I recently took an anonymous survey on the topic of female lust. The point of this post is to discuss my survey, it’s results, and what some of my own conclusions are.
Testimonies of sexual addiction of more than ten friends in the past decade have made me rethink what I’ve been taught about lust. Thirty-one women filled out the deeply personal survey, and now more than ever, I think this is an issue that women in the church can no longer ignore. We have become isolated and alone in our temptations and sins which cripples our ability to overcome them.
We also persist in defining lust based on the more well-known sexual thought life of men. Are men and women really different in this area? I think they are. Take for example this article on love and respect by Douglas Wilson, this Newsweek piece on the emerging trend of feminist erotica, and this article from NY Times about the words men and women use when they write about love. Additionally, here is a study on the differences between children living in intact biological families versus homes with same gender parents. Their study found that children with lesbian mothers were eleven times more likely to be touched sexually than children in intact biological—opposed to children with gay fathers who were three times to be touched sexually than children in intact biological families. I discuss this briefly in my review of The Last Closet in which Moira Greyland writes about her childhood under the parentage of pedophiles.
Here are a few stats from this survey:
29 out of 31 struggle with lust
25 out of 31 have dealt with sexual addiction at some point in their life
25 out of 31 have masturbated
22 out of 31 think that masturbation is wrong
29 out of 31 say their lust is exacerbated by literature and television
All are Christian
Some weightier issues:
When asked if they had someone to talk to about their struggles with lust, the majority said they have only confided in their husband. More than half of the single women had never spoken to anyone about it. Is it any wonder why women are suffering alone in the church while men openly acknowledge the universal temptations for their sex? This can also be one of the reasons some women wonder if they are gay. (Ex: If lust is truly a man’s struggle, does it mean I’m gay because I struggle with it too?)
When asked if they have ever lusted while looking at another woman, 42% answered yes. But the question was more nuanced. It read, “Do you ever look at another woman (or picture) and lust, unsure of the cause, but on close examination realize it's because you want to be like her and not homosexual thoughts? Ex: See a picture of a female model in lingerie, lust, and imagine you are her while seeking sexual satisfaction from a male partner or masturbation.”
I believe this is one of the most misunderstood occurrences. As women, we are emotional and relational. Our lust tends to center around relationships—at least that's how it normally starts. So why lust when seeing a picture of another woman? This is another instance that would lead someone to think they are gay. But I propose homosexual thoughts are not at work here. Women want to be desirable and desired. Most women would say they are discontent with something about their physical appearance, so they assume their husband (or future husband) would be happier if they looked more like her. Whoever she is. We want to be her. We want what she has: a more attractive body, sexual freedom, attention from men. There is lust at work here, but the root of this sin is envy.
Another question on the survey read, “Do you ever feel burdened or tempted to be burdened by modesty or monogamy?” Surprisingly most people answered no. But I think that is due to not having examined this overmuch. After dialoguing with a friend about this, she was able to come to a striking conclusion:
“I think for me the real root of it is envy, but not even like I said that she’s sexualized so I want to be too, but I’m envying her sin honestly. Sounds crazy, but bear with me. I’m envying her sin in that she has the ‘freedom’ to be immodest and sexual and make herself a sexual object if she wants to. I think it’s a deep root of feminism in thinking that ‘freedom’ she has is something to be desired and to envy rather than chains of sin. So our response to that envy of her perceived freedom in her sexuality is to run out and immediately express our own in whatever way we can because we’re responding sinfully to wanting what she has. Even though it’s sin. It comes a lot I think in me from viewing modesty as a burden when I’m not thinking rightly so I envy those women who are free from that ‘burden’”
God’s plan for sex has been ravaged by humankind. Our individualistic culture embraces any new idea about sexuality and reproduction, resulting in high rates of abortion, sex-trafficking, along with generations of over-sexualized children and teens. With the invention of film, television, and eventually the internet, came a people obsessed with one thing: sex. Everything is about sex. Advertisements use it to sell food, fashion, even technology. Pressure is placed on the arts to include sexual tension (if not actual sex) into anything and everything they create. We cannot escape it. But we can talk to each other, keep one another accountable, and pray for purity.
I address this further in my article, Every Woman's Silent Struggle: Fighting Lust with Sisters in Christ, on desiringgod.org concerning the issues facing the church and what we can do to help other women struggling with lust.