Mailbag

The Mailbag: Is lust a sin for women, too?

Originally published September 17, 2018

 

In the past, I’ve had lots of trouble wondering about my desire and tendency to look at, and get excited by, physically attractive men, especially men who reveal a lot of themselves in underwear modeling and soft-core porn. I think this is a sin, but I’m not sure.

I’ve gotten mixed reactions when I’ve mentioned this to people. There are some who say that, yes, this is the sin of lust. Yet there are others who have told me that women cannot possibly struggle with lust, only men do. I once dealt with one particular man who was very dogmatic that God created men and women to be tempted differently, and that lust is not a temptation women deal with, so he dismissed my struggles with this subject.

When I tried to search Scripture, using Matthew 5:28, it would also seem that this is a male-only sin. So is it OK for me to keep looking at male models, including underwear modeling and soft-core porn?

This is an awesome question for three reasons. First, you’re concerned about whether or not you’re sinning with the aim of mortifying this behavior if it is a sin. Second, you’re not relying on your own feelings, opinions, or experiences to determine whether or not this is a sin, you’re turning to Scripture to find out. Those are both very encouraging things. They demonstrate that the Holy Spirit is working in your heart to sanctify you and make you more like Christ. Third, it gives us an opportunity to take a look at the Scriptures in more depth and give an example of handling God’s Word correctly and in context for everyone reading this article. So, thank you for asking!

The short answer to your question is, yes, lust is sinful for the women who experience it just as much as it is for the men who experience it. But I don’t want you to just take my word for it, so let’s look at why.

The Scripture you’ve cited, Matthew 5:28, is definitely one of the passages that addresses this issue. It says:

But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

I suspect this verse might be the reason the man you spoke with said that lust is a male-only sin, because this particular verse speaks to men lusting after women. However, to make a blanket statement that because God created men and women differently, lust is never a temptation for women is foolhardy and shows a lack of biblical knowledge and understanding as well as a denial of reality.

Let’s address reality first. It is true that God created men in such a way that they are more likely to be sexually stimulated by what they see than women are. However, that does not mean that no woman anywhere has ever experienced lust. God also created men in such a way that men are usually taller and stronger than women and women are usually more emotionally expressive than men. But we can look around us and see that some women are taller or stronger than some men, and some men are more emotionally expressive than some women.

Furthermore, while you really can’t do anything about how tall you are (and, to some extent, how strong you are), lust is something that can be introduced to women and encouraged in women by culture. A hundred years ago, it would have been unthinkable to see advertisements featuring nearly naked men, or strip clubs with male dancers, or pornography aimed at women, so readily available and with so little shame attached. And at that time there were probably far fewer women who struggled with the sin of lust.

These days, it’s right there on your phone or computer or TV or at the bachelorette party for your friend. Lust, lewd behavior, and lurid talk by women are actually encouraged by the feminist movement. (If men are going to objectify women with lust and porn, we’re going to objectify them right back. Really? This is equality? The right to sink to the same depth of degradation as the scuzziest of men? No thanks.) Watch any sitcom or drama on TV. You’ll see it soon enough. And, of course, there’s money to be made by making women into consumers of porn and other sexual material, so the businesses that peddle these things encourage women to lust as well. All of which means that today, just a hundred years later, far more women are struggling with the sin of lust.

So we can see that the reality is that lust is a temptation experienced by some women, even though men are more prone to it.

But is lust a sin for women if Matthew 5:28 is speaking in terms of men lusting? Yes. There are a couple of different reasons for this, one cultural, and one biblical.

Let’s go cultural first to understand more clearly why this particular verse is addressed to men rather than men and women. We start off with the knowledge that men are much more likely to experience lust than women. Then we take the culture of the time into account.

Jesus spoke these words in a patriarchal society. In His culture, there were no women in positions of authority and power. Men ran the political system, the religious system, and men were the heads of their households. (By the way, despite what our culture today would say, this wasn’t a bad thing in and of itself. In fact, most of this was perfectly biblical.) Normally, women were not educated, and they depended on men – first their fathers, then their husbands, and finally, their grown sons – to take care of them their entire lives.

So when Jesus was teaching to the crowds as with the Sermon on the Mount (which Matthew 5 is part of) the cultural understanding was that He was primarily teaching the men, and any women and children they brought with them were basically along for the ride. Indeed, many would have thought the women incapable of understanding teaching (since they were intellectually inferior to men) or unworthy of receiving teaching (because God had created them as “lesser” than men).

The Jewish understanding that Jesus was primarily teaching the men would have been similar. Rabbis didn’t teach women, they taught men. Any intentional biblical instruction women received would have been from their fathers or husbands at home. We can see further evidence of this cultural and Jewish understanding in several different Scriptures. A few examples:

At the feeding of the five thousand, the feeding of the four thousand, and some other New Testament “crowd scenes”, the crowd is numbered by the number of men present.

Both the woman at the well herself and the disciples “marveled” that Jesus was speaking with a woman.

Due to Martha’s cultural and Jewish understanding of women’s roles, Jesus had to explain to her that it was OK – even good – for Mary to sit at His feet and learn.

At Pentecost, Luke refers to the “multitude” as “devout men“, and Peter addresses this crowd as “men of Judea“, “men of Israel“, and “brothers“.

So, in Jesus’ secular and Jewish cultural context, He was understandably speaking to the men present. (And what was He telling these men who lived in a world that taught them that women were inferior to men, and that men could regard and treat women any way they wanted to? Jesus elevates the status of women by telling the men they’ve got to respect women even in their hearts. They’ve got to respect their wives by not committing adultery with other women in their hearts, and they’ve got to respect those other women by not using them as objects of sexual gratification in their hearts.) It would have been an unnecessary distraction from His message to address the women directly, and it would certainly have been viewed as inappropriate, maybe even perverted, for Jesus to have suggested that women lusted after men.

So Jesus’ culture, and the fact that lust is largely a sin committed by men, required Him to address this remark to men. But those two things do not have any bearing on the intrinsic sinfulness of lust itself, and they do not mean that this instruction applies only to men. In the section of Matthew 5 preceding the section on lust, Jesus deals with the sin of being angry with your “brother”. Does this mean anger is only sinful if you’re angry with a man instead of a woman? The section of Matthew 5 immediately following the section on lust says men may not divorce their wives except for unfaithfulness. Does this mean women are free to divorce their husbands for any reason? Of course not.

But it’s important to remember that Matthew 5:28 is not the only passage of Scripture that deals with lust. Let’s look at some others.

These passages describe lust as female attribute:

a wild donkey used to the wilderness, in her heat sniffing the wind! Who can restrain her lust?
Jeremiah 2:24a

Oholah played the whore while she was mine, and she lusted after her lovers…everyone after whom she lusted…the Assyrians, after whom she lusted…Her sister Oholibah saw this, and she became more corrupt than her sister in her lust and in her whoring, which was worse than that of her sister. She lusted after the Assyrians…all of them desirable young men.
Ezekiel 23:5a,7b,11,12a,c,

Ezekiel even describes Oholibah viewing pictures of men lustfully. Doesn’t it sound like a woman viewing pornography?:

But she carried her whoring further. She saw men portrayed on the wall, the images of the Chaldeans portrayed in vermilion, wearing belts on their waists, with flowing turbans on their heads, all of them having the appearance of officers, a likeness of Babylonians whose native land was Chaldea. When she saw them, she lusted after them and sent messengers to them in Chaldea.
Ezekiel 23:14-16

In the Jeremiah passage, the lusting woman represents Israel. In Ezekiel, Oholah represents Samaria, and Oholibah represents Jerusalem. So these are not individual women lusting, rather, God is using the illustration of a woman lusting after her “lovers” to describe the unspeakable abomination of Israel’s idolatry. He was using the severest language He could to disgust His people over their sin and move them to repent and turn back to Him. God could have chosen any sin – male lust, robbery, murder, etc. – to represent how horrific their idolatry was to Him, but what did He choose? Female lust. Let that sink in.

Romans 1:18-32 clearly refers to the sins of both men and women, with verse 24 stating:

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves,

These passages speak of lust in neutral, rather than male or female, terms:

and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion
2 Peter 2:10a

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.
1 John 2:16

Lust is a form of coveting – the greedy yearning to have something that God has not given to you or has given to someone else, and that is certainly not limited to men. Also notice in these passages that you can covet a person, and that coveting is often linked to sensuality or sexual immorality.

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.
Exodus 20:17

coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.
Mark 7:22-23

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints…For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
Ephesians 5:3,5

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
Colossians 3:5

Finally, lusting after another person – adulterous coveting – is not loving your neighbor:

For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Romans 13:9

When you look at another person with lust, you are loving yourself. You are thinking selfishly about how that person could gratify your base desires, make you feel good, serve you. That is the antithesis of everything Jesus taught and stood for. Our Master, the One we follow and strive to be like, said:

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
Mark 10:45

Jesus came to die on a cruel rugged cross to pay for the sins of the flesh. He would never have thought of using another person to gratify His own selfish desires. How could we?

Is lust a sin for women too? Absolutely. Stop it. Repent. Receive the merciful grace and forgiveness Christ offers.

Additional Resources:

Just Stop It: Instructions on how to repent at The Cripplegate

Hey, Porn Addict: Stop It by Gabriel Hughes

How do you stop looking at porn? at When We Understand the Text

God Over Porn

God Over Porn Women

Every Woman’s Silent Struggle: Fighting Lust with Sisters in Christ by Marian Jacobs

Confessions of a Lusting Christian Girl at The Biblical Creative


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Basic Training, Homosexuality

Throwback Thursday ~ Basic Training: Homosexuality, Gender Identity, and Other Sexual Immorality

Originally published September 8, 2017

For more in the Basic Training series, click here.

Sexuality in Western culture is a mess. Within the last hundred years or so, we’ve devolved from a society that had, broadly speaking, a general understanding of, and compliance with, the Bible’s parameters for sex to today’s sexual mores that barely stop short of child molestation and bestiality, and permits – even encourages – nearly every other form of perversion.

It can be difficult to know how to approach these issues which have been suddenly thrust upon us, and with which the average person – Christian or not – has very little experience. How are Christians to think about, believe, and address these issues in our families, churches, and communities? Do we just go with the “live and let live” flow of modern society? No. As with every other issue in life, our thinking, our words, and our actions must be shaped by and in submission to the authority of Scripture. Not public opinion. Not political agendas. Not our own personal feelings, opinions, and experiences. Scripture.

The Bible makes sexuality and gender identity very simple for us. God created two sexes of people– male and female¹. God created marriage to be between one man and one woman. God created human sexuality and confined its use to a man and a woman who are married to each other. Every form of gender identity or human sexuality that falls outside these parameters is sin.

Bearing that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the sexual issues impacting the world, the church, and Christians today and how we can respond to them biblically.

Get the log out
The Bible is very clear that we’re not to be hypocritical when dealing with sin. Scripture’s parameters regarding sexual sin are extremely narrow and govern not only our actions, but our words and thoughts as well. That leaves me guilty. How about you? Where’s your mind when you’re reading that romance novel or watching that steamy movie? Are you using pornography? Flirting with that good looking co-worker even though you’re married? Using double entendres or other suggestive remarks? Exchanging inappropriate e-mails with another man? Fantasizing about sexual encounters with someone you’re not married to? Going farther than you should, physically, on a date? Before we start thinking about addressing the sins others commit, we first need to make sure our own hearts, hands, and mouths are clean by repenting from any sexual sin we’re participating in.

Sweep around your church’s front door
It’s been pointed out by many lost people, that the church is oh so willing to take a strong stand against news-making sexual issues, but sexual sin inside the church is sometimes swept under the rug. They’re right. How does your church deal with an unmarried couple who are cohabiting? A pastor who uses pornography? A church member who is having an affair? A youth director who’s molesting children? A deacon who uses foul language and makes sexual jokes? Does your church practice biblical church discipline when there’s sin in the camp and comply with sexual predation laws? Do you have screening processes in place to protect the children of your church? Does your church teach against all forms of sexual sin?

Be kind
It should go without saying, but since this is a “back to basics” series it bears repeating: Christ expects Christians to be kind to people – all people – and to treat them with human dignity, respect, and biblical love. Not just in the way we talk to people, but in the way we talk to each other about people. People who live in sexual sin are still made in the image of God and deeply loved by Him. Remember, it was God’s kindness that led us to repentance.

There’s no such thing as a “gay Christian
Or a transgender Christian, or a stripper Christian, or a bank robbing Christian, or liar Christian. Qualifying someone’s Christianity by their pet sin is an oxymoron. Christians, by definition, are people who sorrowfully turn from their sin and become completely new sin-hating creations through the power of the shed blood of Christ. Christians are characterized by lifelong repentance and the desire not to sin out of love for their Savior.

and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
2 Corinthians 5:15-17

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11

Are there people who are genuinely saved but still struggle against sexual sin? Of course. Every truly born again person struggles against sin for the duration of her natural life. But the Bible knows nothing of a willfully unrepentant conversion to Christ or life in Christ (regardless of a previous “decision” for Christ, participation in baptism, etc.). It is a contradiction in terms and simply does not exist. Nobody gets to carry her sin with her past the cross.

Tell the good news
People enslaved by sexual sin, especially those who think they’re Christians, need the good news of the gospel just like people enslaved to any other sin. God can and does save people out of homosexuality, transgenderism, promiscuity, and all other forms of sexual immorality, as the 1 Corinthians 6 passage above makes abundantly clear. His arm is not too short to save anyone.

Withholding church membership, ordinances, and leadership
Local church membership, ordinances (baptism and the Lord’s Supper), and leadership positions within the church are restricted to Christians, because the church is, by definition, the body of Christ: regenerated believers. It’s certainly fine for any non-believer to attend services, classes, or events at your church as long as she isn’t being disruptive or pushing unbiblical beliefs, but people who are living unrepentantly in any sin are not Christians and should not be invited to become members of the church, participate in baptism or the Lord’s Supper, and certainly should not be given any position of service or leadership in the church.

Going to the chapel if they’re going to get “married”
Christians should not attend same sex weddings (or receptions, showers, bachelor parties, housewarmings, etc.) for any reason. (When it becomes legal, this will also apply to plural marriages (polygamy) and other unbiblical forms of “marriage”.) Regardless of your motives for attending, it appears to others and to the same sex couple as though you approve of their sin.

Often, the reason Christians will give for feeling they should attend a same sex wedding is that they are afraid declining to attend will cause the couple to cut off the relationship with them, closing the door to any future opportunity to share the gospel. But if you’re close enough to the couple to be invited to the wedding, shouldn’t you have already shared the gospel with them? Do you not trust that God can save someone, either immediately or in the future, from one instance of sharing the gospel? This person’s salvation does not rest on your shoulders. It can only be accomplished by the Holy Spirit, and only in His timing. And whether you have or haven’t yet shared the gospel with the couple, what could your attendance at the wedding accomplish other than creating confusion? How can you support their “marriage” by attending the wedding and then turn around later and tell them they need to repent of this sin?

Additionally, attending the wedding sends the message to your children, family, church, friends, co-workers and others that you approve of the sin of homosexuality. We all have people watching us to see whether we stand with Christ or with the world. It’s imperative that we set a godly example.

Yes, if you decline to attend the wedding, you might lose your relationship with that homosexual friend or loved one. But Christ calls us to separate ourselves from the world and be loyal to Him even if it costs us everything- including those we love the most:

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
Matthew 10:37

The gospel divides. And Christians are always called to stand on Christ’s side of the divide.

The Wedding Singer
For many of the same reasons Christians should not attend same sex weddings (or other unbiblical forms of “marriage”), Christian wedding service providers (singers, photographers, bakers, wedding consultants, venues, etc.) – and certainly churches – should decline to provide services for same sex weddings. Doing so facilitates sin, is unloving to the couple (who needs to hear the gospel and repent), and is disloyal to Christ. Christ died for this sin. How can someone who calls herself a Christian play any part in helping people celebrate a sin that nailed her Savior to the cross? Yes, you might lose your business. Is Christ worth that to you?

Boys will be BOYS
It is neither loving nor compassionate to help people participating in transgender or other gender identity sin pretend to be the opposite sex or several sexes or no sex at all. While it’s not a good idea to go around speculating about the biological sex of perfect strangers, if you know a person well enough to know that he was born male or she was born female, you should not be using referent terminology that indicates otherwise. A biological male is a “him” not a “her” or a “them.” A biological female is a “her” not a “ze” or “fae”. Christians should also not be participating in other activities that further gender identity sins such as helping a biological male shop for female clothing, attending “coming out” parties, referring to “pregnant men” when the pregnant person is biologically female, etc.

Policy and Procedure
One of the main ways the sexual immorality agenda is being advanced is through lawsuits. If your church won’t allow a same sex wedding in its facilities, the church could be sued. We’ve already seen many instances of wedding service providers who have been sued for declining to provide services for same sex weddings. Laws are now in effect which attempt to force businesses to use the preferred pronouns of those in gender identity sin. It’s a good idea for churches, Christian businesses and other Christian organizations to study up on the legislation surrounding sexual sin, and put in place any possible legal protections. Does your church, business, or organization have the proper written policies in place? You might want to take a look at the Nashville Statement as an example or template.

Sexual sin, whatever form it may take, is just that: sin. People who participate in sexual sin are not a special sect of society. They are sinners just like everybody else. They need love and the gospel just like everybody else. As Christians, we must stand firm on what the Bible says about sexual sin and call those who are enslaved by it out of darkness and into His glorious light. We must offer them the peace, the hope, and the cleansing from sin that only Christ can give.


¹Yes, I’m aware that the Fall brought with it genetic disorders and congenital defects that can cause abnormalities in human genitalia. These are extremely rare and require correction and treatment by medical professionals. It is also beyond the scope of this article, which refers to the overwhelming majority of those who choose to participate in sexual immorality or the mutilation of their bodies.


Additional Resources

Should Christians Attend Homosexual Weddings?

Preventative Measures: 6 Steps SBC Churches Can Take to Prevent Sexual Abuse

A Review of Single, Gay, Christian by Gabe Hughes


Please remember to read the comment parameters
in the “Welcome” tab before commenting.

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Is lust a sin for women, too?

 

In the past, I’ve had lots of trouble wondering about my desire and tendency to look at, and get excited by, physically attractive men, especially men who reveal a lot of themselves in underwear modeling and soft-core porn. I think this is a sin, but I’m not sure.

I’ve gotten mixed reactions when I’ve mentioned this to people. There are some who say that, yes, this is the sin of lust. Yet there are others who have told me that women cannot possibly struggle with lust, only men do. I once dealt with one particular man who was very dogmatic that God created men and women to be tempted differently, and that lust is not a temptation women deal with, so he dismissed my struggles with this subject.

When I tried to search Scripture, using Matthew 5:28, it would also seem that this is a male-only sin. So is it OK for me to keep looking at male models, including underwear modeling and soft-core porn?

This is an awesome question for three reasons. First, you’re concerned about whether or not you’re sinning with the aim of mortifying this behavior if it is a sin. Second, you’re not relying on your own feelings, opinions, or experiences to determine whether or not this is a sin, you’re turning to Scripture to find out. Those are both very encouraging things. They demonstrate that the Holy Spirit is working in your heart to sanctify you and make you more like Christ. Third, it gives us an opportunity to take a look at the Scriptures in more depth and give an example of handling God’s Word correctly and in context for everyone reading this article. So, thank you for asking!

The short answer to your question is, yes, lust is sinful for the women who experience it just as much as it is for the men who experience it. But I don’t want you to just take my word for it, so let’s look at why.

The Scripture you’ve cited, Matthew 5:28, is definitely one of the passages that addresses this issue. It says:

But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

I suspect this verse might be the reason the man you spoke with said that lust is a male-only sin, because this particular verse speaks to men lusting after women. However, to make a blanket statement that because God created men and women differently, lust is never a temptation for women is foolhardy and shows a lack of biblical knowledge and understanding as well as a denial of reality.

Let’s address reality first. It is true that God created men in such a way that they are more likely to be sexually stimulated by what they see than women are. However, that does not mean that no woman anywhere has ever experienced lust. God also created men in such a way that men are usually taller and stronger than women and women are usually more emotionally expressive than men. But we can look around us and see that some women are taller or stronger than some men, and some men are more emotionally expressive than some women.

Furthermore, while you really can’t do anything about how tall you are (and, to some extent, how strong you are), lust is something that can be introduced to women and encouraged in women by culture. A hundred years ago, it would have been unthinkable to see advertisements featuring nearly naked men, or strip clubs with male dancers, or pornography aimed at women, so readily available and with so little shame attached. And at that time there were probably far fewer women who struggled with the sin of lust.

These days, it’s right there on your phone or computer or TV or at the bachelorette party for your friend. Lust, lewd behavior, and lurid talk by women are actually encouraged by the feminist movement. (If men are going to objectify women with lust and porn, we’re going to objectify them right back. Really? This is equality? The right to sink to the same depth of degradation as the scuzziest of men? No thanks.) Watch any sitcom or drama on TV. You’ll see it soon enough. And, of course, there’s money to be made by making women into consumers of porn and other sexual material, so the businesses that peddle these things encourage women to lust as well. All of which means that today, just a hundred years later, far more women are struggling with the sin of lust.

So we can see that the reality is that lust is a temptation experienced by some women, even though men are more prone to it.

But is lust a sin for women if Matthew 5:28 is speaking in terms of men lusting? Yes. There are a couple of different reasons for this, one cultural, and one biblical.

Let’s go cultural first to understand more clearly why this particular verse is addressed to men rather than men and women. We start off with the knowledge that men are much more likely to experience lust than women. Then we take the culture of the time into account.

Jesus spoke these words in a patriarchal society. In His culture, there were no women in positions of authority and power. Men ran the political system, the religious system, and men were the heads of their households. (By the way, despite what our culture today would say, this wasn’t a bad thing in and of itself. In fact, most of this was perfectly biblical.) Normally, women were not educated, and they depended on men – first their fathers, then their husbands, and finally, their grown sons – to take care of them their entire lives.

So when Jesus was teaching to the crowds as with the Sermon on the Mount (which Matthew 5 is part of) the cultural understanding was that He was primarily teaching the men, and any women and children they brought with them were basically along for the ride. Indeed, many would have thought the women incapable of understanding teaching (since they were intellectually inferior to men) or unworthy of receiving teaching (because God had created them as “lesser” than men).

The Jewish understanding that Jesus was primarily teaching the men would have been similar. Rabbis didn’t teach women, they taught men. Any intentional biblical instruction women received would have been from their fathers or husbands at home. We can see further evidence of this cultural and Jewish understanding in several different Scriptures. A few examples:

At the feeding of the five thousand, the feeding of the four thousand, and some other New Testament “crowd scenes”, the crowd is numbered by the number of men present.

Both the woman at the well herself and the disciples “marveled” that Jesus was speaking with a woman.

Due to Martha’s cultural and Jewish understanding of women’s roles, Jesus had to explain to her that it was OK – even good – for Mary to sit at His feet and learn.

At Pentecost, Luke refers to the “multitude” as “devout men“, and Peter addresses this crowd as “men of Judea“, “men of Israel“, and “brothers“.

So, in Jesus’ secular and Jewish cultural context, He was understandably speaking to the men present. (And what was He telling these men who lived in a world that taught them that women were inferior to men, and that men could regard and treat women any way they wanted to? Jesus elevates the status of women by telling the men they’ve got to respect women even in their hearts. They’ve got to respect their wives by not committing adultery with other women in their hearts, and they’ve got to respect those other women by not using them as objects of sexual gratification in their hearts.) It would have been an unnecessary distraction from His message to address the women directly, and it would certainly have been viewed as inappropriate, maybe even perverted, for Jesus to have suggested that women lusted after men.

So Jesus’ culture, and the fact that lust is largely a sin committed by men, required Him to address this remark to men. But those two things do not have any bearing on the intrinsic sinfulness of lust itself, and they do not mean that this instruction applies only to men. In the section of Matthew 5 preceding the section on lust, Jesus deals with the sin of being angry with your “brother”. Does this mean anger is only sinful if you’re angry with a man instead of a woman? The section of Matthew 5 immediately following the section on lust says men may not divorce their wives except for unfaithfulness. Does this mean women are free to divorce their husbands for any reason? Of course not.

But it’s important to remember that Matthew 5:28 is not the only passage of Scripture that deals with lust. Let’s look at some others.

These passages describe lust as female attribute:

a wild donkey used to the wilderness, in her heat sniffing the wind! Who can restrain her lust?
Jeremiah 2:24a

Oholah played the whore while she was mine, and she lusted after her lovers…everyone after whom she lusted…the Assyrians, after whom she lusted…Her sister Oholibah saw this, and she became more corrupt than her sister in her lust and in her whoring, which was worse than that of her sister. She lusted after the Assyrians…all of them desirable young men.
Ezekiel 23:5a,7b,11,12a,c,

Ezekiel even describes Oholibah viewing pictures of men lustfully. Doesn’t it sound like a woman viewing pornography?:

But she carried her whoring further. She saw men portrayed on the wall, the images of the Chaldeans portrayed in vermilion, wearing belts on their waists, with flowing turbans on their heads, all of them having the appearance of officers, a likeness of Babylonians whose native land was Chaldea. When she saw them, she lusted after them and sent messengers to them in Chaldea.
Ezekiel 23:14-16

In the Jeremiah passage, the lusting woman represents Israel. In Ezekiel, Oholah represents Samaria, and Oholibah represents Jerusalem. So these are not individual women lusting, rather, God is using the illustration of a woman lusting after her “lovers” to describe the unspeakable abomination of Israel’s idolatry. He was using the severest language He could to disgust His people over their sin and move them to repent and turn back to Him. God could have chosen any sin – male lust, robbery, murder, etc. – to represent how horrific their idolatry was to Him, but what did He choose? Female lust. Let that sink in.

Romans 1:18-32 clearly refers to the sins of both men and women, with verse 24 stating:

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves,

These passages speak of lust in neutral, rather than male or female, terms:

and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion
2 Peter 2:10a

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.
1 John 2:16

Lust is a form of coveting – the greedy yearning to have something that God has not given to you or has given to someone else, and that is certainly not limited to men. Also notice in these passages that you can covet a person, and that coveting is often linked to sensuality or sexual immorality.

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.
Exodus 20:17

coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.
Mark 7:22-23

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints…For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
Ephesians 5:3,5

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
Colossians 3:5

Finally, lusting after another person – adulterous coveting – is not loving your neighbor:

For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Romans 13:9

When you look at another person with lust, you are loving yourself. You are thinking selfishly about how that person could gratify your base desires, make you feel good, serve you. That is the antithesis of everything Jesus taught and stood for. Our Master, the One we follow and strive to be like, said:

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
Mark 10:45

Jesus came to die on a cruel rugged cross to pay for the sins of the flesh. He would never have thought of using another person to gratify His own selfish desires. How could we?

Is lust a sin for women too? Absolutely. Stop it. Repent. Receive the merciful grace and forgiveness Christ offers.

Additional Resources:

Just Stop It: Instructions on how to repent at The Cripplegate

Hey, Porn Addict: Stop It by Gabriel Hughes

How do you stop looking at porn? at When We Understand the Text

God Over Porn

God Over Porn Women

Every Woman’s Silent Struggle: Fighting Lust with Sisters in Christ by Marian Jacobs

Confessions of a Lusting Christian Girl at Whole Magazine


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Basic Training, Homosexuality

Basic Training: Homosexuality, Gender Identity, and Other Sexual Immorality

For more in the Basic Training series, click here.

Sexuality in Western culture is a mess. Within the last hundred years or so, we’ve devolved from a society that had, broadly speaking, a general understanding of, and compliance with, the Bible’s parameters for sex to today’s sexual mores that barely stop short of child molestation and bestiality and permits – even encourages – nearly every other form of perversion.

It can be difficult to know how to approach these issues which have been suddenly thrust upon us, and with which the average person – Christian or not – has very little experience. How are Christians to think about, believe, and address these issues in our families, churches, and communities? Do we just go with the “live and let live” flow of modern society? No. As with every other issue in life, our thinking, our words, and our actions must be shaped by and in submission to the authority of Scripture. Not public opinion. Not political agendas. Not our own personal feelings, opinions, and experiences. Scripture.

The Bible makes sexuality and gender identity very simple for us. God created two sexes of people– male and female¹. God created marriage to be between one man and one woman. God created human sexuality and confined its use to a man and a woman who are married to each other. Every form of gender identity or human sexuality that falls outside these parameters is sin.

Bearing that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the sexual issues impacting the world, the church, and Christians today and how we can respond to them biblically.

Get the log out
The Bible is very clear that we’re not to be hypocritical when dealing with sin. Scripture’s parameters regarding sexual sin are extremely narrow and govern not only our actions, but our words and thoughts as well. That leaves me guilty. How about you? Where’s your mind when you’re reading that romance novel or watching that steamy movie? Are you using pornography? Flirting with that good looking co-worker even though you’re married? Using double entendres or other suggestive remarks? Exchanging inappropriate e-mails with another man? Fantasizing about sexual encounters with someone you’re not married to? Going farther than you should, physically, on a date? Before we start thinking about addressing the sins others commit, we first need to make sure our own hearts, hands, and mouths are clean by repenting from any sexual sin we’re participating in.

Sweep around your church’s front door
It’s been pointed out by many lost people, that the church is oh so willing to take a strong stand against news-making sexual issues, but sexual sin inside the church is sometimes swept under the rug. They’re right. How does your church deal with an unmarried couple who are cohabiting? A pastor who uses pornography? A church member who is having an affair? A youth director who’s molesting children? A deacon who uses foul language and makes sexual jokes? Does your church practice biblical church discipline when there’s sin in the camp and comply with sexual predation laws? Do you have screening processes in place to protect the children of your church? Does your church teach against all forms of sexual sin?

Be kind
It should go without saying, but since this is a “back to basics” series it bears repeating: Christ expects Christians to be kind to people – all people – and to treat them with human dignity, respect, and biblical love. Not just in the way we talk to people, but in the way we talk to each other about people. People who live in sexual sin are still made in the image of God and deeply loved by Him. Remember, it was God’s kindness that led us to repentance.

There’s no such thing as a “gay Christian
Or a transgender Christian, or a stripper Christian, or a bank robbing Christian, or liar Christian. Qualifying someone’s Christianity by their pet sin is an oxymoron. Christians, by definition, are people who sorrowfully turn from their sin and become completely new sin-hating creations through the power of the shed blood of Christ. Christians are characterized by lifelong repentance and the desire not to sin out of love for their Savior.

and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
2 Corinthians 5:15-17

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11

Are there people who are genuinely saved but still struggle against sexual sin? Of course. Every truly born again person struggles against sin for the duration of her natural life. But the Bible knows nothing of a willfully unrepentant conversion to Christ or life in Christ (regardless of a previous “decision” for Christ, participation in baptism, etc.). It is a contradiction in terms and simply does not exist. Nobody gets to carry her sin with her past the cross.

Tell the good news
People enslaved by sexual sin, especially those who think they’re Christians, need the good news of the gospel just like people enslaved to any other sin. God can and does save people out of homosexuality, transgenderism, promiscuity, and all other forms of sexual immorality, as the 1 Corinthians 6 passage above makes abundantly clear. His arm is not too short to save anyone.

Withholding church membership, ordinances, and leadership
Local church membership, ordinances (baptism and the Lord’s Supper), and leadership positions within the church are restricted to Christians, because the church is, by definition, the body of Christ: regenerated believers. It’s certainly fine for any non-believer to attend services, classes, or events at your church as long as she isn’t being disruptive or pushing unbiblical beliefs, but people who are living unrepentantly in any sin are not Christians and should not be invited to become members of the church, participate in baptism or the Lord’s Supper, and certainly should not be given any position of service or leadership in the church.

Going to the chapel if they’re going to get “married”
Christians should not attend same sex weddings (or receptions, showers, bachelor parties, housewarmings, etc.) for any reason. (When it becomes legal, this will also apply to plural marriages (polygamy) and other unbiblical forms of “marriage”.) Regardless of your motives for attending, it appears to others and to the same sex couple as though you approve of their sin.

Often, the reason Christians will give for feeling they should attend a same sex wedding is that they are afraid declining to attend will cause the couple to cut off the relationship with them, closing the door to any future opportunity to share the gospel. But if you’re close enough to the couple to be invited to the wedding, shouldn’t you have already shared the gospel with them? Do you not trust that God can save someone, either immediately or in the future, from one instance of sharing the gospel? This person’s salvation does not rest on your shoulders. It can only be accomplished by the Holy Spirit, and only in His timing. And whether you have or haven’t yet shared the gospel with the couple, what could your attendance at the wedding accomplish other than creating confusion? How can you support their “marriage” by attending the wedding and then turn around later and tell them they need to repent of this sin?

Additionally, attending the wedding sends the message to your children, family, church, friends, co-workers and others that you approve of the sin of homosexuality. We all have people watching us to see whether we stand with Christ or with the world. It’s imperative that we set a godly example.

Yes, if you decline to attend the wedding, you might lose your relationship with that homosexual friend or loved one. But Christ calls us to separate ourselves from the world and be loyal to Him even if it costs us everything- including those we love the most:

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
Matthew 10:37

The gospel divides. And Christians are always called to stand on Christ’s side of the divide.

The Wedding Singer
For many of the same reasons Christians should not attend same sex weddings (or other unbiblical forms of “marriage”), Christian wedding service providers (singers, photographers, bakers, wedding consultants, venues, etc.) – and certainly churches – should decline to provide services for same sex weddings. Doing so facilitates sin, is unloving to the couple (who needs to hear the gospel and repent), and is disloyal to Christ. Christ died for this sin. How can someone who calls herself a Christian play any part in helping people celebrate a sin that nailed her Savior to the cross? Yes, you might lose your business. Is Christ worth that to you?

Boys will be BOYS
It is neither loving nor compassionate to help people participating in transgender or other gender identity sin pretend to be the opposite sex or several sexes or no sex at all. While it’s not a good idea to go around speculating about the biological sex of perfect strangers, if you know a person well enough to know that he was born male or she was born female, you should not be using referent terminology that indicates otherwise. A biological male is a “him” not a “her” or a “them.” A biological female is a “her” not a “ze” or “fae”. Christians should also not be participating in other activities that further gender identity sins such as helping a biological male shop for female clothing, attending “coming out” parties, referring to “pregnant men” when the pregnant person is biologically female, etc.

Policy and Procedure
One of the main ways the sexual immorality agenda is being advanced is through lawsuits. If your church won’t allow a same sex wedding in its facilities, the church could be sued. We’ve already seen many instances of wedding service providers who have been sued for declining to provide services for same sex weddings. Laws are now in effect which attempt to force businesses to use the preferred pronouns of those in gender identity sin. It’s a good idea for churches, Christian businesses and other Christian organizations to study up on the legislation surrounding sexual sin, and put in place any possible legal protections. Does your church, business, or organization have the proper written policies in place? You might want to take a look at the Nashville Statement as an example or template.

Sexual sin, whatever form it may take, is just that: sin. People who participate in sexual sin are not a special sect of society. They are sinners just like everybody else. They need love and the gospel just like everybody else. As Christians, we must stand firm on what the Bible says about sexual sin and call those who are enslaved by it out of darkness and into His glorious light. We must offer them the peace, the hope, and the cleansing from sin that only Christ can give.


¹Yes, I’m aware that the Fall brought with it genetic disorders and congenital defects that can cause abnormalities in human genitalia. These are extremely rare and require correction and treatment by medical professionals. It is also beyond the scope of this article, which refers to the overwhelming majority of those who choose to participate in sexual immorality or the mutilation of their bodies.


Additional Resources

Should Christians Attend Homosexual Weddings?

Preventative Measures: 6 Steps SBC Churches Can Take to Prevent Sexual Abuse

A Review of Single, Gay, Christian by Gabe Hughes


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