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…Sex can become casual and free of intimacy for both of us, but how it gets to that point is through different hijackings and perversions of our most intimate design.
How are we hijacked?
I’ll tell you tomorrow…
I believe an understanding of our different designs can hijack sex…
It’s my understanding that the visual environment we live in can be more of a temptation for men, and I want women to be aware and have compassion and grace.
Are women tempted? Yes.
Just because I said I believe men are more tempted visually, don’t assume I’m saying women aren’t. In fact, I believe women’s sexual temptations and addictions are on the rise. Why?
Because the world of marketing sometimes understands our differences better than we do.
1) Erotica has been created. This is porn tailored for women. It has a storyline, music, and characters for the viewer to get attached to. Women usually need more than a pizza guy ringing the doorbell.
2) Women want to be wanted, and they want to enjoy sex. If guys like porn so much, they think they should too.
It is natural then that over time, if sex or an orgasm happens while you are watching, reading, or thinking about something, you will desire that something more and more. More than the real thing.
Male or female, we are very susceptible to being hijacked.
So what do we do? Close our eyes and tell ourselves any sexual feeling is bad? NO.
I believe we need to delight more in our design and differences.
Men: You are made as a sexual being. You will have seasons of being more stimulated and seasons of being less stimulated. You may have things that arouse you that are different from what arouses women. I will do my best as a woman to understand and respect you as a male sexual being. Please honor me as a woman in how you view and value the act of sex.
Women: You are made as a sexual being. You will have seasons of being more stimulated and seasons of being less stimulated. You may have things that arouse you that are different from what arouses men. I will do my best as a woman to help men understand and respect you as a female sexual being. I challenge you to honor men in how you view and value the act of sex.
When we understand the beauty and design of males and females, we understand why God desired for us to experience our sexuality fully within the covenantal bond of marriage. I believe His intent was for it to lead to deeper intimacy with another human being and, ultimately, with Him.
No matter whether you’re single, dating, or married, I think it is important that you don’t deny the beauty of God’s creation. I believe it’s OK for a woman to notice an attractive man or a man to notice an attractive woman. But I believe, as followers of Christ and people who respect the design of our incredible sexuality, it is what we let ourselves do or imagine with those people—those beings who are made in God’s image—that is the true act of valuing and understanding our sexuality.
Truly from my heart,
(Apparently I hold both hands up a lot.)
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Love and Respect (Now) is a division of Love and Respect. Please be considerate.
Fascinating look at Christian romance novels! I write them, and I hope my books are a lot more than fantasy and escapism. The goal is to put flesh and blood on real men and women going through real problems. At their worst, romances are just what you described–a cheap substitute for the real deal. At their best, they’re a catalyst for spiritual and emotional growth. They provide insight into the blessings of godly choices and consequences of mistakes.
Re: the parallel between romance novels and porn — romance writers everywhere will argue that their novels aren’t porn because they’re about relationships, not just sex. I buy that . . . up to a point. The final transaction is in the reader’s mind. She knows what she’s getting from the story and why she’s reading it. Does the story inspire? Does it give her hope for own relationships? Or is it a substitute of some kind? An impediment? Deep down, readers know.
Many thanks for such a thoughtful blog . . . I’ll be checking back!
Victoria – So glad you wrote! I was just talking with someone the other day about this and wanted to point out that I don’t think all Christian romance novels are terrible and many women have said it does encourage them spiritually. Fantastic.
The reason I draw the parallel is not because I think they are filled with sex, but because I think men and women can be drawn into a fantasy world in different ways. While the sheer act of sex may be one man’s fantasy that makes him dissatisfied with his wife’s performance, a good story line of a Christian man who is “better” than what the female reader is married too, may also breed discontentment in her re: his performance.
Just like some guys can handle watching certain scenes in movies and other guys can’t…I think it’s up to each individual to have a conversation with themselves and God as to what they know may breed dissatisfaction and sin in their life…and then make a decision of what they will and won’t do with that awareness of how they want to honor their partner, (or future partner), themselves and God.
God knows our heart and what we can handle. He wants us to function freely within that. And that is what I love.
Wow !!!…finally a women who has the…hmmm…courage to challenge the minds of women (and men)…i came across you Vimeo page and I think you have something here. I am a 43 yr old male and am concerned at the state of relations between men and women; a kind of Hobbesian ‘war against all’ in our North American culture. You are on the RIGHT TRACK Joy. Trust me. I stopped to watch your videos and felt the respect. I think I’m gonna hang out a bit and listen to some more. Keep it coming.
Joy, I’m really glad you’re doing a series of posts on this topic. It is so timely. This is a great starting point–respect, compassion and grace on both sides. I’m a single woman who is admittedly just learning these lessons when it comes to the sexual differences between men and women. Most of the (Christian) guys I have dated have struggled with porn and masturbation, and as I learn more about that struggle, the less hope I have of finding a man who esteems purity. This makes it hard to have respect for men in general. Are there guys out there who are fighting this? I don’t seem to know many. One guy even tried to justify his actions by giving me stats about how many men in the church are addicted to porn. Thank you for your thoughts.
I can answer D’s question. First of all D, there is nothing wrong with masturbation. Show me a man who masturbates and I will show you a man not causing trouble. Besides it feels good to release and no one gets harmed. What you need to understand is that a man’s sexual energy is like a pressure cooker; at some point we need to let off steam. As we get older, the energy may lessen in intensity or we men learn to sublimate that energy into activity or projects of some kind. I have noticed that women are a little better at sublimating their sexual energies ( I am sure women masturbate also ). The problem with masturbation and porn arises in frequency and type of porn viewed. Some men are highly charged while others are not. We all have different levels. For some men ( especially younger men ), masturbating several times a day is normal because of their high energy levels and for others once a week is enough. I also need to include that stress, physical or emotional may curtail this enrgy or enhance it. It depends on the person. The type of porn viewed is another issue. Guys like visually stimulating porn. The problem lies in the extent a man may seek out extreme images of perversion, and that may be an indication of mental and emotional issues. But, watching a traditional form of male on female porn is not really that harmful; remember, the guy’s intention is to get ‘off’ and discharge the sexual tension. The problem with porn lies in its ease of access on the net and the plethora of genres, which tends to create unrealistic expectations; especially in a hyper-desire oriented culture like ours. My understanding of people brought up in strict Christian views is repression through guilt and shame. That can mess people up ( females and males ). Remember, a tight seal on the pressure cooker may cause an explosion; release is neccessary. Regarding purity: this is a sound principle, but how you apply it to your life needs balance. Nothing in life made of flesh or matter is really pure. Striving for purity is okay, as long as you accept the fallibility of your nature, thoughts and actions ( this brings in the practice of forgiveness for yourself and others ). We all slip and fall. You need to be flexible in thought and action; and of course set limits. Think of bamboo. It is flexible enough to bend in a strong wind, yet is extremely strong and light. I guess the question of masturbating to porn should be like a question to determine if one is addicted to alcohol, does it rule the person’s life, does it absorb him and interrupt his life ? Please do not lose respect for guys because they like to pleasure themselves. Its actually safe, fun and healthy ( we learn that pretty early ). Instead look at other factors like did he lose his job for masturbating at the office. God gave us that sweet tool down there ( lol )and lets face, we got it for life and we’re gonna use it ( lets hope discreetly…lol ). Hope your cool with that ?…ciao
Thanks, Elroy. You’ve given me some food for thought. My stance (because of my upbringing but also because of my gut reaction to porn and the way it makes me feel like vomiting) has been that porn of any kind is wrong and degrading to both sexes. And I think there is no place for it in marriage–the Bible is pretty clear about our bodies belonging to our mates. But you’re making me think… when it comes to single guys, what is the difference between a guy looking at the tame version of porn you mention or creating his own in his head based on some girl he sees on the street? (Granted that he somehow never goes beyond the “tame” stuff, which I hear is pretty near impossible given that the release always requires more.) Guys are visual and I understand that the visual is part of the release for them, while for women it is mostly emotional and relational (mostly). But how does a guy go from that lifestyle as a single to devoting his body solely to his wife in marriage? And how does fantasizing about women in order to “get off” add up with what God says about lusting after a person in your heart? Yes, God gave guys that “sweet tool” and He made them visual. But He also said don’t lust after a woman with your eyes or in your heart. So obviously He must provide a way for men–even single men in the 21st century–to have release in a pure way, because He doesn’t contradict Himself. What would that be?
lol…I have and I do agree. I even mentioned it my short monograph. However, it would be presumptious to assume that men and women do not fantasize. It would also be foolish to say that men will stop masturbating without porn. The reality is that porn is out there, you cannot shut yourself off from men that do masturbate to it. I am not saying you should date men that look at all forms of porn endlessly. They’re may be men out there that are good caring men who are just damn horny ( is that a reason to reject them ). Are you the type of woman that will ask a man your dating if he watches porn; I would never volunteer that info in the first place and I believe men would not volunteer that info openly. The question I need to ask is, are you seeking a man who does not masturbate that is a pure minded man fully immersed in Christ ? Could this be your fantasy ? Is your criteria a little to unreachable to men who are struggling in a modern world ( filled with corruption and vice – and wonderful things too ). I really get the feeling that your a touch to rigid in your expectations – perhaps ? Somehow I get the feeling that it may not be the men around you that are problematic….perhaps its the lens which you view the world ? If God created us in his image, then he created the reality in which we live. The reality is that our culture is overflowing with smut both obscene and tame. Maybe you need to find a good man in heart and action and work on the issues of porn within a loving relationship; who knows it may bring you together. If it helps, I would even talk to men and ask them how they feel about this topic. You may learn something ( unless you have already attempted it ). My heart goes out to you D, I too had my struggles and confusion in my youth, but I always had a more grounded attitude when I was in a loving relationship because their was always love ( and arguements too ! )…they’re was little time for porn and she did most of the masturbating for me ( lol…just havin fun )
I give a zealous “Amen” to what Joy has wisely articulated. God is awesome! He has designed our sexuality male and female with purposeful fruitfulness, multiplication, health, pleasure, safety, intimacy, healing and love all in mind. And to top it off it’s tangible REAL! Intimates of Jesus are mindful of their stewardship of their hearts, minds, soul and strength(bodies) because that is the temple where the Holy Spirit dwells. God’s people are set apart for holiness, and we are the “called out” (“from what?” some might ask). We desire to honor God, His way with all that he has given us including our sexuality. I know stewardship includes our imagination, thoughts, & intents-ask the people of Noah’s day (Genesis 6-9); they grieved God for their continually evil imagination.
Re: porn, Porn is an unnatural vice that does stain and desensitizes us to sexual immorality. It is a cultural lie, a false substitute for true intimacy that breeds voyerism, coveteousness, selfishness, discontentment, perversion, generational curses and abuse etc.. the list goes on. Discern a vice by it’s fruits. I’ll never support it. Good women are grossed out by it!
And I appreciate the correlation drawn to romance novels &porn-very insightful. I believe we need the Christian novel writers to build us up in our grappling with the flesh and spirit battle-(Francine Rivers is my favorite). But recognizing the flag of idealism is key. When that desire rises up in me for idealism or escapism in the form of stress relief-fantasy style- I need to ask myself how’s my relationship with Jesus? Have I spent time in His presence? Am I trusting Jesus’ lead in this dance of life?
Good discussion Joy! May u continue to live up to your name and may the good LORD who supplies all our needs grant you a God-fearing bearded manly man! Bless u!
a few sentences in your post, as well as your fantasy video, were really timely for me in a way i’m not sure i can explain yet. but i needed this.
(and i am really curious to hear your thoughts on masturbation based on some of the ((great)) dialogue in the comments… thinking that could be a whole post in and of itself…)
Wow…look what can happen over the weekend! It’s great to see peoples insight, questions and passion come to life over these topics.
First of all Lisa – than you for your words of encouragement and prayers for a God-fearing bearded manly man. Loooove it. (-:
A few quick thoughts on the comments of this post on the topic of porn and masturbation:
If we claim to be followers of Christ and attempt to understand what He has for us, then we will desire to be in conversation with the Lord and reading His word.
Ask yourself as you read: Why is there so much emphasis placed on our sexuality?
There is nothing clearly stated re: masturbation, but it seems to me that it is “less than” what was intended. There are some great thoughts on this in the book, Sexuality and Holy Longing by Lisa McMinn. She doesn’t say not to masturbate, but she unpacks the “why” of masturbation which I believe would lead someone seeking a fuller sex life to want to stay away from doing it without thinking.
Some may say that it isn’t a big deal, others may not want to go there at all. Regardless of your stance, I think you need to ask yourself the question, “Why?” (Both from a scientific and spiritual stand point.)
There is the stance that it is natural and we need to do it for release – to keep the plumbing working. But it’s believed by some that if you stop doing it manually and your body needs that release, it will find other ways. (wet dreams)
There are other people who would say that the more we do it the more we need it. This totally makes sense when you study the brain and how orgasm can become an addiction. (I believe God’s design to help keep husband and wife in monogomy) So it starts to feel more natural and more needed the more it is done.
I personally believe there is power in asking the Holy Spirit to enter into these questions with us – to give us wisdom in knowing what is healthy/unhealthy. Do you believe the Holy Spirit will meet you and your questions?
It seems to me that fantasizing and masturbating is when we become fearful of reality. It takes a lot less courage to stay at home and fantasize than it does to get the courage up to give someone a shot or to ask someone out.
Overtime I believe we will create a bunch of selfish satisfiers who see each other as objects and are fearful of true intimacy…
…Oh, and who are all alone.
I also don’t think it’s wise to blame what a Sunday school teacher may have said to us as justification to now behave in a way that may not promote a healthy sexual life with a partner in the future. What “healthy” looks like will need to be navigated by each individual, but for me personally – I am not interested in a man who casually looks at porn and thinks it’s OK. I want a man who is strong enough to discipline himself in areas that are difficult before we get married. It will show me that when life together may get difficult, I know he has the ability to be a disciplined man. I also must work hard at controlling my wandering mind.
But that’s just me…
Some more recommended reading:
Song of Solomon 3:5
Pornified by Pamela Paul
Wired for Intimacy by Struthers
(I would also ask that people write to one another with civility. If you don’t, I will delete your comment. (-: I haven’t deleted anything so far, but I am just giving the heads up.)
joy — i love the way you approached this delicate and difficult topic. the challenge to continually ask “why?” is so good.
and i think you nailed it on the head with this — ” I want a man who is strong enough to discipline himself in areas that are difficult before we get married. It will show me that when life together may get difficult, I know he has the ability to be a disciplined man. I also must work hard at controlling my wandering mind.”
Joy, a few things.
1. I like what you’re doing on this blog. Really, really like what you’re doing. I’m going to be a commenting machine from here on in.
2. Beards are beyond manly. I’ve written about this topic many times. We can now be true internet friends.
3. You’ve hit a home run with your last comment and with your Fantasy is not Reality video. Brilliant.
God created sex. It was his idea in the first place and we had to go and mess it all up. Sex is to be enjoyed within a marriage, between a man and a wife. Porn throws other people into the mix. Fantasies throw other people into the mix. There are so many things getting all up in the business of what should be between a husband and wife. And that’s not cool. Masturbation is leaving someone out of the equation. If either the husband or wife is masturbating without their partner…let’s be honest, you’re only satisfying yourself here. Isn’t it so much more intimate, thrilling, exhilarating to be experiencing that “release” with someone other than yourself? And to know that you did that together? I can only assume so since I’m not married. But I do know that it takes two to tango…so…just jumping to a few conclusions of my own…
And a note to D: yes, there are guys out there who are fighting this with all of their might. Trust me on this. The good ones are fighting. Don’t condemn them for it. Pray that much harder for them…it’ll be worth it.
Ok, watched the video…. YES! Joy definitely has it right from a females perspective. Sorry Elroy…you can tell yourself all day that just because your a man and men are visual that “sometimes” porn is ok and realistic. It’s not ok, men aren’t suppose to look at another women with lust in their hearts either on screen or in person makes no difference, unless your telling me you thought about your wife while doing that which is not realistic. I know we are all human, but being human is not an excuse we can’t look at that as an excuse when it’s all said and done. I mean what are we gonna say when we stand before Jesus? Sorry I was horny and my wife was out of town…or if that doesn’t work maybe we can try I’m only human bit and see how that goes. We have to strive to be better and wrestle against the flesh…. and hopefully at some point over come it with God’s help. Grace and forgiveness is what happens when we make a mistake and say it was wrong now I need to work on this. Looking at porn when your married is cheating in your heart….sorry that’s the black and white of it and it’s painful to the other spouse, and it will cause damage. I don’t buy into the thought that it’s just a man thing, and because that’s what men do it’s ok and us women need to just turn the other cheek and just suck it up…nope cause that’s not my reality…. it’s not God’s either. If it was there would be no need for that scripture, that a man should not look at another women with lust in his heart. That scripture was put there because God knew that this was the sort of thing that men would struggle with and that is the standard that He set for men. That’s the Word… that’s just the way it is.
Sorry Hope…you misquoted me and misunderstood me. I did not say porn is okay and realistic. In summary I said that men masturbate regardless if porn is involved and that is the reality. Do not put men in a box for wanting the release. However, there is plenty of porn out there that is bad or creating unrealistic fantasies. Its like alcohol. A glass of wime a day is actually healthy, but two bottles is not. The problem is not the porn, the problems is self-control and awareness of the culture around us. You ladies assume that watching porn will turn us ( and I include women ) into mindless, Godless animals that will run out and cheat on our spouses. In fact, Every relationship I had been in, I had no desire for porn, because I was in a relationship. I was satisified by my partner. Remember what I said about Bamboo, you got to be flexible. If your man is out philandering, then you need to find a better man. I think most of these arguements are based on fear to some extent, that you ladies feel threatened by the ease at which men can access porn and have a release, begging the question, how can I trust any man ? Vilifying men and demanding abstinence may be a bit extreme ? I think some of you feel powerless against the culture of overindulgence surrounding us. Again I feel for you. It is damn crazy out there. What I am saying is that men will masturbate to porn, some will not, others get bored of it and move on ( how you gonna stop that, praying will not help ). Focus on a man that you can trust and love, build a relationship, have sex when its right ( wait till marriage if that’s your rule ), I guarentee you that as he develops trust and love for you ( please understand that you will have to do your share of the work ) that his hand will drift up from his panzerfaust to your shoulder in a loving embrace. Focus on the man’s heart and he will forget about his penis. Men all want the real thing, a living breathing, beautiful woman like yourself.
Elroy – You are totally entitled to your opinion, but I would caution all of us who make statements out of personal experience and say that “all men are this way” or “all women are this way.” These women (along with myself) are sharing how we feel at the thought of men looking at porn. You may think our feelings are wrong, and I agree that we all need to work at showing grace – but you seem to have little grace for the way we feel.
Statements like, “I feel sorry for you” are just not the strongest communication tactics when you are trying to get someone to see your point of view. And saying things like, “Praying won’t help” just seems a little foolish if you are simultaneously calling yourself a Christian.
We all have fears and those fears can cause us to be dogmatic in our statements. But we must also hold high standards when we have come to a place where we interpret scripture as giving us certain instructions in order to help us not hurt us. You may interpret things differently and that is OK. But lets try to practice the grace that you preach and bring this discussion to a close.
I’m out. (-:
Good point Joy…first of all I am Catholic, second I said ” I feel for you” a statement of empathy, perhaps ” feel with you” would have been better. I am trying to help by putting out a perspective that may be raw, but is what the real is about. I do understand your point on some of things that I wrote, and I agree. But I wish to bring the real world into this, scripture is not always the answer. At times I have noticed some hiding behind it. That’s not good, the real world is rough and mean at times. I am merely trying to blend the raw and the divine.
Thank you Joy…yes we all expressing our opinion’s here and although we should all respect each other’s thoughts we can just say there is no right and wrong here. And as for you Mr Elroy…you know what, it’s good to hear a man’s point of view, so I’m happy to hear your side…to a point :)… Sorry that I misunderstood you my friend but I took that meaning by what I read. Perhaps I was reading inbetween the lines maybe…umm? Ok here’s the thing, please don’t feel sorry for me, I’m a happy women and I’m married to a wonderful man, whose not perfect, but he’s pretty darn close 🙂 Believe me I know that all men masturbate, or probably all men masturbate, but my post just explained how I, and probably all women feel about porn. That’s just the way it is from a women’s point of you. You don’t have to feel sorry for us my friend but you should respect it and take it for what it is…men and women think and feel differently about things 🙂 Anyway, God Bless you Elroy….peace!
No problem Hope…and again let me please re-iterate, I do not feel sorry you, it may feel that way when you read my words, but my intention is to be empathetic not patronizing. I to have been married and understand some of the reasons behind your questions. A large part of my experience comes from working in labour unions as a social advocate and organizer. I have learned that people are not always nice and reasonable. Our society is geared towards selfishness and profiteering at the cost of those sacred places between us; sex, love and relationships are sacrificed at the altar of profit. What is left for us ? It is a battle and we all recieve some wounds here and there, don’t give up. In closing, It’s love not money that makes the world go around, the problem is that, to many of us love money.
FYI: Here’s another resource re: Toxic Porn, Toxic Sex: A Real Look at Pornography. http://www.everystudent.com/wires/toxic.html
“Find freedom from porn addiction, see the 9 lies of pornography and how to break free”