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.
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”.
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?”
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.
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…
Young men look…
Older men look…
Even famous men look…
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.
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.
With the Christmas season upon us, I thought I would give some tune up advice on marriage (which we all need from time to time). What are the things that light your spouse’s fire? What things make them feel loved and make them more loving toward you? What things make them feel unloved? If someone asked you to list these things out – could you?
In two previous posts, I discussed “The twelve attributes of marital love” and “Is attraction required for marriage?” I built the case from a Biblical perspective that there are two kinds of love within marriage.
The Bible speaks of three types of love in the context of marriage:
Sexual love(Eros) – This is a love based on sexual attraction. It is the initial driving force for most men seeking out women for marriage. A woman may be sexually attracted to a man as well before marriage or she may grow to be sexually attracted to him after marriage. The Bible has entire book dedicated to this type of love, the Song of Solomon.
Emotional, or Friendship love(Phileo) – This is love based on either romantic feelings between a man and woman, feelings of infatuation, or love that is based on common interests. This kind of love is almost 100% based on how much each person puts into the relationship, whether it is a same sex friendship, a dating relationship, or a marriage.
Choice love(Agape) – This love is not based on feelings toward one’s spouse, and it is not based on sexual attraction toward one’s spouse. Instead it is based in the choice a person made when they entered into a covenant of marriage with their spouse. In choosing to enter into that covenant, they have committed to performing certain actions toward their spouse regardless of their feelings or sexual attraction at any given future time. This is why in addition to calling Agape a “choice love”, it is also a “commitment love” and an “action love”.
Most people think there is only one kind of love in marriage, unconditional love. It is true that unconditional love (Agape love) is the only required loved in a marriage.
For most couples having a friendship and romantic love takes a lot of work, and often times it fades and needs to be rekindled.
If I were to sum up the articles I have written on this subject, it would be that we are required to show love toward our spouse in these ways:
Be kind to them, even when you don’t feel like being kind. This kindness includes having sex with them, even when you don’t feel like it (the Bible calls sex a required “kindness” in marriage).
Support them, even when you don’t feel like supporting them.
Sacrifice yourself for them, even when you don’t feel like it.
Protect them, and their honor, even when you don’t feel like it.
Forgive them with an unending forgiveness, even when you don’t feel like it.
Now one would think that if a spouse loved someone the way I just described, that Phileo love (romantic friendship love), would naturally come from this. But the truth is, this is not always the case. Many Christian marriage books give couples false hope that these things alone will help to spark romantic and friendship love in a marriage, but this is simply not true.
More is required for Phileo (romantic friendship love) in marriage
Phileo (romantic friendship love) in a marriage is NOT an unconditional love. In fact it is a VERY conditional love. You get what you put into it, plain and simple.
The Bible says in the Galatians 6:7;
“…for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”
The law of sowing and reaping very much applies to Phileo love in marriage. You get what you put into it, if you want Phileo love (romantic friendship love) you have to put something in to get it.
His and Her Fireplaces
At the beginning of this post I showed an image of fire place. I believe that is a great way to describe Phileo love in marriage (as opposed to Agape love). You and your spouse both have Phileo love fireplaces:
In the man’s fire place I put respect and sex. In the woman’s fire place I put Talk and Time.
And yes I reference sex in the man’s fire place and not in the woman’s. I am NOT saying women don’t want sex or don’t have a desire for sex. But things like talking and time spent together, especially going on dates, is what lights most women’s fire and gives women the desire to have sex.
There are many other types of logs a man and woman may need besides these two things, but I can tell you that for the vast majority of men and women, these are the bare minimum requirements to stoke the fires of friendship and romance in a marriage.
Without these things, don’t be surprised if your relationship grows stale and cold.
So for guys, if you are wondering why its been a long time since your wife wore that special lingerie for you, or why she has been crabby and disrespectful toward you, first ask yourself when the last time you sat down and really talked with your wife. When was the last time you took her out on a date?
For the gals, if you husband has not taken you out in a while, or perhaps he is not spending much time talking to you – as yourself when was the last time you rocked his world in the bedroom? Or maybe you have been having a disrespectful attitude toward him?
An astute observer who knows the Scriptures well might point out a key issue here. Wives are commanded to respect their husbands in the Scriptures. Wives are also commanded to have sex with their husbands in the Scripture.
So in essence this answers the age old question about sex and romance – it is the chicken and egg question. Which comes first, sex or romance? Since sex is required, and romance is not this tells us which one comes first.
Ladies – most men are simple creatures, you show a man respect, and give him the gift of your body that God has blessed him with, and most men will crawl over hot coals to show you how much they love you. It really is that simple.
Ways the fire goes out
The three main ways that His or Her love fire place go out are:
Neglect – just not doing anything. It’s not that you did anything unkind toward your spouse. It’s just that you have not put any new wood into their fireplace lately.
Unkindness – Criticism in a marriage or degrading your spouse will in any way is like taking a bucket of water over to their fire place and pouring it on it.
Disagreements – Sometimes you feel like you need to say something to your spouse. You know it may end in a disagreement, or heated discussion. Just realize when you do this you might be taking a bucket of water and pouring it on their fire. So choose your battles wisely, always ask yourself – “is it worth it?” Many a couple routinely knock out each other’s fireplaces with disagreements that did not need to be said.
But let me clarify something on this disagreement section. Sometimes a spouse must speak up, knowing that it will upset the other spouse. There has been many a time that I voiced a concern with my wife, knowing it might cost me something for a little a while. If this is done for the right reasons, and a Godly purpose, you must do this.
But then realize that you need to come back and rekindle the fires of Phileo love again in that spouse.
While Phileo (friendship romantic) love is never commanded in marriage (as opposed to Agape love which is), it is something worth striving for. It definitely makes it much easier to love your spouse with an Agape love, when you have a Phileo love as well.
Also I believe that while God does not specifically command Phileo (friendship romantic) love in marriage, he wants us to do everything with all our might. He wants us to do everything to the best of our ability, to enjoy being with that person he has placed us with in marriage.
So if you don’t know what lights your spouse’s fire – then find out today! Talk to them and strive for your marriage to be the best it can be, not merely meeting the minimum requirements.
Feel free to comment and share some things that you know make your spouse feel loved and stoke the flames of romance in your marriage.
If you would have told me 10 years ago that I would allow my 14 year old son to have a swim suit poster in his room I would have told you that you were nuts. The reason is because I was raised in an environment that taught us that being sexually aroused by the sight of a woman’s body other than a woman you were married to was sin. This was included in a broader definition of lust that is taught in most churches today.
I would never argue that the Bible does not condemn lust, because it definitely does.
But after a great deal of Biblical soul searching, as well as biological reference searching (the chemistry of how the brain works) I came to a very different conclusion than what my upbringing taught me. The Bible never condemns a person for being sexually aroused by the sight of another person, even one they are not married to. It condemns lust – which is a very different thing. Lust is sexual covetousness, not sexual arousal.
I believe wholeheartedly that God has reserved sex for marriage, this is plain throughout the Old and New Testaments and I teach this principle to my teenage sons, as well as my teen daughter.
“Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.”
While God has reserved the act of sex (that includes intercourse, oral sex, or any other kind manual sex) for marriage, where I believe most Churches are flat wrong is in their teaching that sexuality itself is also reserved for marriage.
While on one side, we have the world blatantly encouraging our teens and young adults to have sex outside of marriage, on the other side we have the Churches teaching teens and college students that they must suppress their sexuality until the day they are married. I believe that both sides are wrong on this issue of sexuality from a Biblical standpoint.
So to that end with my teenagers I teach there is nothing wrong with my son’s thinking some girl is “hot” and there is nothing wrong with my daughter thinking some guy is “cute”. For my teen daughter her interest in sexuality is only just now beginning, but my sons interests are both in full throttle mode(as it is for most teenage boys).
I don’t teach my son’s like my father and mother taught me, that if there is a nice woman walking down the side walk or at the beach that they have to look away or look at the ground for fear of having “lustful thoughts”. Instead I teach them to have proper manners, and don’t stair at a girl like she is piece of meat (gawk at her), but they can take tasteful glances and appreciate the beauty that God has made in woman, as he has designed their brains to do.
Why I allow my son to have a bikini poster in his room
It was only after a lot of consideration, and even talking with my wife (she was fine with it way before I was) that I allowed my Christian son to get his first bikini poster in his room. He likes Kate Upton, so he got the Kate Upton Sports illustrated cover shot poster in his room.
Some Christians might say – “OK I agreed with you till now that your son does not have to look down when beautiful women walk by, but isn’t a swim suit poster in his room pushing it?” I don’t believe so.
I let him put a swimsuit poster in his room to remind him of the Biblical principle I have taught him that God designed him as man to visually appreciate women’s bodies.
There is absolutely no shame in this whatsoever! Even if he is aroused by that poster of Kate Upton on his wall, there is still no sin. The sin would come if he started looking up Kate Upton’s phone number, or scheming how he might try and find her to have sex with her outside of marriage (these would be lustful thoughts).
Or if he were to take his arousal from seeing Kate Upton, and then think about how he might influence a girl at school to have sex with him outside of marriage, all of these types of thoughts would be lustful, sinful thoughts.
But aren’t you teaching your son to look at women as sex objects?
I don’t have to teach my son to look at women as sex objects, his brain came pre-wired from God to do that. My job as a Christian father, is to help remind him that while women are indeed objects of sexual beauty and desire for men, they are also people with hopes, dreams, thoughts and feelings and they should be treated with honor and respect.
This is where I vehemently disagree with some conservative Christians on one side, and some radical feminists on the other side. These two groups of people that disagree on just about everything else, believe that it is impossible to look at a woman as an object of sexual beauty and desire, and at the same time honor and respect that woman, or women in general.
They suggest a false dichotomy, like it must be one or the other, and this simply is not true.
I teach both my teen sons that they would be stupid and marry a woman, just because she is beautiful. They should seek out a woman that is beautiful both on the inside, as well as the outside (and they don’t have to give up one, for the other).
I teach them to look for a woman that loves the Lord and his Word as much as they do, if not more. I teach them, that if a woman is truly surrendered to God and his design for her life, then she will be the best wife and mother to their children they could ever hope for.
But that does not mean beauty and sexuality must be sacrificed in order to find a Godly wife. It is not a contradictory to thing to find a woman who is both beautiful on the inside as well the outside.
But not all women look like that!
It was interesting how big a deal it was when I allowed my son to have the Kate Upton poster, it generated a lot of discussion before I allowed it, and then more after I allowed it. His mother (my ex-wife), was not happy about me allowing him to have the poster in the least bit. Of course I had to remind her that the rules in my home and how I teach in my home, and how she teaches in her home may be different sometimes.
My wife (my son’s step mom) is not threatened by the fact that there are more beautiful women than her in the world. She realizes that whether it is in a poster, or on the beach, or just walking down the sidewalk we will pass women that have slimmer, younger and more attractive bodies than her.
My ex-wife (his mother) always had a problem with being jealous of other women’s bodies, and she would have the attitude whenever she saw a beautiful women – “well let’s see if she keeps that look over the next 20 years”.
Regardless of either my wife, or my ex-wife’s approach, I as my sons father have to teach them about their sexuality as I believe is right. In regards to women’s bodies, my son’s know most women don’t look like Kate Upton, that is why she makes the money she does, because she is so exceptionally beautiful.
They know that the average woman will have some strengths, and some weaknesses in her physical appearance, just as we as men have strengths and weaknesses in our physical appearance.
So no –I am not teaching my sons to have an unrealistic expectation that all women should look like Kate Upton. What I am teaching them is, it is not wrong for them to appreciate feminine beauty, and especially exceptional feminine beauty when they see it.
Update: Since I originally wrote this post Kate Upton has been doing new commercials for some video game. My son was over at our Pastor’s house with him and his teenage sons watching TV and the commercial with Kate Upton came on. My Pastor’s reaction was “now that is a nice looking woman”. My son thought that was great and had to come home and tell me what our Pastor said. I think men need to be comfortable talking about women with their sons, and let them know there is a healthy and normal way to enjoy the visual side of their male sexuality.
So when go on our family summer vacations, my son’s don’t have to feel guilty at all or look down when they see women like this on the beach. Instead they can feel free to appreciate the beauty and artistry of God’s design in how he made a woman’s body.
Picture 1 – “Anna Paola bikini” by Shameless Charlotte
My wife likes to watch Top Model and I can honestly say that most of the women on that show are far too thin for my liking. A woman is supposed to have 50% more fat than a man in proportion to their bodies, that is what give a woman the curvy look and cushy feel. It makes sick when I see these young girls fretting about a small belly or a few love handles, that is ok and they are still beautiful. On the other hand I do not agree with the crowd that says “beauty has no weight limit”, if most of us were honest we would say it does.
As human beings we are wired to find balance as attractive. If we see a person is out of balance(too skinny or too fat) they become less attractive.
You didn’t hear it from me, but Lisa Vanderpump is one of my boyfriend’s favorite people. Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, BUT he was the one who introduced me to Vanderpump Rules, the its-so-bad-you-can’t-look-away show where Lisa Vanderpump’s restaurant, SUR’s employees run-a-muck. Anyway, this article isn’t about Lisa, it’s about Giuliana Rancic. This past Sunday afternoon flipping through the channels, boyfriend stopped on E News- Rancic was interviewing Vanderpump, and he made a comment on how awful Rancic looks.
While I try not to rag on other women’s bodies, I can’t help to agree with boyfriend. Let the investigation begin. Ten years ago, this is what Rancic looked like, fresh and healthy.
During this interview, Vanderpump made Rancic look like a scarecrow. With oddly high cheekbones, sunken in eyes, and the tiniest arms, I can’t help but question whether or not this is a healthy weight…
This article has been updated and merged into a larger article on the topic of sexual arousal and sexual fantasy on my new blog dedicated exclusively to the topic of sex from a Biblical perspective. You can find this new article here.
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:
Is it wrong to enjoy the smell of pancakes as you enter your favorite pancake restaurant?
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?
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:
Whoremongering (sex outside of marriage)
Marriage(sex within marriage)
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:
Is it wrong to enjoy the smell of pancakes as you enter your favorite pancake restaurant?
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”)
“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:
Is it wrong for a man to be sexually aroused by the scent of a woman?
Is it wrong for a man to be sexually aroused if a beautiful woman accidentally rubs against him in a hallway?
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:
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?
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?
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.