Updated: Oct 3, 2022
Before launching into the concept of how emotional maturity addresses the problem of lust, I would like to narrow the subject – at least in this communique – to talk about men’s plight with this hard subject. Of course, women share this struggle, but here I want to begin by focusing on men.
To introduce myself in a very specific way, I have a long history of teaching male students, having mostly had men enrolled in the courses I taught in university. I also have years of experience in trying to help men realize and believe that it is humanly possible for them to overcome sexual lust.
In my twenties, I was the confidant of my biological brother whom I lived with; I was also attuned to the struggles of my faithful, fallen boyfriends who sought to follow Christ and escape the vicious vortex of pornography. By the time I reached my thirties, I was married to a zealous ex-stripper who knew all about the dark sid
e of exploiting opportunities to indulge sexually and even more so understood the power of the Holy Spirit that miraculously makes a dead man come alive. I was also the daughter of a repentant sex addict who surrendered his way into healing by telling on himself and listening to the good news of the gospel until it sunk into the core of his libido.
All these men were my brothers in Christ: my husband, my father, my sibling, my students, my boyfriends, my peers. As to why I had the capacity to empathize with them and not personalize the offense of their sin, that reason can be explained by the fact that I myself have drunk deep draughts of God’s grace. Due to Christ’s forgiveness of so many types of sin in my own life, I could forgive my dad and my boyfriends who cheated on me, via porn. Not that I excused them. “Boys will be boys” is terrible theology and nowhere found in Scripture and is one of the major mantras that deceives boys into thinking that men are not designed to be emotionally mature.
Nearly every man I know has been indoctrinated into thinking that it is impossible for healthy virile men to be lust-free.
Christian men, in particular, are rarely taught the truth, but instead are told to strive in their own strength.
Thus, I ask: Do we really think the apostle Paul was constantly distracted by runaway hormones? Do we see the prophet Daniel being afflicted day by day by erotic urges?
Yes, we know that King David committed adultery. Yes, we know that King Solomon had a harem queued up outside his bedchamber. The Bible does not hide from us the escapades of monarchs, including King Ahasuerus, who objectified women they desired.
But theologically, it is mistaken to presume that “born again” men are not “new creatures in Christ” and that they are left with nothing but their own willpower – that comes and goes and often tanks and makes a joke of their faith.
As disciples, we are missing something if we think men are doomed to sexual promiscuity on account of their maleness. What I think we are missing is a category for the connection between emotional maturity and sexual propriety.
When men are theologically miseducated at church to think that it is “feminine” (thus inferior and unthinkable) to be emotional, they will tend to strive to sublimate their feelings and instead express themselves in terms of sex. When they’re sad, they look to sex. When they’re embarrassed, they look to sex. When they’re frustrated, they look to sex to be their outlet. Their emotions drive their sex drive.
But since very few Christian men have been discipled emotionally, most are unaware, and most are undeveloped, and most are too defensive to find out that they have the capacity to be much more human and relational. And, folks, for a man to be relational does not make him less of a man.
My heart breaks for men who are convinced that they are sex machines or sexual beasts or phonies who only wish they could be Christians. I know so many men who feel wicked and drenched in shame, but who remain stuck and spiritually stunted because they don’t see that constantly being preoccupied with dreams of yet more sex is a form of emotional immaturity.
At Right On Mission, we teach men and women alike to be emotionally mature. Emotions are what connect us to each other. Emotions are enlivening, and they are not gender specific. Emotions are gifts from God to get creatures moving. E-motion. In Latin, ex movere. Ex = “out.” Movere = “move.” To move out of sexual sin requires emotional maturity, and men can be helped with this, not just women.
If you’re interested to learn more, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.