I only discovered this site a couple of months ago and I love it! I have enjoyed reading all the stories and entries. I’ve only written a couple so far but I enjoyed writing them and plan on writing more.
I wanted to submit my first blog post sharing some thoughts on lust I’ve had recently contemplated. I will be honest, some of the stories have made me question: Is it okay to be like that? The lust filled passion that characterizes the stories can be pretty intense. And for some reason it’s been bothering me.
I keep thinking of that verse: “You should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen.” (1Thessalonians 4:4-5, all scripture NIV unless otherwise noted) So I’ve been thinking: We need to learn to control ourselves and not live in lust. Allowing lust to take over and consume us makes us like the heathen who don’t know God. But I’ve been thinking about this and I believe I have a better understanding of this. That’s what I want to share here. Partly to get feedback but also in case someone else has struggled with this too.
Upon closer examination of the verse I notice that Paul says, “It is God’s will that you should avoid sexual immorality.” (1 Thess 4:3) So the first thing we see is that Paul is talking about sexual immorality. In a marriage, sexual activity is NOT immoral. Instead, Paul says in another place, “It’s good for a man to have a wife, and for a woman to have a husband. Sexual drives are strong, but marriage is strong enough to contain them and provide for a balanced and fulfilling sexual life in a world of sexual disorder.” (1 Cor 7:2 The Message) So marital sexuality is the place where sex isn’t considered immoral. Therefore, by stating that God wants us to avoid sexual immorality we know he isn’t referring to a husband and wife enjoying sex with each other.
He continues to our verse in question: “Each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God.” The way I’ve always heard it taught is that we shouldn’t allow our passions to overtake us. And even if we’re married, we still have self control and we should still learn to control our body in a way that is holy and honorable. Allowing our passions to take over is tantamount to allowing ourselves to act like the heathen. Even if we are married. This is what I want to examine here.
First, controlling your body doesn’t mean never feel anything, never express those feelings and never allow your feelings to overwhelm you. Including sexual feelings. He is simply expanding on his thought from verse three: We should avoid sexual immorality. So the way we avoid sexual immorality is by learning to control our bodies. The heathen just does whatever feels good whenever and with whomever. This is what it means to live like a heathen who doesn’t know God. So controlling your body simply means: You can control when, where and with whom you experience sexuality. But here’s the difference: You can experience the SAME passion as the heathen, just in a MORAL context. We do this by directing all our sexual energy toward our spouse, instead of toward anyone and everyone. We take the same passion the heathen expresses with multiple people, and we direct it toward one person: our spouse. But we share the same sexual passion!
The issue here is not, “Don’t have or express sexual passion.” The issue is, “Avoid sexual immorality.” But if we direct all our sexual energies toward the one person we have committed to, it is not immoral. Instead it is the one place “strong enough to contain [sexual drives] and provide for a balanced and fulfilling sexual life in a world of sexual disorder.” (from 1 Cor 7:2, The Message)
In other words, marriage is the one place where we DON’T have to control our bodies for fear of falling into sexual immorality. This makes marriage the one place where we can let our sexual passions run free because marriage is the one place strong enough to contain the strong sexual drives that we have.
Second, controlling our bodies in a way that is holy and honorable simply means to act in ways that are pleasing to God. To live holy and honorably is to live in a way that stays within the guidelines of God’s will. His will is that sex be expressed between a husband and his wife. So when we let ourselves feel the full force of our sexual passion with our spouse, we are living in a way that is holy and honorable. Because that’s the one place God says sex is not immoral. When we control our passions by directing them only toward our spouse, that is controlling our bodies and living in holiness and honor. But notice again that in the context of marriage, we can still have, feel and express sexual passion.
Third, Paul says not to live in passionate lust like the heathen who do not know God. Some point to this and say, “It’s clear as day right there. Don’t live in passionate lust like the heathen.” But again he is still in the context of verse 3: That we should avoid sexual immorality. So he isn’t saying, “Don’t allow yourselves to feel lust filled sexual passion.” He is saying, “Avoid sexual immorality.” This is still his main thought. So again, it must be stressed that within the marriage, sex is not immoral. The idea that we shouldn’t live in passionate lust is not directed toward a marital relationship. (Read that sentence again!) It is directed toward any immoral sexual relationship—the kind the heathens have. But within a marriage, and especially a Christian marriage, passionate sexuality can be expressed to its full extent without any concerns of “living like the heathen.” Because marital sexuality is not immoral. So again there isn’t any concern that we will not live in an honorable way by expressing passionate sexuality with our spouse.
Fourth, the Greek word used for “lust” in 1 Thessalonians 4:5 is “epithumeo.” (ep-ee-thoo-meh-o) This is an interesting word. It means: desire, passionate longing, covet. To lust after something is the same as to covet something. Coveting something means desiring something that belongs to someone else. It’s the tenth command in the Ten Commandments which says, “Do not covet your neighbor’s house, wife, manservant, maidservant, ox, donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” (Ex 20:17) Notice all those things belong to the neighbor, not you. In the Greek translation of the Old Testament (called the Septuagint) the Greek word used in Exodus 20:17 is epithumeo. It’s the same word! So to lust after something is simply to desire something that isn’t yours. But in a marriage, your spouse is YOURS! Paul says the wife’s body belongs to the husband and the husband’s body belongs to the wife. (1 Cor 7:4) You can’t covet your own wife/husband! She/he already belongs to you. So you don’t have to worry about that from this aspect.
The word also means, “desire.” It’s interesting that in Luke 22:15 Jesus says, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” The word used for “eagerly desired” is epithumeo! Clearly Jesus wasn’t sinning in desiring to eat the Passover with his disciples. So this tells us that it’s okay to desire something as long as it isn’t something that isn’t ours to have. So if we desire our spouse sexually, we have every right to enjoy that since our spouse belongs to us and we belong to our spouse. (again 1 Cor 7:4) So we don’t have to worry about lust from this angle. (In fact, based on this we could say that we should desire our spouse! So we SHOULD lust after our spouse!)
And lastly the word means “passionate longing.” Where do we find the most passionate longing? In a sexual relationship. So if we are in a sexual relationship with our spouse, it is not an immoral relationship, therefore, the passionate longing for each other is perfectly acceptable to express and enjoy. Paul even goes so far to say that, “The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband.” (1 Cor 7:3) Marital duty of course refers to sexual intimacy. So we could say that passionate longing for one another in marriage is expected by God. And if it isn’t there, something is wrong.
Based on all this, I have a new understanding of my thoughts on lust and sexual passion. I don’t see it as a lack of control or as living like a heathen. Instead I see it as a healthy, godly, holy way to express my love for my wife and my sexuality with my wife. And instead of holding back feelings of strong desire and passionate longing for my wife, I now want to cultivate more of those feelings. I now want to express more of those feelings and encourage my wife to feel and express more of those feelings toward me. I don’t want either of us to hold anything back when it comes to expressing our sexual passion for one another.
And now when I read stories on this site, I will be grateful there are marriages out there that express these things. We need more of them! I no longer question the lust filled descriptions of the stories. I now celebrate them and give glory to God that others are enjoying this passionate longing for each other and that I too can enjoy this passionate longing in my own marriage.
I hope this has helped you to grow in your understanding of your sexuality and your marriage. I hope you will use this study to continue to enhance your marriage and your sexual longing for one another. And I hope this has set you free from any kind of bondage or fear you may have had concerning lust and expressing sexual desire in marriage.