about being a man…
Think about other good things in your life, think about good things that are in the world, then start trying to BE and DO those positive, good things for others. Get involved in some hobbies that bring you joy. Serve someone who is far worse off than you.
There is no guarantee that doing these things will increase female sexual advances towards you, but chances are you’ll be happy either way.
I’m not sure how much this will mean to you, but I am praying for you.
I would like it if Rebecca would respond, but your Swahili comment probably will mean she won’t. (I knew I should have chosen Hungarian. 🙂 )
E, I post on this blog for different reasons. One, because I’m very interested in the subject matter, especially when it comes to sex and male/female differences. Two, because I think men more often than not get the short end of the stick here, because Sheila is a woman, and I believe more posters are female than male. Three, because I wince when I hear complaints from women in areas where men already have it worse off. Four, because all of this hits close to home, as someone who is trying to find a partner.
I want to make an important point to you, a point I make from time to time on various blogs. It is not just me that experiences lack of attention from women, it is most guys in general. This is because men are expected to generally be the assertive ones. More often than not, it is the guy who approaches a woman, not the other way around. It is the guy who messages the woman on an online dating site, much more than the other way around. It is the guy who “hits on” the woman, much more than the other way around. This is not about me and my successes/failures. This is about the way men and women interact. I really want to drill home that point – that guys, in general, are ignored and overlooked by women. They need to scream “Hey, I’m here – look at me. Pay me some mind. Talk to me.”
About me, E, I am not bitter out in public. I am a cheerful guy. I actually have had 6 women respond with some interest in me in the past 12 months. 4 of them I realized I wasn’t attracted to enough – the other 2 failed for other reasons. So I’ve had some success recently, but I’ve had to work very, very hard for this. I’ve had to be rejected HUNDREDS (no joke, hundreds) of times to get this meager amount of success. (Do you know of a woman who has tried this hard in the past 12 months? No really, do you?)
Tom, you seem to think unwanted sexual attention is a positive thing, or better than being ignored. You suggest you want to trade places. Okay.
(Since I assume you’re straight) Go hit up a gay bar every night this week. Dress nice, but not slutty. Don’t forget to smile, since guys seem fond of telling us to do that. See how that unwanted attention feels.
Now imagine that you get that exact same attention from your boss, people at your church and on the street.
Then, read your own comments to yourself about how you should be happy about receiving that attention.
Laura, how is getting hit on by another guy comparable? We’re talking about unwanted attention from the opposite sex.
We are talking about unwanted sexual attention. The keyword being UNWANTED. It doesn’t matter what gender the person is. What matters is that you don’t want it!
But E, by bringing up a guy hitting on me (another guy), Laura is making the analogy much worse. Why not say “imagine going to a bar and an ugly woman hits on me”? Why bring homosexuality into the analogy? It makes the analogy invalid.
It’s like when women are trying to explain why rape is horrible and they say to a guy “imagine a big burly guy rapes you in prison”. That is NOT an accurate analogy. The analogy would be “imagine a big burly woman, who you couldn’t fend off, rapes you in prison”. That’s a terrible thought, but MUCH less terrible than if it were a guy raping me.
No, the analogy is not much “worse”, it only serves to illustrate what it’s like to get unwanted attention from men. It clearly makes you uncomfortable to think about.
And no, women don’t want to be raped by a man any more than you do.
This comment has been deleted due to its triggering effects for rape victims.
(Ok, let me write something that’s not triggering, because I want Laura to understand why her point is incorrect.) Laura, all I’m saying is that an analogy has to be comparable in scope to be a good one. If you ask what a hard slap in the face feels like, I could maybe say it’s like a punch in the face, but I couldn’t say it’s like a punch in the face PLUS a knife stab in the heart. And you mention an analogy that’s not comparable in scope.
See this is the mentality that’s wrong, Tom–rape is rape. It’s not about if you’re straight or not, I don’t care if it’s a woman or a man, unwanted sex is rape. You’re saying that one kind of rape is worse than others, and that’s why I deleted your previous comment. It’s an incredibly toxic mentality–the kind of mentality that makes frat boys think, “Well she wanted it because I’m a stud and she was dressed like that.” Because somehow, because she’s a woman and he’s an attractive man, it can’t be that bad for her. And that’s just false.
I just want to warn you that there are many women on this blog who have been sexually assaulted, which is why I will be monitoring these kinds of comments very carefully from now on.
Hi Sheila. I totally agree with your take on this, and so would my husband. He says that, in our society, we all are confronted with immodesty every day. To put that burden of responsibility on Christian women/girls is daft! (Yes, Christian women are instructed in the Bible to dress modestly but it is always first because God is watching, not men). Basically, deal with it. Learn to look at faces and see personalities rather than bodies.
Secondly Sheila, I’d love to see you address this subject with some pertinent scriptures… Romans 7 is all about the Christian’s struggle with their sinful nature vs. God’s standard of holiness and it ends in victory! “Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” and chapter 8 begins with triumph: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those that are in Christ Jesus who walk, not after the flesh but after the Spirit”… “For the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death”.
This is why the Lord said to Nicodemus, “You MUST be born again” (John 3). With new birth, we receive the Spirit of God and therewith the power of God to transform our old sinful natures and desires into what is holy and pleasing to God.
God DOES expect the naturally impossible! BUT he gives the supernatural power required to transform us “into the image of his Son” (Romans 8 again).
Perhaps this is first a question of whether we truly know Jesus, and if we do, then focusing on knowing him better through reading God’s word (among other things!). He will never allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear (1 Corinthians 10) and will provide the power we need to overcome temptation.
So much more I could say, suffice to say that God’s word deals with this in detail! And also bear in mind that the 1st century roman world was one of the most immoral societies in history. The new Christians then were dealing with this just as seriously as we are today, and the instructions given to them in the Epistles are just as relevant to a victorious Christian life as they are today!
I’m really glad for this series you’re doing, Sheila. I am a woman who has always tried to dress modestly so I haven’t felt personally condemned but it’s really troubled me over the messages we hear. I read some of Shaunti Feldham’s book about how men supposedly struggle over this and it made me feel sick. It made me ask – are women just bodies to men? Are the men at church really thinking about me inappropriately or gritting their teeth and trying to resist? It’s not a nice thought.
I have no idea what it’s like to be a man but it seems if a man can’t help but lust when he sees certain body parts, how did Jesus stay sinless? He was a man, after all. I can’t believe he was gritting his teeth all day long either or bouncing his eyes. And remember, he didn’t have a wife to “help him out”.
We’re not Jesus but as believers don’t we have access to the same power He did? Scripture tells us we do. Yes, we fall, but as we grow closer to God, the sins that held us gradually lose their power over us. I’ve seen it in my life in various areas and I really don’t believe lust is different
Thank you for this blog post! Wow, I have so many different emotions about this subject. I have given a pass to too many men on this topic, and quite frankly, I don’t know what to think! The Every Man’s Battle series is so disturbing to me…. it makes men out to be animals. I was asked to read Every Heart Restored, and it made me sick to my stomach; a man can’t control his urges when looking at his sister-in-law sleeping on the floor in front of him and he has to masturbate on the spot while sitting in his in-law’s lazy-boy chair??? How did he even cross that road an d all of those obvious moral barriers? And what about the attraction to a 13, 15, 19-year-old GIRL? Should your libido not mature as you do? When you’re 50 years old should you still look at a teenager in that way? Should it not be more a fatherly care and concern? As a woman, I know how sick I’ve felt when I later discovered that the innocent concern and care for me from a “father figure” was anything but. It’s incestual to look at a child as a sex object. I don’t care if it’s a 13-year-old with a size D rack.
You really need to read Shaunti Feldhahn’s “For Women Only.”
I skimmed the book and was appalled. Being raised in the Christian church with that very mindset did much damage. Are men visual as she repeatedly stated in the book….yes. But to insinuate that it is biological and Godly is wrong. I have counseled with couples in which the husbands past with porn (often times not in an addictive way, but maybe a sneak peak in the old magazines) has removed visual desire for his own wife. He becomes visually aroused by what society deems as beautiful, but not visually aroused by his own wife. That clearly was not Gods intention.
Just my opinion. I think we – as women – should look beautiful. We should also look vibrant and healthy and full of faith and love. And I think men should notice. There is nothing more frustrating when you’re really dressed to impress and nobody notices.
What we should NOT be doing is: lusting, fantasizing and scrutinizing.
– As soon as appreciation becomes sexual, then we’re lusting (I don’t care if you’re male of female), it is wrong.
– As soon as we’re fantasizing, we’re moving away from our spouses to a scenario in our heads that is not real and not glorifying God. Again, I don’t care if you’re male or female, it is wrong.
– And if we’re scrutinizing, we’re judging: did you see her shirt? Did you see how red her lips were? Goodness, what a short skirt… How blonde can she make her hair? We’re judging and then we’re not loving like Christ would have us love.
P.S. I don’t think the onus is on BOTH parties. One, to not cause our brothers to stumble, and two that we take responsibility for our own thoughts and actions. It’s not an either/or situation, but a both/and… (hope that makes sense)…
Sorry – that is meant to read: P.S. I THINK the onus is on BOTH parties. One, to not cause our brothers to stumble, and two that we take responsibility for our own thoughts and actions. It’s not an either/or situation, but a both/and… (hope that makes sense)…
I’ve responded to a couple of points where they have been brought up in the comments. Here are a few other aspects of the discussion that should be brought up (hopefully Sheila will deal with some of these in the follow-up posts). They point in multiple directions.
1) Whether an article of clothing is considered suggestive or not is largely dependent on the individual woman’s body type. A lot of curvy women can’t find anything to wear that doesn’t look suggestive. They shouldn’t have to wear cardboard boxes.
2) A lot of the problem has little to do with men at all. In many cases, including the example used to start the post, the issue has to do with how wives and girlfriends perceive other women and how they think their husbands or boyfriends are reacting, or might react. Several of the comments have explicitly acknowledged this. This is largely an intramural argument among women involving jealousy, and men are just in the crossfire. How many times has an attractive woman walked into a room and a wife got mad at her husband, not because he noticed the woman, but because she did?
3) A lot of women have a complete double standard regarding this. They dress specifically and intentionally to accentuate their sexuality, and then they are Shocked! Shocked! when a man responds to that. If it’s a guy whose attention they are trying to attract, then it’s all good, but if it’s someone they’re not interested in, then it’s “Ick!” and “Gross!” and “He’s a perv!”
4) A huge part of the problem is that we have the word “lust” in English in the first place. The Greek word simply means “desire” and is frequently used in positive contexts in Scripture. But in English, the old Anglo-Saxon word for desire is now used exclusively for sexual desire and always with a negative connotation. So we treat sexual desire as though it’s a completely different species from any other sort of desire, and always negative and shameful–hence the problem that many married people have with reconciling the fact that sexual desire is now okay. We’re all trying to split hairs, making a distinction between healthy “desire” and sinful “lust” where the Bible in its original language makes no such distinction. Human beings are sexual beings; we have sexual desires. The only distinction the Bible makes is indulging desire toward an inappropriate person.
5) The whole “causing your brother to stumble” thing is based on a complete misunderstanding of Romans 14. That chapter has to do with “disputable matters”–things that are not objectively wrong, but some people feel are wrong. The point is, be willing to curtail your own freedom in a non-sinful area so as not to cause someone who has a scruple in that area from violating their conscience. Don’t eat bacon around your recently-converted Jewish friend. It has nothing to do with tempting someone into actual sin; or, conversely, with blaming the sin you indulged on what someone else did.
Just some food for thought on this contentious issue.
Great points! Thanks for making them so organized. 🙂
1. Totally agree. I’m not actually addressing this one this week, because I hope that people understand this. But very true.
2. Completely agree. I think that women can cause shame in this area just as much as men (like I said, it was women who enforced the dress codes on the praise team, largely “guessing” at what men are thinking. It was also a female Sunday School teacher who told my 11-year-old to be careful what she wore because adult men would be looking down her shirt). I think that much of this stems, though, from the fact that women are told two things: 1. Men lust all the time when they see women’s bodies; 2. We will never understand it because we are female. So because of #2, we’re basically told not to use our common sense when it comes to modesty. We’re told we’ll never have any idea what will set men off. So we often go to the extremes. And because of #1, we’re super sensitive when good looking women are near (I say “we”, but this isn’t actually a problem that my husband and I have).
So I think that by debunking the “men lust all the time” argument, we may clear up much of this misunderstanding that women have, too. And then hopefully women will stop shaming each other.
3. I think you have a valid point here, too. The only thing I’d say is this: Often when we’re single we may dress for a date because we want the guy we’re with to think we’re pretty. Or if we’re in a group situation we may do the same thing. (I’m not talking make a guy think we’re sexy; I’m talking make a guy think we’re pretty). But it means that we want attention FROM A GUY WE KNOW. (I’m talking about single women here). Getting attention from strangers is ALWAYS icky and quite frequently downright scary.
4. Yes, I think you’re totally correct here, and I hope I’m being clear that I’m not talking about normal sexual desires. I’m talking about objectifying a woman, not wanting sex.
5. That’s really, really interesting. I’m going to write on this concept on Friday, I think, and I’ll include your thoughts here. Thank you, because you’ve given me something new to chew on.
Thank you for the interaction, Sheila. I was a little afraid I was going over the line. Your comments on #2 are completely valid and on point. On #3, your points are valid with regard to a date and with regard to unwanted attention from strangers; I was talking more about social situations like parties or (dare I say, sometimes) church youth group get-togethers. Mixers where people of both sexes are trying to get the attention of those whom they’re attracted to. On #5, thanks, and you’re more than welcome to use anything I share. I’m honored.
On a different but related note, I’ve caught some of Katie’s YouTube posts. You have raised an extremely level-headed young lady who is wise beyond her years, and holds a lot of things in balance that a lot of people get out of whack. You and Keith are to be highly commended.
Sheila writes “Getting attention from strangers is ALWAYS icky and quite frequently downright scary.” What??? How is a guy who sees a woman, likes what he sees, and wants to get to know her, supposed to do that now, if you consider any attention from him icky? This is how many women find a man – the man first sees her, and has the desire to meet her. But now you’re saying that this common way of guys meeting women is icky. How can guys win? We’re damned if we do, and damned if we don’t. You know what – this all makes me a bit sick. Why don’t we switch roles – why don’t us guys just sit back and enjoy what you women have? Why don’t YOU do the initiating? Why don’t YOU risk rejection and humiliation by approaching us? Why don’t YOU step out of your comfort zone? Why don’t YOU pay us some attention? Arggghhh!!!! (heavy frustration indicated) As I’ve said already, women are so, so spoiled!
Sorry I didn’t make that clear, Tom. I mean if you have a guy whistling at you on the street, or obviously checking you out in a restaurant. If you’re at a social situation and he is at the exact same social situation, it’s different. But when you’re just simply in public together–that’s really threatening.
The grass is always greener, Tom.
So what’s your rape prevention plan? The plan you’ll have to make when you get this role reversal that you so desire.
You keep saying that women are so completely spoiled and have no clue what men go through, I have read every single one of your comments and I have not seen one attempt of you trying to actually attempt to see or understand what it is that women go through.
I don’t know you, I don’t know your struggles. However, I was single once and it was lonely and it sucked, so I empathize with you. Although, I do remember the struggle was being content in all circumstances, whether feast or famine. You seem to think that the struggle is not having someone understand where you’re coming from. My advice to you, and again, I don’t know you, but my earnest loving advice to you is to get your eyes off of yourself and start loving and sacrificing yourself and desires for others. You have presented yourself as a very self-centered egotistical man and it is very difficult for me to sympathize with you and your plight, as far as it has been displayed in this comment thread.
I have struggled with lust, pornography, masturbation for years and I have found Sheila’s article very helpful. It’s also echoed many of the same thoughts that I’ve had toward this topic for years. It’s not women’s fault that I sin. If they knew how much of a struggle it is it should cause them to love their brothers moreand not wear that, but when I want to lust, it wouldn’t matter what they are wearing.
Regardless, Sheila’s whole point, has all to do with not every man struggles with this and we do them, and women, a disservice by telling them so. That was her point, how is that invalid? All you’ve done is taken issues with how she’s made that point, while saying nothing to the point at hand.
So stop wishing for cat calls and unwanted advances and start focusing on being a godly man. The kind of godly man that a godly woman will be attracted to. Your successes are only measured by how you are enabled by the Holy Spirit to imitate Christ, nothing else, not your relationship status or who is attracted to you.
I’m running out of time so haven’t read all the comments, so I’m sorry if I’m repeating someone else, but I have 2 main thoughts on this.
1) I can insure that I will dress modestly. This is something I do out of respect for myself, as well as respect for my family. My husband wouldn’t want me to dress immodestly, and I don’t want to give my daughters that bad example, so modest it is. I CAN NOT control how other men respond to me. It doesn’t matter if I’m dressed modestly, some men do respond in an inappropriate manner. If I were dressed immodestly, they would also respond inappropriately, and in neither case am I responsible for their sin. If I am tempting them by behaving in a sinful manner, I am still only guilty for tempting them. I am not guilty of their sin. Casting the blame for your sin onto another, is not repentance. To repent, means acknowledging your guilt. You can’t acknowledge your guilt, if you are saying it’s another’s fault.
2) Some people (male and female) are wired to appreciate beauty more then others. That beauty can be in a sunset, or another person. This is the skill of an artist. Artist’s don’t bother painting something ugly, they are sharing beauty. It is also something that some consumer’s appreciates. That is why people pay for the art. I love beauty, in many forms. My favorite is the beauty of a sunset or sunrise. No one considers that appreciation a sin. I also see the beauty in many individuals, both men and women. Hint, it’s for much the same thing I see in a sunset/sunrise. I like the play of colors, and how the light shifts and changes. That is what I see in people. I see the shift in expressions and think it’s beautiful. I see the way the eyes change with colors and moods and enjoy seeing the beauty of it. I do not become sexually aroused by any of these things. I just see and appreciate the beauty that surrounds me. For a long time, I was afraid to acknowledge that to another as the church seems to go so far as to say noticing beauty is the beginnings of lust. If that were truly the case, I would be in really BIG trouble as I believe beauty is all around me. I also think that seeing and acknowledging the beauty of God’s creation is one way we can worship God. He made a world full of beauty and I believe he want’s us to be able to see that. Can you really appreciate the awesome majesty of God if you can’t see it in His creation?
Sheila, thanks for posting these, and I know you’re going to get a lot of pushback against them. Keep seeing God’s guidance and sharing his words.
Just one question, you mention “The good news is that with one simple task it was easy to train students to use global processing for women, too, and the researchers concluded that this is a habit that could be easily unlearned.”
Could you recap that one simple task? I didn’t quite get what it was…
I’ll ask Rebecca to explain it!
What they did was get the participants to look at an image: a letter “H” made up of tiny letter “T”s. Then they were asked either “what’s the large letter?” (Global cognition) or “what are the smaller letters?” (local cognition). The ones who were asked “what’s the large letter?” then used global congnition (seeing the whole person, not focusing so much on breasts) when they were re-showed the pictures, where as the ones who were asked about the smaller letters showed no difference.
So it shows that if we train ourselves to look at the big picture, it may be extremely easy to stop seeing women as body parts and men as people, but start seeing both as complete.
I hope that made sense! 🙂
That’s very interesting! Thanks for the explanation.
First, I really appreciate your taking the time (and risk) to address this topic and the ones in the following posts. I’ll share just a few thoughts that will hopefully encourage and challenge you in several areas.
1) Thank you for distinguishing lust from the automatic physiological reaction that many (most?) men will experience when they see certain images or body parts. Of course, each person will have an individual degree of reaction to different things, but overall, saying that men tend to be visually stimulated (i.e. involuntary erection) is just a description of a generally true fact. There’s nothing in the Bible to indicate that this involuntary physiological reaction is sinful. However, as you pointed out, God does make it clear that what a person chooses to do with that image or thought is where the temptation to sin lies. I asked my husband about this, and he agrees that this is what he has been taught about lust.
2) I know from having read the rest of the series that you don’t intend to make light of the temptations (opportunities) to sin that are EVERYWHERE in our society — it seems like on every billboard, every commercial, and every magazine stand. I know that you also don’t mean to minimize the difficulty that many people have in “beating” the temptation. However, many of the things you wrote sounded to me like: “If you would love your wife more, or stop blaming women and try harder, then you wouldn’t struggle with this.” The truth is that this is a sin that nobody can overcome in his or her own efforts. Nobody can just get their act together and beat this sin. It takes supernatural intervention — the Holy Spirit convicting and directing, giving strength to do right in the face of temptation. I think this is the biggest thing that is often missing in these discussions about lust, that it’s not primarily about your own effort, though God will not magically fix your lust problem if you’re not willing to fight it with his help.
Again, on that second point, I know that it wasn’t your intention to convey this. But a person who has struggled for years without seeing true victory could be very discouraged to hear “more of the same,” so to speak. Not “it’s the women’s fault so you can never beat it,” but “it’s your fault so you have to fix it on your own.” There’s no doubt that God holds each person responsible for his or her own sin, but the answer to any person’s sin is Christ in him. That’s where the hope lies, and that’s the direction we need to point people.
Thanks for these posts! I’m using them as conversation starters with my husband, and I’m hoping it will give us better insight into each others strengths and weaknesses, and our own as well.
so what ever happened to the word R E S P E C T !
WOMEN: WHEN YOU GO TO CHURCH YOU SHOULD SHOW RESPECT WITH HOW YOU DRESS WHEN YOU WORSHIP THE LORD. HE KNOWS YOUR HEART PERFECTLY WELL -BUT- YOUR TESTIMONY IS VERY TELLING WHEN YOU SHOW A DISREGARD AND NEGLETFUL WAY ON THE WAY YOU DRESS.
PLEASE MAKE AN EFFORT TO DRESS IN A REASONABLE MODEST WAY. THERE ARE VERY VERY BEAUTIFUL MODEST CLOTHING OUT THERE IN THE SHOPS THAT YOU CAN STILL BUY NOWADAYS…..
Lady Di, I don’t think the issue is that women don’t respect men. I think it’s that the way that we talk about lust makes it sound like men don’t respect women. I think the answer is to talk about things in a healthier way, and by always turning it into “women need to dress right” we’re missing the boat of what Jesus was saying. Yes, we all need to respect each other–but that includes men respecting women. If it always comes back to women dressing right, then we’re again saying that women are responsible for men’s sin, when Jesus said the exact opposite.
I have a question about something I am struggling with. I read ‘For Women Only’ years ago and I felt negatively affected by the message. Until then I knew men were drawn to notice sexualized images (2D or real) and potentially lust but thought that was mostly about the sexual availability etc. however came to learn that it was more ‘programmed’ than that. According to the book it seems only ‘attractive 20 something year olds with a great figure or pretty face’ is the ‘magnet’ for the brain centre to light up and respond with a hunger signal rather than a mere sexualized image. Unfortunately this divides women into ‘magnet’ types that light up the nucleus accumbens and those that don’t and can only try to connect through being available. Ok, bad enough to hear but then we are advised as wives to help our husbands fight lusting after the ‘magnet’ females by feeding his eyes with images of us even though we are non-magnets! Well that is a recipe for body image issues and has been for me since reading the book. How am I meant to be available and willing when I now know I am a second rate experience compared to even just merely glimpsing one of these magnet females?
Clearly what my husband’s instincts and brain wiring craves I can never provide no matter how healthy or well I take care of myself. This has all but destroyed my marriage over the past 8 years and I cannot seem to let it go, have really fallen out of love with my husband because it was just too emotionally painful to feel rejected by his wiring just knowing this information and afraid of being judged because now I am aware his brain wouldn’t light up with me as a non-magnet. It just doesn’t feel good to have to sleep with your husband just so that his hormone levels are relieved and he can then cope with being around what he really craves and not lust. Do you have any advice? Thank you.
Oh, dear, I’m so sorry! I totally hear where you’re coming from. I know how that can wreck a woman’s sex drive.
But you know, maybe you should just talk to your husband about it? This post is part of a 5-post series that I wrote, and I think they can get to the heart of the matter. What about reading them with your husband and then just talking about it? And you may also like my book 31 Days to Great Sex, too, because it doesn’t just tell you how PHYSICALLY to get great sex; it also helps start some of those hard conversations and figure out how to feel more intimate with each other, which is what you really need.
I would just say that you’ve been told things by other people about how your husband thinks, but you haven’t necessarily been told that by your husband. And you haven’t necessarily heard his heart on the subject. What about reading through these posts and then talking and praying with him? You may find real freedom–which is what God really does want for you!
Hi, I read your comments and am truly sorry for what you have been through. I skimmed the same book in the last couple years and have also been significantly damaged by it, and many of the things you pointed out, well I got the same feeling, it was a well intended but misguided book. Just because it’s written by a Christian does not mean it’s true…..because it’s not. God created the human body, male and female, and created us all so beautiful. You are BEAUTIFUL! He created a women’s body to bear children and breastfeed the babies, he created the normal aging process, and all the other normal changes that our bodies go through. So much of the world has distorted human sexuality, particularly the female body, and to teach people that that was Gods plan is wrong. PERIOD. It makes a women feel like she’s supposed to try to match what’s out there. We as women have had so much of our sexuality stolen from us due to all the pressure from porn/Hollywood portrayal of the female body, so to sit there and imply that men are the victims is rubbish.
I struggle with lust. Porn has been an issue that I have confessed and repented from and am walking in freedom. I agree that we shouldn’t be talking about lust as something we can’t win but doesn’t Paul also assume that we who get married are weak. Not only men but women too. He clearly says that we shouldn’t stop having sex because we are weak. Doesn’t Paul himself say that? I mean if it wasnt like that he wouldn’t have said that. But it seems like he says that you are going to lust without sex. Or do I interpret Paul wrong, I am not saying that it gives any excuse to sin. I haven’t had sex with my wife for 2 months and there are days I’m going crazy and have to fight hard not to lust when I see the women I see. I have a hard time believing any person can be a long time without sex without being tempted.
This was a hard post for me. I struggle with body image for some specific reasons and feel less than many women. I am so insecure when my husband notices a beautiful woman and when I see him take a second look. I also struggle with judging immodest women. I agree and disagree with some of this. First it is refreshing to see that men don’t have to lust and that it can be overcome.
I don’t think a man can blame all of his sin on the way women dress but that doesn’t give women a free pass. I have read and talked to women that when they asked God if there was anything they wore that should go, it was amazing what God put on their hearts. They needed to get rid of some things.
I get tired of going to church and feeling like I am at a bar!! Recently a 20 something singing up front had on a sheer floral skirt with a dark micro mini underneath. Other women wearing off the shoulder shirts and shirts with holes and super tight clothing. I hate the way it makes me feel and that men may get enticed by it. I also am mad that women are wearing such low cut and loose tops and bend right over in front of my teenage son and husband and it all is on display. Yes there are men that will lust no matter what but there are many men and teens that want to be pure but don’t want it hanging out in front of them. Especially at church. I think a lot of women like the attention and want to be free to do as they please. I also think men need to look away. But please have some respect for your brothers and sisters and watch what you wear!
Hello, single guy here. Firstly, your thoughts are very insightful,. Secondly, can you please explain how you came up with your 3-step definition of lust, and why you consider focusing on a specific body part to be sinful?
Just to turn the table, if a woman saw a shirtless guy and momentarily became fixated on his 6-pack abs, I don’t see the big deal. Likewise, if a guy momentarily becomes fixated on a woman’s breasts or butt, what’s the big deal? How is this beyond a normal attraction to the opposite sex?
I’m not saying your wrong. I’m just curious how you came up with your 3-step lust definition, and why you believe it to be the correct definition.
The difference between “noticing” and “lusting” is that when you lust, you’re using another person for sexual gratification (usually through sexual fantasy about that person). Attraction doesn’t do that. So the three-step definition was to show people why attraction is not the same thing as lust. A guy seeing a woman has a great body and thinking, “Man, she’s got a great body” is not lusting if it stops there. But if he then goes on to undress her mentally, he’s crossed a line. Just like how it’s not wrong for a girl to think a movie star is really attractive, but it starts to become lustful when she starts having shirtless pictures of him all over her phone and her walls.
A guy looking at a girl’s butt and thinking she has a great butt is not lusting if he doesn’t fixate on it for the purpose of sexual stimulation. And I think that’s the difference between what you’re saying and what the definition is saying.
Well said! But there’s another aspect here. If a guy notices a woman’s breasts, but his eyes don’t linger, that’s not a problem. But when a woman is talking to a guy and his eyes are on her chest, or if they look at her chest FIRST before her face, that’s just highly uncomfortable for the woman. Or if she’s in public with a guy, having a great conversation, and his head turns when a pretty woman walks by? Seriously weird.
He could claim, “Well, I’m just noticing her, I’m not lusting!”, but to women, that’s highly insulting (both to the woman he’s with and to the woman he stares at).
It’s not always about the difference between noticing and lusting. Sometimes it’s just also about being polite! 🙂
I guess what I’m getting at is that I don’t feel the line is necessarily so clear cut. There may (and most likely is) some sexual stimulation immediately upon noticing the woman.
That stimulation may increase the longer the man fixates, but trying to draw some clean cut line between attraction (which I would argue is already a mild state of stimulation/arousal) and stimulation isn’t necessarily realistic.
It seems more realistic to me to focus on the overall attitude, trying to move past sexual desires and value women and people, rather than getting tripped up on if I looked for 2 seconds too long or not.
I also understand the point you’re makong about general politeness and respect. I wasn’t referring to staring at a woman’s breasts while she’s talking. I had in mind a scenario more like a woman wearing a bikini at the beach or a woman standing in line wearing yoga pants in front of a man. The idea that if the man looks at her butt for a few seconds and experiences some arousal seems like it could be extreme, but perhaps I’m trying to justify sin.
I would add that perhaps objectification and what Jesus was addressing are two separate problems. The same word “lust” is also used in James but only equated with the potential to sin and not sin itself. I feel like what He’s saying is pretty obvious: if you’re a married man wishing you could have other women you’re being unfaithful to your wife in your heart. I’m not convinced that he was condemning some state of arousal called “lust”, but again I could be wrong
*the idea that said man has sinned already seems extrene.
I think I’ll just stay single.
Wow! At last I got a website from where I be capable of truly obtain useful information concerning my study and knowledge.
True. Lust is of the flesh
The body is not lewd, and nude is not lewd. Naked women don’t make me lust. I can appreciate beauty without lust. Women should be topless more often than men. They should happily show their breasts naked, because their breasts are primarily ornaments. Men should be allowed to appreciate beauty without suspicion of evil. God created the body to look beautiful. Some parts are specifically for show such as the female breasts and hair. In Ezekiel God calls the breasts and hair of a woman “excellent ornaments.” An ornament is a covering of glory, and if she is topless she is still “covered!” People are wrongly giving to the human body an occult power visually, in saying it is never to be seen naked or else it will make a person stumble. Some women are wronging men in the way they view their bodies as instruments of lust. Women are not less lustful or visual than men. Men don’t lust more than women. Just look at the number of prostitutes that are women. Don’t they outnumber the men? Both men and women are the same in this way. But if people believe that nude is lewd or if they only see nakedness in the context of something sexual happening, then their brains will respond as if nude is lewd when it is not. A woman can be lewd in her face even when clothed, but a naked woman may not be lewd at all, no matter what part she shows. Lewd is in the motivation and is a behaviour. The mind needs renewing about the body and to see it as God’s creation with the appreciation of the feminine and masculine qualities.
Song of Solomon, I Corinthians 7, and Galatians 5:16-26. Your faithfulness to discuss sex from a biblical perspective is both welcomed and appreciated.
As a man who is still single (by choice and satisfied but struggling) thank you and your husband. God bless your ministry.
I’m always frustrated with the “men are visual” line probably bc the evang church has inferred women are to blame if they’re too attractive, and if married, are blamed for not being attractive enough. I definitely don’t think men are the only visual ones. Women seem to have more ascetic appreciation. Now that this generation experiences less societal shame on women, I think females are demonstrating a similar sexual appreciation/ appetite evidenced by the growing #s of female porn viewers. Don’t most men also enjoy a provocative story line, pillow talk, sexting? Why would we want to limit arousal to only one of our senses?
Thank you for a different perspective. I have been happily married for 30+ years. By your definition, I don’t recall ever lusting after another woman during those years. However, I was in the trap of trying to never notice or see lest I be tempted. In recent years, I have realized that seeing is not causing me the temptation problems that Christianity has promised me all these years. I always guard my eyes and my heart and spend a lot of time thinking of my wife. It is nice to see what has been working for me for years put into words in a way that I can share it with others. Your message has hope. Thanks again.
You’re so welcome!
My husband, to my knowledge, has never been interested in seeking out Gentlemen’s Clubs, and it doesn’t seem like he really has any problem with lust either, however, he doesn’t see that visiting these places is wrong or tempting either.
He seems to be unable to comprehend why it would hurt me as a wife at all, but for me, it would be one of the most painful things that I can imagine experiencing in our marriage.
I can’t imagine if the tables were turned, either me watching male dancers or me dancing for someone else would be okay in his eyes either.
For the first time at his job, he has an overnight trade conference next week and the other employees are planning to attend (only male employees going). He’s bitterly angry with me for not wanting him to visit this type of place with his coworkers.
What are your thoughts?
Oh, Desirea, I’m so sorry your husband doesn’t understand how hurtful that is to you.
The issue with strip joints, pornography, or anything of the like is that sex and his sexual energy and sexual enjoyment is meant to be for YOU only, as his wife. By going to one of those clubs, he’s taking something that should be reserved for his wife and giving it to someone else. That’s why it hurts so much–because it is wrong.
As well, many of the women who work in gentlemen’s clubs (I hate that name, because nothing about those clubs says “gentleman” to me) are victims of sex trafficking and do not actually want to be there.
You have no obligation whatsoever to allow your husband to go to see women strip. No way at all. If he truly doesn’t understand why, I think that seeing a licensed couples counsellor together may be important because this is an issue that runs quite deep in a relationship: fidelity and trust. I highly recommend seeing if he will see a counsellor with you to talk about this and help him understand the root of the issue.
I hope that he begins to listen, and that you are able to stay strong.
I found this post when doing some research to help my 16 year old son. Your post sounds very much like things my husband has told me about himself. However, teenage boys are different.
Recently my son was at a youth group. Small room, limited seating and in a semi circle. The girl right across from him was sitting with her legs up (hugging one of them) sometimes open, and the combination of how she was sitting and her shorts, left her looking like she was wearing underwear at times. My son kept looking around to avoid her area (which was where the leader was). We’ve taught him to do that to avoid fixation. But that meant he was focusing more on avoiding looking than hearing it engaging in the group.
Anyway, when I asked another boy mom she said “at least it’s a safe space”. I asked on a board and was told my son is responsible for his choices and it shouldn’t matter how the girl dresses. Am I ridiculous to think it isn’t safe for my son if he has to constantly protect his eyes? I’m not talking about some women on the street, or even someone in Sunday worship with too short a skirt. I’m talking sitting across from him and exposing themselves. Should I really tell my son he should be able to sit there and not get to the point of lusting? In this situation he couldn’t move to another seat. The only option would have been to leave the room. I just need to know what, in your opinion, I should be able to expect a teen boy to handle. I will likely talk to the youth group leader but need to figure out if I’m being ridiculous first.
Actually, I think my question is more of “should I expect my son not to get distracted by the girl”. Others I’ve asked seem to think he should be able to stay focused on the teaching and not get distracted. Is that a realistic expectation of a 16 year old teenage boy?
My opinion, yes he should get fully distracted by that – he’s a young man at the peak of his male hormones. I think he should have got up and sat elsewhere. Then he’s acknowledging his internal temptation and doing something to stop feeding it (instead of plucking out his eye, he can pluck out the visual that is tempting his mind). There will always be women (young and old) in shorts and there’s nothing wrong with that. As James 1:14 says, temptation comes from within us.
I know this is an old series but my husband and I have really enjoyed reading it and found the posts so interesting and enlightening. So good to have a better and more healthy way to look at things and ways talk to our sons. Thank you.
Visual stimuli is as prominent with women as men. If they didn’t have as intense a sexual desire, then that wouldn’t be fair for women to not have as much joy from that passion. It would make marriage a relationship with one member unequally invested in what makes that relationship unique.
So happy. It is really working. Praise the Lord GOD JESUS who gives us the spirit of self-control over lust! The feeling of 31 years of powerlessness is gone. Ms. Gregoire, you have given valuable tips/protocols to use God-given self-control over lust, with success. What is new is that I feel like a conqueror/victor now! And I love my wife more.
“When we keep our focus on the fact that we love our spouse, we’re far less likely to objectify anyone else.” — That’s a classic statement from you Ma’am. Now in tempting situations, I say this to my mind: This attractive female is: Beautiful YHWH’s pretty daughter. So my beautiful Sister-in-CHRIST! Praise the LORD! And I Focus on my love towards my WIFE — “a loving memory”. Focus on the fact that you are not a powerless victim, but my real identity: an ADOPTED-SON of GOD, and so powerful and in control, in JESUS. This way I am able to control myself from lust happening.
Ma’am, indebted to you for explaining the Biblical truth behind Matthew 5:28. The best part is that you have shown that with the help of JESUS, I can control my mind — not to lust. I also thank GOD for the most precious gift of a person — my wife — pure, beautiful and gorgeous: to whom I am coupled together by GOD in oneness and love. I have also begun to love my wife more genuinely and our marriage is more satisfying. Thanks a bunch dear Elder Sister in CHRIST JESUS! May GOD bless Mrs.Sheila Gregoire & family abundantly!
Thank you. In good cheer,
David Deepu Joy (from Kerala, India)
Great article. Thought provoking. I personally like the application of 1 Timothy 5:1-2. Instead of focusing on what we should NOT be thinking, 1Tim5 gives instructions on what TO be thinking – see an older person just like see your mother/father. see a younger person as you would a brother/sister. A guy in church needs to see all women as his sister in Christ. And Plan B – if he’s struggling with temptation – 1 Corinthians 10:13 – find the way out. Change seats. Go sit in the front row.
Interesting article…I’ve read the research of, “men being more visual than women”, and the results are just not that convincing to make such a claim. There is not much difference in the visual responses of men compared to women. So this issue of men’s lust must be coming from a different source. The notion that lust and sexual perversion is purely biological is an excuse, and it doesn’t address the real source or solution.
Matthew 5:28 “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
I don’t know the causes. I think it can be from a number of different sources, but bottom line we live in a male dominated society. So maybe it’s cultural teachings of misogynistic and sexist ideologies. Then there is also, the media, abuse, demonic oppression and or possession.
I forgot to add one thing, What I also find compelling, consider different tribes around the world in which it’s normal to wear little clothing, or for woman’s breasts to be exposed. The men in these tribes do not have out of control lust problems, as men in the U.S. Why are those men able to have more self control and treat women respectfully, than men living in the United States? The biological lust argument does not stand.
What if your husband *is not* stimulated visually by your naked (or clothed) appearance, but you desire him to be? What tips do you suggest to help have that desire met/underlying core need to be “sexually seen” – to be “seen with desire” as Eve was? Things he can do/things I can do? Thank you!
There are two types of men in this world:
1) There are men would say they have lusted, and
2) There are men who are liars.
Men shouldn’t expect women to be perfect and holy all the time, and women shouldn’t expect that of men, either. I personally grieved at how one minute I can be meditating on and rejoicing about the grace of God and the new life He has given me, and moments later I can say or do ungracious things, or think vile or lustful thoughts. ” O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24) And if the Apostle Paul struggled, how can you demand your non-apostolic husband not to? It’s a completely unrealistic expectation.
Let’s also be honest. Women are not immune to lust either. Even among Christian women pornography is rampant. Maybe you don’t look at Playboy and such, but women are avid consumers of smutty romance novels. I’ve heard Christian women talking about reading 50 Shades of Grey, which is nothing more that sado-masochistic pornography.
Lust is endemic in our sex-saturated society. And men don’t need to hear lectures about it from women. Instead, men and women need to work together to support and encourage each other to walk in holiness, making our imperfect condition on this earth more consistent with our perfect position “in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 2:6) as we continue our very imperfect journey to our ultimate sanctification.
Thank you for this. I grew up in a hyper conservative Church (girls couldn’t wear pants, show shoulders or knees, etc). I remember telling my mom that I felt like modesty/lust teachings actually TAUGHT boys to lust. It’s hammered in their heads to look away from beautiful women from a young age and they’re told that they’ll lust and they need to look away from toddlerhood (for real, this happened in my church.).
When I got married to my (amazing) husband, we had discussed the issue of lust many times. He kept telling me that he wasn’t lusting after every girl he saw. That he really didn’t struggle with it much at all. It took me YEARS to finally believe him. Some men just truly don’t struggle with lust. It was freeing to me to believe him and to see that he was telling the truth! And it always made me think anyway – what if a man sees his mom or his daughter naked – he’s not going to lust after her right? So obviously lust isn’t involuntary. It’s a choice and an action.
Anyway, all of this to say that I appreciate your blog so much. It’s a breath of fresh air. So thank you!