Lust... Though men are not animals at the mercy of their sexual desires, it still remains a battle for them to keep their gaze and mind pure. But what about women? Are they off the hook? Turning the tables in a one-to-one comparison doesn't do anyone any favors because men and women struggle in different ways. Albeit, there are women who struggle with lust over mens' bodies, or even women's bodies in a same sex attraction, but I would venture to say the majority of us women, especially married women, don't think we struggle with sexual lust, endowing us with a perceived moral high ground over men. Our thinking goes like this: "How could men struggle with lusting after other women? I don't lust after the bodies of other men!"
1. The woman's struggle with lust
When a beautiful woman walks in the room or is flashed on a screen or billboard, all eyes are transfixed. This includes the gaze of women. Whereas the sinful lustful inner dialogue of a man might sound something like this, "I wonder what it would be like to have sex with that body? " a woman might be thinking, "I wonder what it would be like to have such a body?" Men want the body, women want the body. They desire to be the body that everyone is attracted to. Lust can be either a strong feeling of sexual desire, or a strong desire for something (Merriam Webster). If a man acts out on his form of lust through indulging in pornography, visiting prostitutes, adultery or even rape, forcefully taking the body he wants, it is blatantly wrong and even criminal. But what does it look like for a woman to act out on her lust? She cannot take the body she desires to have, so what does she do? For the most part, her sin remains hidden but here are some tell-tale signs of her struggle, which I will describe in the first person because I struggle with this too.
2. Signs of struggle
The first feeling that lust produces in a woman is a dissatisfaction with her own body. We have compared our body with someone else's and fallen short and this makes us feel nauseous. We imagine the other woman is sexier, more confident in herself and overall better off. This leads us to self-pity.
Feeling sorry for ourselves makes us feel insecure. We feel threatened in our own femininity and start worrying about our husband or fiancé or boyfriend finding a new person more attractive. We transpose this subjective fear into reality. Because I am struggling with lust, my man must be all the more and we think our relationship is threatened anew with every new attractive woman we must inevitably encounter. Our relationship must be shaky and we worry about him being unfaithful.
We feel the need to put down other women. We rationalize our struggle away by leveling the playing field in our own minds. The thinking goes like this, "well, she may be very sexy, but she probably isn't very intelligent" or "her hair is perfect, but I'm sure glad I don't have those legs." We would never say anything cruel, but we think it to make ourselves feel better.
If that doesn't make us feel better, we embark on a never-ending cycle of self-improvement. We feel the need to regain ground because our place at the top has been threatened. This is a form of works righteousness in which we attempt to prove to ourselves, the world around us and ultimately even to God that we can change ourselves into our own image, the perfect one we've created, one we so desperately want to attain. We make new dietary resolutions, new and better work-out plans, buy new clothes and cosmetics so we can look sexier.
3. The core problem
Lusting after some other woman's body is a symptom of a deep dissatisfaction with the way we look, and is, at its core a matter of pride. We feel we deserve better. When I was a teenager struggling to accept my body and all of its changes, my mother once said to me, "complaining about your figure is like slapping God in the face!" Wow! That really caught my attention. My dissatisfaction with my body was shouting out to God, "you made me wrong!" But as my Maker, did he not have the right to make me as He pleased? Does not God look over his creation and pronounce it good? (Genesis 1). Who was I to contradict Him?
4. The solution
Our bodies are not unimportant to God and we need to care for them as good stewards. We need to eat right, exercise regularly, sleep enough etc. Nevertheless, the Fall affects our bodies so that they age, wrinkle, sag and eventually die. God know this and in his mercy, he sent Jesus to die on the cross to reverse the cursed effects of the Fall. Through the resurrection, God has assured us that he is capable and is, is in fact in the process of making all things new. But interestingly, God is in the business of renewing us from the inside out, not the outside in. "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. "(2Co 4:16 NIV). He starts with our hearts because that is where the core problem resides: sin. He sees into the recesses of our hearts, where those dark lustful, self-destructive thoughts lie and chose to plunge into that cavern to shine his light there. When we start seeing our hearts through his redemptive purposes, we will see that that is where the Spirit is initiating change, bringing us to repentance and giving us new longings. The rest of the effects of the Fall will be overcome on the final day and then we will also receive perfect bodies to go along with our perfected hearts.
Maybe that is why he constantly frustrates us in our strivings to renew ourselves from the outside in. He wants us to come to the realization that we are made for something more! To be a self-made woman based on the ideals put forth in women's magazines or comparing ourselves with other women whom we admire is not God's goal for us, it would be far too puny! In fact, those magazines can be just as bad for our souls as pornographic ones are for men's. Rather, He wants us to be changed into the image of his son, Jesus, the perfect man. He wants for me and you to be the perfect me and you, living our own life to the fullest, experiencing his joy in how he intended us to be and looking forward to seeing all of his purposes fulfilled in us. Let's not waste precious time trying to be someone else, rather, let's seek out what God has in store for us here and now. Being satisfied in God alone will make you and me an irresistibly attractive woman, inside and out, because his love will shine through us for the world to see!
This article is by no means intended to downplay the real struggle women have with sexual lust which has been exacerbated by the wide-spread use of pornography. Many young women claim they are addicted to it. It is a huge battle that single women often have to face alone and married women feel too ashamed to disclose. But you are not alone. There are great support groups out there, such as Harvest USA or Route1520