Other "Thinking Drafts" and writing by Keith or Sharon Drury --http://www.indwes.edu/tuesday .
Lust – A Woman's Perspective
by Sharon Drury
When Jimmy Carter admitted that he had committed adultery in his heart, the worldly press did not understand. But Bible students knew he was referring to Matthew 5:27-28, "The laws of Moses said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say: Anyone who even looks at a woman with lust in his eye has already committed adultery with her in his heart."
Lust is thinking thoughts on purpose which if carried out in real life would be wrong. It is a dehumanizing use of someone else for your own sexual pleasure. Lust is a disappointing reason to get married and a devastating substitute for an existing marriage. It distorts the high view of sex that Jesus had, who saw beyond the Pharisee's external laws to the internal spirit.
When we think of lust, we most often think of it as a man's problem, often a young man or a "dirty old man." We hear excuses about men being visually driven or that they have higher levels of testosterone. Skin magazines and peep shows are targeted for men. Perhaps the reason we think of lust as a man's problem is that society's definition of lust is sexual, not moral. When we use a moral definition of lust (as above) women do not get off the hook so easily.
So, what kind of lust do women deal with? What kind of thoughts do women entertain that, if carried out in action, would be wrong?
While the following list is generally true, there are always some persons who do not fit into a list of characteristic temptations. And, of course, no woman has to fall into these kinds of sin. But it is good to know where women need to "above all else, guard your heart" (Proverbs 4:23).
Some special characteristics of Women related to lust.
Women are more emotionally vs. visually triggered
While men may be tempted toward lust by seeing another woman, in person or in a picture, women are in danger of thinking lustful thoughts because of a particular emotional attachment to a man. Usually it develops over time, and therefore is harder to break off. One woman told me that she thought moving 400 miles away would solve her problem, but it didn't.
Words more than pictures
Pornography differs for men and for women. Most people are well aware of the battles to rid our stores and cities of pornography. While this usually involves getting rid of skin magazine sales, "adult bookstores" or trashy art shows, a whole industry of "women's pornography" continues to grow. This includes romance novels, soap operas, and even advertising designed to titillate a woman's desire for sexual and emotional gratification outside marriage. Most women do not see the end result of this as harmful. But I've heard from a number of women that those were the kinds of things that eventually made them very dissatisfied with the one single person to whom they had committed their life. Then they were open to Satan's lure for a full-blown affair. Since women are generally more auditory than men, it was the stories that took hold in their minds, instead of pictures as for most men.
Relational vs. Sexual situations
Satan often tempts women to imagine a cozy relationship full of warmth and tenderness, wondering what it would be like to be on a date with a certain man she met. Men, however, are more likely to imagine an actual sex act with a woman, any woman. Both are wrong when it involves someone to whom your are not married. It is being unfaithful with your mind and breaks an important area of trust in your marriage.
How can a woman defeat the temptation to lust that is so subtle, yet so prevalent in our society? Here is a list of what women can do to "take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5).
1. Be less judgmental of others.
Why? Because you may divert attention from the "beam" in your own eye (Matthew 7:1-5). Many women can wax eloquent about men's failings in this area. Sometimes it is an unconscious attempt to cover guilt they may feel in their own life. Let her who thinks she stands, take heed lest she fall.
2. Practice purity where it starts — in your mind.
I've just come in from weeding the garden...again. A story I heard about gardening keeps me at it, though. One man said to the other, "Aren't you grateful to God for such a beautiful garden?" To which the other replied, "You should have seen it when God had it by himself!"
Our minds are a lot like gardens, which when left alone become overgrown with whatever seeds are sown there. Often "an idle mind is the Devil's workshop." Lustful thoughts are some of the thorns that can sprout in an untended mind. For Christians, God wants to work in our minds but He needs our cooperation. Are you willing to have your mind "weeded" by the Holy Spirit?
3. Ask God for a check-up.
Ask Him to strengthen you against any particular tempting situations you face. Let Him pinpoint dangerous areas that could lead to sin. It is not wrong to battle temptation; but don't focus on it so much that you increase its power. As soon as we know something is wrong, we need to destroy it by neglect. Oswald Chambers said, "It's good for our moral character to have something to ignore" (Devotions for Disciples). Sometimes, more drastic action is needed as Matthew 5:29-30 suggests. Perhaps you need to "cut off" a close friendship that is leading to sin, or quit a job that is a source of temptation. Are there people or places you need to avoid completely?
4. Set boundaries for yourself.
Especially in relationships with the opposite sex. A few simple rules up front can save you from a lifetime of regret. Consider rules like: A. Don't share the emotional details of your life with male friends at work or church, or listening to theirs.
B. Do not think of an attractive or talented man in relation to you.
C. Never arrange to be alone with someone other than your spouse, even in ministry.
D. Make teasing about your marriage off limits especially when with another couple.
E. Do not replay (in your mind) compliments made by a male boss.
F. Avoid being overwhelmed by someone else who crosses your boundaries, remembering that to attract someone these days, all you have to do is be there.
G. If anything with even a hint of impropriety does happen, immediately tell your spouse about it and your marriage will be strengthened.
5. Run away!
Destroy evil desires before they become a habit (Colossians 3:5). The Devil never tells you where a seemingly innocent thought will end up. As the old saying goes: "You can't keep a bird from flying over your head, but you can keep it from building a nest in your hair." God will give you caution lights if you are headed in the wrong direction. He always provides a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13). Take this escape route before you are a habitual sinner in this area.
6. Displace evil with good.
Displace impure thinking with increased intimacy in your own marriage. Cultivate romance. Remember the good times and create some new ones. Bring into your marriage excitement and fantasy about your spouse. Set aside time to talk together. Catch up on each other's lives often. Share secrets with each other that neither of you will ever tell anyone else. That's intimacy. Then there won't be room left for lustful thoughts about anyone else. They'll be crowded out, displaced. Sometimes the best offense is a good defense...a strong marriage.
7. Submit your mind/marriage to God.
You become what you think about all day long. Proverbs 23:7 says it this way, "As he thinks in his heart, so is he." How do you evaluate your marriage to yourself? What comments from your husband do you tend to replay? Are you likely to identify with certain explanations you heard from the world? Or is your mind being daily renewed by God? Sometimes a man and wife may both profess to be Christians, and yet they never seem to give in to each other as the Holy Spirit may urge them to do so. God's direction in all our thoughts, including those about our marriage relationship, will really satisfy.
So what do you think?
To contribute to the thinking on this issue e-mail your response toTuesday@indwes.edu
By Keith Drury, 1983. You are free to transmit, duplicate or distribute this article for non-profit use without permission.