[This article contains a frank conversation about subjects of an intimate nature. Please read this only if you are mature enough to handle such things, and if such offend you, please refrain from reading. Thank you!]
I finished teaching my lesson and stepped away from the podium to greet the ladies that walked my way. As the crowd thinned, a small group of older ladies approached me.
“I really don’t think that seeing men topless a problem for women at all,” one of the ladies started. A few of the others nodded in agreement. “I don’t think you need to talk about that.”
“I realise that for some women this isn’t a problem, but for a lot of women, this is,” I said in earnestness, “I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had or overheard with young girls talking about how they want to go see a movie or a football game just to see the men with no top or short shorts on – and I’m talking about Christian girls.”
“I just don’t think it’s a problem. It’s a problem for men.” The lady continued, “women are just pretending to like that stuff.”
“Well, I understand that this isn’t a problem for every woman,” I began, slowly, “But if you want evidence that it is for a lot of them, just go see the middle page spread of any young woman’s magazine – they’ll have a some “hot” guy featured for the women to stare at… and…” I continued, “I know it’s a problem because it’s something I personally have struggled with.”
I know the face. I’ve seen it the few times I’ve been bold enough to say anything about my struggle. A mixture of shock, surprise, and disbelief, with a hint of disgust. It was obvious she had never heard of it before and certainly didn’t understand my struggle.
| IT’S NOT JUST A MAN STRUGGLE
This is a fact we desperately need to acknowledge: lust, pornography, and masturbation are not just guy issues. Girls struggle with maintaining pure thoughts and lives just as much as men. Women struggle with reading romance novels and erotica, watching porn or movies with sex scenes, masturbation, and lustful thoughts over the guy with his shirt off at the beach or the guy playing soccer with the rippling muscles and short shorts. They struggle with the desire to be more intimate with their boyfriends before marriage.
I know that this is not a problem for every woman, but for a lot of women, this is. It has been since the beginning of time – just think of Potiphar’s wife. Overcome with lust for the handsome Joseph, she sought to seduce him (Genesis 39:6, 7). Also, remember that God commanded for a husband and wife to both share their bodies with each other (1 Corinthians 7:1-5). Sex was created for the pleasure of both the man and the woman. Women are sexual creatures with sexual needs to – and while men and women are wired differently, the desire for intimate love and the temptation to fuel it in all the wrong ways is still there.
We need to change the conversation, because when the only messages we give our girls are to 1) not have sex before marriage, 2) that they will have to submit to their husbands sexually once they are married, and 3) men always have sex on their brains and women don’t – girls get the wrong idea about their sexuality. If they look forward to intimacy, they get married and find their husband not as interested in being intimate as they are, or they struggle with sexual temptations, they think there is something wrong with them.
But the world will tell them that they are normal – so guess where they will be tempted to go for more information? I can tell you, because I’ve talked to the girls who’ve struggled and felt alone. I’ve been that girl who struggled and felt alone. I can tell you, they will go to the world for validation, they will go to the world to satisfy all their curiosities, and in doing so they will go the way of the world and fulfil their lusts in the wrong ways.
We need to acknowledge that this is a problem and start being proactive.
| THE FIGHT FOR PERSONAL PURITY
Fighting against the temptation to lust is a lifelong battle in this sex-saturated world filled with temptations, but it is possible to make a habit of overcoming. It is possible for you to look back in a few year’s time and realise that the things that were so tempting to you before are nothing to you now.
While I realise that there are many different reasons people struggle and I can’t go into the depth I’d like in this article, here are some suggestions for how you can overcome lust in your own life.
If you are struggling with lust:
1 | Realise that you aren’t alone and that there is hope. There are many other Christians who have struggled with this and come through strong and pure. You got this.
2 | Find someone to talk to about it. Find someone who you trust and who is going to give you good, solid, practical advice. If you can find someone who has been through a similar struggle and is overcoming it, then that’s even better. Make sure it’s someone who will follow up with you on your struggle too – ideally set times to discuss how things are going and how they can improve.
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (James 5:16).
3 | Get an internet filter. Covenant Eyes is the best I’ve seen and even allows for an accountability partner.
4 | Get to the root cause. The heart is the issue, not the action. From our thoughts, our actions flow – so we need to figure out what it is that triggers us and seek to work on that. Seek professional help or talk with your brethren to sort through your thoughts .
5 | Throw out temptations. Throw away books, magazines, movies, or anything else that triggers you. If there is a movie with a sex scene, get it out. Magazines with inappropriate sex tips or pictures of topless men? Throw them away. Find an app, add, or a particular account triggering thoughts of self-deprecation, worldliness, or lust? Delete, unfollow, and hide anything that will potentially lead to impurity.
“Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).
6 | Anticipate tempting situations. Work out what situations trigger or tempt you and avoid them. For those you can’t avoid, work out strategies for coping (e.g. bouncing your eyes, praying, walking away, etc). Always, always look for that way of escape.
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
7 | Put in positives. It isn’t enough to just throw out temptations – we must be constantly and consistently filling our lives up with good things. Volunteer, get into church work, exercise, commit to a Bible study plan, join a study group, attend as many lectures as possible, learn something new, engage in a course of study, and seek to connect with others as much as possible. Cram your life full of good. Work hard, and think of others. The closer you become to Christ and His people, the further away from sin you will be and the less appealing the temptations will seem.
“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Romans 13:14).
8 | Learn what a God-driven sexuality should look like. Here’s the thing: God created sexuality. The world doesn’t own it. The devil doesn’t do it better. God is the only One Who can teach us how to have pure, joyful, and fulfilling lives as sexual beings in a sexually frustrated world.
We need to realise that desire isn’t wrong – however, sexual fantasies, porn, masturbation, and intimacy outside of marriage are ways of expressing our God-given desires in the wrong way. We can look forward to the intimacy we will enjoy inside of marriage without sinning – but we have to let God drive our idea of what sexuality looks like. We cannot leave our sexuality to be shaped by the world – we must look to Christ in this and every area of our lives.
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. […] For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world” (1 John 2:15-16).
| YOU CAN OVERCOME
We will never be above and beyond temptations, but we can escape from them (1 Corinthians 10:12, 13) and avoid the sin they lead to (James 1:14, 15). We can overcome our daily struggles and pick ourselves up if we fall.
If we live a life where we are constantly pursuing Christ and prepare ourselves for tempting situations, we can enjoy victory upon victory. It may take something radical and unconventional. It may mean giving up some modern conveniences or some things you enjoy – but every sacrifice you make for your purity will be worth it. Fight now – so you can rest later.
And while we’re here, there is victory in Christ enough for every fight, every day, from here until eternity.
Overcome Online: Preventing, discussing, and breaking the chains of pornography addiction
Covenant Eyes: Accountability and Internet filtering software
Good Girls Struggle In Secret | Article