Understanding Lust

This is an excerpt from Jim Vander Spek’s book, Overcoming Lust

If we want to overcome lust, we need to recognize what we’re dealing with. A good place to start is to understand the “sexual buzz”—the electric feeling of pleasure that makes sex so enjoyable. The psychobiologic sexual buzz involves our emotions, our bodies, and our cognitive functions. God designed these feelings for good. The sexual buzz occupies an essential role as an early phase of intimacy within the sexual union of marriage. Without it, we would not become aroused and sex probably would not happen enough to keep reproduction going or marital ties binding. The sexual buzz is only appropriate inside the marriage relationship.

When we misuse this capacity—allowing ourselves an illicit sexual buzz—it is sinful lust. Consider the following definition as a way to understand this:

Sexual lust—the illicit sexual buzz—is willfully allowing pleasurable gratification of wrongfully directed sexual desire that takes place deep inside.
Let’s break that down:

Willfully allowed—It is something we choose to do. It is not forced upon us. Giving in to it may be driven by habit and undertaken without deliberation, but it is still a choice on our part.

Pleasurable—We enjoy it. The illicit sexual buzz is intensely enjoyable in a way we cannot fully understand. God designed us so that even when we are merely looking to enjoy legitimate sexual pleasure, looking to lust, or contemplating sexual activity, we are able to realize a pleasurable sexual buzz.

Gratification—We recognize when it happens because something clicks into place. We may claim that we are “doing nothing” and may be able to fool others, but we should not try to fool ourselves. God is not fooled.

Wrongfully directed sexual desire—We are focusing our attention in a way that is not right. The sexual buzz is only proper when it is grounded within a marriage relationship. This is hard to accept when we are in bondage to lust. We look for a way to justify our waywardly pointed gratification of sexual desires—to convince ourselves that it is okay to let them roam.

Taking place deep inside—We cannot fully understand how the sexual buzz takes place. Our psychobiologic response is deep-seated and intensely personal. It occurs quickly and unmistakably, long before (and oftentimes without any) externally visible evidence.

Jesus distilled all these elements into a phrase that instantly rings true. He termed what takes place when we sin this way “adultery in the heart” (Matthew 5:28). In doing so, he included all of the above elements with an elegant, penetrating simplicity that a Christian can’t dismiss from his conscience.

Distinguishing Sexual Desire from Lust

There are a few objections that rise up immediately in some who hear this explanation for the first time, and it’s best to introduce them right from the start.

The first objection is the assertion that the sexual buzz which develops in a mostly indiscriminate way is nothing more than natural sexual desire. In fact, most definitions of lust describe it as a normal desire that has gone astray, without explaining plainly when this occurs.

Unfortunately, there is a fundamental problem with using the term “desire” or “sexual desire” as the starting point when developing a suitable, practical definition of lust. The word “desire” conveys the idea of hope or wish for future fulfillment. In contrast, those who lust are not just thirsty—they are drinking from the cup as well.

We are constantly exposed to sexual stimulations, primarily visual. This is the world in which we live. It is natural to have a sexual reaction to such stimulation. This is because of sexual desire—a part of who we are.

We are not permitted, however, to take the next step in cases when this sexual attraction is misdirected. Some may argue that one cannot stop illicit gratification. But there’s an easy way to prove that wrong: we routinely recoil from lust or sexualized interactions with family members such as daughters or sisters. Focusing our attention in order to obtain an illicit sexual buzz is willful and sinful. That quick gulp of sweet “stolen water” (Proverbs 9:17) is when we have crossed into sinful lust. We may want to minimize the adultery we are allowing in our hearts, but God does not.

There is nothing wrong with sexual desire—as long as it is not followed up with lust. It is a finely tuned and powerful God-given capacity, and we should not expect it to go away or find any fault with it. As Uncle Screwtape, the demon tutor wrote to his pupil, Wormwood, in The Screwtape Letters (C. S. Lewis):

He [God] made the pleasures: all our research so far has not enabled us to produce one. All we can do is to encourage the humans to take the pleasures which our enemy has produced, at times, or in ways or in degrees, which He has forbidden.
The issue is whether we will use our desires to engage in sin. Ramped up sexual desires are only permitted as we share and enjoy them within the marriage relationship. The sin of lust occurs when we allow ourselves illicit sexual pleasure by misusing sexual desire.

Do not believe the lie that you cannot deny yourself illicit gratification when tempted. We can—and must—whenever we are tempted to sin.

Sexual Thoughts

Another objection to describing lust as an illicit sexual buzz is based on the assertion that we cannot eliminate sexual thoughts. But this is not the goal for which we are striving. Certainly, taking charge of our thought lives is a critical front in the battle against lust for a Christian—”Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts” (Isaiah 55:7).

However, having sexual thoughts is not the same as committing lust. It is only when we improperly dwell on such thoughts to develop the recognizable experience of an illicit sexual buzz that we have sinned. In this way, the sin of lust is comparable to other sins to which we are susceptible. At times, we all face situations that provoke us to anger, but if we improperly dwell on that anger, we slip into sins such as rage, bitterness, and unforgiveness.

We all face hardship or problems at times, but if we improperly dwell on such hardships and problems, we slip into the sin of worrying. At times, it seems like others are doing better than us, but if we improperly dwell on such thoughts, we slip into the sins of envy or selfishness. Other examples like this could be cited. As we gain victory over lust, our desires and thoughts no longer drive us to sin.

Focusing on the Real Problem

Recognizing that sexual desires and thoughts—by themselves—are not necessarily bound up with lust provides the key to overcoming it. Many attempt to eliminate their sexual desires and thoughts because they have habitually harnessed these in order to realize an illicit sexual buzz.

This approach is called “thought suppression.” Thought suppression has been studied extensively and is best illustrated by the experiment of trying to stop oneself from thinking about a pink elephant. Unfortunately, this strategy has never proven to be effective. Instead, we need to accept that we will at times give rise to bad thoughts, and will also continue to feel sexual desire in ways that we do not choose. Instead of suppressing our wayward thoughts and desires, we need to “bring them into captivity” (2 Corinthians 10:5) by denying them access to our hearts. The temptation to “go with it” must be resisted.

Let’s be clear about this. We cannot shut down our desires and thoughts, nor should we seek to. They are not the real problem. We must also recognize and repent whenever we misuse our desires or thoughts to accommodate sin and to develop practical strategies for gaining victory if we find ourselves being dominated by this sin.

Many wrongly believe—as I once did—that sexual desires and sexual thoughts are parts of us that have special power. They feel that they have no choice when subjected to temptation but to allow these desires and thoughts to generate an illicit sexual buzz. It has become an automatic response because they have crossed the line on a regular basis.

However, our desires and thoughts do not force us to sin. Instead of slipping into sin, we need to act with the knowledge and confidence that God is faithful to provide “the way of escape” (1 Corinthians 10:13) whenever we are tempted. Entering that “way” necessarily means that we refuse to commit adultery within our hearts. Our focus needs to be on denying actual sin, growing to maturity as believers, and learning to please God. Our desires become evil when we act upon them by committing adultery in our hearts. By first putting to death our evil passions and desires, we are in a position to put on the new person and effectively abide in Christ.

2.88 avg. rating (58% score) - 24 votes
36 replies
  1. copen1
    copen1 says:

    This is a wordy, yet watery and vague continuance of the type of suppression that has plagued Christianity for years. It is the same message that has pervaded our ranks and teachings causing unnecessary feelings of fear and guilt for countless Christians. Vague and incomplete references to the scriptures, lack of competent exposition, and invented definitions will not change the truth. I'm sorry, but I wholeheartedly disagree with your stance and article sir.

  2. Harper Shelby Thornton
    Harper Shelby Thornton says:

    I was thinking about whether or not I should read this, but I'm glad I did, because what you say is utterly FALSE! There is NOTHING wrong with having sexual thoughts, that's NORMAL! Are you kidding me? You know I read your comment on another post that you don't read the explicit parts of a story… why do you come here then? When I read a story I most certainly DO read the explicit parts and I ENJOY doing so! I have no shame, no guilt, I have the freedom and am doing nothing wrong.

    I told you before that list=coveting (Romans 7:7) Sexual Imagination is NOT Lust – Lust is coveting something (thinking about to actually possess something) that God did not intend for us to have. God did not intend for us to have sex with a woman outside of marriage, so if we are having thoughts of how we can convince a woman, married or single, to have sex with us, without us first being married to her – then we have lusted.

    It's because of you and others like you that young people, especially adolescents who like celebrities and stuff are scared that they're doing something wrong and they're NOT! Suppressing is NOT the answer! Do you realize that oppressed people suffer from physiological problems? Because of your stupid ideas that sexual thoughts are lust and form of stealing, which are wrong by the way, that they suffer from being put in false bondage. I'm here to stand up for them! This is a sex-positive site, so quit condemning people for simply doing what comes naturally!

    Again, you are putting people into false bondage and for that, shame on you!

  3. 6_is_enough
    6_is_enough says:

    I found this story difficult to understand. It sounds if your just trying to invent definitions to help suport your point. Here is how I understand lust. It can be both a good thing and a bad thing. (Good example)After reading a MH story and you start to "feel the buzz" and you turn your thoughts towards your wife or husband and want to act on the "buzz" within the boundaries of marriage, that's good. (Bad example) After reading a MH story and you start to "feel the buzz" and your thoughts turn towards any other person than your wife or husband or some imagined image of another person outside the boundaries of marriage. That's bad.
    Basically lust and coveting are intertwined. If it's directed to your significant other in a marriage, that will please God.

  4. Adam Rose
    Adam Rose says:

    Personally I love having my beliefs challenged by articles like this one. If my position on something is strong, it will stand up to scrutiny.
    If not. I take it to the Lord in prayer and reexamine both my view on the topic and my understanding of Scripture.
    In the end I have grown as a Christian.
    I find that the confusion here is all about the definition of lust within the Bible.

  5. asm
    asm says:

    Sex is not bad, desires are not bad, sexual thoughts are not bad. What is bad is when they are not directed towards your spouse.

  6. PatientPassion
    PatientPassion says:

    I’m a young single guy, and I don’t claim to have extensive biblical knowledge on this subject, but I hope I can play peacemaker here and help with understanding this better.

    I write largely in defense of the author of this article, but I want those who disagree to know that I am open to an honest discussion about the topic, and that this is simply my analysis. (I think “6_is_enough” summed up my stance pretty well, but I’d like to be a bit more detailed and hopefully bring some understanding to this discussion.)

    With that said, I see why some people are upset with this article: the overall tone, at first glance, appears to take an extremely conservative and restrictive stance on sexual thoughts based on what constitutes lust. But as with everything, I think it must be read both critically and with an open mind. When I read through this as objectively as possible, while keeping my beliefs as a Christian in mind, I have my concerns, but I think the general ideas are accurate. It appears the problem some people are having is that things are said in a way that comes off as suggesting that sexual thoughts are wrong. Based on the way it is written, I can understand that interpretation.

    *****I think the main problem here is that the article was written in a very specific context in the author’s mind, and that context is not defined clearly enough for the audience to understand the perspective it is being written from. From my understanding, the idea that sexual thoughts are wrong (as interpreted by some) really applies only to sexual thoughts that we already know are wrong. For example, fantasies about having an affair are obviously not right, but we all know it’s GOOD to think about one’s spouse, whether or not it’s in a sexual way. It seems to me that this article is more about reigning in the sexual thoughts we know are wrong, not necessarily ALL sexual thoughts.

    The author does make this point clear, but unfortunately it seems to be overshadowed by the tone and lack of clarification throughout the rest of the article. In the third-to-last paragraph, the author states: “Let’s be clear about this. We cannot shut down our desires and thoughts, nor should we seek to. THEY ARE NOT THE REAL PROBLEM” (Caps added for emphasis).

    I obviously can’t speak for the author, and I can’t say for sure this was their intent. This is just my analysis and understanding of the article. I hope it helps!

  7. heattt
    heattt says:

    I've got a question (I'm still trying to figure myself out sexually).

    I'm not married, I'm a teen, and although I've struggled with my sexuality I'm begun to really embrace it, thanks to all the helpful people on this site! There is this little thing though- if you don't have a partner, who are you supposed to turn your thoughts to?

  8. Harper Shelby Thornton
    Harper Shelby Thornton says:

    @heattt If you're attracted to someone like a celebrity of the opposite sex, you can masturbate to the thought of them freely with NO guilt whatsoever! I wouldn't pay attention to this, honey. What this guys is saying is not found in the Bible the way he thinks it is. Our sexuality doesn't have an off switch so if you feel the need to masturbate, just do it! (In private of course) God gave you the wonderful tool of masturbation so use it, just don't let yourself covet that person you're thinking of.

    You can freely, and without any guilt whatsoever, enjoy and masturbate to those beautiful thoughts without feeling ONE BIT SINFUL. Masturbation can even help you to keep your sexual purity and help keep you from actually sinning (having sex before marriage).

    That being said, I would like to ask how old you are, because the admins don't allow anyone under 18 here. God bless

  9. Been blessed
    Been blessed says:

    Harper Shelby Thornton I think you are giving some really bad advice here, that will lead this young person to sin. Masturbating to sexual thoughts of some celebrity is not Biblical in any way, shape or form. Our sexual desires are to be reserved for our spouse, and no one else. I'm not here to argue, but in my opinion you are way off the mark Biblically on this one.

  10. Harper Shelby Thornton
    Harper Shelby Thornton says:

    @Been blessed No, YOU are wrong! I am NOT off the mark here, I am giving this person GOOD advice! They're not married yet, so what are they supposed to do? Just because it's not in the Bible doesn't make it wrong!

    God made your mind able to get pleasure from women’s beauty (if you're a man) in the same way He made your nose able to get pleasure from smelling your favorite foods. The boundary that God has set for you is that you do not start fantasying in your head about how you could approach this person to have sex with you outside of marriage.

    You are attempting to brutalize people for their God-given sexual nature which we NO control over because you've been taught the garbage you just spewed. Shame on you!

  11. leenoos
    leenoos says:

    Agree with copen1 and Harper. Biblically, lust = coveting and discontent. Expanding the lust definition to include arousal, fantasy, appreciation, etc., leads to bondage.

  12. HornyHubby
    HornyHubby says:

    This article represents a lot of misconceptions people have about lust. Plus I see some inconsistencies in the logic. For instance, in the first paragraph it says the sexual buzz is given to us by God in order to create the desire for sex. But then it says it is only for marriage. I understand what he is saying, the problem is that if it is only for marriage, then nobody would ever get married! For that sexual buzz is what drives two single people to start dating. It's that sexual buzz that a man gets when he sees a woman and it is the buzz that motivates him to talk to her and ask her out, etc. So logically it isn't "just for marriage" and God didn't create it just for marriage.

    Furthermore, just because you get married it doesn't mean that sexual buzz goes away. You still have it. So it is perfectly normal for a married man to get a sexual buzz from seeing another woman. Or for a married woman to get a buzz from seeing a man. But this is not lust in the biblical sense. Most people mistakenly think that lust is simply looking. But that isn't correct. Like Harper said, lust has more to do with coveting. And I have an analogy I like to use to help explain it.

    Imagine you look out your window and see that your neighbor has a new boat. And you start to admire the boat and notice every curve and how the sunlight reflects off the name on the side, etc. So far you have not lusted. Then you even begin to imagine yourself riding in the boat and maybe going water skiing with the boat. So far no lust.

    But let's say after looking at the boat, you decide that you want that boat. And you begin to plan how you are going to steal that boat and take it for yourself. That is lust. That is where you cross the line. For lust has to do with wanting to take something that belongs to someone else and make it yours. So if you simply admire the physical form of another man's wife, you aren't sinning. But if you decide in your heart that you are going to pursue her and win her over so that she leaves him for you, THAT is when you commit adultery in your heart. This is completely different from the traditional model of thinking that looking=lust.

  13. Lovinghusband
    Lovinghusband says:

    Hi Harper,

    I am your brother in Christ. I hope you know by now that I love you as a brother in the Lord – and care about you. With great caution (and hopefully using my words very carefully and precisely) – I really want to encourage you to answer people with whom you disagree with gentleness and respect. I know the apostle Paul use strong language to rebuke people who were spreading heresy on issues of salvation. But, in regards to disagreements and discussions on here between fellow believers (who are not challenging salvation by grace through faith in Jesus) – we certainly owe one another a gentleness that reflects Christian love.

    You are the most gentle soul 99.99999% of the time. I have seen some recent occasions where you have been less patient and more terse. So, in a loving spirit towards you my sister – I want to keep seeing and hearing your thoughts! They just don't need to be ended with "shame on you" – or making a very strong judgment that someone is trying to "brutalize" people. I hope that as you reflect on this – you might agree with me.

    I thought it was worth risking making you angry at me – because I know you love Christ and His people. I strongly disagree with many people on many things – but I hope we can all show great diligence in being patient with one another.

    You are a great asset to the MH family! Your supporter, friend, and brother. LH

  14. John Flint
    John Flint says:

    Harper…no one is "brutalizing" anyone as u say. No one is saying not to masterbate. We are just saying to do it appropriately. In another comment in the other story you say masturbating about a threesome is wrong. Yet here you tell unmarried people to masterbate about real people they are not married to and God has made it that way.
    I just simply respectfully say you are wrong. You seem to be indicating we have no control over our minds if it feels good do it. We are asked to be self controlled.
    I know what it is like to fantasize and jerk off to every attractive bank teller, neighbor, friend, movie star and I know one thing it was NOT freedom it is called bondage, enslavement.
    Masterbation is great done in a self controlled manner. As a single person they either….1. don't even need a mental picture …they can go off the physical sensations alone or 2. think of a nameless faceless female or male form. Extremely easy to do.
    No other real person is or should be involved.
    As a marriage person with have our spouse and past experiences and future expectations to use.
    I submit and from personal experience state that what your suggesting will put people in bondage and harm marriages and lives. Please rethink your postion. Even you must admit we can't let our minds just go with things. What if one is attracted to the same sex, or younger people, or family?
    There has to be some self control at all times and God has given us the ability to use it.
    So masterbate yes great….just do it appropriately..

  15. Harper Shelby Thornton
    Harper Shelby Thornton says:

    @John Flint, no, YOU are wrong. Don't take what I say out of context – It's one thing to masturbate to something illicit like a threesome, and totally another thing to masturbate to normal heterosexual sex that God designed.

    What it means is we are not to fantasize about trying to get someone to sleep with us outside of marriage, whether we are single or married, that is the very definition of lust. Lust is fantasy to possess something that does not belong to us.

    Lust is NOT being sexually aroused by the sight of a beautiful woman.

    Lust is NOT wondering what a woman looks like with her clothes off.

    Lust is NOT having a sexual dream or fantasy about a woman you are not married to.

    While sexual arousal and sexual fantasy can lead to sexual lust, they do not have to, any more than our hunger for food has to lead to gluttony.

    Thoughts of heterosexual sex are not wrong in and of themselves. God created us to desire and think about heterosexual sex – it is His gift to us. It is always the context of heterosexual thoughts that makes them right or wrong. If you simply have an imaginative thought about what it would be like to have sex with a woman, regardless of if your are married to her or not – there is no sin that. The Bible does NOT forbid sexual fantasy and sexual imagination. Rather the Bible forbids sexual covetousness which is also referred to as adultery of the heart (mental adultery) or lust.

    "You seem to be indicating we have no control over our minds if it feels good do it. " No I DO NOT! I'm just saying what lust ISN'T! "What if one is attracted to the same sex, or younger people, or family?" Are you joking?! I'm disgusted you could say that! I don't condone any of that, it's disgusting! (Furthermore, both my husband and I were molested as kids, so don't you DARE say that ever again!) You were doing nothing wrong by thinking about attractive people. That's not bondage, you are PUTTING people bondage by your garbage! You are also in bondage yourself judging by your own words. You assume I think something's right just because it feels good? Who are you to say such a thing?

    You get into sinful behavior when you begin to lust after (covet) a woman (or man, if you're a woman) in the sense that you begin to think about how you can get a single woman to have sex outside of marriage with you, or how you can get a married woman to cheat on her husband and have sex with you. THAT is what lust is, not thinking about some celebrity, there is NO shame in that! I don't know who you listen to, but I know that Stag doesn't read the Bible as it is, because he interprets in the same way that John MacSatan does, and it's WRONG! Again, lust is not sexual arousal, or even sexual fantasy, but is instead thoughts and fantasies about actually possessing someone that we cannot have, or having someone outside of marriage.

    I've said all this and if you still wish to remain in your oppressive state then fine. I'm not wasting anymore time on here, I've got other things to attend to.

    @Lovinghusband I am not mad at you, how could I be? I know I can be harsh, but sometimes we gotta be, and I stand by what I say. I want to try to remove the false bondage placed on these young people, and others and to help them be truly free! What these guys are doing is declaring war on sexuality. I get angry when things like that come about, because I'm passionate about these things. And for someone to say that I'm giving "bad" advice, and that I'm "wrong" that hurts. I get upset when I see people condemn others for being free in their sexuality (within Biblical boundaries, of course). I love you too, and I hope all is well with you and yours. I'm not in any bondage, because I'm saved by faith alone in Christ alone. That's it. God bless

  16. Harper Shelby Thornton
    Harper Shelby Thornton says:

    P.S. Before i forget, I strongly recommend you read HornyHubby's post on this subject if you haven't already.

  17. Lovinghusband
    Lovinghusband says:

    This is an example of a healthy, ongoing dialogue – where we sharpen one another – realizing that there are nuances that we learn from each other. Some helpful additional thoughts in many of the comments. This is where we have to pay attention to the "biblical tensions" that exist on this issue. Context matters. The points of self-control that John Flint brings up (incest, same sex) – are areas where we are incontrovertibly, from a biblical perspective – not to desire. Thus, the call to responsible masturbation is so appropriate. I personally think there is a harmony between what John Flint and HornyHubby have said. This requires a kind of thoughtful (and even painstaking) consideration about righteous masturbation. Avoiding legalism and mere human traditions on the one hand – and lack of self-control on the other.

    In short, masturbation – like living out the rest of the biblically-mandated Christian life – takes our time, attention, prayer, and sanctified wisdom. I enjoy learning from all of you. LH

  18. John Flint
    John Flint says:

    Harper. Having normal desires and sexual " buzzes" yes are normal. But what do we do with it is the question. And i understand what your saying about lust and actually coveting. However going further and taking what isn't ours and fantasizing about them well….
    after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Many people on the path you suggest will end up in a place where everywhere they go and with every woman or man they see they will be analyzed and sexually thought about…because they think its ok to think that way and also because they have rewired their brain to automatically think like that… And that is bondage and not fair to the people around them. I know that to be a fact because I lived it.

    My experience and knowledge of the path you suggest is one of bondage. There is a saying true freedom requires discipline. Big things start from little thoughts.

    I stand by my comment below. Bless you.

  19. Bootylicious
    Bootylicious says:

    The others aren't wrong, Harper. Lust is more than you make it out to be, just as killing (5th Commandment) is more than simply the physical taking of life and stealing is more than simply shop lifting and so on and so forth. It is Pharisaical to define God's Law in ways we think we can keep them. That was never the purpose of the Law. The Law is there to show us our sin…show us how desperately we need a Saviour, who is none other than Jesus Christ. The Law doesn't make us holy; it makes us unholy. In other words, it shows us just how corrupt and sinful and unholy we truly are. Even the apostle Paul, who by his own admission was the greatest Pharisee ever (the greatest "law keeper ever"), realized just how sinful he was, once Christ had His way with him. He saw his sin clear as day!

  20. PatientPassion
    PatientPassion says:

    Mrs. Thornton, I don't want to add more heat to the debate, and I would like to say I respect your position. I want to ask something though.

    I agree that “being sexually aroused by the sight of a beautiful woman,” “wondering what a woman looks like with her clothes off” and all that cannot be defined as lust. We are on the same page there.

    However, I am curious about something. You also say “It’s one thing to masturbate about something illicit like a threesome, and totally another to masturbate to normal heterosexual sex that God designed.” PLEASE correct me if I’m wrong, but you seem to be saying it’s not right to masturbate to thoughts of a threesome, but it’s right to masturbate to thoughts of the “normal heterosexual sex that God designed.” I agree for the most part, but allow me to propose something.

    Why is it wrong to masturbate to thoughts of a threesome? In my opinion, it’s wrong because a threesome is a sin and a perversion of sex as God intended it, and it would be wrong to willingly gain pleasure by viewing the commission of a sin, even if it’s through an image conjured up in our minds. This is why I see porn as wrong, because the viewer willingly gains pleasure from watching the commission of a sin. In other words, the viewer willingly enjoys watching a rebellion against God.

    Now if we use that definition of why a threesome is wrong, (which I understand you may not entirely agree with) and apply it to “normal” heterosexual sex, we see a problem. Within marriage, heterosexual sex is a beautiful, amazing thing and a true blessing and gift from God. However, not ALL “normal heterosexual sex” is right, nor does all of it happen the way God designed. This “normal” sex, if done outside of marriage, is just as much a sin as a threesome is. It may not be as “severe” a sin as a threesome, but I’m not one to say whether or not it is. All I know is that it is indeed wrong when done outside of marriage, because it can be defined the same way: “a sin and a perversion of sex as God intended it.”

    Now with that said, if a single person were to masturbate to the thought of a threesome, we seem to both agree that would be wrong. I also believe it’s wrong to masturbate to the thought of “normal” sex when that mental image is framed outside of marriage. You may or may not agree here. (I do want to clarify that I believe masturbation to the sexual thoughts of a spouse is NOT wrong, and should even be encouraged!) But what I would like to know is this: If it’s wrong to masturbate to thoughts of a threesome, would it not also be wrong to masturbate to thoughts of “normal” sex unless those thoughts were specifically framed in the context of marriage?

    Allow me to clarify here: I understand that what you said was “you can masturbate to the thought of a celebrity of the opposite sex.” Not necessarily the thought of having sex with them, but simply the thought of them. Though I’ve done it before, I do not feel right masturbating to the thought of having sex with any real person, because I would be gaining pleasure from viewing an image in my mind that portrayed the commission of a sin. My personal benchmark is this: If I wouldn’t do it in real life, I shouldn’t do it in my mind. Would I masturbate in front of a nude celebrity that I found highly attractive? Absolutely never, unless I happened to be married to them. Would I masturbate in front of my nude wife? Absolutely I would!

    Mrs. Thonton, you asked “They’re not married yet, so what are they supposed to do?” Here is my answer: I am not married yet, and my method is to simply imagine a vague, “faceless, nameless female form” as Mr. Flint put it, and define in my imagination that this female form is my wife, and imagine that I am experiencing a future sexual encounter with her. That seems to be a fulfilling, safe way to work it out.

    Please understand I’m not trying to be argumentative, I am simply trying to understand your point of view and the basis for it.

    If I’m not understanding you correctly, please clarify that. I’m here for an honest discussion, and am willing to have my point of view changed if that seems acceptable based on my core beliefs.

  21. RedHead
    RedHead says:

    Ok… so if I am literally contriving how I can have sex with someone I am not married to that is lust… but if I 'merely' look at her (whether in person, photos, or my mind) and my sexual desire results in my masturbating to sexual thoughts of her that is ok? As long as I don't actually try to figure out how to have sex with her for real? Because by that logic I could masturbate about some celebrity (who I know I would never have sex with because let's say she's much older now than she is in the film or something) and do it every day, and imagine myself having sex with her… and I would be 'fine'. Does that carry over to marriage? Is it all of a sudden wrong when I'm married to imagine myself having sex with a woman who is not my wife just as long as I don't actually intend to have sex with her or 'covet' her? Where is the line? Jesus said in Matthew 5:27-30 that you have committed adultery when you look to lust. I think it is very much within the context of this passage to say that Jesus would have considered imaging yourself having sex with someone who is not your spouse to be lust. I don't think He would have thought that is alright as long just as it does not include an actual intent to physically carry it out. He said Himself it is a sin of the heart. That means there does not have to be any physical action to be lust. This is also why the rich young ruler (Matt. 19:16-23) could not actually claim to have kept the whole law because there is no outward litmus test for lust (The same as coveting in the tenth commandment). It happens in your heart, before you even masturbate.
    I know this is something many people disagree on, and I don't mean to herald condemnation on anyone here. My goal is simply to provoke personal thought on this subject which I admittedly struggle with myself, just as any living person does.
    A brother in Christ

  22. TW
    TW says:

    I think this is a really compelling and important discussion that's being had on this post, and I appreciate the administrators for allowing it to occur. Vigorous discussion and analysis of these points is healthy and important, and that is reflected in the range of views we see here. I really want to compliment Patient Passion on his great analysis – you are wise!

    My own personal view is somewhere between that of Harper and the others. I think lust is a misunderstood term that is hard to define for many, particularly those within our Christian faith. I think some people confuse it with mere sexual desire, and we often see Christians fruitlessly try to participate in one what might call "lust management" where they try to check every thought at some "desire guide". I think such a mindset is not healthy nor what God has intended for us, but that also doesn't mean we should not be mindful of our thoughts and where they might lead.

    I'd like to make points by describing various examples of where desires are acceptable and normal and where they might cross the line into lust.

    Let's take the easiest up front – MarriageHeat stories! If you read a MarriageHeat story, there is a good chance you're going to be aroused. That's a good and healthy and very natural thing! Now, some might say that having sexual desires that were prompted by reading a story of another couple is "lust". I don't agree. I think it's a response to reading something that's very healthy and wonderful, and that's not "lust". I'd go even a step further and say that being aroused by the thought of a married couple having sex is also not "lust" and is in fact healthy. That's essentially what these wonderful stories promote. And that's a good thing!! The hope is, of course ,that such desires will inspire the readers to either increase the level of intimacy in their own marriages; or, if they are not married, to inspire them to seek it when they DO marry.

    Now, let's take that another step. Let's say you're watching a movie and there is a sex scene depicting a married couple. You actually SEE the couple having sex (or simulated sex, in the case of some movies). That naturally would arouse many of us.. Some, again, would consider that "lust" – I do not. It's merely a natural and healthy reaction to watching a beautiful thing. Again, much as with the stories, one might hope that someone reading would be inspired to pursue intimacy in their own marriages or hope for it in a future marriage. Now, if the person watching all of a sudden find themselves wanting or dreaming of having sex with the person they are watching – that might start crossing over into lust. Now, to some, the difference between those two reactions is small – and perhaps it is. But it isn't insignificant. There is a difference between merely reacting naturally to an erotic story about a married couple and dreaming of having sex with the actual actor/actress. I would say the latter is starting to creep towards lust, regardless of whether one actually tries to pursue it. I would even say it's perfectly natural to be turned on by the sight of a beautiful woman (or a man, if you're a woman) – that's going to happen just by being human — and that is different than actually taking the thoughts further.

    Now, should a single male who dreams intimate thoughts of sleeping with a hot actress freak out over such a thing? No. That's part of being human, I believe.

    Next, let's move out of the realm of stories and movies and towards a more personal scenario. Let's say you are a married couple and you are friends with another married couple. Let's say you know that each other has a great sex life, because perhaps you both write stories on MarriageHeat (trying to make this kind of fun!). Let's even make it a bit spicier and say you end up in neighboring hotel rooms at a convention about marriage.

    Is it lust to be turned on by hearing the other couple make love? No. That's a healthy thing.
    Is it lust to be turned on by the mere knowledge they have a great sex life? No.
    Is it lust to be turned on by the fact the couple is attractive, and imagining them together is thus even more arousing? No.

    However, is it lust if you start thinking of actually having sex yourself with them? Yes.

    Now, some might say that merely fantasizing about something like that – particularly if you're open about it with your spouse – isn't lust because you're not actually seriously thinking about pursuing it. I think there's a point to that. I do think there is some allowance for "fantasies" that if you actually did them would be sinful, but merely having a "fun fantasy' about them as kind of a desire-enhancer that you openly share with your spouse is not.

    But, it would certainly be lust if you secretly harbored the desire to sleep with someone in the other couple, particularly if it then turned into any kind of obsession.

    So, this is all to say that sexual desire, in and of itself, is a good thing. However, it's also a very powerful thing and if we let our minds run wild, it can turn to lust and then that can lead to trouble.

    Where I think Christians sometimes get it wrong is in thinking that merely being aroused by a sex scene, a sex story, a sexual image, or a sexual thought one comes up with on their own, is lust. It isn't. And that's where people end up shackled.

    Where we should keep our guards up is when it turns into coveting another human being that is NOT your spouse.

    Now, a tougher question is what to do with singles or those who are divorced.

    Is it lust for a single man or woman to desire sex with someone they are attracted to, who is single? Absolutely not, in my view, as long as they channel those thoughts to ones of marriage. However, it would be lust for that person to covet someone who is not available and it would be sinful to pursue.

    In conclusion, it's a complicated theological issue that obviously many have nuanced views on, and we should be careful to respect all and where we disagree, do so in kind tones and in a way that seeks to persuade rather than to try to shout down.

  23. sandsj
    sandsj says:

    Lots of food for thought here. I dont think anyone is saying it is lust to want to fantasize about someone you are not married to if they are not married but if they are than it is ok. This is false. It is lust to want to have or possess something that is NOT yours.
    That is much different to visting here to enjoy the stories. This community is to encourage and inspire, edify, build up. Sound familiar? That is church. We read the stories to enjoy, get ideas, get aroused and take that into our marriages as well being sexualy in tune with ourselves. Reading stories and seeing images from christian couples is healthy and needed and part of growing in yourself with your spouse and with the Lord. We see this as a safe christian haven were we can come to explore. We feel blessed it exists and can masturbate to the stories together ir individually, can share our own, can add spice and excitement to our sex life. As Gods gift we should honour it without shame. Lets continue to help each others intimicacy grow with our wives and husbands. Inspiring each other to cum in all different ways is an act of worship as others have stated. So thanks to all for the extra pleasure, we love how we can come here for arousal but not lust. Keep cumming for the King

  24. copen1
    copen1 says:

    I think it's safe to say that we're not going to come out of this discussion with a clear cut definition of lust. Each of us brings something different to the table. We come from different backgrounds, different denominations, and different challenges to our comfort zone with sex. We all emerged here because we share a common desire to promote a healthy understanding of hot monogamy, while hopefully learning something along the way. In doing so, (let's face the truth here), we have peered into each other's most private life. Male and female authors and commenters alike have acknowledged being turned on and even masturbating to both the stories and even some of the steamier comments. So let's take a moment and breathe here, because we're really starting to split hairs. Is there really a distinct difference in the arousal induced by the "minds eye", and the arousal induced by the eyesight? Are we wrong for being aroused by an erotic scene and innocent for being aroused by an erotic story? Personally, I believe the answer is no. Even though these stories are arousing, I have zero desire to have and to hold any of the hot monogamous ladies here on MH. I could say the same thing if I were to observe an erotic scene. Arousal…yes. Desire to have and to hold…no.

  25. copen1
    copen1 says:

    And for what it's worth Mrs. Harper, I tend to agree with most of your opinions on the subject. I didn't want you to feel like you were alone on that limb…

  26. Harper Shelby Thornton
    Harper Shelby Thornton says:

    Ok, Patient Passion I will answer you. You failed to read that I wrote that it's the context of the heterosexual thoughts that make them right or wrong. I suggest you read my response more thoroughly

    "It is always the context of heterosexual thoughts that makes them right or wrong" was the part you missed.

  27. Harper Shelby Thornton
    Harper Shelby Thornton says:

    Yes, RedHead that's completely fine, and it's PERFECTLY NATURAL. Whether the others like it or not, lust is fantasizing about how you can get them into bed with you. You can't have sex with inanimate objects. In regards to Matthew 5:28, how is is adultery if neither party is married? Young people experiencing and exercising their sexuality, rather than sexual relations, before marriage is NOT forbidden. There is no sin in a young man or young woman experiencing sexual pleasure from a sexual dream or sexual thought about a person of the opposite sex. It is what we do with those thoughts that become sinful. It is when we allow our sexual arousal to turn in sexual covetousness which is what lust is. It is when we start thinking about how we can convince someone to have sex outside of marriage.

    PatientPassion there is NOTHING wrong with fantasizing about a celebrity sexually as long as you're not wanting to actually have sex with them outside of marriage. Lust is NOT fantasy, I told you that. Fantasies are thoughts with no intentions attached. Lust is thinking about how to seduce someone into having sex with you, and even if you don't act upon THAT, then THAT'S sin, not enjoying a simple fantasies. Sexual dreams are not lust either. You are actually putting a huge yoke of bondage on people who do things you don't agree with.

    I think John Flint has pulled a “Billy Sunday”. What happens to many good Christians is, because they used to abuse something that is not sinful in and of itself, they have to convince themselves that not just the abuse of it, but the thing itself is entirely sinful and of no use.

    No, Bootylicious, they ARE wrong, because they clearly haven't read Romans 7:7 (KJV) and they're adding their own garbage to the word of God which is also a sin. The Bible tells us in Romans 7:7 that lust is covetousness. Covetousness is the desire to unlawfully possess something that does not belong to us

    You all have declared war on sexuality, and it's sad and tragic that you bring people down with your legalism and brutal condemnation.

    But that's it, anymore comments I will ignore, because I'm clearly wasting my time, trying in vain to convince people that they're wrong on this. Lust is coveting, plain and simple. Fantasies are not wrong, thinking about having sex with someone is not wrong, regardless. It's to try to scheme on how you can get that person to sleep with you. I know I'm not wrong.
    Thank you so much, copen1 for your support, you're wonderful. God bless, dear.

  28. Marie Lister
    Marie Lister says:

    Hey TW, Where can I sign up for that "Marriage Convention." I am IN! Do you get to pick who your neighbors are for the weekend, eh?

  29. John Flint
    John Flint says:

    As a man thinks in his heart so is he.

    This goes beyond the mere dictionary definition of lust. If someone fantasizes about fucking a movie star or neighbor. (that what it is because 1. No love is involved. 2. No permission to USE them has been asked). What it begins to do is creates in us is a heart of using and taking. That grows over time and not in good ways.

    Masterbation is great …some of us are just saying keep REAL people out of it unless you are married to them.

  30. PatientPassion
    PatientPassion says:

    Thank you for your response Mrs. Thonton. I do see now that I missed that key part of your comment, and for that I apologize. That helps me understand a bit better, so thank you for that. I see you are growing tired of this discussion, but if I may ask one more answer of you (or anyone else who holds this position, if Mrs. Thornton does not wish to continue):

    That sentence you drew attention to piqued my curiosity. “It’s always the context… that makes them right or wrong.” This suggests it’s possible for some heterosexual thoughts to be wrong, and it makes me curious: if there is no intent to make the thoughts a reality, what thoughts would you consider to be wrong, or under what circumstances would you consider them wrong? We are in agreement that taking action and physically engaging in sex outside of marriage is sin, and even planning to do so could be considered sin. But my understanding is that you believe it’s okay to just think about sex between unmarried people to gain pleasure, as long as it is without any intent to cause it to actually happen physically. (In summary, thoughts of unmarried people having sex. This is my understanding of how the celebrity example works.) Within the realm of “normal” sex, what context would make certain thoughts wrong in your view? And what do you believe the difference is between thoughts of a threesome (which you appear to dislike) and thoughts of “normal” sex between unmarried people? They are both sins; perhaps one is more repulsive than the other, but they are both sins nonetheless. Both are perversions of sex as God intended it. Where do you see the difference between these?

    To summarize:
    – What HETEROSEXUAL thoughts would you consider wrong, and under what circumstances?
    – What difference do you see, if any, between a threesome and “normal,” unmarried sex?

    I do not mean these questions in a passive-aggressive way! I truly want to understand exactly what your stance is and where you draw the line. I am more than willing to agree with you if you can help me understand. Also, please understand I have NO wish to condemn anyone or put them in bondage to guilt and shame. I readily acknowledge that I cannot judge anyone, nor is it my place to do so. I cannot definitively say if the “thoughts about a celebrity” example is right or wrong, but for me PERSONALLY it’s a gray area that I do not feel comfortable with. Even if I knew it was acceptable, it would still violate my PERSONAL guidelines and my desire to save myself entirely–body and mind alike–for my future wife. But obviously, I cannot and will not demand that others adhere to my own personal guidelines if they are not specifically commanded by the Bible.

  31. Harper Shelby Thornton
    Harper Shelby Thornton says:

    I'll be happy to answer your questions, PatientPassion but would we maybe do that somewhere else? Like on one of my posts (my newest one's just been released) so if you'd like to talk maybe you can post on one of mine, away from the rest

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply