Lust vs. Normal Sexual Desire

Some of the language you've used in posing your question is revealing. We're thinking especially of the word "uncontrollable." We can understand why you might be feeling discouraged and frustrated if you're having trouble controlling your sexual desires. At the same time, we don't think it's fair to say that God has "set you up for failure." Bear with us while we try to explain.

In our view, it's a mistake to confuse normal sexual attraction with lust. Sexual attraction is natural. When a good-looking female walks by and a man "takes note"-a routine occurrence that takes place with a fair degree of regularity-this is not necessarily the same thing as "lusting after a woman." That's because true lust involves a choice and an act of the will. To a certain extent it's a conscious decision to pursue the desirable object instead of simply allowing it to pass on by. It's a willingness to give in to the natural impulse. That's what happened when David, after seeing Bathsheba bathing on the rooftop, went the next step by sending messengers to inquire after her and bring her to his palace (2 Samuel 11:3, 4).

The Bible makes it clear that there is such a thing as personal self-control. That's the good news here. A man can learn to allow such sensory stimuli to bounce off him without taking root in his mind and heart. In other words, he can practice the principle expressed in Martin Luther's maxim that "it's one thing to have a bird land on your head, but quite another to let it build a nest in your hair." That's what it means to overcome lust. Naturally, this requires a certain degree of commitment and discipline - perhaps more in the case of the male than in the female. But then struggle, discipline, commitment, and growth in the virtue of self-control are all part of what it means to live as a Christian in this world. That's what the process of sanctification is all about.

If you think it might be helpful to discuss your concerns with a member of our staff, feel free to get in touch with Focus on the Family's Counseling Department. Our trained counselors would be more than happy to speak with you over the phone. You can contact them for a free consultation Monday through Friday between 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. Mountain time at 855-771-HELP (4537). They'll be pleased to assist you in any way they can.

Related Video
In this iQuestions video from Focus on the Family, Gary Smalley shares how to cultivate purity in your life by hiding God's Word in your heart.


Resources
When Good Men Are Tempted (book)

Your Single Treasure: Good News About Singles and Sexuality (book)

Articles
Overcoming Lust

Striking at the Heart of Lust

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