Sexual Desire and Lust – Are They the Same? (Part 1)

Sexual Desire and Lust – Are They the Same? (Part 1)

For years I felt constantly defeated by lust.Anguish

Lust and Desire Conflicted

I knew the desire for sex with my wife was OK, but I believed that any sexual feelings beyond that context was sinful lust.

I would awaken in the morning with an erection and strong sexual desire. I felt guilty so I’d confess it to God. I would see an attractive woman which would heighten my sexual awareness. I believed that it was sinful lust in my heart.

One minute, I’d have strong sexual feelings that I believed were lustful. So I would try to suppress them. At another time, I would be with my wife where I am permitted to feel strong sexual feelings. One moment, those sexual feelings and desires were wrong (lust) but in the next moment they were good (spousal love). I was conflicted.

To be honest I was frustrated and weary of trying to not lust… yet I experienced sexual feelings and desires frequently almost every day. I could not eliminate it from my life. Eventually, I would quit the battle and just give in to the outward expression of those sexual desires… and indulge in pornographic lust.

Most Men are Frustrated

I know I wasn’t alone. As a preacher, I could easily make men aware of their “sinfulness.” All I had to do was quote Matthew 5:28, “everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Every man I knew felt that his heart was lustful if he merely looked and acknowledged the attractiveness of any women other than his own wife.

My Journey to Victory

I have since realized that I was confused between sinful lust and natural sexual desire. My journey to victory began with understanding the lies that I had learned and believed about the human body. The truth taught at My Chains Are Gone replaced the lies and my battle with pornography ended. I soon realized I had also believed a lie about what constituted sinful lust… a lie that had contributed to my bondage.

Could you be caught in this same trap, believing that any sexual desire, dreams, thoughts, or fantasies other than for your wife are sinful lust? I am convinced that many men are unnecessarily defeated because of this confusion. Stay tuned for part 2 where we will look at two different ways the Bible uses the words for lust. Not all lusts are equal.

— Pastor Bill


Previous Posts in this series:

Sexual Desire and Lust – Are They the Same? Part 2
Sexual Desire and Lust – Are They the Same? Part 3

For more on this topic:

The Lies That We Have Believed – Lie #3

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comments user

In my opinion you are contradicting yourself here when you say I would see an attractive woman which would heighten my sexual awareness. I believed that it was sinful lust in my heart. – and then right before you say under lies 2a. it’s a lie that sexual arousal is primarily visual for men.

Isn’t that just confirming the lie again that visual stimulation/attractiveness unavoidably leads to sexual desire, when one would have to say relationally there’s should have been any arousal here at all cause it seems said attractive female was just an attractive “stranger”. I feel that this is just another justification of sexual desire through visual stimulation, the one you just said was based on a lie.

Wouldn’t the consistent approach be to question why one even feels a sexual desire given that one has no relational bond with that person whatsoever?

    comments user
    David Martin


    Thank you for your question. For what it’s worth, I’ve had an ongoing conversation with a strong supporter of MCAG on this specific topic. There is a very fine line that we’re trying to draw here, and not all will agree with how we’re trying to draw it. But I will try to clarify a few things here in response to your question.

    However, It will take more time than I have at this particular moment… so I will answer it soon. I just wanted you to know that I’m taking your question seriously.

    David Martin

    comments user
    David Martin

    Hello again, Sara.

    I apologize for the delay in responding to you. Let me see if I can clarify what we were trying to communicate.

    First of all, what was meant by saying that ” I would see an attractive woman which would heighten my sexual awareness.” was to say that there might be any number of “triggers” that remind us that we’re virile human beings. And since most of us have been raised in a culture that sexualizes the very sight of an attractive person, it often happens visually. Furthermore, the very fact that we are human beings with a sex drive means that there will be times that we become more aware of our sexuality… even independent of experiencing a sexual desire for a specific person.

    It’s not unlike seeing a billboard of a juicy hamburger might engender a keen awareness of how hungry you are, even if you really don’t want a hamburger at the moment. You are reminded of your desire for food–which you may not have been even thinking about before–but you find that the food you actually desire is something completely different. I don’t think anyone would suggest that our desire for food is driven by images, but an image can certainly bring our latent or unacknowledged desire for food to our conscious awareness.

    Now, if a man sees an attractive woman which triggers that heightening awareness of his male sex drive, but then inflames that drive into arousal by actively focusing sexual thoughts on that person, then there’s a problem… that’s sinful lust. He has no right to experience her sexually.

    I will also say this, however… that what we have described here–I believe–is really only the kind of experience a man will have when he’s still correcting his understanding of the human form, and is still experiencing residual “conditioned” responses from when he still believed and lived as if sexual responses to the sight of a beautiful woman was “automatic.” Once God has done the work to release a man from that conditioning, the simple sight of a beautiful woman is no longer a sexual trigger at all… it’s the sight of another person made in God’s image… worthy of dignity and respect, and not someone to use to inflame lust.

    I hope this is helpful. Please feel free to write again.

    Pastor David M

comments user

thanks for letting me know

comments user

Hi David,
Thank you for your detailed answer. I guess it is hard for me to understand something such as a basic sexual desire, cause to be honest I don’t experience it. I have never had this moment where I felt like suddenly attracted to guys on a physical level. I’ve always been attracted to men in a romantic way long before puberty, but I have no desire for physical closeness unless I really love someone. I guess a reason for that might also be that I’ve never experienced any pleasure when I tried to masturbate and have never even kissed or held hands with any guy.
I have always thought that that was somehow normal – only being able to feel desire toward someone you love – and have been so devastatingly hurt when I found out not too long ago, that the guy I’ve been dating for a year watches porn, looks at playboy etc. To me it is just suuuuch a betrayal of any trust that has been developed and such a betrayal of any sort of connection we had. I had the feeling he was seriously interested in me as a person as there never was any physical contact happening between us but we still talked every day and he still showed a great deal of interest in me despite the lack of physical things (also cause it was mainly a long distance relationship). I just can’t understand how he could do that to me and also to other women. He knows that a main struggle in my life was stemming from exactly that, childhood sexual abuse, self-objectification, eatings disorders and body image struggle. I am almost fully recovered from all of it, but against that backdrop I cannot understand how he doesn’t think it to be a big deal and how he is even capable of objectifying women in such a way when he knows how much I have suffered from this (actually that is how I found this site a while ago cause I had googled self-objectification and had noticed how much I still play along to the you need to be sexy if you want to have any chance at dating/”love” from a guy). I guess i’m just really hurt and at the point where I am strongly thinking I will break up with him and also at the point where I have come to realize that I might be what is called demisexual, in that I am incapable of feeling sexual desire toward someone I don’t have a close romantic bond with. I’m just so hurt cause to be honest I can’t imagine dating another sexual, but only a demisexual guy, which sort of excludes, well basically 90% of people you meet. I don’t know. It is just such a violation of trust to me and just feels like betrayal and … well I am tired of trying to make someone understand why their behaviour might be wrong and trying to convince them to change. It just betrays my understanding of faithfulness. On the other hand he was a really great guy, very caring and considerate, very giving to other people, I just hadn’t expected him to be different cause the rest of his character is so different and I’m just so shocked and hurt. What would be your take on it? Thank you for your help.

    comments user
    David Martin

    Sara, your hurt and sense of betrayal are not inappropriate at all. Your friend’s use of pornography is not “OK.” And you should not “just be OK with it.”

    His perceptions match those of our culture… that porn’s way of presenting and treating the unclothed human form is really quite “normal” and even what God expects of us. I suggest that you tell him to read through the articles at MCAG, and that you discuss the truths taught here together. You might also want to discuss this post:

    There’s no excuse for his use of pornography, but I would encourage you to try to have compassion on him… He’s made his own choices, but he’s also been subjected the the teaching of the lie about the meaning of the body… even within the church. The solution is not condemnation, but the reorienting of our minds to the truth.

    And I would encourage you to read through the articles again yourself… not because of pornography, but for the purpose of continuing your own healing in how you view your own body, especially in light of some of the abuses you have endured. It’s great to hear of the healing you’ve already experienced, but there are likely still remaining some body-acceptance issues that God also wants to free you from… the lies are so deeply ingrained in our cultural thinking that you may not yet be aware of how they are still affecting you.

    By HIS Grace,
    Pastor David M.

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