Since I’ve been discussing sex a lot I figured that this is a good time for this post since there are quite a few women who read this blog even though it’s for men.
This is somewhat of a “repost” in sorts from the comments I made on Peacefulwife’s book review on “Through a man’s eyes” by Shaunti Feldhahn and Craig Gross. I haven’t read the book itself, but I did respond to some of the comments because there were some misconceptions about male sexuality. From what I understand, the book is for women to help them understand how men think and act in their sexuality. Now let’s move on the relevant parts.
One of the commenters posts that a Christian male counselor, no less, told her:
I also think that it is important to understand that the “lust” of pornography is less about sex and more about power, just as the crime of rape is not about sex but is about violence and power, i. e. “I can force this woman to submit to me,” or in the case of pornography, the fantasy of ” I am powerful enough that this woman will expose herself to me upon my demand.”, This is important to note because the more we grant our husbands “power” in their own homes, through respect, submission to decision-making, etc., the more that will inoculate them from trying to get the need for respect and power met outside the marriage relationship.
Mostly False. Both of your examples are feminist myths. It’s a feminist myth because it’s a projection. Women desire power (see: curse of Eve in Genesis 3), so they think that men desire power which motivates sex and rape.
No man including me will hold it against you because you don’t know what the male sex drive feels like. The desire to have sex is a biological drive, and I would classify it as a need for most men.
It’s like a gnawing hunger that you have **all** of the time. Sometimes it’s “low level” where you can feel the stomach acid in your stomach slowly eating away at your insides. Other times it’s “starvation level” where you feel like you’re going to die if you don’t have sex.
The reason why I said mostly false is that there are some narcissistic and psychopathic men where “sex” or “rape” is equated with power and/or murder. However, this is a very low percentage of the population and often only serial killers and serial rapists. Some women are like this too. Thus,
- In general, power does not drive the need for sex. Biology drives the need for sex for men.
- Respect and submissiveness means that husbands will choose their wives over pornography or trying to suppress the drive.
Thus, the behavior of wives influences decision making and not the need.
April was a bit confused, so I ended up elaborating further on this point:
I think that [the commenter] and I were talking about porn addiction – and it seems you are talking about sex drive in general for a man. Is there not a difference, in your mind?
The comment was about the “lust” of pornography not being about sex but power. Generally speaking, the lust (or biological drive for sex) is there already. Sex with a wife, pornography, masturbation, or suppression are all different outlets for it. If a man isn’t getting his need met in one area (say the wife), then he will likely turned to another area to get it.
This is because of the sex drive of men. One of the major reasons — if not THE main reason — why men get married is to have sex. After all, the only reasoning given in the NT to have sex is in 1 Corinthians 7. It is better to be of the Lord’s things, but if they cannot control themselves it is better to marry than to burn. Thus, the desire/passion to have sex which most men have IS one of the main reasons to be married.
That said a nagging and disrespectful wife is a turn off for men. That’s part of why men may choose masturbation or porn rather than wanting to have sex with their wife. No man would willingly want to have masturbate or watch porn over a real life human (their wife no less!). However, different factors such as disrespect may influence him to choose other decisions.
The reason I choose to comment is that it’s important to distinguish the biological need for sex between the reasons a man may choose a different outlet for them. Many wives become bitter at their men because they want sex all of the time not understanding that sex is a major reason for how men feel respected and loved, how it relieves them of the “all the time urge,” and how it makes them more loving toward their wives.
If you just clump in the biological need for sex with “power” then you have women that are less empathetic and sympathetic toward their husband’s desire. This can lead them to more willingly turn down sex (despite 1 Cor 7 and the admonition not to) which may lead to marital dysfunction.
Another commenter makes a good analogy about what I was talking about:
I’d say that for most men, especially most Christian men (though there are always exceptions), their wife is their most preferred source for sexual fulfillment, by a wide margin. So, if there is a healthy sexual relationship going on, where the wife is both available and affirming, then the porn option is very clearly perceived as one that pales in comparison to sex with their wife. I know this was definitely the case for me when I struggled with pornography during my marriage. But the flip side is that as the levels of affirmation and/or availability go down, the attractiveness of porn goes up and the temptation becomes more difficult to overcome. (Repeating what has been said before here: this does not excuse or justify the husband in pursuing pornography or giving in to temptation; that is his sin and his alone. But it’s also a fact of nature — a thirsty man is going to have a harder time turning down a less healthy drink and holding out for a healthy drink than is a man who has plenty of healthy drinks available.) Hope this helps.
Now, these are not the be-all end-all explanation of why a man may choose something else over his wife. April did make a good list about different other reasons:
- an addiction that may have begun when he was s teenager, or even earlier that has nothing to do with his attraction to his wife now
- feeling rejected by his wife sexually
- feeling disrespected by his wife, especially over long periods of time
- an addiction that develops in adulthood
- not being attracted to his wife anymore (DS: i.e. she gets fat and slovenly)
- frustration in life in general
- not having a legitimate sexual outlet (a man is single, for instance)
However, it is important to note that Christian men who choose to marry are getting married because they want to have sex with their wives! Christian women need to understand this need.
Why rejecting a spouse’s sexual advances is condemned in the Bible
Essentially, when wives make comments like “all you think about is sex all the time” it’s a rejection of their man and his sexuality. Because sex is how men feel closeness and intimacy with their wives, a rejection of this tends to put him in a typical male rejected state. The same is true of when a husband rejects a wife. She feels rejected as well.
The default male state when they are rejected from anything is to withdraw and shut down emotionally. Men, in general, do not talk about their failures with other people at least until they have a decent amount of time to process it. Men want to be alone to process the particular actions, and the fact that they don’t express this emotionally is a feature not a bug. Men generally process their emotions internally and not externally. Women, on the other hand, like to discuss how they feel outwardly with other women. Then they can support each other verbally.
One of the most damaging lies is that women try to pry out the emotional state of their man from within them as it will help them connect better or make the relationship better. That’s generally not how men are, and not what you should be doing with a man. I’ve actually seen countless women in Church groups when everyone is sitting around try to get men to open up emotionally to them saying it is somehow good to do this. Especially in a group setting. It’s simply not the case.
Aside from that tangent, it starts to put the relationship in a poor behavioral cycle.
- Wife rejects her husband or vice versa
- Opposite spouse feels rejected and tends to shut down toward their spouse
- Other spouse wonders why their spouse is withdrawing and it makes them feel alone
- Since that spouse feels more alone they are more likely to say hurtful than helpful things
- This whole cycle creates a wedge or wall between each spouse
Indeed, sex is purely about unity and bonding. Hence, it should be obvious when we look at the rejection of sex — unity and bonding — that it leads to disunity and discord.
This is not to say that there aren’t cases medical or otherwise that you may not feel like or want to have sex. Rather it means that you should put forth the effort even if you don’t feel like it because it is the godly and right thing to do. If you are too tired let your spouse know that you are open to it but they have to get you aroused and do most of the work. If you have a medical condition that prevents intercourse then do other sexual acts instead of turning them down.
It is VERY important to understand that continual rejection of either spouse — the husband or the wife — makes it more likely that they may go somewhere else with their desires and needs. For husbands this may include masturbation, pornography, adultery, and other involvement with other women. For wives this may include the same as husbands but also emotional and physical affairs, romance novels, and other emotionally romantic or stimulating material.
Indeed, it does not cause it as each of us makes our own choice, but it means you are subjecting them to greater temptation from the devil as it says in 1 Corinthians 7. The more you subject someone to temptation the more likelier they are to fall since we are not perfect like Christ.
1 Corinthians 7:5 Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
The Scriptures are awesome because they acknowledge our weakness. Paul wasn’t married and was of the Lord’s things, but he was inspired by God to write about if we burn we should [try to] be married. Likewise, because this burning is strong we should not deprive sex from each other because we tend to have a lack of control toward sexual matters; hence why we got married in the first place!
Confusion and objections
There are some other comments in the post that I want to address here that I did not over there.
OK so why did God create men’s minds to enjoy or want that stuff?!?
You say he didn’t intend us to suffer PMS, it was part of the curse in Genesis 3. Was it also part of the curse that men’s brains are wired like this, then? I feel as if we have no excuse for bad behaviour at that time of the month, but men seem to have all this mountain of excuse for theirs. Like we have to understand them, and not blame them? I don’t want to read this book because I think I would get angry.
No sin is ok, but it does make it clear in 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 that sexual sin of any kind is particularly bad and damaging, and I’ve always taken it to mean that it is worse than other kinds of sin. (Not worse in God’s eyes, obviously all sin is sin, but worse as in more damaging and hurtful).
Sorry if I am being negative about this, it IS a very sore subject for me – not because of my husband’s attitude or actions, thankfully, but just because I am very vulnerable and jealous about him seeing anything inappropriate, or even watching an explicit scene in a mainstream film. Thankfully my husband (not a Christian) knows this is a massive issue for me and is extremely sensitive and caring about not looking at other women etc. But I am aware of what’s out there and I cannot understand why we should try to see men’s points of view on this, or be understanding about their desire to look!!
First, God created men to enjoy the physical appearance of women and to be aroused sexually by it because His creation is beautiful.
Free Northerner discusses form, function, and beauty in this post in regard to the aesthetic nature of architecture and design. In particular, if you are not going to read the link, the awe inspiring and beautiful nature of cathedral dwarfs much of the aesthetic appeal of anything else post-Renaissance. Why? As FN notes beauty is objective and only subjective around the margins. Likewise, cathedrals are about God and inspiring us in the awe and wonder of the nature, the power, and the presence of God. As they say, a picture is worth 1000 words.
Indeed, we know that the beauty of women is an objective trait and marginally subjective. Although it may be crass to discuss the “number system” a 8 out of 10 in attractiveness will tend to be within 1-2 grade points of her actual beauty. Some men may think she is a 6 and some men a 10. However, most of the men will congregate around the 7-9 range with the majority of them saying she is an 8.
Generally, the objectiveness of beauty is due to specific traits in men and women such as symmetric faces and features, lack of blemishes in the skin, and other describable phenomena. Likewise, those who are overweight or obese and slovenly have an objectively lower beauty than if she had a slimmer waist and < .9 waist to hip ratio with the majority of men finding a .7 waist to hip ratio the most objectively pleasing to the eye.
Second, as I stated earlier there is a vast difference between what God has created namely for us to enjoy beauty as opposed to what is sinful. April asked about this in particular:
Would you be able to describe the difference between a man’s sex drive and lust? Because – I think it is confusing to us as women. Lust is sin. But I don’t believe a biological drive is sin. Of course, we can take a biological drive and choose to fulfill it in ungodly ways. But there is a willing choice that comes into play. With me not being a man, I don’t know that I can pinpoint when the choice to lust comes in vs. biology. It seems a bit murky at times to me.
In general, sex drive = desire = lust. However, when the Scriptures refer to “lust” it does not always mean “sin.” This is best explained in Biblical terms.
James 1:13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
The Greek word for “lust” or “desire” is epithumia.
G1939 — ἐπιθυμία — epithumia — ep-ee-thoo-mee’-ah
From G1937; a longing (especially for what is forbidden): – concupiscence, desire, lust (after). Total KJV occurrences: 38
It’s not always used in a negative context. For example, Jesus in Luke 22 uses the same word to say that “He has desired (or lusted) to eat the passover” with His disciples. Obviously, this is a good thing! It’s also used in Luke in the prodigal son who “desired” to eat the food that the pigs ate since he was so hungry, in Luke 16 when the poor made desired to eat the crumbs from the rich man’s table, and in Luke 17 when Jesus is saying a time will come when the disciples will “desire” to see the Son of Man but will not be able to find Him (probably referring to his post-death and pre-resurrection).
A man’s sex drive is like “desire” or “lust” that is always there. It’s constant and gnawing sometimes just barely but sometimes like a man will feel like he is going to die. Only when this desire meets temptation *and* gives into it does it become sin.
>> Desire + temptation to evil + dragging away –> conception (or succumbing to the temptation) = sin –> death. Desire + temptation to evil can be resisted and not sin.
Likewise, when epithumia (or rather the verb epithumeo) is used by Jesus in Matthew 5 it is used in terms of coveting something which is not yours:
Matthew 5:27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’[e] 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully (epithumeo) has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
As you can see, a man’s desire or sex drive is not a sin. Nor is a man’s sex drive or desire and temptation a sin. It is only when those two combine and a man is dragged away and succumbs to the temptation that it births sin.
Hence, “lust” or “desire” is not sin until it involved succumbing to temptation. Generally there is no distinction made between “lust” and “sin” because it is almost always used in the context of describe sin in the Scriptures, but it’s clear that this is not the case.
Third, back to the original question posed by the wife above it is important to know that both looking and thoughts themselves are not sins. Indeed, we are put in situations sometimes that we have no control over such as seeing attractive women at the beach, supermarket, or otherwise in our daily lives. Sometimes we see commercials, movies or popups on the Internet. The Scripture is quite clear that what enters through the eyes into the mind is not sin because we take take our thoughts captive to Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
What this does mean is that it’s probably not a good idea to do a double take. It’s probably not a good idea to keep looking. It’s probably not a good idea to dwell on the thoughts of what she may look like otherwise. It’s probably not a good idea to let your imagination run a bit wild.
Remember what Jesus said about what makes us unclean? It’s not about what goes into us, it’s about what we do. Take note that even the disciples didn’t get it until they got an explanation.
Matthew 15:10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”
12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?” 13 He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Leave them; they are blind guides.[d] If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”
Peter said, “Explain the parable to us.”
16 “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. 17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”
This is important because although the initial subject was uncleanliness Jesus makes it quite clear that He is talking about all of the things that come out.
Hence, a Christian husband that may see an attractive woman at the beach is not sinning as something is only going in. He may not dwell on it, so it’s only a temptation that he resisted. However, if his wife responds in a shaming or condemning manner she is sinning as what is coming out of her is not behavior that is honors Christ.
I imagine that this is a very difficult word for Christian women to accept, but based on what Jesus says it’s absolutely true. This leads us into the last section on jealousy and responses.
Fourth, jealousy needs to be addressed. I don’t doubt that a bunch of women and men struggle with this issue, but it’s more an issue about yourself than it is with the other person. There’s many reasons why this is not fruitful, but the main one is because you are not honoring the other person as a human being who has free will.
If they are a Christian they need your help and support to resist temptation when they desire or lust after others. They don’t need condemnation or shame if they already know they are struggling with this area. I discussed the reasoning behind this in shame doesn’t work part 1 and part 2.
This goes along with the concept that if you make it a big deal and something to focus on that people are more likely going to dwell on it. For example, Jesus’ analogy for the Christian walk is the straight and narrow path. If you’re focusing on “sin” which is basically side the straight and narrow path it is more likely you will veer off the path just like if you were driving on focusing on the curb on the side of the road you are more likely going to swerve around and potentially drive off the road. This is affirmed in Philippians 4.
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is [e]lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, [f]dwell on these things. 9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Rather than allowing jealousy to dwell on the temptation and condemning or shaming someone else for their temptation, instead it is better to talk and focusing things back to those which are godly. If a wife or husband was fighting issues with temptation and lust it would be a good idea for the other spouse to have sex with them as that is godly and brings about unity.
However, this is not the first thought through many Christians in marriages. A wife who sees her husband see an attractive woman will not think to herself that she should have sex with him to he’s not tempted anymore. Rather, she will often get jealous, make snarky comments, and condemn her husband for looking.
When a spouse is placed in a situation where they are tempted, the other spouses response should be to help alleviate their temptation. Basically, they should help funnel the desire to do evil into godly outlets for it. If a wife or husband is tempted to sin sexually then they should have sex to alleviate that temptation. If they are tempted to be dishonest or lie then they should encourage and help them to tell the truth. If they are tempted to cover things up then they should encourage and help them to disclose it to the proper authorities. This not only brings the couple together in unity but also helps them honor God with all that is in them.It is important to understand your identity in Christ. I don’t have to police others thoughts and temptations as a Christian, but I do have the responsibility to encourage and help them when they are in their time of need.This post is long so I’ll end here. Hope it was informative. Post any questions to the comments.