First, let me start off by saying that your sexual desires are not bad. I know that may sound like a controversial statement, but let me explain.
The desires or attraction that God instilled in you and me for the opposite sex are natural. Before sin entered into the world, Adam and Eve were living in harmony with God and were given the command to go forth and multiply (Genesis 1:28). Adam understood the strong bond between him and Eve. After God created her out of his rib, He said the following:
“This is now bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.” (Genesis 2:22)
When sin enters the world we see an immediate change:
“Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?” Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.”” (Genesis 3: 9-12)
His tone went from recognizing that she is his bone and flesh to shifting the blame on God for giving him Eve and causing Him to sin.
Sin corrupted many things, one of them being sex. Sex was meant for the sacredness of marriage. But the world took that out of context and corrupted something that was once a Godly thing. Luckily the Christian church has protected it through the sacrament of matrimony.
So what do you do with all these desires that you’re feeling in the meantime? You might have a long time until marriage where you can rightfully express those desires in an intimate and healthy way with your spouse, so what do you do for now?
First, recognize that your attraction to the opposite sex is completely normal. Thank God that you have that attraction in the first place. These hormones that you are feeling are from God and not from Satan, but Satan can definitely use them to tempt you. Just remember that God won’t allow you to be tempted beyond what you can handle, but let’s be honest, sometimes we tempt ourselves all on our own.
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Second, practice self-control like your life depends on it, because your spiritual life definitely does. Ask God to strengthen your will to resist temptation. Isn’t that what we always ask God in the Lord’s prayer, “And lead us not into temptation”?
Last but not least, do not let that attraction and desire turn into lust. Lust, by definition, is a strong sexual desire for someone. So don’t entertain those sexual desires you have, because once you do it becomes a sin. “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). If these thoughts are like birds flying around your head, chase them away so they don’t form a nest there and sit and fester.
Also recognize that what you are desiring may be tainted or influenced by sinful things like porn or other lustful means. It is important to decipher that from the God-given feelings of attraction. Those lustful thoughts might be triggering you to act on your desires rather than wait. It is worth the time to look inward at what might be causing that like I've previously mentioned in a post called "Fighting Lust."
Trust that there is a time and place for these desires. Expressing these desires in marriage with the right selfless intentions, are not out of lust, but out of love. And trust me when I say, God looks at this love with joy. Lust is rooted in selfishness and wanting to only satisfy your own flesh. Love is selfless and kind, always putting the other person’s needs before your own (1 Corinthians 13).
I have spoken to many youth who grew up in the church and are struggling with seeing sex as a holy thing. Some have even admitted to struggling in marriage because they learned to associate sex with shame. I am not faulting anyone in particular for these teachings. It could have been a mix of things: incorrect education, scare tactics for abstinence, cultural differences and much more. The way sex in shown in the media has undeniably been portrayed the wrong way. When church leaders saw this negative influence, they quickly wanted to warn the youth about it, and stressed so much how sex is wrong before marriage (which is 100% correct we are called to flee sexual immorality), but didn’t stress God’s beautiful intention for sex.
St. John Chrysostom said, “Sex is not evil, it is a gift from God.” It truly is a gift from God!
If you are suffering from this kind of thinking and conditioning, you’re not alone. One woman shared with me her experience about having sex after marriage, and how she struggled getting over the feeling of it being “wrong.” It had been so ingrained in her that she wasn’t allowed to participate, that it led her to avoid sex and it eventually caused a lull in her marriage. As a result, she sought counseling from priests, trusted married mentors, and a therapist. Do you know what advice they gave her? “Pray during sex, as counterintuitive as it feels. Pray that you enjoy the time and take comfort in knowing that God is happy that you are spending time with your husband in this way. All the intimacy and closeness you desire for you and your husband will come through enjoying sex. Soon, you will begin to associate sex with holiness in your marriage rather than shame.” Despite how weird it felt, over time she began to truly enjoy the closeness that was achieved through their intimate time together. But this took years, not a few days, because undoing a lifetime of thinking one way wasn’t going to change overnight. Through prayer though, sure enough, she overcame the doubts and sex strengthened their marriage and their faith.
The craziest part of all is that before marriage, the devil had tried to whisper temptations in her ear to push her to partake of lustful acts with partners. After marriage, the devil switched his game plan and whispered lies about being a bad person for desiring sex. Do you see how tricky he is? His goal, filled with lies, is to make you feel like you are not worthy of God’s love, in whatever way it hits you the hardest.
The biggest takeaway here is that when you desire to flee sexual immorality before marriage, but still understand the beauty and the gift that sexual desire is, you will enjoy a sexually fulfilled life with your spouse (although it may not always come easy). You do not need to fear sex or your desire for it, but rather try to maintain a respect for it and understand how God intended it for marriage.
“Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled.” (Hebrews 13:4)
I hope these words hit you a little differently today if you’re struggling with sexual desires and trying to understand why they’re in you in the first place. If you’re struggling with unhealthy desires that are stemming from a porn addiction or constantly being physically intimate with your partner(s), please don’t be afraid to seek help and know that God's grace can help you overcome any sin. Overall, ask God to strengthen you and align your thoughts with His holy thoughts.