You were raised in the church. You followed all the rules. You were “warned” about sex and how it was “dangerous” and were cautioned against igniting sexual passion too soon. “Don’t fool around,” they told you. So, you didn’t.
By all accounts, you were the perfect picture of physical purity. Why, then, are you struggling with sexual temptation, or even pornography?
How could the struggle be so real when you were so careful to listen to all of the “rules”?
You’ve never been alone with a boy, sat too close to a boy, gone swimming with a boy, or hugged a boy, so why can’t you shake this desire to have sex with a boy?
What is wrong with you?
Answer: Nothing, actually.
Can it be intensified by sexual experimentation? Absolutely, but that’s not the exclusive cause.
If you’ve always heard that being a virgin and being a “good” girl will save you from temptation and desire, you’ve been sold a half-truth.
Here’s the other half.
Women have sex drives
What they may not tell you in your youth group or your church is that, as a woman, you do have a sex drive. That sex drive is not purely stimulus-driven. It doesn’t have to be triggered by something external. You don’t have to ‘mess around’ or ‘think sexual thoughts’ to feel sexual desire.
You, like men, can be ‘turned on’ at random times and have sexual dreams, because you, like men, have these annoying things called hormones.
They course through your body, doing whatever they want without your express written consent. As a woman, you should be well-acquainted with their ways and how their fluctuation can make you super happy one day and ready to commit murder the next. We contend with these every month, during pregnancy, and on days that end in “y.”
The desire for sex is programmed in our bodies. It’s how the human race keeps going.
Can sexual experimentation make that tendency and desire stronger? Of course! Is it the sole cause? No, and I am very sorry if you were raised to believe that ‘being a good girl’ would free you from any struggle. It won’t.
But there are some important things to remember.
Sex is not sin
First, remove any shame that accompanies the idea of sex. Sex and shame should not be together.
To be clear, I am all for abstinence. I practice it and believe others should as well for a variety of reasons, many of which are ‘religious.’ This is not me telling you that there is nothing wrong with sex and you should just go have it. This is me telling you there is absolutely nothing wrong with sex, and you still shouldn’t go have it. That’s a different blog post.
If you’ve never read Joshua Harris’ book “Sex is not the Problem: Lust is” I highly recommend it.
Unfortunately, I think in our zeal to protect the beauty and sacredness of sex, the approach of the church has been more to scare people away from it. That creates problems for those of us (meaning most) who have sex drives and experience sexual desire. We get wracked with guilt because we feel that it’s somehow wrong to desire sex, and it isn’t.
Is it really temptation?
But let’s zoom out and answer the question, because the reality is that many women write in saying, “I did everything I was supposed to do. I didn’t mess around. Why is this so hard?”
There’s two paths this answer can take.
The first is that what you are feeling is ‘temptation’ actually isn’t temptation. What do I mean?
Some women write in upset just by the desire to have sex. They aren’t tempted to look at porn, or to drive down to a hotel and sleep with a stranger, or send nude photos to their boyfriend. They just want sex- and they feel bad, dirty, and unChristian for wanting sex.
This goes back to the idea of getting rid of the shame associated with sex. If you take away the shame, then what you’re left with is simply a sex drive. That’s it. It’s not ‘temptation’ if you’re not being led to do something wrong.
Imagine ice cream. If I desire ice cream, that’s not really a temptation in the Biblical sense (as in temptation to sin). It’s just something I want. I can do many things with that desire- including going to the store and buying some ice cream or… holding up an ice cream truck at gun point and stealing all the ice cream sandwiches. One is the right way to fulfill the desire. The other obviously is not.
The desire for ice cream was not the problem. The moment I conjured up the idea to hold up the local ice cream man- that’s when I had a problem.
So, if all you are contending with is an unfulfilled sexual desire, don’t get frustrated with yourself thinking you’ve somehow failed in the realm of sexual integrity. Check this online presentation out for more on this idea.
But what if it really is temptation?
What if you really are watching porn, struggling with fantasy, masturbating habitually, sexting, or seriously thinking about sleeping with your boyfriend? You’ve never even done anything sexual ever. How did it get this far when you ‘did everything right’?
The answer is fairly simple. On one hand you have the Godly desire of sex, intimacy, and relationship. On the other, you have a society saturated in porn, fantasy, and messages of sexual rights and empowerment. You are constantly exposed to messages that tell you it is ok to hold up the ice cream man. After all, you have rights! What do people expect you to do- starve?!
In addition, we have our natural tendency to do things as quick, easy, and commitment-free as possible.
We have a desire. We want it met quickly and easily because we’re impatient and waiting sounds like no fun at all. Someone gives us an ‘out.’ A quick, easy, not-hurting-anybody, way out…
Of course we’re going to be tempted to take it!
Why wouldn’t we be?
Bottom line: your struggle with sexual temptation can be influenced by your own actions but also by the culture surrounding you. You may have every intention of doing things the right way, but you are surrounded by a culture that mocks that and suggests 101 other ways to do things.
You have to stand strong in the face of that culture. ‘Not messing around’ is only half the battle.