Lust. On a list of things never discussed at Christian women’s groups, this topic is probably in the top five. We will admit a lot of scary things, but say we struggle with lust? Um, no thanks. So when my friend was open about her struggle with lust, it was oddly refreshing. Finally someone willing to admit a basic reality: it is not easy to live purely, even when there is no boyfriend within arm’s reach. So, I invited her to help me shape this week’s post with her reflections. First, lies about the struggle with lust and secondly, reflections for this week’s prayer.
Lie: Lust is only a problem because I’m single.
Amy: Lust can be broadly defined as “a passionate or overmastering desire or craving.” So lust really applies to both genders, all marital statuses, and all ages. Being overmastered by a craving, whether it be for money, family, ice cream or a hot embrace, is incompatible with the freedom found in Christ. Those things are all good gifts, but not when we are their slaves. We’ve been set free (Romans 6:6).
Lie: What I do with my body doesn’t affect my mind, heart, soul (or vice versa)
Amy: Our culture says that you can give your body but keep the rest of yourself separate. On this point, I love Tim Keller’s sermon on 1 Corinthians 6:13-20 and 7:27-31 (Sexuality & Christian Hope). Worth a listen this week!
Lie: I just need to distract myself / exercise more / feel guilty when I mess up.
Friend: I have found that it does me no good to simply tell myself, “No! Don’t think that way! Sinner!” I instead have to pray and remind God (not that He needs reminding, but I feel like He does at times) and myself that He created my biological urges. He wanted Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply. Contrary to what the world says that the Bible teaches, sex was not the first sin. My desire to have sex is not wrong, but instead how I try to take shortcuts to satisfy that desire is the sin. So, I usually run to Him emotionally in prayer saying, “Hellooo, God!? You created me with this desire, so I’m going to acknowledge that and be thankful for it–and then, give it back to you.”
I’ve heard people say that that Christians unnaturally suppress their desire and cause themselves physical and mental harm by not having sex, and when I start to view sex that way, I try to fight my temptation with suppression. Suppression doesn’t work. Instead, I have to openly acknowledge before God that He gave me this desire, it’s not wrong to want sex. When I am open and honest with God about my desire, I am reminded He created it as good.
So, you might be saying: Ok, but what am I supposed to be doing now with sexual desire? That answer might be different for each of us, but my friend suggested prayer around two key words “rescue” and “refuge.”
Friend: In my life as a single woman, I often feel like I need to be rescued from temptation in various areas. Often it’s despair that I will ever get married (and the Holy Spirit brought to mind Psalm 40) or that I have to face sexual temptation beyond what I can handle (check out 1 Corinthians 10:13-14). I often turn to Ephesians 2; God doesn’t say make yourself better and come to me, but instead, I have already come to you and for you.
Secondly, I often feel like I need refuge or to be sheltered. I require physical shelter, and God has provided, so why not count on him for shelter in other areas of my life? Revelation 7:15 says that His very presence is a shelter for us. But when I feel a need for male companionship, or for a community with the old and the young, or just the need for physical touch, I start to wonder why it seems He isn’t meeting these needs?
He promises to be sufficient for us, and the Holy Spirit brought to mind that He doesn’t say He’ll meet all of my future needs right now, but that I can bring Him these needs on a daily basis and look for him to meet them. As Lamentations 3:21‐24 points out, His mercies are new every morning. I started looking at my need on the micro level—and the Holy Spirit started actively showing me how He was meeting my needs.
So as we fast and pray this week, let’s start by confessing where our hearts have gone astray, but let’s also celebrate God’s good design for human sexuality. And then let’s come to Him for both rescue and refuge – expecting that He can and will meet us at our point of need.
In His Grace,