Must You Lust?

Many years ago I was at a men’s weekend golf outing.  It was an incredible time where we spent time golfing, getting to know each other and talking about Jesus.  Every morning and night we would circle up and someone would lead with a thought about Jesus.  But before that at each meeting one or two men would share their story.  They could share whatever they wanted about their life, usually a little of their past and then where they are now.

One night as one man in his late twenties was sharing, he shared a shocking secret with the group.  He said that he had never masturbated.  Now of course I knew from my evangelical training in avoiding all things sex that this was impossible.  After all, 99% of men masturbated, and the other 1% lied about it.

The problem was I believed him.  He wasn’t bragging about it, and no he wasn’t a teen groom and he didn’t even have the call of celibacy.  He just hadn’t done it.  What in the world would we hold him accountable for.  What promise could he keep?  Hahaha.  Man we are messed up.

There is so much that goes into the assumptions we make about men and singleness/marriage/sex that has been perpetuated by both our culture and the church that I can’t even begin to get into it all.

Let me begin with this.  I get that Christians are trying to help.  I respect the heck out of the desire to have men who live virtuous lives.  I agree we need that.  But how we go at that makes a huge difference in whether we actually help men achieve it.

Here’s the basic message to young men.

You WILL want sex.  All the time. While not exactly wrong, you must do everything you can to not think about it.  But you will.  Looking at a woman and wanting to sleep with her is wrong and pretty much the same as doing it.  But you will pretty much walk around doing that exact thing, forever, no matter what.  Victory over this is not really possible.  But you should be held accountable for it.  Women are holy and only give in because men demand it.  If it weren’t for men being controlled by lust, women would basically never sin. Therefore it is your job to be nice, not want sex until you are married and then be “the man sexually“, all the while knowing that you will still lust after every other hot woman that you see.

What kind of plan is this?

First, the desire for sex is not wrong.  In fact it is a huge part of why we get married.  We are created to be sexual beings.  We will desire sex.  We will be attracted.  None of that in and of itself is sin.  Read that again.

The bible does not say, “don’t desire sex”.  It does say, don’t be controlled by that desire. (OR ANY OTHER DESIRE).

Second.  Looking at a woman and thinking about sex is not the same as having sex with her.

People love to point at Matthew 5:28 and say that Jesus is saying that if you desire sex with a woman, that is the same as sleeping with her.  Well not exactly.  I don’t have space here to go into the whole thing although it’s for sure worthy of a post in and of itself.  But we need to stop using this as a way to beat the crap out of Christian men.

To begin with we need to understand that Jesus is giving a whole message (the sermon on the mount) that goes all together.  He has just stated that you need to be more righteous than the Pharisees.  In other words, they were following the letter of the law and Jesus is saying, “let’s get at the heart of it”.  He then basically says, “Here are some examples.” Take out the subtitles – It’s one sermon.  (Notice how we don’t have a bunch of messages about anger, oaths, fasting/religious activities etc. and we don’t suggest cutting body parts off.)

Jesus is also not equating looking at a woman with sleeping with her.  Without going into all of the Greek here, He is saying the sin of adultery starts before sex.  It has more to do with coveting the woman and actually considering how to be with her.  In other words, looking at her with the intent to engage in that activity.

Lust is actually not a sexual term per se.  It is a term of desire – where it becomes more of coveting of something.  I can lust after a lot of things.  James clearly writes that desire is not sin.  Even sexual desire.  Sin can come from evil desire.  But it doesn’t have to. The question is, where is your heart.  If a person’s heart is not right, that is when the desire (lust) grows into sin.

Jesus is saying it starts in the heart, not that every temptation or thought is equal to committing the sin.  This is why Paul writes to take every thought captive.  The battle starts in the heart.

Bottom line is – we don’t have to do it.  We’ve confused the idea that we will always struggle with SIN with the idea that we will always struggle with a particular sin.  But in truth we can grow and have victory over certain sins through Jesus.

So how do we get victory?  I will share more about that.  But the point here today is that we are not destined to give in to the lusts of our flesh.

What have you been taught about men and sexual desire, lust and sexual sin?

7 thoughts on “Must You Lust?

  1. We are, of course, obligated to “guard their hearts,” because their saintly status prohibits them from needing to exercise their own moral agency to “capture” their own thoughts on their own regard with that “superior” brain that God gave them.

  2. You know, I like this post. You ask what have “I” been taught about sexual lust, desire, and sexual sin…….

    Funny you should ask that. First, yeah I find women attractive. I find many of their cute follies, and the things about their personalities super-cute. Even before I put Christ in my life I felt this…..still do if truth be told 😉

    Back then college, grad-school and all the informalities that came afterward……I was taught that sex was natural, fun, felt great, and women wanted it just as much as men did and there was no harm in it. If you (as a man) were “not” getting sex, YOU obviously had problems. You were not doing something right to get a woman to like you, and get naked with you. You obviously were not a “real man” because “real men” have sex, get sex, and have tons and tons of women just wanting them so, so very badly in that way.

    I wasn’t getting any.

    So be social, go out and “meet” women. They all want an “outgoing” and “confident” guy (mind you their own lives can be a total mental and emotional mess, and total wreck, but that doesn’t matter, as long as you are getting her naked, so what right?)

    Wallet opened, drinking steadily climbing…….first serious bouts of “depression” hitting me.

    Complexities, and bewilderment on how everyone else just “turned it on” and they could get phone numbers, dates, and yeah….sex by not seeming to do anything. Blamed it on my looks, drinking increased, dove harder into my work. Started using cocaine “here and there” to stay focused at work, and as a party-favor to make me feel sober when I wasn’t and look like I could hold my pints.

    College friends and grad school friends all getting married. Was told that I was smart, average looking enough, and told the cliched phrase that I was “a catch”

    Began to get angry, not believing a word they all said, fits and bouts of depression started to cross over into burning jealously and hot self-loathing. Drinking and drug use increased to blot these feelings out. I became ashamed to find a woman attractive, because if let her know I liked her she would only want to be “friends” (this all made perfect sense in the frame of mind I was in), so it was easier to hate her. It was easier to binge drink, and blot this out.

    The world has a way of destroying the best in us, and the best parts of us. I’ll spare you all the gory details of what happened to me.

    When I look at now all the divorce, the broken hearts, the STD’s, the unplanned and unwanted children. The alimony. The child-support payments, the problems, the pain, the hurt, the sadness, all the “dating” sites, all the “information” about getting a girl / guy and what “they” think like. When I see all these experts on marriage, dating, sex…………..

    Makes me wonder who is really the fool here??????

    Makes me also confident with the gift I was given. Am I missing out? Yeah I probably am, but I also have the “confidence” of Christ now, which has given me the comfort I so much needed. Praise Him for that!

  3. I was taught pretty much the same thing. Looking at a woman and thinking of sex is the exact same as actually having sex with her. Don’t dare ever think of sex until you’re married, but since you’ll do it anyway, you should be ashamed of your natural urges and carry the guilt around at all times. And the world’s view is no better. Men should always be confident, althletic and able to charm any woman on the streets. If you’re shy and awkward, you’re not a real man. And god forbid if you’re still a virgin past 18. No matter which way I go, I’m made to feel ashamed of myself. Seriously, if you can’t win for losing, what’s the point in trying?

  4. Pingback: Flee Means Get Out Now | More Than Don't Have Sex

  5. As a 35-year old guy in the same category as your twentysomething fellow there, I’ve honestly never understood how any Christian man would lust or feel any interest in ever masturbating. I know that I’m called to marriage and fatherhood, but I’ve honestly never been able to wrap my mind around men not being able to remain chaste or celibate as long as required (even for a lonesome lifetime* if it comes to it). Loneliness and a need for *emotional* intimacy makes perfect sense, but animalistic urges just seem – pardon the pun – rather graceless to me…

  6. What have I been taught about men and sexual desire? Well, everything you said in ” Here is the basic message for men”. I don’t know how, but I always believed that men cannot control their eyes and will always look at women. As a woman this was like a double hit for both genders. For men in general and me as a woman because this told me that I would never be enough for the man I married because he would struggle with this all this life. Since I don’t understand the struggle of a man being visual, it has been something I have grown to fear. The fear of mans sexuality and wondering if I can only keep my man if I look good twenty-four seven, or preform sexually for him constantly. It is terrible pressure on my heart to feel I have to measure to some standard or be the best looking woman so that my future husband doesn’t look at anyone else. I know that may happen regardless of what I look like.
    God has been setting me free from the fear and just excepting the possibility that that may happen someday and not taking it like a personal failure as a woman. I think for a lot of women, it is easy to misunderstand this about a man. I have misunderstood it.
    The last person I dated was very visual, and he had a pornography history.
    I know that sexual healing for myself is in order, and only Jesus can set me free from these misperceptions of men in general and especially men’s sexuality.

  7. Pingback: Sexual Sin Myths | More Than Don't Have Sex

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