A friend of mine was complaining recently how narrow the church’s view on women and lust is. It made me think, and I agree with her.

It seems like almost every message, sermon, article, reference and website dealing with lust/sexual impurity is directed almost solely at men, with women occasionally being referenced in passing(usually in the context of not tempting/stumbling the men). In a website on sexual impurity, women are likely to get one small section, while the website as a whole seems to be devoted to men. XXXchurch is a good example of this. A friend showed it to me recently during a discussion on pornography and how Christianity addresses it; it’s apparently the top anti-porn Christian site, with a focus helping Christians who struggle with this particular sin, but my friend said that once you actually start exploring it, it seems that it’s mostly all focused toward men. It’s just a small example however; in Christianity as a whole, the stereotype is that it’s guys that struggle with this; we’re told so much of how this is one of their main struggles and how we as women need to help them with this/not stumble them. But what about women? Why are we less prone to lust? In general western society it’s the opposite; women are portrayed as the lustful ones and men as less so(in some ways), which is why there’s not really a male equivalent for the word “whore”.  My concern however is the Christians, reacting against this, and focusing on the parts of the Bible which talk about men’s lust, have gone too far in the opposite direction.

It seems to me to be a throwback to old ideas still threaded deeply through the structure of our faith and church – the historical view of women as either whores or angels. Nothing in between. This idea is definitely present in general society but in a more specific form in Christianity as well. There’s an underlying assumption that before a woman’s a Christian she’s a whore, but afterward she’s an angel; all natural lust is gone(and she naturally experiences less lust than men). We’re all either Jezebels or Marys in the eyes of men and Christianity in general.

Let me ask one question. If  you, as a man, discovered that your girlfriend/wife struggled with pornography, what would you do? Would you be shocked? Would it overthrow certain preconceived notions about Christian women and their relationship with sexuality? Would you struggle with judging her? Or would you see it as just another sin in a fallen world, a world full of them?

The truth is women are neither Jezebels nor Marys, or rather, we’re somewhere in between. By God’s grace we’re purified so we no longer sell ourselves to the world in the way we once did, but that doesn’t mean we immediately become the pure,  holy-in-all-ways  female figure that it seems a lot of people associate with Mary. Women struggle with lust too. We’re human, and we’re sinners, and lust is deeply programmed into the sinner part of us. Sanctification doesn’t happen all at once; it’s an ongoing process. Just like men, we are influenced by the world and its obsession with sex(particularly perverted forms of sex) and desire, and by our natural desires, and we want out of context what God has ordained for marriage.  The stereotype about men and women is that men experience more lust while women struggle with romantic fantasies. This may be true, but it can also hold true in the opposite way; men can idealize women, looking for a perfect figure who doesn’t exist, while women can want men in the lustful way as well as the romantic.

My point with this post I suppose is that a) there should be more support for women struggling with lust in the Christian community and b) men should be more aware of this, and make sure that they have grace/the right attitude towards it.

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