Why does the KJV render Romans 7:7 as “lust” and “covet”?

Is lust the same as covetousness?  Why does the KJV in Romans 7:7 translate one word as “lust” and another as “covetousness” even though in other translations like the NASB and NIV they translate both words as “covet”?

A friend of mine, Emily recently wrote this to me about Romans 7:7.  For my readers who are not familiar with this discussion one of the truths that I believe the Bible teaches is that lust is covetousness.  Specifically in the context of Matthew 5:28 lust is referring to a specific form of covetousness – mainly to covet another man’s wife.

Emily is not alone, there are many good Christians who want to believe that lust is a separate sin from covetousness and that lust refers simply to sexual desire, rather than it applying more accurately to sexual covetousness. I believe based on the whole of Scripture, as well as the meaning of the original languages that this distinction between lust and covetousness is faulty. Lust IS covetousness.

Here was Emily’s statement to me:

 “But first… that is not how it is phrased in my Bible, fyi. I just looked it up. It compares coveting to coveting, not to lust. Lust is not mentioned in that passage at all!

In that case, there is not much else in the Bible that equates the two. So I mean, thanks for clarifying what you mean by covet but I still think lust in and of itself is a sin.”

The reason Emily is not seeing see it in her  English translation of the Bible is because some modern English translations have left out the distinction Paul was trying to make.

Here is Romans 7:7 in the KJV, the NASB and NIV:

“What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” (KJV)

“What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “You shall not covet.” (NASB)

“What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” (NIV)

Now usually between these three popular translations the KJV is the most literal(but uses older English words), the NASB is more literal than the NIV, but less literal than the KJV with more modern words and then you have the NIV rounding out with the most modern wording, but it is often the least literal out of the three. Each of these have their value and I have used all these and other versions in my studies over the last 20 years.

But occasionally the NASB is more literal than even the KJV, and sometimes even the NIV is more literal or a better translation of a particular verse than the KJV.

So the big question is why does the KJV translate the first word as lust and only the second word as covet while these other two translations translate both words as covet? The reason is because in the Greek these are two different words:

“What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust[Epithumia], except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet[Epithumeo].” (KJV)

Here is the definition of the Greek word Epithumia (which the KJV translates as “lust” in Romans 7:7) according to Thayer and Smith’s Bible dictionary:

“desire, craving, longing, desire for what is forbidden, lust”

Here is the definition of the Greek word Epithumeo (which the KJV translates as “covet” in Romans 7:7) according to Thayer and Smith’s Bible dictionary:

“to turn upon a thing

to have a desire for, long for, to desire

to lust after, covet

of those who seek things forbidden”

So while these words are synonyms they are not identical and the KJV accurately represents that distinction in its translation where the NASB and NIV loose that distinction for the reader. If Paul meant to use the same word twice he would have said “for I had not known [Epithumeo], except the law had said, Thou shalt not [Epithumeo].” but he used a deliberate word play here with these synonyms to get his point across.

Both Epithumia and Epithumeo are used in positive and negative contexts

These words do not always represent wrong desires, lust or covetousness in the bad sense of these words.  The context of the surrounding passage is what tells us if these words are being used in a negative or positive sense.

Here is a positive use of Epithumia(translated as “lust” in Romans 7:7) in another passage of Scripture:

“But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.  For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire[Epithumia]  to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.” – Philippians 1:22-24 (KJV)

This is one of those passages of Scripture where I think the NIV does a better job of making this more understandable in modern English while still staying true to the wording in the original language:

“If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire[Epithumia] to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.” – Philippians 1:22-24 (NIV)

In either case both the KJV and NIV correctly translate Epithumia as “desire” here. Desire is used in the sense of a positive desire on the Apostle Paul’s part to want to be with the Lord in heaven.

Here is a positive use of Epithumeo in the Scriptures:

“And he said unto the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire[Epithumeo] to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it.” – Luke 17:22 (KJV)

Here is a another negative use of Epithumia(translated as “lust” in Romans 7:7) in another passage of Scripture:

“Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection[Pathos], evil concupiscence[Epithumia], and covetousness[Pleonexia], which is idolatry:” – Colossians 3:5 (KJV)

Concupiscence is an English word that means “evil sexual desires”.  Incidentally the word translated “covetousness” here is not the same word “Epithumeo” that is translated as “covet” in Romans 7:7.  This is another Greek word “Pleonexia” which has more to do with the greedy side of covetousness, rather than the desire to possess something that does not belong to us side of covetousness and this is why the NASB translates this same passage using the word “greed” instead of “covetousness”:

“Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion[Pathos], evil desire[Epithumia], and greed[Pleonexia], which amounts to idolatry.” Colossians 3:5 (NASB)

The NASB except for the word “immorality”, which should be “sexual immorality” is probably the most accurate translation of this verse to the original language of the Bible here in Colossians 3:5. The Greek word “Pathos” which is translated as “passion” in the NASB has the idea of a person being led astray by emotions.

But here we see based on the context of it being “evil” that these are speaking to wrong desires.

Here is another negative use of Epithumeo (translated as “covet” in Romans 7:7) in another passage of Scripture:

“But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after[Epithumeo] her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” – Matthew 5:28 (KJV)

Conclusion

As I said before every translation of Scripture is just that, a translation of Scripture. Each translation has its strengths and weaknesses. But in this particular case the KJV rendering of Romans 7:7 by using “lust” in comparison to “covet” is accurately communicating the Apostle Paul’s attempt to play these two synonyms off each other.

“What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” – Romans 7:7 (KJV)

In the context of lust as it is spoke of in Matthew 5:27, this also proves by the fact that Epithumeo is used for lusting after a woman and Epithumeo is used synonymously of the 10th commandment in Romans 7:7 as “covet” that means God equates lust to covetousness.

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The Church, Women and Barbeques

Imagine that you had a neighbor that had barbeque parties all summer long in his backyard. You like to barbeque too. But there is a world of difference between what he gets to cook on his barbeque and what you get to cook on yours. He cooks steaks every weekend, but you can only afford hamburgers.

By now you have probably honed your hamburger making skills to a science. You make the best barbequed hamburgers for your wife and children. But hamburgers will never be steaks.

Your neighbor makes a lot more money than you. He gets the best cuts of steak every weekend to make for his wife and their friends. Every weekend as you cook in your backyard you can see those sizzling steaks. The aroma is intoxicating. You can imagine just sinking your teeth into one of those steaks and how awesome it would be.

But you never allow your thoughts to turn to covetousness toward your neighbor’s steak. Instead you thank God each week for the ability to buy and cook those hamburgers that you have down to a science.

But what if you allowed your thoughts about those steaks to go to a different place? What if you started to imagine scenarios where you could sneak over there in your neighbor’s yard and grab one of those steaks off the grill? He and his wife go in their house all the time to get things for their party, you could wait till their gone for a second and take one. Maybe you act on this thought, maybe you don’t. It does not matter – what you have just experienced is a covetous thought.

Do you see where imagination moves to covetousness? God created us as human beings with an imagination. God also gave us a natural desire for and pleasure from the sights, smell and taste of food. But our sin nature will take something that God intended for our pleasure (our imagination and the pleasure we get from the sights, smell and taste of food) and corrupt it into wicked and covetous thoughts.

Covetousness takes our God given desires and corrupts them into the desire to possess those things which he has not given us to possess. Covetousness then moves from the desire to possess into imagining in our mind ways we could take possession of that thing which does not belong to us. Covetousness does not require that we actually act on any imaginations of possession, even just the imaginations in this case become sinful.

The Bible tells us to enjoy the blessings God has given us in the book of Ecclesiastes:

“Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion.

Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God.” – Ecclesiastes 5:18-19 (KJV)

God tells us in his Word that it is “good and comely” to enjoy the gifts he has given us. Some of those gifts include food and drink, our jobs and houses. The old English word comely is a translation of the Hebrew word “Yapheh” which literally means “beautiful or handsome”. God literally finds it “good and beautiful” when we as his creations enjoy the many gifts he has bestowed upon us – and one of those gifts is our ability to imagine things and also our ability to enjoy the sights, smells and taste of our favorite foods.

So what do Steaks have to do with women and the Church?

Well let’s change up our story a bit. Sure you like steak. But you notice something even more attractive than the steak your neighbor is cooking and that is wife.

“That’s wrong! That is lust! That is totally different than enjoying the sight of your neighbor’s steak. She is person man! Get your mind out of the gutter! She is a person for whom Christ died, not some object for your sexual viewing pleasure!” – This would be the reaction from many Christians and even some non-Christians.

Let’s say you had one of your friends over with wife for a barbeque. Your wife and his wife are chatting away in the house while you and your friend stand around the barbeque chatting. Your friend mentions “Boy those steaks you neighbor has cooking look great!” and you reply “And so does his wife.” If your friend has been in a typical Christian Church for any length of time he might mention Matthew 5:28 to you.

“But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” – Matthew 5:28 (KJV)

Your fellow Christian Brother might then point out to you “This verse means that if you look with lust on any woman you are not married to you are committing adultery in your heart. You see In Christianity, it’s the intentions, just as much as the actions that are important.”

Now many people think of lust in our modern English terms as having to do completely with sexual thoughts but in the Bible however lust is not always talking about sex. So if you were not a really inquisitive person you might leave it at that – take our modern definition of lust, apply it to that verse and from that point on whenever your neighbors’ wife comes in his back yard you would have to look the other way even though it is just as hard as trying to ignore the smell of those steaks sizzling on your neighbor’s grill.

But what if you were like the Bereans?

But what if you were like the Bereans and have searched the Scriptures on this subject of lust – you may have some questions and observations for your Christian brother.

“And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” – Acts 17:10-11 (KJV)

You see the Berean’s would look up everything the Apostle Paul was teaching them from the Old Testament about the coming of the Messiah and his plans for a time when the Gentiles and Jews would form a new body – the Church. They didn’t just take his Word for it – they checked the Scriptures to be sure.

Here are some observations that you could point out to your Christian brother.

Let’s look at Matthew 5:28 in with verse 27 to give it more context:

“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” – Matthew 5:27-28 (KJV)

The context of Christ’s discussion on lust was adultery. He first refers to the 7th commandment which forbids adultery.

The Biblical definition of adultery up to this point was when a man had sex with another’s man wife. The marital status of the man was irrelevant. In the Old Testament adultery was never a sin against a wife, it was always a sin against the husband of the other man’s wife(and of course it was sin against God as all sin is ultimately against God).

In the Gospels (Matthew 5:31-32, Matthew 19:3-12, Mark 10:2-12 and Luke 16:18) Christ expanded on the definition of adultery to include when a man wrongfully divorces his wife. His putting her away wrongfully is a newly defined form adultery, as well as the fact that he causes her to commit physical adultery by marrying another man and that man commits adultery because he is taking a woman that is still another man’s wife in God’s eyes.

Going back to Matthew 5:28 Christ gives us another form of adultery – “mental adultery”. But really this was not a new sin, but simply a new label for a specific form of a sin that God had already spoke against in the 10th commandment:

“Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.” – Exodus 20:17 (KJV)

So this new type of “adultery in the heart” or “mental adultery” refers to a specific form of covetousness – mainly to covet another man’s wife.

Even the Biblical definition of lust confirms this:

“for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” – Romans 7:7 (KJV)

God’s Gift of Sexuality

In addition to the gift of being able to enjoy the sights, smells and taste of food along with many other gifts God has given us – he has also given us one of two other gifts.

For a chosen few he has given them the gift of celibacy.

“For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.” – I Corinthians 7:7

Celibacy is a gift that is to be used in God’s service and not for one to purposefully and selfishly avoid God’s institution of marriage. The gift of celibacy is God’s ONLY exception to his command in Genesis 1:28 for man and woman to “be fruitful and multiply”, otherwise the rest of us are supposed to be getting married and having kids if it is possible for us to do so.

But the majority of us do not have the gift of celibacy, but rather God has given us the gift of our sexuality. This helps us to fulfill his command to be fruitful and multiply, but that is certainly not the only reason God gave us sex and he could have used a much different means of reproduction.

God has blessed both men and women with his gift of sexuality, but he distributes it differently to men then he does to women. For most women their sexual desire is more emotionally based and for men it is far more physically and visually based. So the way in which men and women experience the gift of God’s sexuality is very different.

“Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb:” – Genesis 49:25 (KJV)

“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine.” – Song of Solomon 1:2 (KJV)

“This thy stature is like to a palm tree, and thy breasts to clusters of grapes. I said, I will go up to the palm tree, I will take hold of the boughs thereof: now also thy breasts shall be as clusters of the vine, and the smell of thy nose like apples;” – Song of Solomon 7:7-8 (KJV)

Breasts in the Scripture have a dual symbolism. In the context of a mother and her child they symbolize nourishment and comfort. In the context of sexuality they represent a woman’s body and the fact that it is a gift of God toward men.

The Scriptures are clear that sexual relations of any kind between a man and a woman are strictly reserved for marriage:

“Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” – Hebrews 13:4 (KJV)

But while sexual relations between a man and woman are reserved for marriage alone, this does not mean our sexuality itself is reserved for marriage alone. In other words the focus of all one’s sexual thoughts and sexual energy does not have to be solely directed at one’s spouse.

The Bible does NOT forbid sexual fantasy and sexual imagination. Rather the Bible forbids sexual covetousness which is also referred to as adultery of the heart (mental adultery) or lust.

The Bible condemns sexual imagination that is evil, but not all sexual imagination. We are forbidden from imagining ourselves in sexual acts that are a violation of God’s design of sex. God designed heterosexual sex(sex between a man and a woman), but things like homosexual sex, orgies and bestiality are corruptions of God’s design for sex. Even thoughts of heterosexual sex can be become sinful if they become covetous imaginations(adulterous thoughts).

But aren’t all heterosexual thoughts outside of marriage sinful?

As we just stated God designed sexual relations between a man and woman to be ONLY within marriage.  Some people reason from this that even imaginations of heterosexual sex are reserved only for marriage and only about the person you are married to.  They would say that just as it is wrong to have homosexual imaginations or imaginations about bestiality it is equally wrong to have heterosexual thoughts about someone you are not married to.

But thoughts of heterosexual sex are not wrong in and of themselves.  God created us to desire and think about heterosexual sex – it is his gift to us. It is always the context of heterosexual thoughts that makes them right or wrong.

If you simply have an imaginative thought about what it would be like to have sex with a woman, regardless of if your are married to her or not – there is no sin that. 

It is only when you add more context to that thought where you are thinking of covetous ways that you would actually seduce such a woman(or pay her) to actually have sex with you that now your heterosexual imagination becomes a covetous and sinful thought.

So how does all this relate to our neighbor, his steaks and his wife?

What this means is that in the same way that God designed your brain to get enjoyment from the sights, smells and taste of food he also designed your brain to get pleasure from the sight of women(and not just your wife), the imaginations of heterosexual sex and the act of sexual relations itself. Again while the act of sexual relations is strictly to be within the bounds of marriage as we discussed earlier, the rest of your sexuality is not restricted to only your wife.

What this means for your neighbor, his steaks and his wife is that in the same way you could enjoy the sight of that steak on his grill you can freely enjoy the sight of his wife. Obviously you don’t want to gawk and be rude, but you receiving pleasure from tasteful glances of her beauty is as pure as the driven snow. You are enjoying the gift of sexuality that God has given you within the bounds of his law.

Even if you were to at some point later to have a sexual imagination while you are awake or a sleep it matters not as long as you are not thinking covetous sexual thoughts about her. That would be like fantasizing about befriending your neighbor’s wife (which usually starts with just neighborly talking, then leads to talking about more intimate things, then the flirting and eventually getting her into bed). That is a covetous sexual imagination, that is adultery of heart (mental adultery) and that is lust.

Applications of Biblical truths surrounding Lust

I have shown conclusive evidence from Scripture that lust as it is mentioned in Matthew 5:28 is referring to a specific form of covetousness, mainly to covet another man’s wife. Now certainly within the context of Scripture as a whole we understand all covetousness to be sinful which means it would also be wrong for a woman to covet another woman’s husband. Christ labeled this specific form covetousness as “adultery in the heart” or in other words “mental adultery”.

So what does this mean for Christian men when it comes to them enjoying the view of a woman whether she is right there before their eyes or the woman is simply an imagination whether that imagination is just in one’s head, or that imagination comes in the form of a moving picture set (a movie), a still picture or a painting?

It means that not all imagination is sin. In fact our ability to imagine, even outside the context of sexual imagination is a gift from God.   As long as we don’t sit with our heads in the clouds all the time to the neglect of our other responsibilities to our wife and children, our churches and jobs there is no sin in this.

“All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” – I Corinthians 6:12 (KJV)

That means if you are watching the Avengers movie and you are imagining how cool it would be to be in that Ironman suit saving the day there is no sin in that.

This means if you are watching a movie like Fury (a World War II movie) and you imagine yourself on that tank mowing down Nazis with that machine gun there is no sin in that.

It also means if you are watching a movie that has a beautiful woman in it having sex with a man and you imagine yourself having sex with her the way he is – again there is no sin this.

The reason this is not sin has to do with a statement we referenced earlier.

“In Christianity, it’s the intentions, just as much as the actions that are important.” So what are your intentions when you are imagining yourself in the position of that man on that moving image set (movie) having sex with that woman? Is your intention to go find out who the inspiration was for that image (the actress) and find her address and pay her to have sex with you?(fornication) Or is your intention only to enjoy the imagination of her and you have no covetous intentions towards her?

If you have no covetous imagination or intentions towards the actress that inspired that movie there is no sin in your imagination. It is a gift from God. These are pure thoughts as God has designed your mind to receive pleasure from thoughts of normal heterosexual between a man and woman.

Now if you spend all your time thinking about sex with that woman or other women or even your wife to the neglect of your other responsibilities than then you have violated the principle of I Corinthians 6:12 and have come “under the power” of your sexual imagination(this would be by definition sexual addiction).

Addressing the jealousy of wives toward their husbands

While jealousy certainly affects both men and women it does not mean men and women are equally jealous of the same things. For instance most men would not mind if their wife thought the actor Chris Hemsworth was attractive. In fact most men, unless they are taught to be jealous(like through church teaching or others), would not mind a bit if their wife got sexually excited by watching a Chris Hemsworth movie and she wanted to have sex with them.

However if you put a typical woman (not all women) in this same position she would have a very different reaction. If her husband were to watch a Megan Fox movie which made him want to have sex with her many women would be offended by the idea their husbands were thinking sexually of another woman.

In fact I have a Pastor friend of mine whose wife forbid him from watching anymore Transformer movies when she figured out that Megan Fox was putting him in the mood. Unlike some of my other Pastor friends, he has not able to break free of the Church’s incorrect teaching on what lust is and he felt his wife was right and that he was lusting after Megan Fox and he was in the wrong.

So the million dollar question here is which person is wrong? Is the husband wrong for having sexual imaginations about any other woman than his wife? Or is the wife wrong for being upset about her husband having sexual imaginations about women other than herself.

Biblically speaking jealousy is not always wrong. If something belongs to us then it would not necessarily be wrong for us to be jealous of that thing. God shows himself jealous toward his people because his people belong to him and they owe him their worship.

But does a man’s sexual imagination belong to his wife? Are all his thoughts regarding sex to be of her and her alone? The answer scripturally speaking is no. Therefore his thoughts and sexual imaginations are between him and God and as long as he does not allow his sinful nature to corrupt his natural sexual imagination there is no sin and his thoughts remain pure.

Because of this a woman has no right to be jealous of her husband’s sexual imaginations. This is in fact a sinful and selfish jealousy of her wanting to be the only woman he would ever think of sexually.

Some may try and point to this verse as saying a wife does have a right to compel all of her husband’s sexual imagination toward her:

“The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.” – I Corinthians 7:4 (KJV)

The “power” spoken of here is the power to have sexual access to your spouse’s body. A wife is to have sexual access to her husband’s body and as he is to be able to have sexual access to hers. This does not remove his headship (Ephesians 5) over her nor does it give her control of his thoughts or desires.

Another argument I hear often about jealous wives comes from people who oppose the Scriptures I have shown demonstrating that God allowed and condoned polygamy (more specifically polygyny) in the Bible. Their argument usually goes like this “polygamy never works because it always causes jealousy by women when their husbands take other wives”. What these same people never consider is –were those wives justified before God in being jealous of their husbands having other wives?

The answer Biblically speaking is no they were not right in being jealous of their husband’s other wives. We even see that God blessed a wife in Scripture for overcoming her jealousy of her husband and giving him another wife!

Leah was always jealous of Jacob’s affection toward his other wife Rachel. In truth God saw sin on both sides in Jacob not giving Leah the love she was due and God gave Leah children while leaving Rachel barren to prove his point to Jacob. But Leah at the same time was also wrong in her jealousy over Jacob. God stopped Leah from having any more children. Then she overcame her jealousy and gave her servant Zilpah to Jacob as another wife. God rewarded her for overcoming her jealousy and opened her womb again to give her another child.

“Then Leah said, “God has rewarded me for giving my servant to my husband.” So she named him Issachar.” Genesis 30:18(NIV)

How many women today could have done such a thing and give their husbands another wife? Yet today in our post Roman culture (which eliminated polygamy from most of the western world) women will not even tolerate their husband’s thinking of another woman, yet alone would they give him another wife.

It is certainly something to ponder.

See these other related articles

How should Christian women respond their men looking at other women

What is Lust of the Eyes in I John 2:16

Was polygamy a sin God overlooked in the Old Testament?

Is it wrong for a man to be a gynecologist?

A gynecological examination.Shooting a real doctor's office

Are all men that go into gynecology secretly perverted? Should gynecology be left only to women? Do male gynecologists get turned on when they do gynecological exams? Do men have an “on and off” switches for their sexual arousal?

Previously I wrote a post reviewing an essay by Pastor Anderson of Faithful Word Baptist Church in Temple, Arizona. The full post can be found at http://www.faithfulwordbaptist.org/lust.html.

In part of this post, Pastor Anderson states this about male gynecologists:

“And, you know, here is an area that is not popular. It has never stopped me before. It is not going to stop me now. But here is another area that is not popular. But, you know what? Women who go to a male doctor and just disrobe in front of a male doctor. Why? Because they don’t believe that nakedness is a sin. Because he is not lusting, supposedly.

Because we all know what is going on inside his mind. He takes a polygraph detector test right before and after every visit.

“I had…my mind is as clean and pure as the driven snow.”

Yeah, right. Good night. He is a man. He is a red blooded man like anybody else. Do you know what every male gynecologist ought to do? He ought to take a scalpel and a lancet and cut out his own eye and throw it in the trash. That is what the Bible says. He ought to just remove his own eye. I am not kidding. He has got all the tools to do it. He ought to do it.”

The Facts about male gynecologists

Before I tackle the issue the morality of a man(Christian or otherwise) being a gynecologist let’s look at the facts about male gynecologists.

FACT #1

Even with half of all gynecologists now being women, most women don’t care if their gynecologist is male or female

“There has been a significant gender shift in OB-GYN over the past two decades. In 1990, 22.4 percent of all OB-GYNs were women. In 2010, nearly 49 percent were women,” Jeanne Conry, president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said in an email. She pointed to figures showing bigger changes to come: “In 1990, 49 percent of all first-year OB-GYN residents were women. In 2012, 83 percent were women.”

But that still leaves plenty of men pursuing gynecology as a profession…

70 percent of women said they had no preference when asked if they preferred a male or female gynecologist. Of the nearly 30 percent who did, the majority preferred a female gynecologist…”

http://www.thedailybeast.com/witw/articles/2013/12/09/are-male-gynecologists-creepy.html

FACT #2

Male Gynecologists admit they are sometimes sexually aroused by their patients

“Of all the specialties in med school, I was sure gynecology was the one I wouldn’t want. As a straight male, I didn’t want to ruin my love of the vagina. Years into it now, I’m never more professional than I am with a patient. The vagina is so desensitized to me, I hardly notice anything about it. But if a woman is attractive, I do have to fight that part of my brain. I’d be lying if I said otherwise. I’ve had patients legitimately hit on me — one immediately after her abortion, and another right after a pelvic exam.”

http://nymag.com/thecut/2014/09/10-men-explain-why-they-became-gynecologists.html

FACT #3

Some Male Gynecologists have sexually abused their patients

“Of 10,000 physicians surveyed, 1,891 responded and the result was that fully 9% admitted to some sexual contact with one or more patients. (Sample included 344 gynecologists.)”

http://patientmodesty.org/sexualmisconduct.aspx

ARGUMENT #1 Sexual Misconduct by Doctors

One of the most common attacks against the idea of male gynecologists is the possibility of sexual abuse. In the survey I cited above, 9% of physicians admitted to sexual conduct with patients. But we have to be careful to separate out what would be “unethical” sexual conduct, verses “criminal sexual misconduct” by a doctor. The reality is that the vast majority of sexual conduct between physicians and patients is actually consensual, even if it does violate medical ethical rules.

But from a Christian perspective, it would be wrong for man to engage in sexual conduct with any woman outside of marriage, so from our perspective we would say that 9% of physicians admitted to sexually immoral behavior with their patients(regardless of whether it was consensual or not).

While it is a sad fact of the sinfulness of man, that 9% of physicians engage in unethical and sexually immoral conduct with their patients – this means that 91% percent of physicians do NOT!

So basically we have people attacking the concept of male doctors treating female patients because of the possibility that less than one out ten of those doctors may engage in unethical or immoral behavior with their patients (and even a much smaller percent would engage in abusive behavior).

I can sympathize with women who have suffered sexual abuse at the hands of their male physician. I realize that even if less than 5% of male physicians engage in sexually abusive behavior with their patients, that makes little difference to these women – they would never see a male gynecologist ever again.

But we cannot “throw out the baby, with the bathwater”. I believe if we look at this from an objective standpoint, the sexual misconduct argument against male gynecologists does not warrant the elimination of male gynecologists.

ARGUMENT #2 Female Gynecologists

The truth is by every measure, there are more and more female gynecologists every day. Now half of the OB-GYNs in the United States are women. Even higher numbers of female OB-GYNs will be coming through medical schools over the next decade.

So why shouldn’t women, Christian or otherwise switch over to female OB-GYNs? The truth is there is a doctor shortage in this county, whether it is in the OB-GYN practice, or even just general family practice. If women started going exclusively to female physicians those doctors would be overrun and the waiting lists would be astronomical.

So yes let’s as Christians push more women to enter the medical field and become OB-GYNs so women won’t have to see male gynecologists. This would solve the problem right?

But aren’t we forgetting a very important issue from a Christian perspective?

Being a physician of any kind, whether that is an OB-GYN or some other kind of doctor, is a very demanding job. It takes almost a decade of schooling and residency with long hours and a lot of commitment for anyone to accomplish this feat.

For most female physicians, they are not even able to start a family until they are well past their prime child bearing years and even when they have children their children spend a great deal of their time being cared for and raised by people other than their mother(their father, their nanny, or other child care professionals).

Now if you are an Egalitarian or Christian feminist and therefore reject the Biblical doctrines of Gender Roles, then this is not a problem. But for those of us who believe God created men and woman for distinct and different purposes, then these commands of God’s Word would seem to discourage us from pushing more women to be doctors:

“…teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.”

Titus 2:4-5(KJV)

“I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.”

I Timothy 5:14(KJV)

“She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.”

Proverbs 31:27(KJV)

While the Bible does not forbid a woman from working outside the home, it does make clear that a woman’s primary place is in the service of her husband in their home caring for their children and household.

A woman cannot be in two places at once, either she will give the majority of her time and energy in service to her husband, her children and her home as God had designed her to do, or she will give the majority of her time and energy to others outside her home as she pursues her career outside the home.

So on the female gynecologist argument, I have shown that for two reasons this argument does not hold up when put under closer examination. There are not enough female physicians to service all the women that need medical care. Also from the perspective of Biblical Gender roles, we must cannot, if we accept God’s Word on the nature and design of woman, encourage more women to be OB-GYNs.

I completely realize that my argument against more female doctors could play right into the “doctor shortage” problem. If we have less women doctors, then we would have less doctors and create a larger problem. I agree that it would under the current system.

But there is an easy way to solve this problem. We need to do a better job of establishing different levels of medical caregivers. We need to encourage the training of more male physician assistants and male nurse practitioners, men who do not have to have all the training of a full a doctor. This would greatly alleviate the pressure on doctors and allow them to handle the cases that truly need a fully trained doctor.

ARGUMENT #3 Sexual Arousal

Finally we will address Pastor Dave Anderson’s argument from the point of lust.

Light switch. 3d illustration isolated on white background

Let me first say where I agree with Pastor Dave – men don’t have an “On and off” switch for sexual arousal. Many male gynecologists will privately admit they are sometimes turned on by their patients, if they find them attractive. But let’s also be honest with the fact that for every patient that is attractive to a male doctor, there will be several that are not attractive.

As I have pointed out in my previous post addressing Pastor’s Dave’s “Lust of the Eyes” essay – Sexual arousal is NOT lust. Please review that post examining the scriptures on this very crucial point. If we error by believing and teaching the false doctrine that mere sexual arousal is lust, then Pastor Dave would be right that no man should ever be a gynecologist from a Christian perspective. But if we follow Pastor Dave’s perspective, men ought to look at the ground everywhere they go, for fear of seeing a beautiful woman and becoming sexually aroused (and therefore lusting).

It is not sinful for a woman to disrobe for her physician, as Pastor Dave asserts. As long as she is not setting out to purposefully make him lust after her (as some female patients do with their doctors), then she has committed no sin by disrobing in his presence for a medical examination. Contrary to Pastor Anderson’s assertion – Nakedness is not always sinful, see my post “Why Nudity is NOT always shameful?”.

In the same way, it is not wrong for a male gynecologist to have his female patient disrobe for an examination. It is not sin for him to examine her in a medical and professional way. It is also not sin for him to be turned on by her beauty if she is attractive to him.

What is sinful, is if he either thinks of ways to get her to have sex with him outside of marriage (lustful thoughts), or he actually engages in sexual behavior with her. That is the truth of Scripture.

Conclusion

91% of gynecologists never engage in inappropriate sexual behavior with their patients. There are not enough female gynecologists to serve the needs of all the women out there. Christians should not be encouraging more woman to leave the duties of their home to be physicians. There is no sin in a woman disrobing for her male doctor, or being medically examined by him. A male gynecologist is not sinning if he is aroused by an attractive female patient in the course of his duties. The sin comes in what he does with that arousal. Based on these facts, it is not wrong for a Christian woman to see a male gynecologist, and it is not wrong for a man to be a gynecologist.

 

 

Is it wrong for Christians to pose nude, or paint and photograph nudes?

nice portrait of a young woman with naked shoulder posing inside a frame

Is it wrong for Christians to pose nude for painters or photographers? Is wrong Christians to take nude pictures of models, or paint nude models? Is wrong for Christians to be involved with nudity at all?

The lust argument

Many Christians would say –“Duh – ya! Of course it is wrong for a Christian to pose nude, or take nude photos, or paint nudes or to have any involvement in nudity at all”.

The reasons for this common belief among Christians are:

  1. If a person poses nude, there image will be used to cause others to lust.
  2. If a person takes nude photography, or paints nude – they may lust themselves after the model they are painting or photographing and/or cause others who see the photograph or nude to lust.

I would not argue with the fact that if a person poses nude, they might cause others to be sexually aroused by their beauty. While this could apply to women as well, it would primarily apply to men because men are usually much more visual than women.

But the fact is, the Bible never condemns sexual arousal, it only condemns sexual lust. While sexual arousal and sexual fantasy can lead to sexual lust, they do not have to, any more than our hunger for food has to lead to gluttony.

Our sexuality, our sexual nature, is a part of who we are as human beings, this true for men and women. As men, we are much more sexual in our natures, due to having 10 more times the testosterone in our bodies. Our brains are bathed in testosterone while we are in the womb, and this makes us have highly competitive, aggressive and yes sexual brains.

As believers, God wants us to channel our sexuality in positive ways that do not break God’s law. While all acts of physical sex are reserved for marriage between a man and woman, this does not mean we have to suppress our sexuality until we are married. It also does not mean that after marriage all of our sexual energy, and every sexual thought must be about our spouse.

What it means is we are not to fantasize about trying to get someone to sleep with us outside of marriage, whether we are single or married, that is the very definition of lust. Lust is fantasy to possess something that does not belong to us.

Lust is NOT being sexually aroused by the sight of a beautiful woman.

Lust is NOT being wondering what a woman looks like with her clothes off.

Lust is NOT having a sexual dream or fantasy about a woman you are not married to.

The “no arousal” argument

There may be some Christians (and non-Christians) that think it is OK to paint or photograph nude models as long as there is no arousal. Every time I hear this theory, it makes me want to chuckle. I don’t dispute that in 95% of cases, especially for men, the site of a nude model that is even semi attractive would cause sexual arousal.

Now can men learn to hide their arousal? Certainly. But we as men are hardwired for visual beauty, it’s a fact. To say otherwise is a biological lie. But again as I said above, there is no sin or immorality with being aroused at the site of a beautiful woman. It is what we do with that sexual arousal that will become sinful, or not sinful behavior.

Let me review some principles from my article “Is Nudity always shameful”:

  1. As a general rule, God wants people to be clothed. In most circumstances, to be naked is to be shamed.
  2. We are not to uncover the nakedness of anyone involuntarily, or for the purposes of having sex with someone we ought not to be having sex with (anyone outside of lawful marriage).
  3. Most instances of nakedness being a shame in the Bible are of involuntary nakedness such as being captured in war and being stripped, a woman being raped, or someone being in poverty and losing one’s clothes. A person having their clothing taken from them against their will is shameful and disgraceful.
  4. In some instances, when clothing is removed voluntarily, and with specific purpose for limited time, it is not a shame or sinful to do so.

So once we understand that lust is not sexual arousal, or even sexual fantasy, but is instead thoughts and fantasies about actually possessing someone that we cannot have, or having someone outside of marriage, then we need to look at principles for nudity.

God wants us as believers to be clothed, generally speaking – see my post Why God meant people to be clothed.

However, when someone disrobes voluntarily, for a specific time, and for a specific duration for the purposes of being painted or photographed – no sin has occurred.

Song Solomon shows the beauty of the human body, along with a wife painting her husband’s body with words (Song of Solomon 5:10-16), and a husband painting his wife’s body with words (Song of Solomon 7).

The husband of Song of Solomon calls his wife’s body, “The work of the hands of an artist” in Song of Solomon chapter 7:

“How beautiful are your feet in sandals, O prince’s daughter!

The curves of your hips are like jewels, the work of the hands of an artist.

2 “Your navel is like a round goblet which never lacks mixed wine; your belly is like a heap of wheat Fenced about with lilies.

3 “Your two breasts are like two fawns, Twins of a gazelle.

4 “Your neck is like a tower of ivory, your eyes like the pools in Heshbon by the gate of Bath-rabbim; your nose is like the tower of Lebanon, Which faces toward Damascus.

5 “Your head crowns you like Carmel, and the flowing locks of your head are like purple threads; The king is captivated by your tresses.

6 “How beautiful and how delightful you are, my love, with all your charms!

7 “Your stature is like a palm tree, and your breasts are like its clusters.

8 “I said, ‘I will climb the palm tree, I will take hold of its fruit stalks.’ Oh, may your breasts be like clusters of the vine, And the fragrance of your breath like apples,

9 And your mouth like the best wine!” “It goes down smoothly for my beloved, flowing gently through the lips of those who fall asleep.

Song of Solomon 7:1-9(NASB)

Conclusion

I completely disagree with those who are Christian, or even non-Christian (such as Muslims) who believe that nudity must be covered at ALL times (except for between a man and woman in the privacy of their own home).

Both from a Biblical perspective, as well as practical perspective, how does it make sense that God has made the human body so beautiful, especially that of women (“the work of an artist”), only for it to be hidden away?

I have used this example before, and I think it very applicable to this issue beauty as well as nudity.

Single Orange Tree

Imagine that a man plants a beautiful orange tree in his yard. It grows and blossoms with beautiful fruit. But people walk by and look at its beauty, and this bothers him, because he reasons “that tree belongs to me, and its beauty is only for me”. So he hires a construction company to build a 20 foot wall around it with a door so only he can enter and see its beauty.

Now most of us would find this utterly ridiculous, but this is how some men see their wives, and some wives think they should be treated as wife. They see a woman’s beauty as something to be hidden, and only enjoyed by the husband in private.

Using this same tree, continuing our analogy, what if the man did not build the wall but allowed the beauty of his tree to be enjoyed by all his neighbors, and all who would drive by his home?

If the tree represents his wife, there would be no sin people walking by and enjoying the beauty of his “tree”, then the only sin would be if someone were to come and touch that “tree”, and take from its fruit – for that tree belongs him and him alone.

Although God wants us to be clothed as we go about our daily lives, there is a place and a time for nudity and the display of the art, the beauty and sexual allure of the human body. There is a place in Christianity for artistic as well as erotic nudity. But as Christians we must always exercise our expressions of art and sexuality within the bounds of God’s law.

See these other related posts in this series on Biblical Nudity:

Why did nudity become shameful after the fall?

Why God meant for people to be clothed

Why nudity is not always shameful for a Christian

What is the Lust of the Eyes in I John 2:16?

couple female in pink and male in red

What does the Bible mean by “the lust of the eyes”? Is it wrong for us to look at anything and desire it? Or does this mean something else? Recently I was sent this article – http://www.faithfulwordbaptist.org/lust.html – to review from one of my blog readers, it is an essay by Pastor Steven Anderson, the Pastor of Faithful Word Baptist Church in Temple AZ.

The phrase “the lust of the eyes” occurs one time in the Bible, and it comes to us in the first epistle of John.

“15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”

I John 2:15-17(KJV)

I don’t mean to say that just because the phrase occurs only one time that it is not important. There are many great truths in Scriptures that occur in only one or two passages. But the key is to understand what this phrase means.

Let’s be clear from the start, the Bible never defines what “the lust of the eyes” is.

So this brings us to Pastor Anderson and his sermon – “The Lust of the Eyes”. I also want to say that in no way am I questioning Pastor Anderson’s salvation, or his genuine desire to please God. But just as Paul withstood Peter to his face, sometimes we must confront the false teachings of other believers.

Let’s start off with where I agree with Pastor Anderson, before I have to stand against the false teachings that he has mixed with the truth of God’s Word.

Pastor Anderson states his definition of “Lust” as it occurs in the Bible:

“The word “lust” means a very strong, intense desire. It is usually talking about a desire that is out of control, a desire that you can’t control is what lust is or just a very intense, extreme desire.  Covetousness is a word that has to do with lust.  If you study Romans chapter seven Paul teaches that in the Bible.”

Pastor Anderson’s definition of lust, is actually pretty accurate, especially when he recognizes how Paul ties it to covetousness (Romans 7:7).

So if we take his definition and understand what Lust is, we can also understand what is not lust.

Desiring something, whether it is our favorite food, or perhaps a car we want to buy, or a home we want to buy is not lust.

Pastor Anderson then moves from his definition of general lust, to a more specific definition of “the lust of the eyes”:

“But I think most people understand what the lust of the flesh is. That could be an appetite for food that is out of control. That could be an appetite for fornication. That could be an appetite for committing physical sins of pleasure with your body. But I think many people fail to understand that there is a difference between the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes. And just what is the lust of the eyes?

Well, look down at your Bible in Proverbs chapter six as we are reading this in verse 24. It says, “To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman.” And then look at the next statement. “Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids.”

Now think about this for a moment. Here God is saying not to lust after the beauty of a strange woman, of a wicked woman, of an evil woman.

Now, beauty is a visual aspect. Ok, we are not talking about the flesh here. We are talking about the eyes. We are talking about a man lusting after the beauty of a woman. That is what it says. Look down at your Bible. “Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids…

Now, what is this talking about? Lust can be defined, again, as coveting something, desiring something that doesn’t belong to you or, in the case of the lust of the eyes, it is coveting and desiring to look at something that you should not be looking at.

This is where my disagreements with Pastor Anderson begin. He basically says that Proverbs 6:24 says that God says you cannot even look at the beauty of a woman “strange women” (i.e. a whore or prostitute). The verse says we should not “lust after her beauty” in our hearts.

Let me point out a very important truth here:

LustingLooking

Pastor Anderson has just made the jump from “Lust” being in his own words “a very intense, extreme desire. Covetousness“ to desiring to look at something that you should not be looking at.”

Lust in the Scriptures is always a strong and insatiable desire to possess something, or someone that you could not possess, or should not possess.

Proverbs 6:24 is NOT saying men have to walk with their eyes pointed at the ground every time they see a beautiful woman. It is not saying every time that a man sees a beautiful woman on television that he must avert his eyes.

Proverbs 6:24 IS saying we are not to desire to possess the beauty of a wicked and loose woman (whether she be a wayward wife or a prostitute). Can someone possess beauty? Absolutely! Do you realize some men marry women only for their outward beauty, knowing they may never have a close relationship, knowing the woman is a viper on the inside?

But I also think it is highly likely that “beauty” here in Proverbs 6:24, is simply a symbol of the woman herself, to possess her physically, and bodily.

Again the word “look” is nowhere in this passage – remember that fact, the word is “lust” (an insatiable desire to take possession of something or someone we cannot).

Another thing to point out is, “the lust of the eyes” is not simply talking about sexual lust. Other examples of “the lust of the eyes” is when we lust after things that other people have. Whether it is the home they have, or perhaps their car, their furniture or artwork they have in their home. For ladies “the lust of the eyes” might be looking at other women’s clothing with an intense desire to possess the clothing they have.

Are there some things we should not even look at?

Even though I disagree with Pastor Anderson’s interpretation of Proverbs 6:24, I don’t disagree with the Biblical concept that there are some evil things we should not set before our eyes. I just don’t see Proverbs 6:24 as teaching that we can’t even look at a beautiful woman, and even appreciate the beauty of a woman, unless she is our wife.

The right verse (which he also mentions in his post) speaking to looking at evil things is from Psalms:

“I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.”

Psalm 101:3

So I have just argued that it is not a sin, and it is not lust simply to look at the beauty of a woman, even the beauty of a wicked woman. I would even argue that it is not a sin to look at the beauty of a good woman who is single or another man’s wife.

Sin happens comes when we go from looking to lusting, when we have an insatiable to desire to physically possess the beauty of a woman that we have no right to.

But there are some things we should not even look at. An example would be pornography. We should not be looking at images that depict sexually immoral acts. Another example might be Satanic books and books about sorcery and witchcraft (we see in Acts 19:19 that believers brought these kinds of books and burned them).

What about Job 31:1?

Pastor Anderson talks about nakedness but I am going to leave that for a separate upcoming post. I want to close this post by looking at his reference to Job 31:1:

“Job said it this way. He said, “I made a covenant with mine eyes.” He said, “I made a deal with my eyes.” “I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?”

He said, “I made a covenant with my eyes and said, ‘You are going to look at what I tell you to look at. And you are not going to look at women that are dressed indecent. You are not going to look at another man’s wife. You are not going to look at these images that Hollywood and TV will portray for you.”

Job says nothing about the way a woman is dressed, he says nothing here about looking at another man’s wife. He says nothing about looking at images of women (in his day it would have been paintings or sculptures). He does not state any of these things Pastor Anderson mentions.

In Job 31:1 the word “think”, could also be “to perceive and look at”. So then some might say “ha – he is saying we can’t even look at a young women!” Can anyone say with a straight face they think Job was saying he never looked at any young women, that every time a young woman came by that he averted his eyes? Such an idea would be ridiculous and we find no such example in the Scriptures.

The fact is that nowhere in all of Scripture do we see the Bible condemning a man for simply looking at a woman. We also never see sexual arousal being condemned in Scripture. What is condemned is lust, which is covetousness. It is what we do after we look, even after we may be aroused by the sight of a beautiful woman. Do we begin to contemplate in our heads how we can get that woman to have sex with us outside of marriage?

What Job was NOT saying

Based on the totality of the Scriptures Here is what we know job was not saying.

1. We know Job was NOT saying it was a sin for him to look at a young virgin.

2. We know that Job was NOT saying it was sin for him to be aroused by the beauty of a young woman. In fact it would not even be wrong if he wanted to marry a young woman.

What Job WAS saying in Job 31:1

That leaves us with only one possibility of what Job was actually saying about his thoughts regarding young virgins:

He would not think about how to seduce a young virgin into having sex with him outside of marriage (as so many men around him probably did).

Speaking of virginity, people often wonder why God was so serious about a woman’s virginity in the Bible, and they often look at it as God being harsh toward women. No! God was protecting women from men who would take advantage of them. One of the many reasons God wants men and women to wait for sex in marriage, is so that a woman is protected, and any children that might come from her having sex would be protected and provided for. Our society is paying a heavy financial toll for ignoring God’s commands regarding virginity and premarital sex.

Conclusion

Lusting is not the same as looking – please remember that truth. Men are visual creatures, much more so than women typically are. As men, God has given us our sexuality, and even our visual sexuality, as a gift. No Christian man should be ashamed of the fact that he receives pleasure every time he sees a beautiful woman.

Please here me out Christian man. Examine the Scriptures for yourself. God did not give you your eyes and a male brain that is capable of appreciating and receiving pleasure from the sight of female beauty, only to tell you that you must look away in shame every time you feel pleasure at the site of a beautiful woman.

He did not give your eyes to appreciate only one woman, that being your future wife. Not one passage of Scripture ever states this concept, no matter how many times Pastors repeat it over and over, and many Christian authors repeat this mantra in their marriage books.

As I have said multiple times on this site, God designed men as polygynous beings and that is why we are naturally attracted to a variety of women. I know that conflicts with our modern monogamous-only marriage society, but regardless, it is the truth. Look at the articles on this site, detailing the polygyny of the Biblical patriarchs.

In upcoming articles, I will address some of the other issues he raises such as the topic of nudity, mixed gender swimming, what we watch on TV and male gynecologists.

How should Christian women respond to their men looking at other women? Part 3

Guylooking2

In part 1 of this series, we established that men look and many women get jealous, hurt or angry. In part 2 we established that man has a polygynous nature both from biology and from Biblical example. In this final part of this three part series, we will look at how a Christian woman should alter her responses based on this knowledge of the men in her life (sons, brothers, husbands).

I realize a lot of Christian women – mothers, wives, sisters and daughters are reading this with smoke coming out their ears. Let me try and set your mind at ease, the best that I can.

All whore-mongers look, but most lookers do not engage in whore-mongering.

For most men look they may have found discreet ways to do it over the years so that you won’t notice but make no mistake they still look.

The Christian men that don’t look do so either because they are asexual (not attracted to women or men), have homosexual tendencies (so there not looking at you ladies, but they are looking elsewhere) or they have had it drilled into their head since they were young that it is a sin for them to enjoy the site of beautiful women other than their wife after they are married.

This last group of Christian men have been “brainwashed” of sorts, to be at war continually with their God given nature to appreciate female beauty.

I hear and read all the time from women who have had experience with a whore-mongering husband and they say things like “It was because he was looking at other women, and I never put a stop to it”.

While it breaks the heart of God when any man engages in whore-mongering the truth is that he did not engage in whore-mongering simply because he allowed himself to look at and enjoy the beauty of other women. He engaged in whore-mongering because he allowed the sin of covetousness to grow and take root in his heart and then he acted on it.

Another thing I want to mention here is – I am not giving men a complete free pass, please read the ending section I have speaking to Christian men about this issue of looking at other women.

But before I get to the men, Christian wife – you have a decision to make.

Instead of having these attitudes toward your husband:

whatdoyouthinkyourlooking

WhyDoTheyHaveToLook

menarepigs

Christian wife – Perhaps you would consider having these attitudes instead:

WomanAcceptingGod'sDesign

“My husband was built by God with the capacity to be attracted to, and to love multiple women, but he has chosen to only have one wife and that is me. I have absolutely no right to be jealous of the fact that my husband finds other women attractive in addition to me. I won’t give him a hard time for enjoying the site of beautiful women around him, as long as he doesn’t purposefully make it obvious, or compare me to other women or flirt with them as he has taken a pledge to make me his one and only wife.

I realize that because I am his one and only wife – I need to work that much harder to meet his needs for visual beauty by keeping myself beautiful and dressing in ways that are attractive to him”

The old adage “Men marry women hoping they will never change, and women marry men hoping that they will” is just as true for Christian woman as it is for others. Will you accept your husband as God has made him? Or will you continue to put him in the box you would have him in?

Christian Moms and sisters – don’t shame your son’s for their natural masculine attraction to female beauty. You may never fully understand it, but you need to honor it in the same way that men should honor the feminine nature with which God has designed woman.

Instead allow their fathers to help them experience the beauty of their masculinity, within the bounds of God’s law. In the last section coming up, I will discuss what men (including fathers) need to understand about expressing, experiencing their God-given male sexuality in a proper way, that does not dishonor God or women.

A final note to the Christian men reading this

Young business man enjoying the fresh air on a sunny day

Yes it is completely natural, part of God’s original design for you to look. It is perfectly natural, normal and not sinful for you to be aroused by the site of beautiful women around you, and no that does not stop when you get married! Many men falsely think this to be the case, but not long after they are married(sometimes 5 minutes afterwards), a beautiful woman walks by and their head turns – they immediately turn it back and wonder “why did I just do that? I love my wife and she is so beautiful to me!” The reason brothers in Christ is, you have a polygynous nature.

Many men don’t even realize they have a polygynous nature, or they simply dismiss these instances as part of their sin nature, because they have been conditioned from an early age to do so. They have never looked at Scriptures closely, or questioned anything they have been taught.

So to you man who thought it was wrong to look at beautiful women, other than you wife, I invite you to check out and truly research the evidences I have provide for you here, both from a biological standpoint, as well as Biblical standpoint. If after that God has convinced you that what I am saying is right, that he has freed you from the shackles of feminism and Christian legalism, that the real war is against Covetousness, not your natural male attraction to beautiful women then you truly will have a whole new world opened to you.

Don’t go crazy guys!!!

The Scriptures tell us:

“All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.”

1 Corinthians 6:12(NASB)

What that means men is that while glancing at beautiful women may be natural for you, and give you pleasure, you have to make sure you are not mastered by this. Eating is something we are naturally driven to do as well, but we can eat too much, and too often, the same principle applies to our God-given male sexuality.

There is a difference between Glancing and Gawking

While I would say that woman are wrong for condemning men for taking discreet glances at other women, I would say men are equally wrong when they gawk at women. The classic seen of construction works whistling and saying obscenities to a random woman as she walks by is an example of unconstrained, uncontrolled male sexuality, and that does not honor God or women.

How we act when our women are present, and how we act when they are not should be different

I realize some Christians believe we ought to act the same at all times, and all places, and I understand where they are coming from. For instance, if I don’t swear on Sunday at Church, then I equally should not swear on Monday at work.

I am a Christian wherever I go, seven days a week, and that should be consistent. But the truth is, we all understand that certain things are appropriate at different times and places. The way a husband might talk to his wife when they are about to have sex, or during sex, and the way he may act in front of his children with her may be very different, and it should be different.

The same goes for men – when you are with a private group of guys and you happen to see a beautiful woman walk by – there is ABSOLUTELY NO SIN in you as men talking about how beautiful she is. But the difference between you and the construction worker example is – you are not whistling at her, or gawking at her and making her feel uncomfortable. You can “watch the game” and go over the instant replay after she is out of hearing distance. As long as you are not talking about trying to track that girl down, and have pre-marital sex with her, you are not lusting and you are NOT sinning.

The Apostle Paul wrote this very similar passage to first one I mentioned, later in the same book of I Corinthians:

“23 All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. 24 let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.

(I Corinthians 10:23-24(NASB)

Guys – if you are gawking at a woman, or making her feel uncomfortable by your staring, are you seeking her good, or your own?

Guys – if you are gawking at a woman, maybe even one that can’t see you gawking at her, but your mom, or your daughter, or your wife can see you do that – are you seeking their good, or your own?

So in conclusion guys, yes its natural for man to look and appreciate the beauty of women, but we must temper this natural desire by doing it in a discreet and appropriate way for the setting that we find ourselves in.

How should Christian women respond to their men looking at other women? Part 2

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In part 1 of this series, we established that men look, and many women get jealous, hurt or angry. In part 2 we will explore biological evidence and Biblical examples to show why men look at other women.

As believers in Christ, we understand that we all have a sin nature. But we also have a God given nature. In the Garden of Eden, before Adam and Eve ever sinned, God gave Adam a distinct and different male nature and he gave Eve a distinct and different female nature. He literally built Eve for Adam, and he made her nature almost completely the opposite of his.

Adam was built to lead, and God gave him dominion over the Garden, and had him name all the animals before Eve was ever made. God made a man’s mind to systemize, he made a woman’s mind to empathize.

So the question is – is man’s natural inclination to look at a variety of attractive women (even when he is in a committed relationship) a corruption of the nature God gave him in the Garden of Eden? All the ladies are saying “of course God never meant for a man to be attracted to more than one woman”.

Biological Evidence of man’s attraction mechanism

“the average man’s brain is sexually stimulated by visual cues and is built for variety…

Using functional MRI scans, researchers examined the brains of young men as they looked at pictures of beautiful women. They found that feminine beauty affects a man’s brain at a very primal level – similar to what a hungry person gets from a good meal or addict gets from a fix. One of the researchers said, “This is hard core circuitry. This is not a conditioned response.” Another concluded, “Men apparently cannot do anything about their pleasurable feelings [in the presence of beauty]”

Dr. Walt Larimore, MD – pg. 99 “His Brain, Her Brain”

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Even some Christian writers who take the “men just need to be trained to look away” approach admit this:

“Men’s sex drives are completely different from women’s sex drives…They really are primarily visual. If a man sees a pretty woman, his body automatically starts to respond, in the same way that if you were to walk in the front door, even if you weren’t hungry, and you smelled chocolate chip cookies just out of the oven, your mouth would start to water, whether you really wanted them or not. Even if you weren’t seeking it out, you respond. There’s nothing wrong with that…

If he’s noticing that a woman is attractive, and then he’s pulling his eyes away, he’s only being tempted. He’s not sinning. He hasn’t decided to do anything; in fact, he’s decided to turn from the temptation, which is exactly what he should be doing…

if your husband looks at other women, or comments on them, that’s hurtful…Tell him how you feel. Tell him you understand the temptation to look, but that he promised to love you and you alone. You’re worth it. And he has no right to look at anyone other than you. None of this “all men do it” garbage. We all are tempted towards sin; but we do not have to give into it.”

-Sheila Wray Gregoire

http://tolovehonorandvacuum.com/2011/03/husband-looks-at-other-women/

But as you can see from the last statement above, while the writer acknowledges man’s biological inclination to look, she sees it as part of his sin nature and a temptation he must be trained to pull “his eyes away” from.

Shelia then goes on to say that “he promised to love you and you alone…and he has no right to look at anyone else other than you.”

I could point to many more sources, and research , both from a biological standpoint, as well as psychological standpoint about man’s physical sexual attraction mechanisms, as well as his being wired for variety, but you get the point.

Biblical Examples of Man’s sexual nature

So at this point all the Christian ladies, and many Christian men are saying –“so what, man is naturally inclined to look at multiple women, but it’s part of his sin nature, and not part of God’s original design. Men just need to be trained to suppress, and flee from their sinful desire for variety – problem solved.”

But what about so many of the Patriarchs having more than one wife?

Abraham – the man of faith, the father of Jewish people, had multiple “concubines” (Genesis 25:6)

Jacob – The father of the twelve tribes of Israel, had all these sons through a combination of four wives (two free wives, two slave wives). The names of these twelve tribes are inscribed on the City of God for all time.

Gideon – the judge, great warrior and one of only a few men in the Bible to meet God in physical form (as the Angel of God), “had seventy sons of his own, for he had many wives.” (Judges 8:29-30)

David – “the man after God’s own heart”, had 18 wives. God scolded David for stealing a man’s wife (Bathsheba), and told him that he had given David his “master’s wives” and “and if that had been too little, I would have added to you many more things like these” (2 Samuel 12:8)

Notice I left out King Solomon. The reason for that is unlike Abraham, Jacob, Gideon and David, God condemned King Solomon for marrying many foreign wives who lead his heart astray. Also Solomon’s behavior was in fact, the “hording of wives” (having 700 wives and 300 concubines) which was condemned by God in Deuteronomy 17:17.

So in the Bible – we have Abraham, Jacob, Gideon and David, all great men of God, and if they had sinned by having more than one wife, if they had horded wives as Solomon did, then God would have said something, but he did not – as we said previously – God told David he gave him many wives!

Man’s polygynous nature (being drawn to more than one woman) is part of his original design by God

When we put together the fact that men are naturally wired for variety, and biologically conditioned to receive pleasure when seeing a variety of beautiful women – and we put that together with the fact that many great men of God had more than one wife we see a very different picture. Man’s wiring for a variety of women is actually part of the original design (before the fall) that God made man with.

The Adam and Eve argument

The argument that if God wired men for polygyny (to have the capacity for having multiple wives) then he would have gave Adam more than one wife does not hold water. If Adam’s monogamous relationship with Eve was meant to be God’s pattern for marriage, then we have two problems:

  1. Adam and Eve’s children had to marry each other – sibling marriage, something that God later condemned.   So did God mean for brothers and sisters to marry for all time, since brothers and sisters had to marry in the beginning?
  2. The second problem with the “God only gave Adam one wife, therefore that was his pattern for marriage” argument is that God pictures himself as a Polygamist husband in the book of Ezekiel when talking about his relationship with Israel and Judah:

“The word of the Lord came to me again, saying, 2 “Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother; 3 and they played the harlot in Egypt. They played the harlot in their youth; there their breasts were pressed and there their virgin bosom was handled. 4 Their names were Oholah the elder and Oholibah her sister. And they became Mine, and they bore sons and daughters. And as for their names, Samaria is Oholah and Jerusalem is Oholibah… 36 Moreover, the Lord said to me, “Son of man, will you judge Oholah and Oholibah? Then declare to them their abominations. 37 For they have committed adultery, and blood is on their hands.”

Ezekiel 23:1-4 & 36-37(NASB)

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So if men looking is not the problem, then what is?

God made man with the capacity for polygyny – that’s why men whether they are in a committed relationship or not, are drawn to beautiful women. Many men throughout history have chosen not act on their polygynous capacity, while many did choose to act on it. It is interesting to note from a historical standpoint, that Israel was still highly polygamous at the time of Christ, as the Romans had trouble enforcing their monogamy laws in nations like Israel (but eventually their monogamy laws did end polygamy in Israel).

So since God made man with a capacity for polygyny, then it is not sinful for him to be visually drawn to multiple women even after marriage.

And no it’s not lusting for a man (single or married) to be aroused by the site of beautiful women, other than his wife. Lust in Matthew 5:28 is talking about sexual covetousness, meaning a man thinking about trying to get a woman to actually have sex with him outside of marriage.

So the problem is not man’s polygynous nature (his being drawn to many women), but with woman’s jealousy, anger and insecurity.

Many people attack the polygamy of the Patriarchs noting the problems with jealousy between their wives – but they never even consider the fact that the wives jealousy was the sin, not their husband’s polygyny.

In the final part of this series about Christian men looking at other, we will explore how women should handle this issue of men looking at other women.

Click here to go to the final part of this series