What If All the Men Around You Have Lust Problems?

by | Mar 24, 2023 | Pornography | 86 comments

Do all men have lust problems?
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Please hear me on this: Not all men have lust problems.

In fact, while it may be common, it is not what you’d call “normal”, where we should just expect it to happen, and if guys don’t have lust problems, they’re unusual unicorns.

Lust is saying:

What Lust Says:

“when I look at a woman or a girl or even a child, I see a collection of body parts, not a person. My thoughts immediately go to how I can use them for my sexual gratification, rather than seeing them as a whole person, with their own thoughts, needs, opinions, and rights to be taken seriously.”

Lust dehumanizes people. It is a rejection of their personhood, and a declaration that they are somehow “usable.”

Yes, I understand that many men struggle with lust problems, and that they are battling it and overcoming it.

When you grow up hearing that noticing a girl is lusting; when you grow up hearing that masculinity means that you view women as objects; when you grow up among men who are always using porn and commenting on women’s bodies, it’s normal that you may have a lust problem.

But that does not make it okay or acceptable. It is always dehumanizing.

As I’ve said so many times, and as we talk about at length in The Great Sex Rescue, noticing is not lusting. Just because you find bodies of the opposite sex attractive does not mean that you have a lust problem. A lust problem is when you see a body that’s attractive, and your mind starts lingering on, fantasizing, picturing the person naked, “completing the picture of her body”, or all those words that Shaunti Feldhahn and Dannah Gresh used in their books describing men’s normal nature that we should all just accept.


Jesus didn’t act like this, and nor should we accept it.

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This week on the podcast we talked about how women often spread the “all men lust” message.

We looked at how women spread modesty messages because they believe that all men will inevitably lust, and so the only alternative we have is to get women and girls to cover up.

And the reason they believe this is because it’s largely been their experience. Our data showed that adult women who believe modesty messages are far more likely to be in difficult marriages marred by lust and porn problems. So to them, it’s easy to believe that all men do this–even when all men don’t.

After that podcast I received this message:

Today’s podcast….that was me in many ways. No, I wasn’t preaching the modesty message. But I had internalized it. I had internalized misogyny without even realizing what it was.

A few years ago my now ex husband confessed to secret pornography use. It was a bomb that went off in our house. I began to instinctively know that this meant there was more….not just porn. As I asked questions and dug more, sure enough, he was one of those men….lusting for 10-12 year old girls at the Christian school he had been teaching at. (And recently quit his other job as a children’s pastor).

I looked for resources and found the Gresh and Feldhahn books. Read all of them. And I spent a few months trying to convince myself that he was normal because these books said he was. Then I found your book! FULL STOP!

I sat and cried as I read in your book a quote about us trying to convince ourselves that this was ok behavior from men in our evangelical churches. I have listened to your podcasts and read your Great Sex Rescue book atleast 2 times. You have made such an impact on my life and gave me hope that I was not the one with a problem because I couldn’t accept my husband was like all the other men at church.

Since then, I have found out that all the men in my life, including my dad, were just like this. I have had zero experiences with a close relationship with a safe man. And the reason this is so important to me to learn about and recognize and reconstruct is that I have teen daughters. It’s time to break this cycle.

She simply could not imagine being with men who weren’t like this, because all the men that she knew were.

We can’t prove this with our data, because we’d have to do different kinds of studies, but our hypothesis is that, while 50% of men seem to have porn or lust problems, that doesn’t mean that 50% of men in each church do. It’s more likely that 80% to 90% do in some, and 20% do in others.

Why? Because some environments perpetuate lust. The way they talk about lust; the way they excuse it by putting the blame on women–all of this makes it far more likely for lust to flourish because it’s acceptable. Ironically, the more a church preaches against lust by claiming this is every man’s battle and men must fight it, the more lust is likely a problem, because it’s legitimized. See–everyone fights against this! Even the pastor says he struggles. This is normal. 

And what is the solution in these churches? It’s for women to have more sex and to dress modestly. That’s what Every Man’s Battle says too. That’s what Shaunti Feldhahn says. That’s what so many of these authors who promote the normalization of lust say–dress more modestly to help men out. 

I have never, ever heard any of these pastors or authors talk about how women are whole people and we shouldn’t objectify them.

I have never heard any of them talk about how lust problems make women feel unsafe. I have only heard women told they need to have sympathy for men’s struggle, because they are made with this visual nature, and adjust accordingly.

For lust to stop being normalized, we need to stop considering this acceptable. 

We must never accept the normalization of lust problems.

One commenter told this story:

When I questioned all the rules for girls and their swimwear at church events, I was told that some of the men in charge struggle with lust and I’d be keeping my girls safe by dressing them appropriately. I asked if it would be better to not have those men in charge. I kept my girls safe by not sending them to church events anymore.

Exactly! Lust problems, or adult men having trouble keeping their thoughts in order around teenage girls, should automatically disqualify someone from working with teen girls. It should disqualify someone from working with youth. From working in a Christian school. From working as a pastor in general.

It should not be normalized.

When an adult man says that they find a 12-year-old’s developing body to be a stumbling block, our reaction has to stop being to hand the 12-year-old a sweater, and it needs to start being freaking out at the adult man. Let’s put a phalanx of guys around him every time he steps into the church, and never let him be alone with women or teens. Let’s check in on his kids and make sure there’s nothing going on there. Let’s see if he has a porn problem.

What should we do if it seems like all the guys around us have a lust problem?

Maybe we should stop accepting that as normal.

1. Consider completely changing your social circle.

If you’re in a church where every guy seems to struggle with lust, remember that it’s not just your pastor or your youth pastor you have to worry about. It’s also your kids’ friends’ dads. It’s the boys your daughters will hang out with as they get older, who will likely objectify her, make her feel insecure, and just in general be creepy. It’s the boys your sons will hang out with, who may show him porn, make fun of him if he tries to respect girls, or resist pornography.

It’s the husbands of your daughters’ small group leaders, for whom she may baby-sit, who will linger too long driving her home from baby-sitting, and may comment a lot on how pretty she is (or worse).

It’s everyone.

And if you raise kids in that environment, they will likely marry someone from that same cultural environment, and the cycle will continue.

Consider leaving that church and finding one where women are valued and respected. Look for ones where women are in leadership (this doesn’t guarantee there won’t be an Every Man’s Battle mentality, but it’s less likely, and it means it’s easier for you to speak up). Look for less glitzy churches, but more real community.

Consider finding a new group of friends. I know this is hard, but “bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33). Who we hang out with matters. 

Invite friends from work that you like over for dinner. Have your kids play with families from your street that you like, or from gymnastics, or soccer, rather than just kids from the church. It’s terrible to say, but non-Christian families have far less problems with lust than Christian ones. Even if porn use is just as high, objectification of women is more often seen as anathema, rather than as normal.

Spend less time with your biological family, if your family is like this. Consider limiting the time that your kids spend with uncles or grandfathers who think like this, or aunts and grandmothers who may police what your daughters wear. 

2. Insist that the men/boys in your family treat women with respect. 

If your husband objectifies women or uses porn, put your foot down. You do not have to accept that. Read The Great Sex Rescue together. Draw some firm boundaries. 

If your husband or sons ogle or talk about women’s bodies while you’re in public, leave, and take your daughters or minor children with you. You do not have to tolerate that behaviour. 

3. Speak up in church. 

When women’s clothing is blamed for men’s lust problems, don’t tolerate it. When ridiculous dress codes are sent home, make a stink (we have an awesome pre-order bonus handout on dress codes for our book She Deserves Better. If you pre-order, you’ll get it automatically when you send us your receipt!)

And if you’re going to leave your church, leave loudly. Tell people why. Put a big post on social media. You have no idea how many women around you need to see someone taking a stand just to realize that what they’re tolerating isn’t normal. That it’s okay for them to expect better. You do not owe anyone your silence. They are the ones maligning the name of Jesus by attributing things to God that Jesus would never have said. They are the ones ruining the gospel, not you. Speak up!

Can you imagine what the church would look like if we stopped tolerating this?

I think the movement is starting. But women are the ones who bring kids to church. It’s women who make sure the family shows up. It’s women who supply the vast majority of volunteer hours.

Can you imagine how the church would change if we refused to be objectified anymore? If we left the places that weren’t safe? 

I’m so tired, everyone. It’s been a long month with so many horrible scandals in the evangelical world with pastors objectifying women. It needs to end, because we deserve better than this. Our Savior doesn’t want us, or our daughters, treated like this.



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What would it look like to prepare the next generation without toxic teachings about modesty, sex, or consent, and instead set her up for a big faith?

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It comes down to this: Are women people or not?

I really like this woman’s Facebook comment, and it’s a good place to end:

I understand that the discussion surrounding lust has been convoluted with modesty & various other forms of deflection & victim blaming but we can’t have it both ways… we can’t say that there isn’t a disconnect, that we understand the one “struggling with lust” is responsible for themselves while in the next breath – or out the other side of the mouth – say “but she…”

Because when we understand “our brother struggling with lust” is just baptized language for “this man dehumanizes the women around him to use as an object – like a toy – to pleasure himself”, we understand that there is no amount of dress a women can wear to humanize herself anymore than she already fully is to protect herself from the self given permission he’s embraced to exploit her.

And not only is it harmful to women & girls to suggest they should take on the unattainable responsibility to humanize themselves anymore than they already are being a person (as if somehow they’re sinning by not bc of their choice of dress) it’s harmful to the men we say we care about because it deflects responsibility & ignores the actual issue.

If we care about the safety our sisters deserve & freedom from lust for our brothers we must stop deflecting responsibility FULLY (no more modesty talk when discussing lust) & start holding them accountable for how they view those around them.

Because men who are doing the work to no longer lust do not blame what the women around them are wearing. Neither should we.

Do all men have lust problems?

Do all the guys around you have lust problems? Are you in a community that is safe? How can we change things in our own circles? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

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

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  1. Brielle

    Thanks for working to fight against this. I appreciate your efforts.

  2. Lisa Johns

    When I was sexually assaulted because of a man’s lust toward me, I was wearing baggy jeans and a loose top. No way my clothing was the issue. He was (and remains) a creep. And unfortunately his wife enabled him by her constant minimization of his actions. It’s a really sad situation.

    • Angharad

      Same here.

      Predators are actually MORE likely to target the super-modestly dressed girl because they know she is likely to lack confidence and also to blame herself for the assault (I wasn’t modest enough/I did something to ‘make’ him do it) Which I know now, but didn’t when I was younger – instead, every time I experienced assault or objectification, I’d try to make my clothing even thicker and more shapeless because I ‘obviously’ was still not modest enough.

      I remember going on a group holiday when I was in my early 20s. I was dressed either in super-baggy dungarees or a shapeless pinafore dress, both with high-necked, below-elbow-length sleeved tops underneath, designed to cover me and also hide my shape as much as possible. All the other girls were in above-knee strappy sundresses or miniscule shorts and crop-tops. Guess which one of us got sexually harassed the whole week? Yep! Yours truly. Which is why people who go ‘yes, men are responsible for their own lust BUT women…’ make me so mad, because it is never, ever, EVER about what the woman is wearing.

      • Lisa Johns

        Amen. I think girls should all have mandatory martial arts training starting in middle school! We need our strength!
        I hope you are in a more confident place now.
        Just so you know, I always enjoy reading your comments!

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Exactly, Angharad! Men look for who is an easy picking.

      • Jason

        I really think the modesty message, the “don’t cause your brother to stumble” teachings greatly contributes to predatory behavior in churches. Sexual predators in churches probably are for more likely to target girls who believe and compliant “don’t cause your brother to stumble” teachings (or seem to be) because they know these girls or women will be likely to blame themselves for being assaulted and be less likely to report it. Especially if the church is constantly teaching every guy has this horrible lust problem and bad behavior, even though they call it sin, is so normalized.

        • Anon

          Jason, I wish I could give this comment a thousand likes. It’s a shame that the church, where women are supposed to feel protected, has become infiltrated with predators who are committing these sins “in the name of God.”

          • Jason

            Thanks Anon,
            Also It seems also predators in the church may actually target more girls who are dress more conservatively because they get a sick rise out attacking a girl who seems more innocent .
            Also since there is so a strong taboo about seeing womens bodies, Predators may be in a way also drawn to what is most forbidden, seeing what is hidden in a wierd way they might be actually tantalized by the girl who’s more covered up because they feel that the girl is hiding something from them more than the girl is revealing more.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m so sorry. What a horrible tragedy.

  3. Phil

    Sheila. Yesterday I made an appearance at your book launch team meeting. I was just looking actually. I wanted to see what happens at a launch team meeting. What I determined is that the process allows others to be involved in feeding back so you can add or change or even delete from your book before it is finalized. Through your discussion it generates final thoughts…yes? This is how I operate too. I need to talk things out to generate ideas and answers.

    Anyway – I got to thinking yesterday: First where are all the men at the launch? While there may have been others, seems it was mostly a women’s presence. Statistically I would throw a high 90% in it. Like probably 98%+ ? Joanna help me out here? I did see Keith make an appearance 😬

    So I started thinking about why else I was there. Yes I have a daughter and want the best for her. I intend to have her read She Deserves Better. However; My primary reason for being at the launch? I support women in this cause that you lead Sheila. So my next question was how can I be more influential in this stand? What can I do more than just show up and tell women I support them? Thats been my mantra, on your blog for a while now. I support you (Sheila and TEAM and WOMEN).

    Your post today answers that question and it feeds an energy I have to STAND UP FOR WOMEN.

    I want you and all here to know that I am shifting gears from just showing up here on Sheila’s blog, to taking action. I don’t know what that fully looks like yet but I am sick and tired of watching YOU ALL SUFFER from the messages that are present in our society and OUR CHURCHES.

    I am going to take a STAND. FOR YOU and FOR JESUS.

    STANDBY 1.

    Have a great weekend everyone.


    • Lisa Johns

      Phil, you are awesome and I can’t wait to see what happens as you move forward! I think you will end up doing more than you ever dreamed of. Thank you for your commitment.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you so much, Phil!

    • Erin Sheeran

      Thank you! We need more good men talking a stand and using their voice!

    • K

      This brought tears to my eyes. What an awesome commitment, Phil. Thank you so much!

  4. Jessie Miller

    In my personal experience, churches which place the responsibility to fix men’s lust problems on women & girls are also churches which are covering up sexual assault by men on staff or in the congregation.

    If your church or pastor wants females to dress, speak, or live in particular ways to keep men’s lust or anger at bay, then you aren’t in a safe church. Please don’t trust your children with men who believe their sinful behavior is excusable because of how *she* looked or acted.

    Just because the Bible is preached at a church, doesn’t mean it’s being followed.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      ABSOLUTELY, Jessie. Yes. These are often the churches that are covering up all kinds of evil. Run.

  5. Lynn

    Great article. I have a question. You’re talking about men involved in ministry who “struggle with lust.” Or just in the church in general. So how do we know? They have admitted to it? I guess my question is, if we ostracize these men for speaking up about their struggle, won’t that just send them back into hiding? Lusting secretly instead of being honest and up front about their struggle?

    I understand your whole premise that the reason behind the struggle is not being able to think of a woman as a person. And that is your solution: teach the men that women are human beings and lust doesn’t automatically happen if we treat women in the church like sisters in Christ. I guess I’m just wondering, wouldn’t ostracizing the men who have admitted to their struggle be more detrimental than letting them let God deal with their struggle? Because treating women like sisters is really what God wants of all of us, and that is taught in most churches, no?

    • Lisa Johns

      For me, I would ostracize if a man admitted to lust and then laughed about it, as Dennis Prager did in that creepy little video clip last year. If a man admitted it with sorrow and a desire to change, that would be a different story.

      • S

        Are to talking about the Prager U video where Prager talks about men being “visual”? He makes a number of delusional claims in that video, such as ALL men are aroused by ALL women (this is blatantly false) and that women don’t struggle with lust and as such can’t understand our “struggle”

        • Lisa Johns

          Yes, that’s the one. Very creepy.

        • Lisa Johns

          Actually, to be more clear, the one where he said we should THANK our husbands for going against their natural urge to be unfaithful. Yeah.

    • Angharad

      Detrimental to whom?

      In this instance, ‘letting God deal with their struggle’ basically means ‘keep the men feeling good about themselves even if it means endangering the women’. It would be fine ‘letting God deal with their struggle’ if their issue was greed and they might help themselves to extra chocolate cake in church. But when the struggle is with lust, and failure to control it results in sexual assault, then other PEOPLE are being hurt.

      As someone who was a repeated victim of sexual assault and harassment from ‘Christian’ men in church from early teens onwards, I have zero sympathy with the argument that women and girls need to continue putting up with this kind of behaviour just so that the perpetrators don’t have to feel bad about themselves.

      Besides, if a guy does struggle with inappropriate feelings/actions towards women or children and he is serious about dealing with this sin, he should be THANKFUL to be put in an environment which monitors him and where he is prevented from causing harm. Any man who believes that his own comfort needs to take priority over the safety of vulnerable people in his vicinity hasn’t even started confronting the reality of his own sin.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Well said!

      • Lynn

        I guess the scenario I’m imagining is a humble, Christ-following man admits to having a struggle with lust, it was very hard for him to do that, and he is seeking accountability. Hopefully in that situation, he would seek out people and scripture to help him understand how to renew his mind, and he would invite the Holy Spirit to help him overcome his struggle. Usually I think of a struggle as something one is tempted by, but fights hard to not give in to.

        If we said to him, “Hey, you can’t be here, because you admitted to struggling with lust,” he would be hesitant to confess his sin, and others would never confess, because confession led to loss of fellowship in the body rather than help with his struggle and restored fellowship.

        Maybe churches are different where you’re from, but in my mind, confession and repentance lead to restored fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ. Discipline is only needed if there is no repentance.

        I’m understanding what Sheila is saying, that some confess as a justification, not as a desire to change, and it all depends on the culture of the church. I’ve never been in a church environment where men joke about lusting and harass women. Maybe I’ve missed it, or my experience is the exception.

        I do however have experience with confessing and repenting of a sin only to be put out of fellowship with those I confessed to. It was very hurtful for many years, and kept me from wanting to confess any sins. Fellowship was never restored, even though there was obvious genuine repentance.

        • Sequoia

          Hey Lynn,
          I’m glad you’re being so considerate towards others who might share your experience of being put out of fellowship after confessing a sin or a struggle.
          If I may add my two cents, there is a difference between admitting “I struggle with lust,” especially to a friend, mentor, or spiritual leader, and saying, “all men struggle with lust,” as an excuse or minimization. I think you yourself said something about this difference earlier.
          I think it’s very important to draw those lines clearly. If someone doesn’t care about their sin, and their sin involves hurting people, then they are not safe to be around. We should protect those who are made vulnerable by others’ sin. Those men should be *encouraged* to care about their sin and to seek help and accountability.
          If however they already do care and are seeking that health, help, and accountability, fellowship is exactly what they need. But still, maybe not fellowship with young girls and women?? That’s my thoughts.

        • Angharad

          Sheila didn’t suggest that such men should be banned from church, but rather that they should be monitored within church, thus enabling them to have fellowship with other believers while protecting the vulnerable from potential harm.

          I know one church which has put this into practice. Guys who are a potential risk to women or children within the church have to agree to buddy up with a designated church member and to stay with him at all times when on church premises. He has to agree to strict rules as to where he can go and who he can speak to. The congregation is reminded weekly that, as church is open to all, parents and carers of the vulnerable need to remain mindful of where their dependents are at all times. There are ‘safe’ areas within the church where these men are not allowed to go, so anyone who is nervous or anxious at the thought of being in close proximity to them can sit in those areas.

          I’ve been to this church many times and have literally no idea who these guys are. Everyone who ‘needs’ to know (e.g. leadership, youth workers etc) is informed, and everyone else just gets on with their life. Yes, it took a lot of work to balance fellowship for these guys with safety for the rest of the congregation (they wrote the risk assessment with the help of senior police officials and charities which support victims of abuse), but they’ve found a way to make it work. Ironically, this church, which welcomes men with a history of predatory behaviour, is one of the churches where I’ve felt safest!!! Probably because they have zero tolerance for abuse and a robust approach which expects men to take responsibility for their own sin instead of being able to blame it on women or girls for ‘tempting’ them.

          So with effort, you can have a church where these men can fellowship while keeping the vulnerable safe. But if you CAN’T do both, then it’s the men who should be excluded, not their victims.

          • carla

            Jimmy Hinton, who writes extensively about abuse in the church would disagree about having abusers chaperoned in church settings. They can become a familiar, trusted face in that setting making kids who encounter them in non-church settings more vulnerable. Abusers tend to be very manipulative. He would argue that they can’t be trusted and should be removed.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Yes, I would agree with that too. I think we can only make those distinctions if we actually know that they have a predilection for pedophilia, or they have actually done something, so it’s tricky.

    • Amnysti

      When someone lives/behaves in ways that are harmful, is it those around them that ostracize them or is it their behavior that ostracizes them?

      1 Cor 5 comes to mind, that when someone who professes Messiah continues living in these ways action must be taken but it’s ultimately the behavior of the person that causes that need for action.

      Also, when someone is truly repentant (not just confessing their problem but doing the work to bear the fruit of repentance like 2 Cor 7:9-11 shows us) they don’t hold onto their entitlement to be included but understand the impact of their choices & elevate the needs of those around them, accepting that the felt safety of their sisters is more important. They are willing to take whatever time needed for their fruit to prove they’re safe – which it’s those around them that have been impacted by their behavior that get to decide that.

      If a man really wants to change & really is repentant, he will do the work without putting the responsibility or expectations on others. If a man is just saying he wants to change, he’ll look to others to modify to accommodate him.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Yes, exactly! If they’re serious about change, then they won’t mind being held to a higher standard.

        But when pastors constantly throw in references in their sermons to how much they lust and how this is “manly”, then they don’t want to change.

      • Erin Sheeran

        So well said!!
        “When someone lives/behaves in ways that are harmful, is it those around them that ostracize them or is it their behavior that ostracizes them?”

        Also This!!!
        “Also, when someone is truly repentant (not just confessing their problem but doing the work to bear the fruit of repentance like 2 Cor 7:9-11 shows us) they don’t hold onto their entitlement to be included but understand the impact of their choices & elevate the needs of those around them, accepting that the felt safety of their sisters is more important.”

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      The difference, I think, is how they treat lust. Is it something that all men will always struggle with for all time, so the solution is for women to have more sex and dress modestly?

      Or is the solution that we treat this seriously and look at our inner woundings that have caused this to be a problem? And start learning to humanize women? And listen to women’s voices rather than see them primarily existing to serve men?

      If a man is struggling to get over pornography, but KNOWS that the solution is not to ask women to cover up or to blame his wife, but is instead doing the work, that’s a safe place. But if the solution to men’s lust lies at women’s feet, it’s never, ever going to be safe.

    • Helen

      Good comments. It does not seem normalized to treat one another as brothers and sisters, one of the great broken places in the church. Another is the lack of maturity, especially among men. (See Life Model Works.) It is a problem to have “elders” who aren’t older. Life Model Works teaches a man is not an elder developmentally until his youngest child is 13. Part of what we are dealing with now is ordaining elders too soon and the predictable problems that come with immature men having authority and power they are not equipped to carry.

      It seems to me that a man doesn’t need to admit to the women at church that he’s struggling. He tells his brothers (and his wife) and they mentor him to maturity. However, there are probably many churches who don’t have mature men to do that.

      • R

        I don’t agree with the idea that to be an considered as an elder the person’s youngest child needs to be 13. That sounds very arbitrary and is not stated in the Bible.
        My husband is an elder at our church. He is 33, our oldest child is 10, and our youngest is due to be born in around 3 weeks.
        My husband is very mature and grounded in his faith. He respects women and certainly does not objectify them. He treats the women around him as “sisters and mothers” – and because he endeavours to treat everyone he interacts with with respect and kindness, people feel comfortable to come to him with their concerns.
        If I had not been confident in his call & maturity to be an elder, I would not have supported it.
        The age of a person does not necessarily make them a good candidate for eldership.

        • Helen

          Your husband sounds like a kind and good man. And yes, the Bible does not state that an elder’s youngest child should be at least 13, which is a principle based on the tradition that a child enters the developmental stage of adulthood at that age.

          However, Paul called them elders (presbuteros) and forms of the same word also means old man and old woman. The same Greek word is used for what we call the office of elder and old man.

          In our large family (kids 40-20), we have had situations that have been far beyond the wisdom and capabilities of our young pastors and elders. I speak not just out of the harm that we have experienced but also, having raised children, the recognition that a young man’s family needs to be first priority. I think of it as similar to the idea of a groom staying home from war for the first year to make glad the heart of his wife. This principle builds good roots in a home and a good foundation for their future.

          Blessings, especially as you await the birth of another baby.

    • Tim

      I think the comparison with anger is interesting (especially given Jesus talks about both back to back in the sermon on the mount). I don’t think anyone would ever claim that “all men struggle with anger” as a way to minimise the problem. Or talk about it in a way that suggests it’s an unsolvable problem they’ll always struggle with.

      And I’ve never been to an anger management class but I can only assume they’d teach the fact that there will always be frustrations and provocations in life and we need to manage our response so that it’s reasonable, proportionate and (In a Christian context at least) gracious and loving even to those who wish us ill.

      You could say similar things about pride, greed, non-sexual addictions etc. We (meaning Christians) seem to get that the solution to those problems is to “not be conformed to the ways of the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”. The way lust gets talked about seems to be categorically different. “Struggling with lust” often seems like a euphemism for accepting that you have a lustful worldview and always will.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Well put, Tim. It does seem to be justifying lust.

      • Sequoia

        Wow. That’s a great comparison and I appreciate your thoughts, Tim. 👍

  6. R

    Just curious: Do you have statistical proof that non-Christians have fewer problems with lust than Christians, as you stated in point #1? Or is this an assumption based on the fact that concepts like consent and avoiding objectification seem to be more common in secular society?

    • AmyEm

      Yes, I’d like to know this too. I’m so interested in a survey being done on this. In my experience, I was objectified and harassed (which is rooted in objectification) by too many non-Christians to immediately take this stat as being correct.

  7. exwifeofasexaddict

    This is a topic that gets me so mad. I married a man who thought getting married and having “legal” sex would help him stop watching porn. He told me this decades into our marriage. I was just a tool to him. Imagine his shock when I had thoughts, feelings, opinions, beliefs, needs. Imagine his shock when my body didn’t stay exactly the same as when I was 19. Imagine his shock when I wanted to change my hairstyle.

    This dehumanization of women really does need to stop. Christians are the worst, because they slap a “god” label on it, and that traps women in it.

  8. Jen

    In the Victorian era, women weren’t allowed to show ankles and wrists, so guess what? Ankles and wrists became sexualized and enticing. And what about women around the world who are forced to wear burkas and other coverings? That’s not solving the problem either. It’s amazing that in the 21st century some men still view women in ownership terms, but instead (at least in the West) of “You are literally my property “ it is “All women exist for my sexual pleasure – the world is my lust oyster and I’ll consume any woman I can lay eyes on.” Instead of a woman being used by one man, a woman can be used over and over by a multitude of men.

    I didn’t know any men without a lust problem, so it’s not surprising that I married a man with a lust problem. Then, the church we joined taught us that men are just like that. It was a special level of hell.

    I really don’t think we can solve this issue AND keep the power over dynamic of the patriarchy. They feed off of each other.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, they really do. It’s the idea that women can be objectified and dehumanized, and can be seen as “other”.

    • Marie

      I need “the world is my lust oyster” on a t-shirt, women’s extra small XD

  9. S

    Whenever these books talk about men “lusting” it angers me as a man because they literally portray us as horny animals who are constantly salivating over the opposite sex. It blows my mind that most other men don’t similarly feel insulted or dehumanized by this characterization. And of course these same resources never mention women and girls lusting or struggling against sexual temptation.

    • Nathan W

      What? Don’t you know that all women are perfect flowers who never feel lust for men and have no sexual desire in the slightest?

      Or at least, that’s how we seem to treat them, which is disingenuous in the highest order

  10. Hank

    It’s hard to take anything you say seriously anymore.

    The idea that secular men treat women better and don’t lust more goes against all of scripture and any man who has ever spent time amongst unbelievers laughable. You are confusing what unbelievers say to women and what they do, think and say when you aren’t there. You could not be more wrong.

    Second, you are trying way to hard to paint men who struggle with porn as lusting after minors. Very, very, very few adult men who watch porn lust after 12 year olds. Your scare tactic is over the top and dishonest.

    I can critique every post to death because so little is accurate and that that is is lost amongst the attack, hatred, and evil you speak to your fellow Christian. For someone so hung up on one verse you really need to read the one that comes right after it. Because if you believe it like you believe the verse you speak of so often you are a serial killer worse than Ted Bundy.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m a serial killer worse than Ted Bundy? That’s a new one! Thanks for that. I keep a collection of these, and that’s a good one to add.

      • Shelly Moon

        You are not only a bestselling author, you are now infamous!!!!

      • Mara R

        Sometimes you just have to let these kinds of comments through in order to expose how crazy, crazy, crazy some people think.

        Where is Codec and his “Everybody who disagrees with me is Hitler” meme? Or in the case of Hank, “Any woman who had the gall to say and believe that not all men lust is Ted Bundy.”

        Poor Hank’s sacred cow is being exposed for the idol it is. And you exposing it makes you Ted Bundy.

        So, does this make you an idol/false god serial killer?

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Yeah, that’s why I let some through. Just to show people how crazy they are!

        • Codec

          Who has summoned me?

    • Shelly Moon

      Hey Hank, if men are not lusting after minors why do churches start teaching girls the modesty message in elementary school?

      And why are most of the youth pastors who get caught in sexual sin involved with teen girls?

      In reality, Sheila is trying to prop up your gender by saying lust is not every man’s battle and that both genders need to learn how to treat the opposite sex with respect and stop thinking of them as merely a sex object or predator. I think we can all get behind that message!

    • exwifeofasexaddict

      Hank, spend some time listening to women. Sheila’s conclusions are based on data. You’d be surprised at the number of single Christian women who feel like they are treated better by nonbelievers than believers. Some have even given up on dating Christian men. My ex was and still is a believer. I was just in a situation with a pastor a month ago where he crossed lines. It’s not rare.

    • sonya

      *deep breath* hahahahaahahahah

      wow sorry hank you are telling on yourself. it’s both funny and sad.
      go get some help.

    • Angharad

      Hank, if men in church are so much safer than on Christian men, can you please tell me why I have experienced sexual assault and harassment from men IN CHURCH on multiple occasions, starting in my early teens. I honestly can’t begin to count the number of unpleasant and even traumatic experiences I have had from ‘Christian’ men, including CHURCH LEADERS. (And no, this is not one church, it has happened in multiple churches, in spite of my super-modest clothing)

      By contrast, my experiences of harassment outside the church barely make it to double figures. And I’ve usually found that if I get any inappropriate behaviour/comments from guys in the world, another man is quick to step forward to help me deal with it. Whereas in church, I’m either blamed for the predator’s behaviour, or I’m told that I should be grateful/flattered because he’d only be touching me like that if he found me attractive.

      I find it interesting that you are spewing so much hatred out against a women who is doing her best to make church a safe place for your sisters in Christ. Why does the idea of women and young girls being protected from sexual predators upset you so much?

    • Heather

      Hank, your reaction to this article is deeply concerning. Please seek help.

    • Jo R

      So, this is an awful lot of words to essentially say “You’re a doody head.”

      No facts, no research, no nothing, just one man’s very strongly held opinion.

      Sorry, not sorry, try harder.

    • Phil

      Hello Hank. Thanks for the drive by. I am quite qualified to speak on your claims. You know what the problem is? You really aren’t interested in being a man. You are more interested in throwing insults and berating women. Therefore I am not really interested in rebutting your ridiculous claims. What I will do is is STAND UP FOR MY FELLOW WOMEN. This is what we say to people like you. Your probably won’t get it. It goes like this! STOP IT!

      • Phil

        This might help

        • Phil

          Ok try this…


          • Tanya

            Lol..thanks for the laugh. Reminded me of my pastor.

    • CMEwalt

      Hank, you’re an a** and have obviously never discussed this with any women. Non- Christian men are better – especially in the sex department as they have not been messed up by purity culture snd messages like the crap in “Every man’s battle”.

      I’m sorry, it’s not EVERY MAN’S BATTLE”

      Not all men treat women like “Christians” do.

      • Codec

        To put this into further perspective.

        Ted Bundy confessed to murdering 30 people and it is suspected that he actually murdered more than 36 people over a decade across seven different states in the United States.

        Bundy was particularly calculating having studied the methods law enforcement used to identify criminals at the time. He had a particular interest in exerting control over his victims. His particular insights into forensics and human psychology were instruments in his crimes. Bundy never used firearms because the sound and gunpowder residue could have alerted people for instance.

        He was like the folklore creature the changeling capable of entering into almost any environment and charismatically assimilating which is how he lured in many of his victims. Bundy would even pretend to be injured to garner sympathy which he then used to get people close to him so that he could murder people. Other times he said he was a policeman or firefighter someone most would trust to get people into a false state of security.

        Bundy was a murderous con man who sexually violated several women and prayed on the idea of people’s sympathies. His persona was so manipulative in fact that women suffered from nervous breakdowns after he died because they came to believe that he would love them despite being a serial killer.

        Shiela is teaching people that they have intrinsic value and to recognize patterns of manipulation and abuse. If anything Bundy would be a great picture of the entitlement mindset that Shiela is fighting against. This extends further because Bundy was famous for blaming his victims.

        To quote the man ” Their facial expressions say ” I am afraid of you.’ These people invite abuse… by expecting to be hurt, do they subtly encourage it.”

        Shiela is advocating that people own up to their own vices so they can live healthier holier lives. She is telling people who have sex addictions that they are still intrinsically worthy and that the messages they might have heard are sabotaging them. She wants people to be safe.

    • Anon

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!! *breathes*

      Either you have the reading comprehension skills of a 5-year-old or you’re just out to pick a fight. Probably both.

      Sheila, Rebecca, and Joanna are not going into this without facts and research to back them up. They’ve done the surveys, crunched the numbers, and more importantly, listened to their readers and took their stories seriously. You say “Very, very, very few adult men who watch porn lust after 12 year olds.” Where are your sources to prove this? Do you have any, or are you projecting? If that’s the case, please seek help.

      “For someone so hung up on one verse you really need to read the one that comes right after it.” Take your own advice, Buster Brown.

      “Because if you believe it like you believe the verse you speak of so often you are a serial killer worse than Ted Bundy.” And on that note, thanks for letting Sheila know she won the argument. Name-calling and shaming are the tactics used by someone who knows they’ve already lost.

  11. Ashley

    Would you consider writing a book on this for men? Or even for young boys? Or perhaps you can recommend some?

    My husband stumbles once in awhile with looking at images and out of fear due to his mother’s over the top reaction finding out he was looking at it as a child, he doesn’t admit right away out of fear of a similar reaction. She will make comments on how he’s a man and he will naturally struggle with this and will lead to worse things if he and I don’t stay diligent etc. She has given him books as a gift that are filled with purity culture and how this struggle is his identity now since he ‘slipped up as a child’ and ‘always will have the temptation.’ (Thankfully he’s never bothered to read them. But part of him believes it) I can only imagine though how hearing what you’re saying now or when he was a child would be so liberating for him.

    Also I know women struggle with this as well, but I don’t think there is as much a push, if at all of ‘this is your battle as long as you breathe because of your sex’ thing.

  12. Linda Rarey

    Coming from a law enforcement background, whenever I see or hear of churches saddling women with the responsibility for male lust I think of DARVO. It stands for:

    Deny/deflect (gas lighting)
    Reverse Victim and Offender roles.

    It’s very common for abusers to blame the victim. Narcissists are also very adept at the game. Criminals like to deflect as well.

    And when church leadership gets sucked in by it and refuses to protect the real victims, then I see no reason to trust them with anything else.

  13. Nathan

    Hank, to be completely fair, I’ve seen a fair of anger and bitterness on this site, but no general hatred for any group. At worst, I’ve seen hatred for certain nonbiblical principles that are presented as biblical. This website mainly pushes three points: God views men and women as having equal worth and dignity and equal in marriage; porn hurts everybody; and when somebody lusts, it’s their fault, just like every other sin. I don’t see any of those three ideas as being hateful or evil. If anything, blaming the people who the lust is aimed at is evil.

    • Nathan

      I’ve seen a fair AMOUNT of anger and bitterness

      • carla

        “Blessed are they who long for justice.” Some people confuse that with anger and bitterness. In fact, calling women “bitter” is the Christian go-to in the effort to shut up women who are speaking inconvenient truth.

        • Jo R

          Don’t forget rebellious, disobedient, hiding a secret sin, worldly, unchristian…

    • Nathan

      Accounting note: “Sex is not an entitlement, but a gift from God for both the husband and wife to enjoy equally” is also something this site stresses, but can be considered to be part of the first item on my list.

      • Tim

        Dangnammit. I totally missed the “fair of anger and bitterness”! When’s the next one?

    • Mara R

      Aaaand there is reason for anger and bitterness.

      Women and children being held accountable for the sins of men is an extremely bitter pill. It’s not the living waters of Jesus but rather bitter waters that need to be expelled one way or another.

      Thank you, Nathan, for understanding this and being able to let it roll off of you rather than take it personally. Many of us are at different stages of working through these natural yet frustrating reactions and emotions when coming out of misogynistic and abusive relationships and systems.

  14. CH

    First time commenting here, longtime reader. I have really appreciated the way that you tackle these toxic ideas about lust and modesty, etc. I was a big modesty champion in late high school/early college, although none of it came from my parents. It’s been helpful to see how those messages were harmful, so I can do better with my daughters (and my son!). My one question/concern though is how often you mention that non-Christian men are safer. I’m curious what you’re basing that on, besides anecdotal evidence. I have experienced far more inappropriate comments from non-Christian men than Christian men. And while I don’t necessarily believe all the Christian men I’ve been around aren’t lusting/watching porn/etc., they did know better than to say things out loud. The shockingly inappropriate comments I received from non-Christians during my freshman year of college were…startling. I grew up overseas and attended an international Christian school my entire childhood. My husband also went to school there, and even though he was actively struggling/engaging with porn during high school, he has told me that none of the guys ever discussed anything like that. They never talked about girls inappropriately, even behind closed doors. Then I got to college and guys just said things straight to my face. It was so uncomfortable for me. And so different from what I was used to. After college I once had a chiropractor (not the one I was seeing, but one in the same office) make an inappropriate comment when I arrived for an adjustment. All of the most blatant sexualization I’ve experienced came from non-Christian men. I think it would be more accurate to say that non-Christian men will be more blatant and open about their lust/objectification, whereas Christian men are going to keep it more to themselves. But I’m not sure the standard we should be aiming for is the one the world holds. If you go to a comment section on any secular article about anything involving women, the things men say are horrific. I just don’t think the world’s standard for lust is superior. They just don’t care. It’s not a struggle, because it’s not a problem to them. My sister was in the army for a while, and she said that at basic training, the guys would just sit around discussing their favorite porn stars. Almost everyone had porn apps on their phones. The church definitely needs to find better ways to help men (and women) with porn and lust addictions, but the world isn’t even trying. And if men are watching porn, they ARE lusting. The two go hand in hand. It’s not “oh he watches porn but he doesn’t lust”… There’s no way! And maybe it IS a big problem that Christian men hide their lust more than non-Christians, so you don’t really know what you’re getting into. But if porn and lust were only Christian men problems, the porn industry wouldn’t be booming anywhere near the same level. (I wish I could say it wouldn’t exist at all, but I’ve learned better than that.) Again, I really love all that you’re doing to change the narrative and expectations for men. I think telling boys and young men that they WILL struggle with porn and lust is setting them up for failure. Holding them to a better, higher standard and reminding them that God is bigger than lust and porn (which very few Christian addicts actually believe) will be far more helpful. Looking forward to reading She Deserves Better. 🙂 [PS: I’ve read enough of the comments on here to know that many women have experienced more harassment/inappropriate comments/etc. from men in the church than outside of it. I’m not trying to discredit that or argue against it. I think what I’m getting at is that we shouldn’t be placing non-Christian men on a pedestal — the two groups are far more even than they should be, with outliers in both categories.]

    • Mara R

      CH, I appreciate your comment.
      And yes, with all things, Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV)
      I almost commented last night about two very toxic rape cultures mentioned in the Bible but did not.
      One was the story of Lot and Sodom (found in Genesis). The other is the story of the Levite, his concubine, and a Benjamite town, Gibeah (found in Judges).
      Where the first, Sodom, could be looked upon as secular, the second, Gibeah, belonged to Israel and should have known better.

      My point is that Rape Culture can and does exist in both secular and religious.
      You, apparently, found secular places that were extra toxic to women. (like Sodom)
      These others come from places that should have been safe, should have known better.

      And I know that you understand what is going on here.
      We are particularly taking the toxic teachings of the church to task. The church should know better. But for whatever reason, it has embraced the worldly view and emboldened it with awful teachings.

      So while, yes, I agree with you completely that we must be cautious about holding the world up as superior, there are still portions of the world system that have been doing a better job of addressing this than the church.
      “She Deserves Better” and we, the church, can do better.
      I appreciate you being a part of this fight.

  15. Hannah

    When I got married to a man who was not a hyper conservative fundie Christian, I was surprised about how he could control himself sexually. He wasn’t obsessed with the women around him dressing modestly and he did demand anything from me sexually to fulfill His needs. He just loved me. This made me uneasy because I grew up believing men were controlled by sexual desire and when they married they would want sex all the time. So it took awhile to see that my husband doesn’t see me as a sexual object. He loves sex yes! But he loves me, as a whole person.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s wonderful! I love hearing about good men. There honestly are so many out there.

  16. Jo R

    So basically, women at church should expect all the men to be like the men who go to strip clubs.

    Got it.

    Although, when Paul said he tried to be all things to all people that he might win some, I don’t think he meant it to go quite THAT far.

    • Anon

      Exactly. Telling someone NOT to think about something just makes them that much more hyperfixated on it. Not to mention there’s the whole “you’re a monster and you can’t help it” thing that most boys have been taught their whole lives. Seriously, our men and boys deserve so much better than this.

      • Jason

        That’s great you understand,
        Basically the church, purity teachers in a way tell men and boys don’t think about women, sex which makes them think about it. They basically told they are sinning when they think those thoughts so they suppress them ( try not to think about )
        Which makes them think about it a lot more and the thoughts become more accessible and intense. So the men end up having anxiety over their “sinful thoughts” causing them to become more overwhelmed with women’s bodies. Anxiety combined with arousal raises the amount of sexual tension.
        The taboo of looking seeing women’s bodies kicks in the “Firbidden Fruit Effect’ Suppression according to a British study leads to compulsive behavior.

  17. Healing

    I’ve commented this before but if “all men around us have list problems” HOW are women supposed to feel safe ANYWHERE?! Like, if you have a male doctor… say, a male OBGYN. He’s “elbow deep” in vaginas ALL. DAY. LONG. Doing breast exams every day. For men that lust, this job seems like the jackpot!

    I honestly do not feel comfortable with male doctors ever since my creepy male pediatrician wanted to check me at 15/16 for hemorrhoids. I luckily said NO but it started my fear of male doctors. Then there was a creepy old male urgent care doctor. I went in for strep throat and had to get down to bra and panties and a paper gown to have my throat swabbed. Then when his had lingered over my breast while he was “listening to my heart” my stomach turned, it again furthered my distaste for male doctors. (I know Keith is not one of these creeps).

    But again, where are women safe if “every man lusts”? Pastors= unsafe, mailman =unsafe, male cashier =unsafe, fathers and brothers =unsafe.

  18. Perfect Number

    Love this post- I will share it on my blog 🙂

    I’m really glad my husband is not a Christian- he had NO IDEA that apparently men are incapable of respecting sexy women/ can’t control themselves when a woman is “immodest”/ etc.

  19. Healing

    I know this post is a couple months old but a random thought spurred me into commenting on the “all men lust” idea.

    So many Christians claim that “this is how God made men.” I mean, we heard it in Every Man’s Battle at length. But my thought was… how do you explain the African countries where women are topless and men are in nothing but loin cloths? Are THOSE men visually stimulated ALL. DAY. LONG? Are they walking around with constant boners because all they see are boobs?? No. (And because they are in nothing but loin cloths, it would be SUPER obvious, right??) So apparently not ALL men are made to be visually stimulated? Or is it that OUR SOCIETY has shaped men to be like this? When we hyper fixate on nudity and sexuality, we are forming these ideas in ourselves.

    I don’t know. It’s just an idea I had. It’s just tough to keep healing “God made men this way” without thinking, “Did He??”


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