Saturday, October 24, 2009

Controlling Sexual Desire

Let me just insert in this discussion the aspect of controlling our sexual desires.  In my previous post I stated that sexual desire is a God-given, natural desire, that is necessary for us to seek out a mate for the purpose of marriage.  I just want to delve a little further into sexual desire and how it can turn into lust, which is what we are to avoid. 

As stated before, lust is an evil desire or a desire for something which we have no right to have.  Sex is something good given to us by God and is therefore not evil; but sex with someone we have no right to be having sex with is wrong.  The question is, how do we control our sexual desires so that it does not turn into lust?  That question is best answered by using food as an analogy.  Food was created by God to satisfy our need for nutrition.  Hunger, which creates a desire for food, is the driving force that motivates us to seek food.  Ideally,  we eat when we are hungry.  Having a desire for food is not wrong when we are hungry, but having a desire for food when we are not hungry is not good.  Desiring food when we are not hungry is called greed (food cravings), and when we eat when we are not hungry, it is called gluttony.  I know many of us have been guilty of gluttony, myself included, but this example shows you how a normal desire such as hunger for food can become abnormal, if we do not properly control our desire for food.  It is the same way with sexual desire and lust.  Sexual desire is a normal desire, but when our sexual desire becomes the overriding factor in our dating relationships, and in our thoughts with real or imaginary persons, including pornography, then we have stepped over the line.  Some people are so 'horny' that they cannot even bear to be in the same room with a member of the opposite sex without thinking sexual thoughts towards that person.  Their desire is not really for that person.  Their desire is really for sex, and they are going to get some, no matter with whom. When you find that your desire is for sex alone that does not include the well-being of the other person, then you know that you have crossed the line from sexual desire to lust.

Here is what God wants.  He wants us our desire for the well-being of the other person to override and control our actions and desires, even our sexual desires.  We have to learn how to bring our bodies under subjection to the will of the mind through the power of God (1 Corinthians 9:27).  We must learn how to hold back on our sexual desires and deny ourselves, so that true love will grow.  Here is what Paul had to say about controlling our sexual desires during courtship, "Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well (1 Corinthians 7:37).  If a man with a girlfriend (virgin) exercises self-control over his own will to be sexually active with his girlfriend, then he is doing well! Sounds impossible in this day and age, but with God all things are possible.  The apostle John was in just such a relationship with a woman, where he had to control his sexual desires for the sake of true love.  We read in 2 John 1, The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth.  In this verse, John expresses a general love for this lady and her children that is non sexual.  Further in this epistle however, he makes a date to see the woman, so that their "joy may be full."  He says, Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full (2 John 12).  It is quite obvious that John was writing a personal letter to a lady friend, whose company gave him great joy and love.

Are you sexually attracted to someone?  Ask God to help you to see the person for who he/she is and not for what you can possibly get from that person to satisfy your own sexual desires.  Meditate on God's goodness and love, and show that to others.  Show kindness and affection where appropriate.  Consult God's law to see which relationships are sanctioned by scripture, and which are considered unholy.  Being a good, trustworthy, and caring friend to your potential mate will go a long way to increase your sexual desire for that person, if that is the right person for you.  If that person is not the right person, your sexual desire will decrease - trust me on this one! The sexual desire therefore becomes a monitor of how the relationship is progressing.  Increased love and steady sexual desire - good for marriage.  Increased love but decreasing sexual desire, with the person becoming more like a sibling or friend - bad for marriage.  Decreased love and disliking the person - bad for marriage.  So we see that sexual desire coupled with love is the basis for marriage.  Remember, marriage is about both physical and spiritual union.  Physical union without spiritual union is incomplete.  Spiritual union without physical union is also incomplete.  The physical union is what is needed to catapult the marriage relationship to a higher spiritual plane, which is not possible when couples are celibate.

In conclusion, let us not be afraid to use our sexual desires appropriately when we are in a  non married relationship.  We need to learn how to control them so that love can grow and deepen, before we express those sexual desires physically in marriage through sex.

I will continue debunking more myths about human sexuality in my next set of posts.  My next post will be Myth #2:  The Practice of Celibacy Is Endorsed By Scripture.

32 comments:

Daughter of Wisdom said...

A good way to control sexual desires is through prayer and meditation. When we feel sexually aroused because of our sexual desires we have a choice in how we deal with it. We could deal with it the wrong way and give in to it by lusting or engaging in illicit sex, or we could acknowledge and welcome these desires as God's gift to us to motivate us to seek a mate, and to help us enjoy our spouse sexually.

The following affirmations are good for persons who are single or unmarried.

"I thank you God for the desires you have given me to find a mate."

"Lord I trust you in helping me to find an appropriate mate with whom to express my love."

"Lord, my body belongs to you and I do with my body only that which is pleasing to you."

By repeating the above affirmations in a prayer or in meditation, one will be pleasantly surprised by how the feelings of arousal dissipate, and are replaced by feelings of satisfaction, and even bliss.

For the married who may be tempted to stray, the following affirmations are good, and will bring the thoughts back to the present married relationship.

"Lord I thank you for these desires that you have given me for my wife (or husband)."

"Lord our bodies belong to you and we do with our bodies only that which is pleasing to you."


Say these affirmations until you feel a change in your arousal state, where your arousal dissipates and is replaced by feelings of energy or a state of bliss. You can then channel these feelings of energy into other activities for good.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

I have found that physical activity, such as exercise, sports, manual work, and so on are good ways to channel the energies derived from the dissipation of sexual desires.

Elena said...

I'm surprised to see you write this considering how anti-Natural Family Planning you were in a previous post.

The advent of artificial contraception, particularly in the last half of the 20th century was not good for the morals and ability to control sexual desire. I'm surprised you don't see the connection.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Elena, I was definitely not Anti-Natural Family planning in my post The Sin of Onan: A Case Against Contraception?. I was pro-contraception, which BTW includes natural family planning.

This post is about controlling sexual desires so that one does not fall into sins such as adultery, or fornication, or lust. This post is not about reproduction. I do not believe that the invention of contraceptives have anything to do with a person's sinful tendency to be immoral. Contraceptives just make it easier to cover up illicit practices.

If you keep on reading, you will see that I am pro non-reproductive sex for married couples. It is a gift from God created for our enjoyment and to bring us closer to Him.

Peace.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Many Christians tend to view their bodies in a non spiritual sense and treat sex just a 'marriage privilege.' The tendency is to see sex as a fleshy activity. When we start to treat our bodies as sacred temples of God's infinite prescence, and treat our spouses as sacred temples deserving of love, then our attitude towards sex will change.

Elena said...

well I'm not clear on how you are treating your body as a temple when you fill it with unnatural hormones, or otherwise hinder it's natural ability to function.

I think it's a bit disingenuous to not note that the "freedom" of artificial contraception had and has a direct impact on people not being able or even wanting to control their sexual desires.

You want to be pro-self-control but I'm not sure how that's possible to do and still be pro-artificial contraception.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Hi Elena,

Personally speaking, I am not pro-unnatural hormones, but I do not condemn those who take them. I am just pro-contraception in theory.

You are right about our bodies being a temple. When we respect our bodies as God's temple, we will take care of it. We will have a high sense of health consciousness. That's why I am also a Biblical Health Coach and a Physical Therapist. I try to do things in as natural a way as possible, but sometimes we may need 'artifical' help. Do you or any of your family members take prescription medication? If the answer is yes, then you or they are putting in your body artifical chemicals.

Many Catholics wholly condemn the use of 'artifical' contraceptives, yet willingly take prescription medicine, without thinking twice. I find this hypocritical.

Judge not lest ye be judged.

Peace.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Elena wrote:

"You want to be pro-self-control but I'm not sure how that's possible to do and still be pro-artificial contraception."
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Here is how you can be pro-self control and pro-contraception. You control your sexual desires by keeping those desires within the bounds of marriage, where you are free to express yourself sexually. Contraceptives and/or contraception methods are used to prevent unplanned pregnancies. Pregnancies can be controlled naturally using rhythmn method, coitus interruptus, or slow sex techniques where orgasm is achieved without ejaculation. For people who have difficulty with the above methods, they might use condoms or other inventions.

For unmarried folks, they control their sexual desires by not engaging in sex before marriage.

Do you really think lack of contraceptives will prevent people from engaging in sex if they want to? People are going to do it even if there are no contraceptives. Just take a trip to India and see for yourself.

Peace.

Elena said...

Do you really think lack of contraceptives will prevent people from engaging in sex if they want to?

Human nature being what it is, no not entirely. However, i think it was much easier to do and I would say even socially and culturally more acceptable to do before the use and acceptance of wide spread contraceptives.

But I am immensely enjoying your attempts to separate the two and to try and have one without the other.

Elena said...

I try to do things in as natural a way as possible, but sometimes we may need 'artifical' help. Do you or any of your family members take prescription medication? If the answer is yes, then you or they are putting in your body artifical chemicals.


Well, no actually no one in my family is currently on any prescriptions.
However, there is a BIG difference in using medicines to cure an illness or a pathology and putting in artificial chemicals and hormones to STOP the body's natural and normal processes.

I would think that someone as into "natural" as you seem to be would see the difference without having to have it pointed out.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

I agree. Putting artificial chemicals and hormones in the body can have deleterious effects on the body, such as stroke and cancer. I advocate less invasive or more natural methods of contraception. I certainly however do not condemn anyone who uses them. That is not my place.

As for prescription medicines, they represent a form of healing that is not natural. Many of these medicines also have very serious side effects that destroy the body. Although I advocate natural healing, I also realize there are times when 'artificial' methods are warranted.

Peace.

Elena said...

That is not my place.

Interestingly in Catholicism we have the Corporal and Spiritual works of mercy and they include admonishing the sinner and instructing the ignorant. I have the scriptural verses that support those saved somewhere but they wouldn't be that hard for you to google if you're interested.

Although I advocate natural healing, I also realize there are times when 'artificial' methods are warranted.

That's a bit of a strawman but Amen. I have no problem with modern medicine to cure illness and pathology - but fertility is neither of those things.

Incidentally - a used condom is considered bio waste. Really lovely isn't it.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Elena wrote:

"Incidentally - a used condom is considered bio waste. Really lovely isn't it."
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Somewhat of a vulgar comment, but anyway...

Unused semen, that is not absorbed into the body of the female, contains life giving properties placed there by God, and also provides the perfect breeding ground for germs, if left 'hanging around' outside of the body. Consequently, unused semen must be discarded.

"And if any man's seed of copulation go out from him, then he shall wash all his flesh in water, and be unclean until the even" (Leviticus 15:16).

Peace.

P.S. - Love the body you are in, as a living, holy temple. Every part of the body is holy, including the genitals.

Elena said...

"Incidentally - a used condom is considered bio waste. Really lovely isn't it."
-----------------------------------

Somewhat of a vulgar comment, but anyway...


What's vulgar about it? That is a fact. And I don't think it is nearly as repulsive as the actual use of that particular item.

Unused semen, that is not absorbed into the body of the female, contains life giving properties placed there by God,

And what the use of condoms does is take that life giving gift from God and throws it into the garbage. That is what makes it reprehensible on so many levels.


and also provides the perfect breeding ground for germs, if left 'hanging around' outside of the body. Consequently, unused semen must be discarded.

Semen during coitus needs to go into the female vagina where it belongs. Any other use of it is morally wrong - although I suppose now you're going to show me the naturalness of masturbation.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Okay I see where this conversation is going...

One should really avoid any contraceptive method that they find offensive, and that goes against one's personal morality. What may be offensive to some is perfectly fine with others, and yet can be completely moral, as far as the standard of morality is concerned.

Elena said...

God's morality on the matter is quite a bit higher than that.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

I love God's morality. He says is yoke is easy and His burden is light. He says His commandments are not grievious. Sometimes we think our morality is God's morality and we put unneeded restrictions upon ourselves that is not sanctioned by scripture. We try to 'improve' upon what God has commanded. That's what gets us into trouble.

I have seen religious documents where it is taboo for a woman to show legs in public (nuns going around measuring skirt lengths), or taboo for a woman to be alone in a presence of men, or taboo for dating couples to kiss or hold hands, or show affection. I know there are some good reasons behind these prohibitions, and some wisdom in it for those who know not how to conduct themselves circumspectly, but we fool ourselves into believing that our 'high standards' are God's standards.

Elena said...

He says is yoke is easy and His burden is light.

He also said to deny yourself, pick up your cross and follow Him.

We try to 'improve' upon what God has commanded. That's what gets us into trouble.

Totally agree. And up until 1930 there wasn't a single Christian denomination that approved of artificial contraceptives. And what has been the "improvement?" Widespread acceptance of fornication, homosexuality and even abortion. All of those stem from the ability to separate procreation at will from the pleasurable aspects of sex. Behold the "improvement" of God's design for sexuality and marriage.

While you're at it you might also want to read The End of Marriage in Scandinavia It's quite an eye opener.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Interesting article. Do you think that if these people did not have contraceptives that they would have less babies out of wedlock? Are the contraceptives causing them to have more babies out of wedlock? Are the contraceptives causing them to have gay sex?

Elena said...

I think you're missing the point.

If you want to see what happens to a society when you successfully take procreation out of the sex act, you can look to Scandinavia.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Elena wrote:

"I think you're missing the point.

If you want to see what happens to a society when you successfully take procreation out of the sex act, you can look to Scandinavia."
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I think what is happening in Scandinavia is more likely because they have divorced sex from marriage, but I see your point. Limiting sex to just procreation would reduce the incidences of sexual encounters in theory. In your Catholic world, people would only engage in sex when they wanted to have a baby. When couples decide that they do not want any more children, they would desist from having sex. This Catholic approach to sex fits perfectly with the animal model for sex. Animals only have sex during mating season, when the female is fertile, so that offspring can be produced. The reason for this is because they have sexual desires only during mating season and at no other time.

We humans, however, are not built like that. We do not have a mating season. We have sexual desires whether or not the female is fertile. Just look at the old patriachs such as Jacob fulfilling his sexual desires even though he knew that his wife Rachel was barren.

Here is the consequence of your Catholic model. People would become so sexually repressed that they would start acting out in perverse ways. It would lead to an increase in sexual perversity and not a decrease, as people try to find an outlet for their sexual desires. I could give examples of men or women incarcerated in prisons.....

Marriages would run cold, and the relationship stagnate. The spouses would become more like brothers and sisters instead of lovers. One spouse or both may be tempted to look outside for sexual fulfillment. Couples may be forced to 'keep themselves busy' with other activities in order to supplant their desire for sex. They may become work-aholics, sport fanatics, drinkers, food addicts, and so on.

Peace.

Elena said...

I think what is happening in Scandinavia is more likely because they have divorced sex from marriage,


Right. And it becomes easier to divorce sex from marriage when couples can seemingly have sex without risking pregnancy.

Actually that part has happened in this country as well.

but I see your point. Limiting sex to just procreation would reduce the incidences of sexual encounters in theory.

No, that is not my point at all.

In your Catholic world, people would only engage in sex when they wanted to have a baby.

That's not what the Catholic church teaches either. Interesting to me that you are so against Catholicism when you seem to know so little about it!

Daughter of Wisdom said...

What I am against is Catholic sexuality. I do not think it is Biblical nor practical. You are trying to convince me of your beliefs, and I hear you. Just because I do not agree with you does not mean that I am "against Catholicism." It just means I do not agree with Catholic views on sexuality. Hey, you do not agree with me, but I do not think you are against me or others who do not agree with you. You do not strike me as a hater who hates everyone who disagrees with them:-).

Elena said...

What I am against is Catholic sexuality.

LOL! But you obviously don't know anything about "Catholic sexuality!"

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Based upon what you have shared with me... not interested.

Elena said...

and that's fine too. I don't particularly care about the different flavors of Protestantism. The difference I suppose is that I don't make it a habit of disparaging any of it without at least studying it first.

just evelyn said...

You don't have to worry about marriages running cold! The divorce rate among users of NFP is on the order of 2%, so obviously something is happening right! If a couple is avoiding pregnancy, they would have to abstain (usually) maybe 5 days, tops, in a whole month. During that time, when their bodies encourage them to love each other, they choose to channel that in to non-sexual ways of loving. This helps ensure that they don't fall into the trap of using only sex to express love. It is also the man telling the woman "I am not going to insist on only using you for pleasure, right when your body wants most to conceive." You are clearly not opposed to sex that is only for pleasure, but I would submit that that makes it too easy for the partners to slide into using each other lustfully, for release, instead of for mutual love. Like I commented on another post, BTDT. There are lots of Catholics who do not follow the teaching of the Church here, because they see it as an unnecessary restriction of their freedom. From my position, though, I see how God uses this rule to protect women.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Just evelyn wrote:

"The divorce rate among users of NFP is on the order of 2%, so obviously something is happening right! If a couple is avoiding pregnancy, they would have to abstain (usually) maybe 5 days, tops, in a whole month. During that time, when their bodies encourage them to love each other, they choose to channel that in to non-sexual ways of loving. This helps ensure that they don't fall into the trap of using only sex to express love."
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So during the other days when they are not abstaining they are involved in sex for pleasure, and during the 5 days of abstinence they are being affectionate. Great! That's what it is all about. Maybe that's why their divorce rates are so low. They practice unitive WITHOUT procreation as a lifestyle choice during the non fertile time of the woman's cycle. I thought unitive without procreation was against church rules though?

Elena said...

So during the other days when they are not abstaining they are involved in sex for pleasure, and during the 5 days of abstinence they are being affectionate.

Not exactly. During the days they are making love the act is pleasurable while working with God's design and open to His will including new life. That isn't the same as being purely about the pleasure.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Elena wrote:

"Not exactly. During the days they are making love the act is pleasurable while working with God's design and open to His will including new life. That isn't the same as being purely about the pleasure"
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And why should that be of concern to me pray tell? That's between them and God.

Elena said...

And why should that be of concern to me pray tell? That's between them and God.

I want to be clear on what NFP at least as far as Catholic Couples are concerned, is and what it is not.

just evelyn said...

Yes, it's between them and God, and since He has revealed His principles, the Church proclaims them. Nobody is doing bedroom inspections :)

And when a couple makes love during what they think is an infertile time, they are still open to conception, which is the procreative part. It's about openness and possibility and submission to the will of God. We can never have sex insisting that we must conceive, because we can't control that--there is miscarriage, eggs that never get fertilized, etc. We can't really control the other side of the coin, either. The point is to be open, at any time of the month, with the freedom to abstain if the couple has a serious reason.