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The results on Instagram about how the “all men struggle with lust” message affected you dealt a big emotional wallop on me.

I told you about it yesterday, but I’d like to explore it a little more today.

I received hundreds upon hundreds of answers on Instagram, and they were heartbreaking. Being afraid of snuggling with dad. Feeling to blame for my own sexual assaults. Developing an eating disorder to stay attractive for my husband. Mistrusting my husband. Developing terrible posture to not let people see my chest. Judging other women. Losing friendships with any women who may be rivals. And it went on and on and on.

This is the fruit. This is what happens when we teach that “all men struggle with lust; it’s every man’s battle.”

When we surveyed 20,000 women for The Great Sex Rescue, we found that THIS was the one teaching that affected women if they merely were taught it, even if they never believed it. Just being in a culture where this is widely believed has negative effects on our marriages and our sex lives. And believing it? That’s one of the big reasons that women’s libidos plummet. Seriously–who wants to have sex when this is what men are like?

But here’s where it gets sad.

I spoke to a big name author about this, and I said:

EVEN IF it were true, teaching it has such negative effects on women. Shouldn’t we change how we teach it?

And his response? We wouldn’t want men to feel shame. We have to tell the truth so men don’t feel shame.

It is better for women to experience all of this–the low libido; the low sexual satisfaction; the lack of trust in their husbands; the lack of safety overall; the lack of friendships; the inability to trust family members; feeling responsible for their own sexual assaults; hating their bodies–it is better for women to experience all of that than to have men feel shame over lust.

So that’s what I’d like to explore today. Does that argument even hold water?

Biblically, it is not true that all men struggle with lust.

It just isn’t. There isn’t one category of sin that men can’t defeat or have victory over. In fact, here’s what Paul wrote:

 

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister.
1 Thessalonians 4:3-6

So it is every believer’s responsibility to deal with their own lust, and the expectation is that they will. And why should they do it? So they do not take advantage of someone else.

And throughout the New Testament, it says over and over again that the expectation is that we will live by the Spirit, not the flesh. We will have victory!

This does not mean we never sin, and lust could be a stronghold in some people’s lives. But when we say it’s a stronghold in EVERY man’s life, we make it sound like a sin that you can never, ever get over.

And if you can never get over it, you give men an excuse to keep practising it. 

Do you hear me on this? When we say it’s “every man’s battle”, then we make it into an acceptable sin, because it’s impossible to get over.

That’s what Gary Thomas believes. In a post he wrote in 2016, he said this:

…some form of sexual sin is a universal struggle among all men. There isn’t a man alive who isn’t bent in his sexual desires. While the vast majority of us do not have homosexual desires, we have other desires that do not honor God. That’s the burden of being a man. Women have untoward desires as well, but they are different.
Gary Thomas

What Your Husband May Never Tell You (and one thing every husband needs to do accordingly)

Think about that: there’s not a single man who isn’t “bent”–but there are plenty of women who aren’t “bent.”

Where, exactly, in the Bible is this? Where, exactly, in science is this? Nowhere. There is no Bible verse supporting this, and there is no scientific study that supports this.

In fact, Paul tells us that we should “greet one another with a holy kiss.” That doesn’t sound like a man who is nervous around women! He had female co-workers that he appreciated and loved very much. In fact, 10/29 people who are mentioned by name in Romans 16 are female, and a higher proportion of the women are mentioned in relation to their ministry than with men. Paul worked alongside women, valued women, and treated women as real sisters in Christ. Why do we think that’s so impossible?

If men cannot be with a woman without struggling to lust after her, then we should not have men in pulpits, men in leadership over women, or male bosses. We should have a female-led church or a female-led society, because men can’t be trusted.

You can’t simultaneously believe in male leadership and also believe that men cannot achieve victory in the way they look at women or act towards women. God did not mean women to be unsafe, and this makes women unsafe.

What is universal–almost–is sexual attraction.

Lust may not be a special category of sin that is universal, but noticing attractive people is almost universal (some asexual people may not). I still think the root of much of this issue is that we’ve conflated noticing with lusting. Incidentally, that’s what we found in our survey of men, too, that’s coming out in the Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex (which you can preorder now!). Many (though not all) men say they struggle with lust, when their answers to follow-up questions look like they only struggle with noticing, not actually lusting. About half of the men who say they struggle with lust show no other signs of it. We think we’ve made men feel guilty for normal male sexuality.

Men should feel conviction for lust!

I DO NOT want men to feel shame for being attracted to women, and I hope that we can change the conversation so that we set men free from this, because I think so many men have been living under burdens that they were never meant to bear.

But I equally believe that those burdens should not be heaped on women–and worse–simply because we want men to feel free.

When we spread the “all men struggle with lust” message, we heap the shame and guilt that men feel onto women. We tell women they need to wear modest clothes; have sex frequently in marriage; watch their demeanor, etc etc etc all to protect men from lusting.

Why can’t we just tell men to respect women and treat women as whole people, made in the image of God?

Indeed, THAT is what scientific studies show reduces lust–thinking of someone as a whole person, with relationships, with thoughts, with opinions, rather than just as body parts.

Paul also wrote:

 

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

2 Corinthians 7:10

Conviction for sin is actually a good thing! It leads to repentance and to life! But worldly sorrow–shame–isn’t.

By spreading the message that all men struggle with lust, we are taking the conviction that men should feel away, and we are heaping shame that women shouldn’t feel on women. 

Women are worth more than this!

We do not deserve to live with this kind of fear, guilt, shame, lack of relational connection, mistrust, suspicion, and more, simply so that men don’t have to feel conviction about sin.

It is wrong to put this on women. Women do not deserve this.

The Great Sex Rescue

Changing the conversation about sex & marriage in the evangelical church.

Great Sex Rescue Cover - Women Shouldn't Have to Suffer So Men Don't Feel Shame

What if you're NOT the problem with your sex life?

What if the things that you've been taught have messed things up--and what if there's a way to escape these messages?

Welcome to the Great Sex Rescue.

What would I say instead about lust?

We talk about this a lot in chapters 5 and 6 of The Great Sex Rescue, but I would say something like this:

It is normal to have sexual feelings and to feel attracted to the opposite sex. It is normal to notice that someone else is attractive. Noticing is not lusting. Thoughts can enter into our heads, and that is not our fault. But it is our responsibility to choose what to do with those thoughts.

It is entirely possible, and even normal, to notice that someone else is attractive, but then to move on with your day and think nothing more of it. In fact, this is what most people do. 

If you struggle with lust, though, that’s okay. Everyone struggles with something. Please know, though, that this is something that you can get victory over. And the way you do it is by training yourself to respect people as whole people, made in the image of God. Instead of seeing body parts, practise seeing who is truly in front of you. Treat them as a fellow child of God. 

Please see The Great Sex Rescue for more!

You know, we surveyed 20,000 women so that our results would be unassailable.

I thought that would be enough. When I spoke to this author, I thought he would get it–that if this message hurt women so much, we needed to stop spreading it. I thought he would care.

I thought the problem was that we just didn’t realize how harmful this was, and as soon as we realized it, things would change.

I was wrong. That wasn’t the problem. The problem was that they wanted men to avoid feeling badly at all costs. And they honestly didn’t care what it did to women, because they refused to let go of the unbiblical and unscientific idea that all men struggle in this area.

Women deserve better, but so do men.

I read another article this week by Barbara Rainey, where she said that men are like barbarians without women, and they need women to stabilize them. Men are open to any convenient sexual offer, and are barbarians when it comes to sex.

How can people talk about God’s sons this way? I would never say this about my husband, about my sons-in-law. I don’t want to be in a church that believes my grandson will grow up this way. This is misandry.

Men are good people. Men were not made more naturally evil than women. Women are not men’s saviours. Jesus is men’s Saviour.

So stop heaping the guilt and shame on women. Stop heaping shame on men for normal sexual feelings. And start calling men to more, rather than burdening women with things they were never meant to carry.

I truly don’t understand why that’s too much to ask.

Women Shouldnt Suffer so Men Dont feel Shame - Women Shouldn't Have to Suffer So Men Don't Feel Shame

Help me with this one! Why doesn’t women’s pain matter to pastors and authors? How else can I help them to see? Let me know in the comments!

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum

Sheila has been married to Keith for 28 years, and happily married for 25! (It took a while to adjust). She’s also an award-winning author of 8 books, including The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila is passionate about changing the evangelical conversation about sex and marriage to line up with kingdom principles. ENTJ, straight 8

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