Identity Relationships

Is it Lust or Sexual Desire?

Many Christian circles rightly beat the drum of Jesus’ words in Matthew 5 that if you even look at a woman with lustful intent, you’ve committed adultery with her; even though you never touched or were near her.  The problem is not all sexual arousal is driven by lust. Our tendency is to throw sex out completely, bury our heads in the sand, and hope the next generation does a better job with sex than we do.

Sex is Good!

From the moment of your conception, you are a sexual being. Sexuality is core to our humanity. God created us male and female and placed an explicit command to “be fruitful and multiply”. Sexual intercourse that leads to pregnancy and the birth of the next generation is God’s idea of a fruitful time!  Sin distorted sex, bringing shame and abuse. Because of sin, we have rapes, incest, sex outside of marriage, orgies, and a host of sexually distorted and abusive situations.  In all of these, lust plays a key reason why sex gets a bad rap.

Is it Lust?

In their book, “God Loves Sex”, authors Dan Allender and Tremper Longman help us see the difference between lust and healthy sexual desire. To be honest, how many times have you found yourself drifting off into a sexually-charged fantasy that turns into either self-sex or acting out with someone else?  Allender and Longman have this to say:

Lust is an energy to possess and use, not one that attracts a man to a woman 

or a woman to a man. 

In their book, they walk through the Song of Songs in the Bible; the most erotic book about a bride and groom. In fact, many of our English translations of that book of the Bible go “soft” on describing body parts that the original Hebrew is more direct in naming. Scripture is very clear that lust works against God’s heart for sex.  Allender and Longman continue:

God…” reserved the “one-flesh” bond of sexual intercourse for marriage. That is why lust is forbidden because it is a drive that plots and manipulates 

for the purpose of merely physical consummation.”

Ouch! How many times in my teens and young adult years (and beyond), was my mind fixed on plotting and manipulating relationships with girls, even in my mind, for the purpose of my physical consumption?  

Sexual Desire

Nowhere in the Bible is sexual desire condemned.  Lust, yes. Desire, no. Sexual desire leads to fostering “character, generosity, and love-let alone beauty…; It is the stirring of the body and the heart to pleasure.”

One of the signs you are moving toward a healthy view of sex is your desire for a woman is to do all you can to nurture and cherish her soul; to build her up as a woman. Yes, you are sexually attracted to her (and should be!), but you have no desire to consume her. 

Hollywood Sex on Display

A recent Hollywood movie showed the coming of age of a young woman courted by two young men. One guy definitely had sexual desire. He found her attractive and wanted to have sex with her, even though they were not married. In the movie, they came close, but he decided it would dishonor her, taking something from her that was not his to have.  The other young suiter was completely the opposite. All he wanted was sex with her and devised a plan to get a hotel room and essentially rape her. All while he was engaged to another woman. 

I’d NEVER do that!

Perhaps not, but even Jesus was tempted in every way just as us, and yet he didn’t give in. (Hebrews 4:14-16). In all honesty, we’ve all lusted. Not that it is normal, but one of the paths on our manhood journeys is to learn to relate to women out of nurture and care, not consumption. We men can be so self-focused. 

Five Key Ways to Foster Healthy Sexual Desire

  1. Thank God for your manhood sexuality. Testosterone is good!
  2. Study the Song of Songs. Dig into the Word knowing that the Holy Spirit will guide you into truth.
  3. Read Allender and Longman’s book “God Loves Sex”
  4. Learn to have good conversations with women. See them the way God does.
  5. When lust captures you, do two things immediately: 
    1. Bring your lust before the Lord
    2. Let your mentor/accountability partner know.

Warrior On!

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.

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