Today I start busting myths pertaining to human sexuality that are so prevelant in the church, and that keeps us in bondage, and prevents us from enjoying the freedom we have in Christ. Many of the myths which I will explore are man-made doctrines designed to keep the body of Christ under the control of the whims of men, instead of the control of God. By following these man-made doctrines, many have actually erred from the faith, and have fallen into snares and traps designed to entangle their souls in sin. Please read carefully, and check out the facts which I will present in this series of posts, and see whether the views expressed here stand up to the word of God. Do not just take my word for it, but search for yourselves to find the truth.
The first myth I am going to deal with is the one about sexual desire being the same as lust. The sex drive, or sexual desire is a natural, God-given desire that our Creator has given us to start the process of seeking out a mate for marriage. Without this sex drive, many of us would not even bother. I am sure many of you know of people who have low libido. These people show absolutely no interest in members of the opposite sex, because they have a low sex drive. The Bible refers to such people as eunuchs. In Matthew 19:12, Jesus describes three types of eunuchs:
For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake.
Eunuchs are people with low sex drive who were either born that way or became eunuchs through surgical castration. Removal of the testicles in males results in low sex drive and hence diminished to non-existent desire for sex. Such people have no sexual desire and as such are not attracted to the opposite sex, and therefore will not seek out a mate for marriage. For more informaton on eunuchs please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eunuch_(court_official).
Since sexual desire is God-given, and serves the purpose of motivating us to seek out a mate for marriage, then why is it that sexual desire is so greatly condemned and viewed with suspicion within the Christian community? The reason why sexual desire is viewed with suspicion is that many mistake sexual desire to be the same as lust. I remember once reading an article online in a Christian forum and the writer expressed frustration that she practices abstinence but she still has a problem with lust. I feel sorry for her because she is probably confusing sexual desire with lust, or she does have a problem with lust and do not how to deal with it. One of the most liberating things about knowing the difference between sexual desire and lust is that if frees you from the guilt of sin, and channels your behavior into that which is moral and right.
By definition, lust is an evil desire or desiring something which you have no right to have, and is also known as covetousness. According to James 1:14-15, lust is something that tempts and entices. It says, But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. In the decalogue as well, we are commanded to not covet (lust) after that which belongs to others, whether it be someone else's wife, or possessions. We are commanded, Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's (Exodus 20:17). Lust will cause you to want things that you should not have such as sexual relations with someone else's spouse, or with an underage child. It will cause you to commit sexually immoral acts to fulfill your sexual desires. Jesus says, But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart (Matthew 5:28). Lust drives you to mentally take delight in that which is wrong, and make you crave for it. Lust causes you crave for things that are wrong for you and wrong for others, and causes you to sin against God. Lust is therefore a desire for something you should not have.
Since God is the creator of sex, and sex is His gift to us, then the desire to have sex is not wrong. What is wrong is the desire to have it with someone you should not be having it with. That is the sin which is sexually immoral. I will use the animal world as an example of how God programs sexual desire within nature itself for a purpose. In animals, sexual desire peaks in mating season, when the female is fertile. It is then and only then that the males sexually desire the females. This sexual desire causes the males to seek out a female for copulation/mating which hopefully should result in pregnancy. Without this sexual desire, the males would not seek out females, and mating would not occur. In humans, our sexual desires do not depend upon any season. We have those desires whether the female is fertile or not. Those desires are essential for us to seek out members of the opposite sex for marriage with the purpose of mating. No sexual desire therefore means no seeking for a mate, and no seeking for a mate means no marriages. No mating, then no children. The world would quickly become a desolate and empty place.
Sexual desire is therefore A GOOD THING. What we need to do is control it in such a way that it motivates us to get to know a person first, before we enter into marriage, and by "know a person" I mean get to know that person's character, attitudes, feelings, and longings. That initial attraction is what draws us to others where we would want to get to know them. Unfortunately, many commit their bodies to total strangers to satisfy their sexual desires before knowing such persons. Their sexual desires cause them to go after sex instead of going after the person. Going after sex is not the thing, but going after the person is what God wants. The sexual desire is the motivating factor that drives us to want to know more about that person, so that love can grow and develop in the relationship. Once love has grown, the next natural step is sexual intimacy that fulfills a spiritual union - marriage. Here is what the apostle Paul, of all persons, says about dating relationships!
But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry (1 Corinthians 7:36).
Let me translate here: If a man has a girlfriend (virgin) and starts to make sexual advances to her, and if she is of legal age to marry, then he has not sinned by marrying her. From this example we can see that sexual desire is the motivating force which drives the man to want to marry his virgin (girlfriend). If he had no sexual desire towards her, then he would not even think of marrying her. Desire is therefore needed to get the ball rolling towards marriage.
In conclusion then, we can safely say that sexual desire is not wrong, but is good, and is not the same as lust. Lust is the desire for something evil or for something which is wrong for us to have. God gave us sexual desires so that we would be motivated to find a mate, for the purpose of marriage.
ADDENDUM AND WORD OF WARNING: Many modern translations of the Bible translate the word lust as desire. THIS IS AN INCORRECT OR INACCURATE TRANSLATION OF THE WORD. The word lust denotes an evil desire or craving, while the word desire denotes a longing for something that could either be good or bad.