This is the twelfth post in the 1/2 Marathon being orchestrated by the Christian Marriage Bloggers Association. There has been a lot of discussion on some of my posts this week (especially Why Do Married Men Masturbate). I’m going to answer one of the questions I received on that post. Please note, these are my perspective. I cannot vouch for all males and when I’m giving my perspective on women, I certainly cannot vouch for all women. Also, all references to gender traits are based on the average population, there are exceptions of course. Please do not be offended by these if you are not “neurotypical” for your gender. So, on to the question:
If a spouse, I’ll say husband but it can be wife, too gets aroused by someone or something, say an unexpected sex scene or flash of nudity in a movie, is it OK to turn that arousal towards their spouse, or should they turn off (for lack of a better description) that arousal instead through prayer, cold shower, accounting, etc?
I think first it’s important to make a distinction between temptation and harbored thoughts.
Temptations are thoughts that enter our mind that have the potential to lead us to sin. They can enter our mind by our senses (see, hear, etc), or they can spontaneously enter our thought (promoting by the Devil? Or just our fallen nature?), or they can come about due to a habit (sometimes for a long time even after you have quit that habit), or some other way I’m not thinking about. As I said, these thoughts have the potential to lead us to sin, but they are not sin. How do I know they aren’t sin? The Bible is pretty clear on this topic:
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.Matthew 4: 1
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.Hebrews 4:15
Now, if Jesus was tempted, it cannot be sin, because Jesus never sinned.
Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.James 1:12
So, we can be tempted and still come out blessed, it is our reaction to the temptation that is important, not the temptation itself.
So, how should we react. When I started this post, I thought the answer was a simple, but after reading the Bible verses on the topic, I believe I’ve found a three step protocol for dealing with temptation.
Step 0: Pray
I’m calling this step zero, because it is preventative. This needs to happen before you are tempted.
And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”Luke 22:40
Keep watching and praying, that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.Matthew 26:41
This, then, is how you should pray:
Our Father in heaven,– Matthew 6:9-13 The Lord’s Prayer
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
We should be praying for God to keep us from temptation. But this needs to happen prior to the temptation itself. So, what do we do when we have been tempted, because prayer alone will not keep us from it, even Jesus was tempted.
Step 1: The Word
So, the first reaction should be to rely on God. Jesus is tempted 3 times in the desert. Do you know what his reflex to temptation is? Let’s take a look:
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.Matthew 4:1-11
Three times the devil tempts Jesus, and three times Jesus answers. How does he answer? With scripture, he quotes Deuteronomy 8:3, 6:16 and 6:13 respectively.
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.Ephesians 6:14-17
We are given a full suit of armour to defend us, but only one weapon to retaliate with: the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God (IE: the Bible). Jesus, being the word made flesh knew this better than anyone. When attacked, He struck back with the only weapon that we have against temptation: the Bible. This is why reading your Bible is so important.
Step 2: Escape
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation, he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.1 Corinthians 10:13
First, we can rest assured that God will never let us be tempted by more than we can handle (or escape). But when we are faced with temptation, we should escape. Now that means different things in different situations. If we are watching something on TV and a commercial pops up that causes us to be tempted, look away. That might be enough for some people, some might need to leave the room. Some might need to not watch TV (probably not a bad idea for any of us). If you are tempted by women on the beach, leave the beach. You’re better off having missed a day at the beach than to be tempted and harbour those thoughts. It’s not as bad as losing a hand (Mark 9:43).
Extrapolation (my thoughts, not scripture)
So, on the premise that God doesn’t give us any more than we can handle, that He provides options for escape, or a means to endure and that our sexual self is to be saved for our spouse alone, I submit that having your spouse help you in these times, to eclipse those tempting thoughts by thoughts of your spouse, and I think there may even be some side benefits to this:
What if every time you saw an attractive woman, you went to your wife for a kiss. After a while, your brain would probably connect the two. Eventually, I would think, when you saw an attractive woman and your wife wasn’t there, you would instantly think of kissing your wife.
Or, if you are a wife and a handsome young man starts complimenting and flirting with you, what if you excused yourself and called your husband and told him you loved him. If you made this a habit, eventually, I would think, when someone flirts with you, you would instantly think of calling your husband to express your love for him.
So, to the point. Do I think it’s OK to redirect these thoughts to your spouse? Yes! However, I think you should both have the understanding that this is acceptable in your marriage. That your spouse agrees that you can come to them when you are feeling tempted, without fear of rejection or shame. Temptation is not sin, it does not mean you are a weak person or unfaithful. In fact, to harbour those thoughts and keep them from your spouse I think is more detrimental to the marriage than being open and communicating about it.
To answer the specific question, I think if you see an unexpected sex scene, nudity, etc in movies, that tempts you, turn off the movie, turn on your spouse. But, do not make the habit of finding movies with “unexpected” sex scenes or nudity in them. That is where you cross the line into harbouring impure thoughts, and I’d argue that you are deliberately looking for pornography, and that’s not going to help anyone. I hope people understand the difference between what I’m suggesting with this post and the secular idea of “it doesn’t matter what turns you on as long as your having sex with your significant other”. These are two very different things.
So, what do you think? How do you handle this in your marriage?
24 thoughts on “What Do I Do If I Get Turned On By Someone/Something Other Than My Spouse?”
I totally agree. I love your use of scripture in this post. We’re all tempted – what matters is how we handle it. As I said in a comment on another one of your posts, my husband and I avoid anything that might tempt us in that way, but sometimes there really are things that you’re not expecting, that you have to be able to deal with in a godly way – temptation that we must have the strength to turn away. If we’re together and that happens with a woman/image of a woman/unexpected commercial during a football game, my husband will turn to look at me, and squeeze my breast or butt or something similar, smile at me with a loving look and say, “Rejoice in the wife of your youth, and let her breasts satisfy you always,” or simply, “Your breasts satisfy me always.” (In the case of a commercial during a football game – because that’s usually the only tv we watch! – we just turn the tv off for a little while until it’s over; in the case of a woman “irl” we go somewhere else, etc.) I do the same thing for him – I always, always look away from any sexual images of men, or from men who are mowing lawns with their shirts off, etc, even though I’m not as visual as men tend to be – it’s still not something I need to see. And when we’re not together, we still take those precautions and evasive measures, and think of each other if something does throw itself in front of us. Something that’s happened often with me, is for men (or boys…..I’m in my late 20s but I look like I’m 17, so high school and college boys do occasionally hit on me…..) to try being extra “friendly” with me, talking to me and trying to flatter me, things like that. In the past I didn’t handle it very well, because it did flatter my ego; but I eventually learned to deal with it by just acting….basically, “cold,” just having a stand-offish attitude and ignoring them except for interactions that I absolutely must have. No chit chat, no pleasantries. Purely business. I’m naturally a chatty person (I was given the name “chatterbox” as a kid), and enjoy talking to people of different walks of life and learning things about people, so that took practice.
My husband says that it becomes easier to turn away temptation the longer you practice it. I’ve found that to be true as well.
I think your husband is right, it takes practice to keep your mind clean. Keep building “good” neuro-pathways in your brain and it becomes easier to follow them. So long as we don’t become complacent and think that because we haven’t struggled in a while, that we’re immune.
So true! We are never immune! My mom always told me, where we think we’re the strongest is where we’re the most likely to fall. We have to constantly keep our guard up, to protect our marriage from attack. Like J from Hot, Holy, and Humorous said, forget hedges – build a freaking wall! 🙂
Yes, I totally agree with your thoughts on this. Thank you.
Thank you for the reminder of how to deal with temptation. Our marriages can be filled with spiritual battles as Satan hates marriages that reflect God’s divine purpose of marriage. Therefore we need to know,how do deal with such issues.
Yes, our marriages are a huge spiritual battle ground. There is a Facebook group called “Your Marriage Is Your First Ministry” and I think that is an awesome statement.
Thank you for answering so well and so Biblically!
Here’s another question: if you knew your spouse was deliberately looking at stuff to get aroused, but goes to you for sex, would you refuse them?
And one more question: Would you also refuse sex with your spouse if they accidentally see something arousing in a movie, but watch it anyway with no repentance or attempt to look away and then they come to you for sex?
It is one of my fears that I’m having sex with my husband, but he is having sex with someone else (in his mind.)
Those are excellent questions. I’m going to address them as a separate post because I think they need a little more thought than just a response to a comment. I’ll try to get it researched and written in a timely fashion.
Great use of the Scriptures to lay the foundation for fleeing sexual sin.
Thank Steve. I was just doing some reading for the post and it jumped out at me. Funny, we both wrote posts on temptation on the same day.
I should add that I do not refuse my husband, but it certainly breaks my heart and makes me feel like a whores if we have sex when I know his eyes have seen things they ought not to that day.
Hmmm…maybe I should add the question, is it wrong or enabling of a wife to submit to sex with her husband who’s been straying (porn, smut, affairs) and he uses his wife to “finish” what the porn or smut or other woman started?
That is a very difficult position to be in. And I’m afraid I’m not sure what to say. I have two instant reactions that are opposing:
1) It is not OK to refuse sex.
2) A husband will take sex as an indication of a wife’s acceptance/condoning of his behavior.
I’m going to think about this, discuss with my wife, pray and see if I can find any scripture to shed some light on this for you.
This is why we think couples need to know the difference between sex and making love. If the husband is just having sex after being aroused by something else, he knows that’s wrong. It would make the wife feel cheap. But on the other hand, if the arousals happen to coincide, that’s when you have SEX.
I think I disagree with this. So, something else happened to arouse me. Why not redirect that to my spouse? I’m not actively going out to be aroused. But if something reminds me “hey, I have a sexy wife at home”, then I don’t see the issue.
I have always wondered about this. But, to be perfectly honest, I’ve never liked the idea of my husband “using” me because he got turned on by someone else. I just absolutely hate the thought. I don’t want to lay there, letting him finish his desire on me. I would feel cheap. Plus his thoughts could so easily stray to the person or thing that turned him on in the first place. Is it so easy for men to turn off those thoughts simply because their wife is taking the place of the woman who turned him on?
I can’t vouch for all men, but I know for me, if my wife is in front of me naked and willing, no other women on earth exist at that moment. Now, I’ve never been naked with another women, or found another woman willing, so I can’t say for certain what would happen, but I know from talking to others, that the draw of a willing partner (wife or no) is an extremely strong temptation. It speaks to our very core. So, can we just switch because it’s our wife whose willing? For me, Yes, in an instant. Without all that prior emotional bonding and relationship, again, for me, I doubt I could switch instantly to someone other than my wife, but I probably would feel some pull.
Well. I guess I’m just an old married woman. My husband has told me, over and over, for 25 years, “You are that million dollar babe!” We both know that I’m now in my fifties, size 16, and of average looks. Don’t get me wrong, I am very comfortable in my own skin. I’m just not, what is splashed on the pages of the current fashion magazines. That being said, my husband thinks I’m that million dollar babe because I’m there and available, have enthusiasm, seek to please, and have sexual confidence with him. His desire is for me and only me. I will never refuse him ever. If he did start to look at other woman in a lustful way, I would NOT refuse him. There is a time and a place for everything. Sorry, but the bedroom isn’t the place to put in place, the system of rewards and punishments. I guess rewards are okay in the bedroom, but you need to love your spouse no matter what.
IMO, it is the self-fulfilling prophecy. The more you make love to your spouse, the more your spouse will desire you. The more your spouse desires you, the more your spouse will make love to you. And so on. Do you see the pattern? There is nobody else in the equation. If you give your spouse what they need, there won’t be any reason for their eyes to wander. Oh, by the way, my spouse dabbled into porn at the very beginning (25 years ago). We married when he was 30. I, physically replaced that, in a quick hurry. Now, and for over 25 years, he only has eyes for me. Refusal would not have brought us to our current status of satisfaction and contentment in the bedroom.
There’s a reason Paul says not to deprive each other to avoid temptation.
Really good views and the paragraphs from bible are really good i really appreciate the auhor’s effort.
You’re quite welcome
I’d like to offer some countering thoughts to some of those being shared here. After years of reflection, careful analysis of the biblical passages regarding our sexuality (from both Hebrew and Greek study), and thinking through what is true temptation/lust rather than simply fantasy, I’ve concluded that lust and fantasy are two very separate experiences. Biblical lust ALWAYS carries with it a desire and intent to fulfill, given the right opportunity and moment, whereas Fantasy does not necessarily carry any true elements of lust but simply sexual/emotional/physical response to something that is stimulating. Fantasy can be the precursor to true lust, but it doesn’t have to if the one fantasizing guards their heart. If my wife were to see a naked woman in a movie, unless it began to create a desire and intent to fulfill her erotic stimulation with a real life experience with that person or another person, I would not be suprised or dismayed. My wife and I often comment about how stimulating this man or that woman is. We often fantasize being with other people when we are having sex with each other, but were are 100% committed to a monogamous relationship and have never strayed towards another person, and we have been married 46 years. Lust and fantasy are not the same. Does this mean I support pornography? Not so, BUT, our modern culture is literally FULL of semi pornographic images nowadays and there is absolutely no way to avoid it 100%. Unless you are refusing to acknowledge that today’s TV is yesterday’s pornography, you need to admit that what we accept today would yesterday have been considered shocking sin. Do you go to the beach or a swimming pool? If you do you are seeing more pornographic moments than ancient believers would have experienced in 10 lifetimes. TV after 9pm shows more examples of intercourse, sexually charged conversation, references to masturbation, fantasy, and adultery than could have been imagined by folks even 50 years ago. How many modern Christians have tossed out their TVs? How many have stopped going to grocery stores where tabloids feature busty women, sexy men, and stories of sexual behavior? How many refuse to take vacations where near nakedness will be evident? (think any beach in Hawaii, Mexico, the Carribbean, etc.) Some…but not very many. Why? Because in our heart of hearts we know it is not possible to avoid all sexual stimulation outside of our bedrooms and we understand this is because of how God made us. We are visually and mentally capable of being stimulated and there is nothing necessarily wrong with this unless we allow it to lead us to commit actual acts of sexual infidelity. Today’s Victoria Secret commercials are enough to illustrate just how sexualized our culture has become. Both of us experience erotic stimulation when watching such a commercial, but we have no desire or intent to seek someone else out to experience sex with other than each other. We will comment about “Did you notice the bulge in his pants?” Or, “Did you see those boobs…wow…!” Often such stimulation will lead to sex between the two of us, and do I think my wife isn’t thinking about that bulge, or does she think I’m not thinking about those boobs we saw? Of course we are…who wouldn’t? Sexual stimulation and fantasy are a normal function in the human experience, whether one is a Christian or a God despising unbeliever. It is the way we have been fashioned by God. When I read the Song of Solomon I imagine her breasts like towers, or her breasts like twin fawns, but I don’t then look around for another women to have sex with other than my wife…I turn to my wife for satisfying sex and we grow in our love and appreciation for each other and God’s way of having made us. Those experiences serve to increase our sensuality towards one another rather than create desires for someone outside of our marriage. I know some here will struggle with this definition of acceptible sexuality, but at the risk of being insensitive to those folks, I will suggest that you are probably struggling more with non biblical definitions of lust and impurity based on incorrect biblical definitions, pastoral admonitions that did more to create a false legalism in your mind, and unrealistic thinking regarding the way God has created us as sexual beings, than with true sinful desires. We are a highly sexual creation, and experienced within the bounds of marriage it is very healthy. So the next time you are watching a movie and your wife appears struck with the sexuality of a given actor, or as a man you appreciate the body of a given actress, if you see some nudity and are stimulated by it, rather than go into a legalistic shock reaction, try thanking God for how you have been made as a sexual being and turn to your spouse and give him or her a squeeze and relax a bit.
What you’re saying sounds like what people’s ears are itching to hear and not sound doctrine. I think it’s mostly lies mixed with just enough truth to make it sound plausible.
I find it appalling that you are condoning this type of behaviour.
Plus, you have fallen into the lie of “if Christians are okay with it, then God must be”. Just because Christians haven’t thrown out their TVs doesn’t mean they shouldn’t. Frankly, I think we’d be much better off if we did. I know we cut cable partially because of the commercials. I don’t remember any Victoria Secret commercials, but I’d imagine all commercials have gotten much worse in the last decade.
And the fact that you’re okay with your spouse thinking about someone other than you during sex… I don’t even have the words…
Sex is a metaphor for God’s love for His people. That would be like us being in church and fantasizing about being God and thinking that’s okay, because at least you’re feeling spiritual and you’re in church.
It’s not that I have a legalistic shock reaction to these things. Actually, I find your stance to be more legalistic. You are doing the right thing (being monogamous) but you’re thinking about other people while having sex, then you’ve missed the point. You’ve placed the works over the relationship. In my books, that’s the definition of legalism.