Falling From Freedom: Lust and Sexuality {Part 1}

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Pornography is not the only thing that can trip us up. Lust can get us too.

In fact, many of you write me sharing your struggles, not particularly with pornography or with masturbation, but with boy-crazy lust.

Lust is tricky, because lust isn’t quite as definite.

I can definitely tell you when I’ve fallen to pornography.  I can definitely tell you when I’ve struggled with fantasy.  I can definitely tell you when I’ve masturbated.  I can definitely not tell you every time I’ve lusted.

I want to hypothesize (meaning I have no research to back this up) that women who struggle with lust-based sins are more sensitive to lust.  I know I can pick up on a compromising situation faster than many other women.  In some ways, I feel like I think like a man when it comes to sex and sexuality.  I just pick up on it which means I second guess everything and, I think, sometimes make a lustful situation out of one that isn’t.

Now, maybe that’s a sensitivity caused by my time struggling with lust or maybe that’s one of the underlying causes of my struggle with lust.

I have looked into that, and researchers just don’t know.  They can’t pinpoint whether hormones cause our actions or actions cause our hormones.  While the male sex drive is scientifically pretty straight forward, the ins and outs of the female sex drive, even the heightened one, are still a mystery.

What makes some women have higher sex drives than others?  We just don’t know.  Maybe it’s how we’re wired, or maybe it’s how we’ve been rewired.

That makes dealing with lust complicated, because lust is such a gray area.  We know what it is in principle, but we have a hard time defining it in practice.

Is it lust to be attracted to a man?

Is it lust to want to have sex in general?

Is it lust to want to be around men?

Is it lust to want to dress attractively?

Is it lust to recognize my sexuality?

Is it lust to be ‘turned on’ or sexually aroused?

Hard questions, and questions I don’t think we, as a church collective, are good at answering.  When we’re not good at answering something we tend to ignore it or guilt trip people into not asking.

Instead of addressing the realities of female sex drives, we have spent years attempting to regulate them into non-existence.

We make women promise not to touch boys, or dress in a way that seduces boys, or swim in two-piece swimsuits around boys, because boys are the ones with the sex drives and no self- control, and we women are the ones who in our sex-driveless innocence and natural beauty can mistakenly turn them on and cause them to stumble (which is a gross abuse of that verse, ripped completely out of context and ridiculously misapplied- another post, another time).

Some Christians have even gone so far to as to tell Christian women that even marital sex is ‘sanctioned rape’ or that it is a ‘tedious duty.’  I am fully convinced that if any of those women ever met me, they would think I was destined for hell.  I am a Christian woman fully aware of my sex drive, and more often than not that scares me to death, because for years, it was a bad thing.  I’m always worried that I’m using it wrong.  🙂

[Tweet “Untangling lust and good God-honoring sex can be a very difficult process.”]

Naturally, this leads many women to feel that sexual desire is the same as lust, but it isn’t.

Perhaps one of the best and most encouraging resources on this topic is one written by Joshua Harris.  It’s entitled Not Even a Hint or Sex is Not the Problem (Lust Is).

Since the day I picked up this book, I appreciated its perspective.  First off because, in the very first chapter, it mentions women struggling with lust.  Any book that nods to women struggling and tries to minister to them and help them gets a thumbs up from me.

Another reason I cherish this resource is for the way it tries to untangle lust and our God-given sex drives.  Josh, in a very honest and candid way, tries to make clear the difference between the sexual desire hardwired in us and the lustful misuse of that desire.

I’ll continue this in the next post, but I wanted to leave you with a quote from the book.  (You can also watch a great sermon).

It’s not lust to be attracted to someone or notice that he or she is good-looking.

It’s not lust to have a strong desire to have sex.

It’s not lust to anticipate and be excited about having sex within marriage.

It’s not lust when a man or woman becomes turned on without any conscious decision to do so.

It’s not lust to experience sexual temptation. (pg 35)

God doesn’t just want us to cultivate a hatred for lust; He wants us to cultivate a gratefulness and appreciation for the gift of sexual desire He has planted in us.  (pg 38)

-Sex is Not the Problem (Lust is)

To add a little more fun, and because I really like this book that much, I’m giving away a free copy!  Giveaway will be posted on Monday, September 23.  Stick around.


  1. Wow, this is a really helpful post and I am looking forward to reading the book by Joshua Harris. Thank you for writing this, it something I have been mulling over as well. From my own experience I started daydreaming to escape boredom, emotional neglect and stressful situations at a very young age. My parents appreciated my ability to “entertain myself”, apparently requiring less of their attention, but it was the start of lifetime problems for me. I was also boy crazy and started having crushes at 5. It transformed into fantasizing about more and more sexual situations after I was exposed to explicit educational shows (this is how my parents thought I should learn about sex as a child), romance novels and pornography. When I got older, fantasy felt like the safest way to experience sex, voyeuristically watching scenes in my own mind or with pornography. When given the opportunity to date guy I had a crush on for years, I declined preferring the control and outcomes of a fantasy instead. By that time, fantasy had been meeting my needs better than family and romantic relationships for too long. (talk about an idol)

    Technically I was a virgin when I got married, but had years of sexual experience in other ways and a very dirty mind. Even after 13 years of marriage, I am still working on being aroused in the moment by my dear husband instead of relying on fantasy to get there and get through it. For a long time I gave myself permission to fantasize during sex because I knew I didn’t want to have sex with the people of my fantasy. I realize now that this is still a form of lust because whether it is porn or mind-porn, I am using the images of those people to satisfy myself instead of engaging in sex they way God intended, intimately and fully present with your spouse.

    All of this has shown me that I believe there is something a little terrifying about trusting someone else with my needs, something I need God’s help to understand and overcome. After a few years of therapy I understand now that God’s love is not conditional, but full of empathy and always constant. He is the perfect parent who is able to fill in all gaps from childhood and has provided me with a wonderful husband to meet my sexual needs so I don’t have to go to the wrong things anymore. My prayer is that I can fully receive this gift and not let the hurts of my past direct my actions. I also want to quickly recognize when I’m feeling tempted to treat my emotional hurts and needs with sexual activity and go to the Lord to get those needs met appropriately.

    God bless you for your site and your courage to share your testimony, you have encouraged me very much.

    1. Mary,

      Thanks for sharing all that. I hope your vulnerability will encourage some of the women who read here. I get e-mails with stories like this quite often. I want to also recommend that you check out “Sexual Sanity for Women” by Harvest USA. It is a great resource that really helps dig into some of those deeper heart issues. Also, I just started reading “The Sacred Romance” (Brent Curtis, John Eldredge, 1997). I’m not even sure if it’s still in print but it is just revolutionary. It’s so rich, deep and healing. Highly recommend that one too!

      Prayers your way!