When I (Isabel) started secondary school, I was suddenly exposed to many sexually explicit films and erotic romance novels. In those films, though they did not usually show the full act on screen, they did show the process leading up to sex or hinted that the lead couple coming out of a bedroom with dishevelled hair and some articles of clothing missing had just had sex. Romance novels also tended to be quite risqué. When I was exposed to these images, it was easy for my imagination to go beyond what the films or books presented.
A sexual fantasy is a mental image that someone creates or imagines in their mind that can lead to sexual arousal or an orgasm. It may be triggered by sexual imagery or sexual attraction to another person.
But what’s wrong with a fantasy as long as we don’t act on it? Back in Jesus’ time, the Jews thought the same way. They thought that sin is a physical act; therefore, as long as a person didn't actively commit a sin, what goes on in their mind does not matter. By that logic, we could say that there’s nothing wrong with sexual fantasies if it is not coupled with masturbation or watching pornography. After all, we’ve heard in church that masturbation and watching pornography is wrong, but no one really says anything about sexual fantasies, eh?
However, in Matthew 5:27-28, Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (ESV). Jesus clearly points out that sin can start before any action is even taken. In short, when a person acts on her desires by entertaining the thought in her mind, she has already committed the sin in her heart even though no outward or physical action has been taken.
The Battlefield of the Mind
There are many things screaming “SEX” at us and if we are not careful to discern what is detrimental to our spirit and mind, we will fall into sin very easily. The romance novel Fifty Shades of Grey was a big hit four years ago. After reading the first few chapters, I (Isabel) realised that it was really sensual and that it managed to awaken desires that should be reserved for marriage. Movies with sexually explicit scenes such as Twilight, The Fault in Our Stars, and The Great Gatsby, or songs and music videos that are sexual in nature (think Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”) can also cause us to stumble because of the sexual images it gives us.
I (Shi Yun) want to clarify that having sexual desires is not something to feel guilty about. When I was growing up, I felt embarrassed that I desired sexual intimacy because I thought it was something sinful. Now I know that God Himself created us with these desires, and they are good! However, it is a problem when you start acting out intimate scenes in your mind or imagining yourself in sexually explicit scenarios to feed your sexual desires. It is dangerous when your desires and thoughts control you and your actions, to the point that it leads you to sin against God.
James 1:15 tells us that when we entertain sinful desires, it’s like a pregnancy that eventually gives birth to sinful actions, such as dirty thoughts. When sin is allowed to grow even further, it then gives birth to death.
At the start, I (Isabel) told myself that I could control my desires and thoughts, so I didn’t need to change my lifestyle. I continued to indulge in romance novels and movies, and my thoughts continued to stay impure. How wrong I was to compromise!
When God convicted me of my sinful desires, I unfollowed many people on Tumblr because of the images they reblogged, such as a couple making out or even being naked on the bed together. I made it a point to read reviews before buying any books and not to watch movies (no matter how good the reviews are!) that had a rating because of sexual scenes. If we stop feeding ourselves with sexually explicit material, overcoming sexual fantasies becomes a lot easier.
Colossians 3:5 says, “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatory.” If we want to stop sinning, we have to consciously decide not to feed our sinful desires before it gives birth to sin, and it is in the mind that this battle for purity is most often fought.
Run to the Father
Crystal Renaud, founder of Dirty Girls Ministries, said, “Without a genuine relationship with Christ, women will continue to seek satisfaction for their emotional needs in places that just won’t ever fully satisfy.” Whether it’s pornography, masturbation, sexual fantasies, or having sex out of marriage, no form of sexual immorality can fully satisfy our desire for love and intimacy.
If you are struggling with sexual fantasies too, we want you to know that you're not alone. We encourage you to tell Daddy God that you’re sorry. Flee from temptation instead of compromising, remove anything that causes you to stumble, and take captive every thought! Then, run straight into the Father’s embrace, where you’ll find perfect love, forgiveness, and fulfilment in His presence. As you take delight in the Lord, we hope you’ll find that your desires become just like His, and the temptation of sexual fantasies become less and less appealing each day.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things.” — Philippians 4:8
If we want to stop sinning, we have to consciously decide not to feed our sinful desires.
These resources have been helpful for us, and we hope they will be for you too!
Dirty Girls Come Clean by Crystal Renaud. Other online resources for this book and by the author can be accessed at www.dirtygirlsministries.com
Moral Revolution: The Naked Truth about Sexual Purity by Kris Vallotton.
Plugged In Online provides music and movie reviews from a Christian perspective (www.pluggedin.com). Though it may mean a bit of spoilers, your purity is definitely worth more than the thrill!
This article first appeared in Issue 7. For more of such similar articles, you can purchase a copy here.