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?