But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively.
— Jude 10
I just read an article about a YouTube social experiment where an attractive woman walked up to men on the street and asked if they wanted to have sex with her. According to the report, she asked fourteen. The yeses and no’s were split down the middle, seven and seven. Some of the yeses might have been joking. Some of the no’s were apparently offended, some simply uncomfortable because they were with girlfriends or relatives when approached.
I wonder if any who said no had a cognitive dissonance between lustful thoughts and surface opportunity. Maybe this thing, this offer, this holy grail of craven sexual appetite — no-strings-attached instantaneous sexual availability — proved shocking, mentally discombobulating when put right out on the table.
There is a way fallen men tend to think about the sexual attractiveness of women. And then there is a way Christian men are commanded and empowered to think about the sexual attractiveness of women.
A man in bondage to his flesh will think blunt, fleshy thoughts: “She’s hot. I want her. The things I would do . . .” The thoughts aren’t even that articulate in the mind. They are impulses, images, urges. But make no mistake, there are clear statements of desire underneath the surface, buried by the immature groanings of lust. The statements are these: “I want to make her mine. She exists for me. I want to treat her like an object of my pleasure. I want to use her.” But of course if we were striving for authenticity, we’d probably replace “her” with “it.” The objectification in lust is that severe.
Those are the real aims of the appetite-driven man, even if he never acknowledges them or even thinks them.
The Christian man is faced with the same temptations. But having been indwelled by the Spirit and united to Christ, he is learning to discipline himself, to make a covenant with his eyes (Job 31:1), to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). So he thinks actual thoughts — clear, articulate, intentional thoughts. He says things with his mind, not just feels things with his libido, that address the sexual attractiveness of the woman he has encountered. He brings clear thoughts up to the surface. He is not a dog in heat. He has the fruit of self-control. He may think in the moment, “She is hot,” but he also thinks, “She is a person with a soul, a person made in God’s image, not to be used or exploited, not even in my imagination.” He thinks, “She is somebody’s daughter. She could be my daughter or my sister.” He thinks, “She is to be cherished, protected, honored. She is not to be exploited by me or anyone. She is not to be lusted after.”
Of course these sound like alien thoughts to many. They are not “natural.” And that’s the entire point. Christian men are men who have been supernaturalized, so they will think these thoughts. Christian men will think clearly and Christianly and clearly Christianly.
And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
— Galatians 5:24
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
— 1 Peter 1:13