By the title, I’m sure you are quiet interested in reading this. I know it’s been a while since I’ve written. A lot has happened (thus, more posts to come). But I want to talk about something for the first time ever that I struggled with that has proved a major obstacle in my walk with Jesus in the past: lust. I felt strongly convicted to share this with you and I am so excited because I’m hoping this will help someone. Though my struggle with lust looks different than many other people’s, I know this will bless someone out there.
I’m not sure how to start this but let’s start here: though I have never had sex before and have never put myself in a situation that could lead to it, sex is something I can’t wait to experience. Now before I go any further, I’d love to clarify something: sex is not bad! Sex in and of itself is not a sin. Why and how, you ask? Because God created it! And all of God’s creation is good, very good (ref. Genesis 1:31, for context, read all of Gen 1). Sex is not the problem, it is sin that’s the problem. To put this into a metaphor that is easier to comprehend, let’s think of fire. What is fire? Its light, warmth, can be pretty, and when applied to certain contexts (birthday cake candles, fireplaces, camp grounds for s’more making, etc), fire can be not only useful, but a fun experience. But when applied in the wrong context (i.e. lighting someone’s house on fire) it can be not only a bad experience, but a detrimental one. So you see, fire isn’t the problem, it’s the context it’s used in that’s harmful.
So as I was saying, sex is a beautiful thing and it is good because God created it. But when lust, sexual immorality, etc is the context we are speaking of, it becomes sin. In my life, sex has always been this thing I can’t experience. I am a single woman who is not only unmarried but not even dating. And mixed in with the fact that I have body image issues and have never found myself attractive, I thought this was a gift that would always be passed over me and I would never be able to experience. Needless to say, because this was my mentality, I grew angry at God very quickly: “How dare He make me this way? He knew no man would find me attractive enough to date let alone marry, so sex was off the table from the get go. This was His way of showing me He loved me? That’s just cruel!” Yes these and many other thoughts swirled around in my head, painting this picture of a God who wasn’t a loving Father but a cruel deity who didn’t want me to experience love or fun. So, in order to combat this, I decided I would create my own world where love was a possibility for me. I drowned my sorrows in romantic movies, romance novels, love songs, and always dreamed up the perfect man in my mind who would love me unconditionally. The older I got, the more intricate my dreams became and the more specific the content I was reading, watching, and listening to became.
Before I knew it, I had opened this box that I shouldn’t have opened in the first place. Instead of being patient, I was angry, insecure, and let lust run rampant in my life, calling myself a “romantic” instead of someone struggling with lust and idolized romance. I have always longed for someone who wanted to swoop me in his arms and love me for me, commit to me in marriage and finally “give me permission” to experience sex the way I thought it looked like. Granted…I didn’t know what it looked like, so I had nothing to go off of, but I still imagined it to be this grand thing that only the specially people God loved most could experience. Before I knew it, I had believed the lies Satan told me and accepted them as true, made them idols and replaced Jesus in my heart. I thought it was more important, more fun, more fulfilling, and more satisfying than Him. How wrong I was! For many people, lust looks different: for some it could mean an addiction to porn, for others maybe actively maintaining various sexual partners, or maybe even struggling with masturbation. Whatever it looks like for you, lust is sinful and is very detrimental to your walk with Jesus. But in my experience, the more we talk about sex in the church and the less we shame each other for thinking about sex in a health way, the better our relationship with sex will be.
For far too long, sex has been a taboo subject in the church. Obviously we were all born so someone had to have participated in sex at some point. I know it may be “gross” and strange to think about their parents having sex, but we must realize that it is a part of life. And not only that, but it was created as a gift by God to be enjoyed in the context of marriage (refs. Gen 1 & 1 Cor 7). Sex is NOT bad and it is a GOOD thing! But friends, when applied to the wrong context, it is sinful and can manifest something inside of us that God did not intend. It can pull us away from our relationship with Jesus, and sometimes even people. Do not go down this detrimental rabbit hole, it’s not worth it. Do not disguise your struggle with lust by calling yourself a hopeless romantic or justifying the things you watch, read or listen to by blaming it on your desires. Yes we were created to be sexual beings but only in the right context! For me, having love and sex as idols in my life made my loneliness more profound. When the movie ended and book was finished, I had to look up at my life and realize that I could no longer live vicariously through these characters any longer. And what happens when these things are no longer enough? What then? How do we satisfy this hunger that keeps on growing? If we aren’t quenching it with Jesus, we will try to quench it with other things and news flash, based off of my and so many other people’s experiences, that doesn’t work.
In recent months, someone very close to me confided in me that she struggled with masturbation and flirting with men she shouldn’t have been involved with. Her confession to me made me feel less alone. I wasn’t the only one who had a lust problem and for some reason, we have this narrative that it’s only men who struggle with this. Women are sexual beings too and it is not uncommon for women to long for sex just as much as men! Her confession let me know I was not alone and that we could keep each other accountable. Y’all, if you haven’t already, speak your sins out loud to someone. Be sure you have a strong Christ-centered community and friendships that can help keep you on track and closer to God. As soon as you let go of your pride, shame, embarrassment, whatever it is, you will feel so much better!
Now please hear me: ROMCOMS ARE NOT BAD! LOVE SONGS ARE NOT BAD! ROMANCE NOVELS ARE NOT BAD! It is just as I said with the fire metaphor, you have to look at your heart posture and realize why you are using the fire. Is it to bring light to your life and enjoy it in a healthy manor? Or is it to fill a void that fire was not meant to fill and cannot be contained in a safe way? Look at your life and be honest, if your reasons for using whatever “fire” represents in your life as a way to fill a void, it’s better to let it go and ask God to fill in the holes in your heart you’re feeling. If it’s to compliment your life and be used in a healthy way, then by all means, enjoy it! Being a Christian isn’t about the do’s and don’ts or the can’s and can’ts. It’s about how your love for Jesus can eventually overpower your love of self. When I decided I wanted Jesus more than I wanted instant gratification, I felt a freedom that was unlike anything I had felt before. I promise it’s worth it, friends. It is worth it to choose Jesus over yourself. Don’t stay in bondage and slavery to your sins, you don’t have to! Jesus has already defeated sin for us! Yes and amen to this truth, yes and amen to everything He is doing in my life right now, and though we will never be perfect and sometimes may slip up, God’s grace will absolutely cover you every time. Nothing can separate us from His love! Speak God’s love language today of repentance and obedience. Is it hard? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes. Every time.