By: Beca Bruder
4 min. read
The Ski Trip
John went on a ski trip with a group of church friends last January. He grew up on yearly family ski trips and was very comfortable skiing down the mountain. Not everyone in the group had the same skill level, but they still decided to stay together the whole time. The more experienced riders were helping those that were learning, and they were all having a blast. John was able to help his brothers and sisters in Christ as they were gearing up, show them the proper form, and most importantly, help them stay on their feet.
After the trip, John reflected on how much he enjoyed the weekend. He loved being the go-to ski coach for some of the ladies. He felt needed and in his element. John really enjoyed touching their shoulders while helping them correct their forms and got really excited when they would hold onto him to gain balance. He felt a lot closer to them than he expected. But then, he felt shame.
Related: Single and Sexual
What Sexual Desires Are Not
Let’s start by highlighting what sexual desires are not: lust or temptation. Sexual desires are a physical and emotional impulse for human proximity and a drive for interpersonal connection. Lusting is lingering in thought and creating false sexual scenarios in your mind. Creating sexual fantasies with someone you are not married to, for example, is lust. Jesus explicitly condemns lusting and even compares it to committing adultery (Matthew 5.27-28).
Sexual desires are also not the same as temptations. Sexual temptations always try to move us in a direction that opposes God’s plan. They never come from God (James 1:13). They lure us to seek immediate gratification by doing what looks good to our eyes and doubting God’s wisdom.
What Sexual Desires Are
God created us as sexual beings as a fundamental part of his perfect plan for humanity. Human sexuality was not an afterthought, but the original plan. It is a way in which God uses our physical bodies to draw us into closeness with one another, and also with him. We were made to crave intimate relationships, to be known and loved.
As a single person, John felt appreciated by his female friends who encouraged and affirmed him. And in turn, he felt the drive to be closer to them. And that is a good thing! Instead of feeling ashamed, John should use this desire for proximity to find healthy ways to deepen his friendships and maybe seek a romantic relationship, if appropriate. The trick is finding healthy ways to steward these desires.
What to Do with Sexual Desires
Perhaps, just like John, you also feel ashamed when you notice your sex drive showing face. You acknowledged that what you’re feeling is not a fantasy or even a temptation, but you still don’t know what to do with your sexual desires. Where do you go from here?
Here are three practical applications:
1. Acknowledge your desires to God
Bring your thoughts and feelings to God. He already knows everything that’s going on inside of you and it is impossible to hide from him (Psalm 139:12). Coming to God with your burdens will allow you to ask for forgiveness where you have sinned, be encouraged by the Holy Spirit, and commune with God. Christ is able to empathize with our weaknesses and provide the path by which we can boldly approach God. (Hebrews 4.14-16).
2. Avoid sinning
God created sexual intimacy to be celebrated between spouses within a covenant. If you aren’t married, this means not being sexual with another person. Whether that someone is in person or on a screen, pursuing physical intimacy with them goes against God’s design for human sexuality. It also pushes you further away from your relationship with God.
3. act on your desires in healthy ways
Your sexual desires are impulses that can help you move in the right direction. For example, it may help you to acknowledge and meet your skin needs in a healthy way. A hug, a shoulder touch, or a high-five are good ways to feel physically appreciated by those around you.
Additionally, your sexual desires may help you see underlying tendencies or hidden problems that you could miss otherwise. They can reveal a stubborn and self-centered heart, for instance. Sexual desires may also help you move towards a covenant relationship with a woman. Or to have deeper and more meaningful friendships with your brothers in Christ. What initially shows itself as a physical desire may reveal an ache for relational depth.
Sexual desires are not sinful, even if you are single. Instead of seeing them as a distraction or nuisance, I encourage you to see them as an instrument given by God to help us love people well. Look at the way Jesus lived his life as a single man. He honored and loved those around him perfectly, and we can look to him as our example.
Whether you are married or unmarried, sexual desires will always be present and not always directed at your spouse. As followers of Jesus, we must learn to understand and use our sexual desires for good instead of trying to ignore them. The next time these desires surface, take them before the Lord and ask for his guidance on how to handle them well.
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Beca Bruder is a follower of Christ, in a journey to learn to trust Jesus with all things at all cost. She holds a master’s in Public Policy and is most interested in Biblical sexuality and public theology. Beca is the happiest when she gets to read and write, host friends at her apartment, and bike the Mount Vernon Trail. She was born and raised in Brazil and now lives in Alexandria, VA.