Truth: It is absolutely normal – and according to God’s design – that we should be drawn to (appreciate/admire) the beauty of the natural human form.

Pastor David has articulated this more clearly than I ever could in his article, “Addiction to Pornography

Even so, saying it “out loud” like that might sound “suspicious.” It may sound like an attempt to excuse or condone exposing ourselves to all the nudity we could ever want. It is not. But let me tell you why the acknowledgment of this truth is so vital to finding freedom from the allure of pornography.

We Have it Backwards

Here is what we have been told for all our lives… if not overtly, then at least by implication:

“If you have a longing in your heart to see naked women, then there’s something really wrong with you! You need to repent and beg the Lord to have mercy on your soul and remove that wickedness from your heart!”

Then we are told:

“Young person, you have to guard your eyes and guard them well! God made you to be aroused by what you see and that lust is forbidden by God.”

Put more bluntly, the two statements boil down to this:

Enjoying the sight of the nude form is perverse.
Always having a sexual response to the sight of nudity is natural.

But those two statements are exactly backwards. Here is the truth:

Enjoying the sight of the nude form is natural.
Always having a sexual response to the sight of nudity is perverse.

The Bible clearly warns that we should not call that which is evil, “good” or call that which is good, “Evil.” (Isa. 5:20) But this is what we have done.

The Wrong Battle

What happens if we live by the false statements? Answer: We fight the wrong battle.

We fight against the first response and accept the second without any fight at all.

Allow me to address this personally.

For years, I could never shake the attraction I had in my heart towards the nude female form. I had to admit to myself that I really enjoyed the sight. Its beauty drew me. But I “knew” that it was wrong; I “knew” that it was “perverse.” I “knew” that it was “offensive” to God. So I confessed it and prayed to the Lord to take it away. But He never did. I tried my best to eliminate the opportunities to see it. But time and again, that attraction would combine with “the allure of the forbidden” and I would give in and seek it out, only to be guilt-laden. Once again, I would repent and confess my continued tolerance of this “perversion” in my heart.

What I did not know is that I was fighting against the way God intended me to be. He made me that way and He still wants me to be that way. It is part of the goodness that God has built into every one of us… we are attracted to the beauty of God’s image stamped on God’s highest creation. My prayer to be delivered from that natural and good trait was not a prayer that God was willing to answer, because it was contrary to His will for me. So He didn’t take it away. And in my ignorance, I questioned the faithfulness of God, for He never helped me to be free from the “wickedness” that resided in my very being.

Meanwhile… I assumed that when I saw nudity, I would “naturally” have a sexual response. I expected it. I anticipated it. I enjoyed it. The truth is, I chose it… because I had no idea that there was another choice. When I finally broke down and viewed the nudity, I was by default also deciding to lust. The decision had already been made… after all, I am a “red-blooded male!” In fact, I would have worried about myself if I had not had a sexual response! If for some reason my sight of those naked women had not produced a sexual response, I would have questioned my normalcy! Not surprisingly, my anticipated response was always there. I never even remotely expected anything different.

What I did not know was that such a response is not a measure of “normalcy” at all.

I did not realize that it was possible to appreciate beauty
without indulging in that beauty for my own selfish gratification.

It never occurred to me to ask God to eradicate that response from my heart and mind. That’s a prayer that He would have been delighted to answer in my life… indeed, now He has.

No Fear

Let me summarize.

Jesus did not tell us that looking at a woman was mental adultery, He said that looking at a woman lustfully was. God did not command us not to look at our neighbor’s house, wife, servants or animals, He commanded us not to covet them.

We have been fighting the wrong battle all along.

I can tell you from personal experience that it is much easier to battle the “lust” response in my heart than it ever was to battle my natural, God-given attraction to the nude form. And the wonderful reality is that I no longer need to fear what I may see in the course of a day… be it a coworker, billboard, commercial, or TV show. None of these things lead me inevitably to lust. I can genuinely appreciate the beauty of God’s creation honestly and honorably without lust. This is true freedom.

Next: The Right Battle

6 Responses to Perverse Attraction

  • This is so enlightening…I too can think of noticing the female for and immediately thinking I was wrong just for noticing their beauty. I think it’s amazing what you guys are doing here and I wish more people knew about this information. My biggest concern is something I think was already kind of addressed, the fact that viewing the female or male form and noticing beauty is sinful or lustful in and of itself. That notion is so engrained in us, I wonder if the majority Christians will ever be able to think any differently, hence ever be completely free from the bondage.

  • Hi, I understand seeing a women and appreciating her beauty as God does, but longing to see her naked? To me, if you have a longing, then the situation is not functioning the way that God intended. Even if youre not being aroused, if youre having a longing and fufilling it, your getting some type of fulfillment. WE shouldn’t have wants and longings. We should be content, wanting and lacking nothing. The Lord is my shepherd. HE leads me. I don’t just want things on my own. I shall not want. I am complete in Christ, I don’t need or want to see a naked woman. If it happens (which it has), there is no lust there because I love and respect women for Who God made them. But long to see them naked? Personally, no. My question to you is… So is that what you were saying, that you actually long to see women naked and it’s of God?

    • Thanks for writing!

      I certainly understand what you’re saying… we just might be deluding ourselves if we still have a disordered focus on seeing others unclothed after learning the truth that the human form is not first and foremost a sexual object.

      Let me offer a couple of clarifications, though…

      First of all, the article does not defend “longing” to see nudity. That phrase is only used once and I never did say that such a “longing” was natural. I pointed out that the enjoyment of that beauty is natural.

      That said, the man (or woman) with a godly and healthy perspective on the human form will still find the sight attractive. This will be true for two reasons.

      1. We as humans are naturally tuned in to other human beings, so it is certainly natural for us to take greater note of the other humans around us more than we do to other organisms, like plants or animals. Furthermore, we are also naturally tuned in to any sort of beauty, for we are aesthetically oriented people–an attribute that we have literally as part of the Imago Dei; we were made to notice beauty. When these two are combined together, we should not be surprised that our attraction to human beauty may well be stronger than our attraction to any other sort of beauty. That peculiar interest should not be equated with a “longing,” although it may seem to resemble it.

      2. Beauty that we rarely see always more powerfully attracts our attention than that which we see frequently. This is why people who live in the shadow of majestic mountains can go for days without paying any attention to their beauty and grandeur… but when a visitor comes to town, they can’t help but gawk at them wide-eyed! We will see and note a pretty girl or a handsome man, for their beauty attracts our attention. But we rarely see that same girl or man unclothed, so if we do, it’s very notable, and our attention is quite arrested. If we literally saw the beauty of unclothed bodies all the time, we would genuinely begin to treat them as no more notable than the pretty faces that we see regularly… still attractive, but not unduly so.

      One of the things that make the unclothed human form so strikingly attention-grabbing is the simple fact that we so infrequently see it. And this too creates a context where it might seem that the heightened interest that fact engenders is instead an expression of a sinful “longing” for selfish consumption of that beauty.

      David

  • Hi I’ve not finished going through your articles but have just read up to this one so far. I’m interested to know how your views relate to Genesis 9:20-27. That and a few other passages ( Ex 20:26, Rev 3:18 )from the Word have reinforced some of the ‘Lies’ (i.e. nakedness = shame) you are addressing and I am keen to hear a response.
    Blessings & peace.

    • Hey, Joe. Thanks for your comment. Allow me to comment briefly on each of the passages you mentioned:
      .
      Gen. 9:20-27 – This is the story of Noah’s nakedness, the ridicule by one of his sons, and the curse of his grandson, Canaan.
      .
      The first thing to note about this story is that it is just that… a story; it is not a command nor is it in any way prescriptive. God literally adds NO commentary about the events that transpired or who was right or who was wrong or whom we should emulate or what we should think about anything in the story. It simply relates the events. Narrative is not imperative, and narrative without imperative is not normative.
      .
      The second thing to note is that the guy who was naked was not judged nor even criticized… Obviously, Ham’s actions violate the Bible’s command to “honor your father,” but being unclothed in your own tent… are we to judge that to be wrong or shameful?
      .
      In short, the passage leaves us with more questions than answers, and we can see that the story simply is not intended to give us a prescription for how we today should view nakedness. That presumption is placed upon the passage externally… that is, from our own bias and modern perception of the ancient events.
      .
      Exodus 20:6 (and the more extended passage in Exodus 28) – the prohibition of the exposure of “nakedness” at worship (a person’s own altar or in the temple by the priests).
      .
      It is odd to note that for both of these passages in Exodus, the prohibition about nakedness is limited to the context of worship. Take note… not all people nor even all priests were required to wear the “breeches,” just the Aaronic priests… and even they only had to wear them while serving at the altar. Note also, it was not ALL steps that were forbidden… just steps up to your homemade altar (Hebrew homes had exterior steps up to their roofs, remember). So, why the concern just during these open/public worship settings and not everywhere? That’s too important a question to neglect, because if we don’t know the answer to that question, then we will most certainly not understand the divine-mindset implications of the requirement. We’re not given the reason, but my take is this: when that law was given, orgiastic worship was the norm among the pagans in the land; God wanted it to be abundantly clear that the worship of YHWH was not orgiastic…
      .
      I reached this conclusion after doing a full-bible survey of the Hebrew word for “nakedness” which is ervah. That study led me to conclusion that ervah is more than the simple exposure of the body without clothing, but the active use of that naked body, usually in sexual activity. When you apply that understanding of ervah (nakedness) to these passages, all of a sudden, the purpose that I’ve suggested for these requirements becomes more apparent, especially in light of the pagan practices. That perspective is not conclusive, of course, but I’ve never even heard any other attempt to explain why these laws would apply only to these specific worship contexts. Usually, they are thrown out there as “proof” that “nakedness is shameful” without any digging into the textual contexts (cultural, historical, linguistic, etc) to discern God’s intended meaning.
      .
      Rev. 3:18 – that “shameful” nakedness.
      .
      On this one, it of utmost importance that we acknowledge that this passage was not given to us to teach us about the morality of nakedness… any more than it’s intended to teach us the morality of poverty or blindness. The people Jesus was talking to were NOT naked. They weren’t blind, and they weren’t poor… physically. But Jesus tells them that they are poor, blind, and naked… spiritually! So, if we were to ask if spiritual blindness is shameful, our answer would be “yes.” Same for spiritual poverty and spiritual nakedness. But this does not mean that physical nakedness or poverty or blindness was also shameful.
      .
      Our erroneous perception of nakedness as being shameful has been at least in part impacted by the very fact that modern translations (particularly the NIV) have very intentionally edited out the word “naked” from the NT scriptures anywhere the word gumnos (“naked”) appears in the Greek text, but only if the nakedness is not described negatively. The KJV is not so squeamish about the word; a word search will reveal that the KJV has the English word “naked” in the NT twice as many times as the NIV. So if non-shameful nudity has been edited out of the modern translations, how are we supposed to realize the nakedness is not intrinsically shameful? You will find throughout the entire bible that whenever nakedness and shame are connected, there is always a description of the real source of the shame in the immediate context.
      .
      Let me point you to a couple of documents that will more fully develop the points I’ve made here… they address the passages that you’ve listed plus a host of others to fully support the claims I’ve made here in this short answer to your questions:
      .
      Nakedness in the OT – A word study on the meaning of ervah.
      Squeamish Translating – Demonstrating the nudity-taboo bias in contemporary Bible translations.
      .
      I hope this helps. Please feel free to write back.
      .
      — Pastor David Martin

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