How should Christian women respond to their men looking at other women? Part 1

guybeingstoppedlooking

How should Christian moms respond to their son’s looking at girls? How should Christian women respond to their boyfriends looking at other women? How should Christian wives respond to their husbands looking at other women?

This is first of a three part series on this issue of men looking at other women, and how Christian women should respond to this. In this first part, I just want to setup the situation as it occurs, with a little bit of what is normally the conventional thoughts on it.  In the next two parts we will dive deeper in this issue.

Before we get into how a Christian woman should respond to this issue of men looking at other women, let’s examine how many women react when they catch their men looking at women.

whatdoyouthinkyourlooking

The mothering or jealous reaction

This response could either come from a position of jealousy, or of mothering.

The mothering reaction is not usually from a position of hurt or anger, but is more of a corrective reaction. If this woman is coming from the position of an actual mother with her son, she feels it her duty to keep her Christian sons from lusting after women, and this is the primary reason for her calling out her son’s looking at girls around him.

A Christian wife, can also have this “mothering” reaction. This woman typically does not have hatred for the male nature, and is relatively secure about how her husband feels towards her. She simply feels it her Christian duty as a wife, to keep her husband’s eyes off other women, because she believes for him to take pleasure from looking at any other woman is lust.

But this reaction could also be a jealous reaction. When it is, it is more of a controlling action. This is more of the “I am the only woman you are allowed to look at buster – and you can only look at me when I say so”.

WhyDoTheyHaveToLook

The insecure/hurt reaction

Typically this a reaction from a Christian wife or girlfriend, but it could also come from a Christian daughter.

A Christian daughter might have this reaction, when she sees her Dad look at another woman other than her mother. She thinks – “Does Dad not love mom anymore? Does Dad think mom is not beautiful anymore?” “Is my Dad going to cheat on my mom?”

The Christian girlfriend or wife may have this same hurt reaction toward her boyfriend or fiancé or her husband. She thinks – “Does he not love me anymore? Does he think I am not beautiful anymore?” “Is he going to leave me or cheat on me?”

menarepigs

The Misandrist Reaction (hater of male nature)

This is the angry and disgusted reaction that some women have toward men looking at other women.

The women believe many men are just scum! If men look at other women, they are or will become cheaters. They believe these men see women as simply sex objects for their viewing pleasure, and not as people.

NewsFlashMenLook

Many Christians (both men and women) would admit that it is natural for a man (and teen boys) to be drawn to beautiful women.

Teens and pre-teen boys look…

boylookingatwoman

Young men look…

Guylooking

Older men look…

mancaughtlooking3smaller

Even famous men look…

mancaughtlooking_smaller

But these same people would also admit that it is natural for a woman to be jealous when she catches her man glancing at an attractive woman. Other women who are not coming from the perspective of the wife or girlfriend, may just say this behavior “objectifies women” and they become angry when men look at them.

So we have reached a philosophical impasse – both behaviors are natural in each gender, yet they are contradictory to each other.

The commonly accepted answer in most Christian circles to this dilemma is that the man’s natural instinct to look at other women, even when he is in a committed relationship, or married is part of his sin nature. In Matthew 5:27-28(NASB) Christ says:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

So the Scriptures tell us that if a man lusts after a woman, he has committed adultery with her in his heart – pretty cut and dry right?

The general idea is, it is not wrong for him to be tempted to look, because temptation is not sin, the sin is if he gives in to his sinful nature(to look at any other women than the woman he is with).

The answer to this problem, we are told, is to train our men to look away when attractive women come by and presto! – Christian mothers, girlfriends, fiances and wives have nothing to be worried about or jealous of.

ProblemSolved

In second part of this three part series, we will look at this problem from a perspective that most Christian women (and many Christian men) may have never considered.

Click here to go to part two of this series

Is Sexual arousal lust?

Hamburger (2)

Biblically speaking, being sexual aroused is no more lust than it is to become hungry at the site of a food commercial on TV. Sexual arousal is not a curse, but a gift from God. Too many Christians and Churches throughout the centuries have treated sexual arousal as a burden of the flesh to be overcome when it is not.

Food and Sex actually have a lot in common

Both food and sex are necessary for the continuation of the human race. If just a few of us stopped eating, then the human race would not die, but if we all stopped eating then the human race would eventually die. In the same way, while none of us would die from not having sex, the human race would go extinct if we all stopped having sex.

Another interesting parallel between sex and food is how variety affects pleasure. Let’s say your favorite food is a cheese burger from a local burger joint. If all you could eat was that burger from that restaurant, and never eat any burger from any other place, or any other food eventually you would become bored of that food. Would it sustain you? Yes. Would it give you the same pleasure it once did? No.

It is exactly the same when it comes to human sexual arousal. Having sex may give us some relief, but without variety it soon begins to lose its pleasure. That is why it is so important for Christian married couples to keep variety in their love lives. What that means for each couple will be different, but if you do things the same way every time your sex life will eventually become stale.

But let me also say something else about sexual variety. We are wired to appreciate new things, different things. Even when we are married, we will still sometimes become aroused by those of the opposite sex. We will experience pleasure from seeing certain people, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, even after marriage.

Only obsession and covetousness are sin

Sin happens when we let sexual arousal, lead to covetousness. If we allow ourselves to go from finding a woman sexually desirable(which is not sin) to actually allowing ourselves to desire to possess her then we have committed the sin of covetousness. If we start to think of how we can entice that single girl into bed (without being married to her first), or that married woman into bed (or get her to leave her husband) then we have sinned.

The only way sexual arousal can become sin, apart from actually coveting another human being, is if we become obsessed with it. If it affects our job, or our marriage or us living a normal life then it is a problem. If we spend all our time thinking about sex and living for sexual arousal and neglect other areas of our life that need attention, then it becomes sin.

But if we can honestly say that we are still intimate with our wife, and that we are doing our jobs and meeting our other responsibilities and we also allow ourselves to enjoy the gift of sexual arousal then we have not sinned.

Let me now address those who are single. There is nothing wrong with you experiencing the joy of sexual arousal while you are single, nothing at all, the Bible never forbids that. The physical act of sexual intercourse(and oral sex) is reserved for marriage. Sexual arousal is NOT reserved only for marriage, but is something single people can enjoy long before marriage. We just need to recognize the boundaries God has given us. We cannot allow our sexual arousal or the joy we receive from sexual release to lead us to covetousness.

Is it wrong for a single person to masturbate?

It is no more wrong to relieve one’s self sexually (masturbate) than it is wrong to have a bowel movement. For many people if they don’t experience some sexual relief it affects their moods and they can become cranky. It can also affect their job, and other areas of their life in a very negative way.

Still others will actually pursue marriage and a relationship with someone they are unsure of, and rush into marriage because they are simply looking for sexual relief. Masturbation can give relief to a single person, and also help them to think clearer about relationships that they are getting involved in.

It can also keep a single person from falling into premarital sex. I highly recommend that if you feel like you are being tempted to have premarital sex with the person you are dating, then masturbate before you go out on dates with them.

Is it wrong for a married person to masturbate?

My answer to that is, it is only wrong if it affects having sex in the marriage. If you are masturbating so much that it adversely affects your sex life with your spouse, where you are uninterested in sex with them, or unable to perform because of it, then what you are doing is sinful and wrong.

However in many marriages one spouse may have a much higher drive than the other, and masturbation can be a wonderful tool to equalize out that difference. It will clear unwanted thoughts that could turn into sinful thoughts.

For a more detailed discussion on passages from the Bible that address the subject of lust – check out my article entitled What does the Bible say about Lust?”

What does the Bible say about Lust?

ManHavingSexualThoughts

Biblically speaking, lust is NOT merely being sexually attracted to or turned on by looking at someone of the opposite sex. Men today have been ridiculed for their nature and saddled with a great burden that comes from feminism on one side, and on the other comes from the church. They are often told that any sexual pleasure they receive from seeing a beautiful woman is sin unless they are married to that woman.

Many Christian books and websites want to “help men with their problem of lust”. Feminist bloggers want to help men to stop “objectifying women”.

But is a man’s natural desire for, and pleasure from, seeing youthful and beautiful women a problem to overcome? Or is it a gift from God, to be appreciated and accepted by both men and women alike?

Lust = Covetousness

In the Bible, lust is synonymous with covetousness. Covetousness is the strong desire to possess something that belongs to another.

Covetousness is not simply admiring something that someone else has, but actually fantasizing about how you can possess that thing.

While it goes against modern western values, people in Biblical times could be the property of other people. The Bible lists these things as man’s property in the 10th commandment:

17 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 anything that is thy neighbour’s.

– Exodus 20:17 (KJV)

The 10th commandment and the 7th commandment have something in common – they both talk about crimes against a man regarding his wife.

14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.

– Exodus 20:14 (KJV)

In the context of sexual sin, Coveting (or lusting after) a woman is the sin of desiring to possess her outside of marriage. It is different than simply being attracted to her physically, or even being sexually aroused by her form or having a sexual fantasy about her.

Covetousness first begins when a man goes from finding a woman he cannot marry desirable (which is not sin) to him desiring to UNLAWFULLY possess her (which is fornication).

The second phase of covetousness is when a man goes from his desire to unlawfully possess her (which is already sin) and then he compounds this by actively planning in his mind HOW he could possess her; whether he acts on that plan or not, it is still covetousness and is a grave sin before God.

Fornication (which encompasses all sexually sinful activity) is when a man actually makes good on his covetous thoughts and then takes sexual possession of a woman he cannot marry and has not married. If the woman is another man’s wife, that is Adultery – which is a specific form of fornication.

But isn’t it lust when a man gets sexual pleasure from looking at any woman who is not his wife?

If you are someone who believes your pastor, priest or your church teachings are never wrong in their interpretation of the Bible then you should just close this page and go on believing what they have taught you about lust.

But before you close this article, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is it wrong to enjoy the smell of pancakes as you enter your favorite pancake restaurant?
  2. Is it wrong to see a commercial on TV for one of your favorite foods and then it makes you feel hungry?

If you answered no to both of these questions above, then I think you should keep reading. But to do so, you will have to acknowledge to yourself the very real possibility that your church might be wrong about some of its teachings.

The Protestant Reformation was fought over this very idea, that church leaders are not always right in their doctrines or understanding of the Bible. That is why the battle cry of the reformation was “Sola Scriptora”, meaning “Scripture alone”. While the Protestants did a good job of removing a lot of unbiblical Catholic tradition and teaching, they did not remove it all. Some errors crept into the early church even while the Apostles were still alive. After they died, the flood gates opened and many errors entered the early church and then the Catholic Church piled on more.

So if you answered “no” to my two questions above, and you can at least entertain the idea that sometimes our church leaders are wrong in some of their teachings about what the Bible says – then I invite you to examine the evidence for yourself and make your own determination.

How many passages talk about a man lusting after a woman?

There are only two passages in all the Bible that deal with the subject of a man looking at a woman. I know, it’s hard to believe that an entire elaborate doctrine of our churches is completely based on two passages, right?

The first and most common passage I will deal with is found in the Sermon on the Mount:

27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:

28 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)

This passage is part of the most famous sermon Jesus Christ ever gave.

I can’t tell you how many times I heard that verse in youth group at my church growing up, or how many times my mom read that to me as a teenager. As an adult I have heard entire sermons preached on just those two verses.

Seems pretty straightforward, right? If a man looks at a woman with lust (sexual desire), he has committed adultery with her in his heart, even though he has not physically touched her, right?

Whenever we try to understand God’s Word, we need to make sure we are understanding his Word within the full context of how it was written. Luckily for us the full context is just two verses. There is one word in both these verses that gives us the context of what Christ is addressing – ADULTERY (English translation of the Greek word “Moicheuo”).

If you look up every Old Testament passage about adultery, it always means the sin of a man sleeping with another man’s wife. Basically, adultery was a property crime: if you slept with another man’s wife, you violated his property.

So if the context here is clearly talking about something involving a married woman, then why do the translators say “woman” in verse 28, instead of “wife”?

An excellent question. I am glad you asked it. The reason is “tradition”, since this verse has been traditionally used by the church through the ages to propagate a certain teaching about lust, they had to make it “woman”.

The actual Greek word they are translating is “Gune”, which can be translated as “woman” or “wife” – depending on the context. So let’s expand our context and show our Lord’s statements together:

27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery[Moicheuo]:

28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman[Gune] to lust after her hath committed adultery[Moicheuo] with her already in his heart.

29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

31 It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife[Gune], let him give her a writing of divorcement:

32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife[Gune], saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery[Moicheuo]: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery[Moicheuo].

– Matthew 5:27-32 (KJV)

So as can clearly be seen, the translators of the KJV and all modern translations decided to follow the tradition of translating verse 28 as “woman” instead of wife, even though the context was clearly speaking of Adultery, which can only happen with a married woman! This was and continues to be, a completely political translation of Scripture.

So we have now handled two of the three key words to understanding this one and ONLY passage of Scripture that our current doctrines around sexual lust are built upon. The last key word is Lust. Our English word lust in verse 28 is translated from the Greek word Epithumeo. Once again this word, like Gune (“woman” or “wife”) can be translated differently depending on its context. The word literally means “to desire”. Sometimes it’s talking about desiring good things; other times it’s talking about desiring bad things.

With all that being said – I believe in all sincerity that this is the correct interpretation of this passage based on its context – Adultery:

27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:

28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on [another man’s wife and fantasizes about how he may possess her for himself] hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

– Matthew 5:27-28 (KJV)

There is at least one undeniable truth from Matthew 5:27-28

The context is clearly talking about a married woman, so this in no way applies to single people. While the act of physical sex outside of marriage is forbidden, nowhere in the Scripture does it forbid a single man from having sexual desire toward a single woman, or being turned on by a single woman, or even sexually fantasizing about her. The same goes for a single woman: nowhere does the Bible condemn a single woman for being turned on by viewing the body of a single man.

But what about a man (married or single) who looks at a married woman and is sexually aroused by her form? What if he even imagines what she might look like naked? What if he later has a sexual fantasy about her? Is this all sin? Is some of it sin?

I submit to you that none of the above scenarios are sin. Where the sin occurs is when a man goes from finding a married woman desirable to him desiring to unlawfully possess her(fornicate with her). After he has allowed himself to desire to possess her, then he will most likely begin to fantasize about how he might possess her.

If he allows himself to desire to unlawfully possess her he has entered the realm of sin and has planted the seeds for further sin. If he then starts thinking about how he can lure her from her husband he has sinned even more even if he never acts on these plans.

A key principle regarding lust and covetousness is that even before he began planning on how to possess her – his first sin of covetousness was in allowing himself to desire to unlawfully possess her before any plan on how to do that came to mind. A plan on how to unlawfully possess someone or something that is forbidden is not required for covetousness to occur – simply the desire to possess something God does not allow us to possess is sin.

What about Job 31?

beautifulwoman1

With everything we have learned while studying Matthew 5:27-28, we can now address the second of only two passages in the Bible addressing this subject of a man lusting after a woman.

1 I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?

9 If mine heart have been deceived by a woman, or if I have laid wait at my neighbour’s door;

10 Then let my wife grind unto another, and let others bow down upon her.

11 For this is an heinous crime; yea, it is an iniquity to be punished by the judges.

– Job 31:1 & 9-11 (KJV)

Clearly verses 9-11 are talking about a married woman – “my neighbour’s door”, so this is talking about committing adultery, or thinking about possessing another’s wife in one’s heart.

But what about verse one where he says he made a covenant with his eyes? Some translations translate this as “gaze at a virgin” and others “look lustfully at a virgin”. Again, we need to look at the actual Hebrew terms and scrape away translator bias and church tradition bias.

The Hebrew word “maid” here is “Bethuwlah” and it is always translated as talking about an unmarried woman or virgin. The Hebrew word translated as “think” is also translated as “perceive” or “consider”. Most people would agree that it is ridiculous to think Job is saying a man could never think about a young unmarried woman, otherwise no one would ever get married.

The problem in this passage is, we don’t have the context of what he is thinking about with this woman. Those who are proponents of the belief that it is sin for a man to be sexually aroused by any woman other than his wife will fill in the blank for us and say it is talking about sexual arousal or sexual fantasy about a virgin girl.

I submit to you that this is talking about more than just sexual arousal or even sexual fantasy, but instead Job 31:1 is the comtemplation of pre-marital sex. Job is saying “I will never look at a virgin and think of how I might take her sexually without marrying her”.

16 And the damsel’s father shall say unto the elders, I gave my daughter unto this man to wife, and he hateth her;

17 And, lo, he hath given occasions of speech against her, saying, I found not thy daughter a maid; and yet these are the tokens of my daughter’s virginity. And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city.

– Deuteronomy 22:16-17 (KJV)

4 Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.

– Hebrews 13:4 (KJV)

In the Law of Moses as well as the book of Hebrews in the New Testament we can see that God only sees three ways that sexual relations can occur between a man and a woman:

  1. Whoremongering (sex outside of marriage)
  2. Marriage (sex within marriage)
  3. Adultery (a man having sex with another man’s wife)

There is only one type of sexual relations between a man and woman that the Bible calls “honorable in all” and “undefiled” – and that is sex between a man and woman within the bounds of marriage.

This is what Job 31:1 is referring to – a man should never fantasize about how he can “entice” a young woman into having sex with him outside of marriage. This is also why prostitution is sinful, because it is sex outside the bounds of marriage.

Conclusion and Application

Matthew 5:27-28 is talking about the sin of a man coveting another man’s wife. It is the desire to possess a woman that belongs to another man.

Job 31:1 is talking about a man thinking of enticing a young virgin into having sex with him outside of marriage.

Remember at the beginning of this article I asked you these 2 questions:

  1. Is it wrong to enjoy the smell of pancakes as you enter your favorite pancake restaurant?
  2. Is it wrong to see a commercial on TV for one of your favorite foods and then it makes you feel hungry?

You may be asking what these questions have to do with a man begin sexually aroused by the sight of a woman (married or single, it does not matter).

It is a biological fact that the same area of a man’s brain that causes hunger and gives pleasure from the smell, sight and taste of food is the exact same area that gives a man pleasure from the smell, sight and touch of a woman.

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”)

http://www.amazon.com/His-Brain-Her-Differences-Strengthen/dp/031024028X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1396807524&sr=1-1&keywords=his+brain+her+brain

“Telling men not to become aroused by signs of youth and health is like telling them not to experience sugar as sweet.”

– David M. Buss, PhD (pg. 71 “The Evolution of Desire”)

So the two questions I asked about food could then be changed to these questions:

  1. Is it wrong for a man to be sexually aroused by the scent of a woman?
  2. Is it wrong for a man to be sexually aroused if a beautiful woman accidentally rubs against him in a hallway?
  3. Is it wrong for a man to be sexually aroused by the sight of a beautiful woman – whether he is married to her or not?

The Biblical answer to all these questions is – it is NOT A SIN for man to be sexually aroused by the scent, touch or sight of a woman, whether he is married to her or not.

While most of what I have said here could also apply to a woman being sexually attracted to a man, this is something that affects men much more than women.

To the men reading this, you now have a choice to make. You have been presented with Biblical evidence that the sin of lusting after (coveting) a woman is when a man goes from finding a woman sexually desirable (he is aroused by the sight of her, wonders what she looks like naked or has a sexual fantasy about her) to this same mane desiring to unlawfully possess this woman(to fornicate with her).

In many cases, once a man has allowed himself to desire this forbidden married woman, or desire sex with a single woman outside of marriage, he will also begin to plan in his mind how he can bring this to pass. But the planning stage is not required for covetousness to occur; covetousness occurs the moment a man allows himself to desire to possess someone or something God does not allow him to possess.

Your choices are:

  1. Will you accept how God has designed you, that being turned on by a beautiful woman (married or otherwise) is no more a sin than being made hungry by the sight or smell of your favorite food?
  2. Will you continue to beat yourself up, and buy the lies of feminism that you are “objectifying women” if you are turned on by a woman simply by the sight of her without knowing anything about her?
  3. Will you continue to allow your church leaders to put you on guilt trips from receiving pleasure simply from the sight of beautiful women around you?

 Remember, the sin only comes when your sexual attraction, or even fantasy about a woman, turns into a covetous desire to possess her sexually outside of marriage. It really is that simple.

 Yes, the Bible tells us that we need to fight our sinful natures with the help of God, but it does not tell us that we have to fight how God designed us. We as men should embrace our design, not fight it.

That does not mean we need to shove all this information in our girlfriends’ or wives’ faces.

We can practice discretion. It also does not mean being rude and gawking at beautiful women and making them feel uncomfortable is ok. What it does mean is that if you get a quick glance of a beautiful woman, or accidentally brush against a beautiful woman on the train or bus and you get feelings of pleasure from that – you have done NOTHING wrong.

One final note. Anything can be abused; for example, hunger and the pleasure from eating food is something God built into men and women. But this same hunger for food can be abused and then it can become gluttony. In the same way we cannot allow ourselves to become obsessed with sexual pleasure to the point that it interferes with intimacy in our marriage, or other areas of our life. Everything needs to be kept in balance.

But just as men and women both hunger for and receive pleasure from eating food, so do men have a natural hunger for and receive pleasure from the sight, scent and brief touches of beautiful women, whether they are complete strangers or women they know; it makes absolutely no difference. It is absolutely by God’s design, and no man should ever feel shame for this. It is only when he allows his natural sexual desires to turn into a desire to possess a woman sexually outside of marriage that he has now entered the realm of covetousness and lust which is sin.