Sexual Temptation. This is just one of those topics. We don’t talk about it enough and when we do talk about it, men typically don’t leave this conversation feeling empowered or encouraged. More like Guilty.
It’s like this awkward place no one wants to go…this box where we both (a) somehow assume it is a male problem and (b) somehow believe that Godly Christian men should be allergic to sexual temptation, and the ones who feel tempted are obviously not Christian enough. That’s like saying that simply because a woman is Christian, she shouldn’t be emotionally responsive to compliments about how beautiful she is, to chivalry, good manners or being pursued. Different conversation for another day.
Before I get in, though, here are a few important foundational things to keep in mind as you read this:
A) The issue of sexual temptation is not a “male” problem or issue. It is a human problem.
Women have sexual desires too and they’re not all pure.
When we talk about sexual temptation, it’s impossible not to feel this undertone in the air that somehow, succumbing to sexual temptation or cheating is a problem of men and by men.
Here is the truth that is always refreshing for men to hear once in a while: Being a man is not the problem. You are not the problem.
It turns out that in many societies, women cheat almost as much as men. Current stats are around 60 Men and 40 Women. Yeah, 35-45% of married women will cheat on their husbands or boyfriends…and the numbers are equalizing fast. So, this is not entirely a “male” problem.
B) This is not an article against women either…as though women are a “problem.”
In other words, just because men are not the problem, that doesn’t mean women are.
These are just thought processes that good men can flood their minds with quickly to defend against moments of temptation. These are “eject button” thought processes. Places men can quickly go to aggressively eject themselves from a tempting situation.
C) Notice I didn’t title this “How men can “avoid” sexual temptation” or “How men can ensure they never get sexually tempted.”
That’s because I think that while a man can do his best not to put himself in vulnerable situations, it is quite possible (even as a Christian man) to find himself around a woman who doesn’t share those values or in tempting situations that arrive without warning.
What I am attempting to do here is to offer practical advice on how to handle the very moment you realize you are IN temptation…where you are FEELING tempted. What I am trying to offer men here is different thought processes they can use to reduce their feeling of temptation or escape it when it is escalating.
D) Heads up – This article will be totally useless for men who DON’T want to refrain from sexual temptation or who DON’T think that it’s a noble thing to pursue high personal or spiritual standards about sex.
Now that said, where are some places men can go within themselves…some thought processes they can bring to the surface of their minds to help get through a moment of sexual temptation. Here are 11 of them.
L1) Look at women in whole and in context, not in part:
They say that we men are very visual…and that is often true. What we men need to quickly remember in moments of temptation is that: WHAT we are looking at is not always WHO we are looking at.
With women, what you see in NOT always what you get. In order to reduce the chance of falling too deep into that moment of temptation, just quickly remind yourself that women are more than what they physically present. There is a whole person behind what is being presented, and you may not like what is behind the curtain. (character, attitude towards life, world view, insecurities) and a host of other things that would immediately start making her look and feel less and less attractive to you.
This is not about walking around thinking about how possibly terrible women are just to “protect yourself from temptation” or for any reason at all. No. This is just about being able to pull the eject cord from your cockpit - no pun intended - in a moment of thought or action that you may regret.
2) Don’t deny a woman’s beauty. Instead, admit, compartmentalize and invest.
This is especially for good men in committed relationships or marriages. When you see an attractive woman, I know most men usually feel this instant feeling of guilt or knee jerk reaction to either deny how attractive that woman is or to say something cute like telling himself that she is not as beautiful as his wife and stuff like that. That’s very cute and noble.
The problem with that is that it can’t be used successfully ALL the time….WHY?
Because it IS possible to meet a woman who you consider more “physically” attractive (for example) than your wife or current lady. When that happens, and as a defense mechanism and because you’re trying to be a good man, you go to the politically correct thought of “she is not really THAT pretty” or “she is not as attractive as my lady,” a big part of your mind may call your bluff and say “eeerrrrrrmmm who are you fooling, Based on your own standards, YES SHE IS.”
Then, you’ll start having this weird feeling inside…and you’ll start having this internal battle where on one hand you don’t want to sound like a cheater or disrespectful to your wife or lady, but on the other hand you’re looking at this woman who is obviously pleasing to your eye or tempting for whatever reason.
If you admit this woman is attractive, you feel dirty. If you say she isn’t… that she is just a fiction of your imagination, both your left and
right brain call you a liar. So what do you do?
Here is an alternative that can be great if you use it with maturity:
Instead of telling yourself that that woman is not pretty or that she is not THAT attractive or that she is not as attractive as your lady, and getting into this comparison conversation (which is unhealthy in the first place).
a) Admit and compartmentalize her attractiveness:
One way to spin that is to say “Sure, she IS pretty/attractive…but that’s all I know about her and this attractiveness is only a small part of who she is.”
Another way to spin this is to admit that she may be pretty or more “physically” attractive than your lady, but that physical attractiveness is not the most important thing to YOU about your lady and that your lady beats out every other woman in an overall comparison of those things that matter to you. (Like putting up with me, raising my children, holding our home together, staying prayed up, and being my partner or whatever you come up with).
It’s like you put the attractiveness you see into a small box and leave it there.
b) Figure out what you like about how this woman presents herself THEN IMMEDIATELY work to invest that same thing in your woman:
See a woman wearing a dress you like, buy it for your woman. Like a hairstyle, come home with screenshots of your Google research of that hairstyle and salon money.
If you do see a dress you like on another woman and buy it for your wife with the explicit information that you saw that dress on another woman and thought she - your lady - would look great in it or even better, most women would not be upset.
Result: The very thing that was meant to drive you apart brought you together.
3) Do not EVER hold back in explaining your sexual needs to your wife:
Men typically shy away from this because somehow when they ask for “more” sexually, men feel like they are asking for too much, men feel like they are being too needy, and men feel like he should just be happy he is getting some.
This couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Do not be shy about having conversations with your wife about what will make you happy sexually. Women aren’t shy about asking for what they want emotionally or in other areas of the relationship.
In fact, if men don’t meet those needs, there wouldn’t even be a relationship. Yeah…that’s how serious women are about having their needs met. As a married man, better to sound needy, weak or like you’re asking for too much and talk to your wife about your needs, than to be out there vulnerable to temptation.
Now…before I move on to the next few points, it’s important to mention that when good men do these points above, it requires a mature, emotionally grounded and level headed woman to handle these things well. The work is by no means just on the man to “manage HIS sexual temptations”. Yes…even the management of sexual temptation is a partnership.
4) Do Math:
That’s not a typo. Try it. Next time you are in a moment of sexual temptation that you want to end, give yourself like 30 seconds of somewhat difficult math to do in your head (no writing or tools).
Like literally just stand there and in your head, work through random continuous calculations you give yourself:
100-17(answer) -7 (answer) + 23 (answer) – 14 (answer) x 0.5 (answer) + 11 (answer) x 2(answer) ….and see how quickly the blood rushes back UPWARDS.
It is very hard…nearly impossible to remain in a moment sexual temptation when you are really mentally engaged in solving a challenging problem.
5) Remind yourself that YOU are giving IT up too:
When we say “give it up” regarding sex, who is society typically referring to? The woman. As though women are the only ones that give “something” up…as though the woman is the only one with a valuable “IT” to give up. Well, that’s not true…and more men need to be raised knowing that. The more a man thinks that the woman is the only one that has something of value to give up, the harder it will be for him to resist temptation.
This is going to sound a bit nuts but…the reason why many men fall into compromising situations is that men tend to have low sexual self-esteem.
In other words, men tend to be conditioned to think that what they have to offer sexually is worth little value to women and that women are the ones with something to offer.
Men spend so much of their relational lives being the ones in pursuit and going through “relationship interviews” that many are just thrown off when a woman shows “that” type of sexual interest.
I think that things change a bit when men realize that they too have an IT that they are giving up. Now this may sound all lofty at this point and I don’t know how each man will define his own IT, but I do know that the more men believe they too are giving “IT” up, the easier it becomes to manage sexual temptation.
Joseph in the Bible had an “IT” that he didn’t want to give up. Try and find yours.
6) Remember that even though women seem to have more at stake physically and emotionally when it comes to sex outside marriage, men have more at stake spiritually:
Think for example of David and Bathsheba in the Bible and their resulting “sentencing,” if you will. Of course Bathsheba shared the pain with David of losing their child but David got a lot more heat from God. God went after him hard.
His punishment was – (2 Sam 12:10-12) Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’ “This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.”
Yeah, his sons basically killed each other and all those other things happened. God does not play with us men when it comes to sexual sin.
I am still thinking on why…but throughout the Bible form Abraham to Joseph, Samson, to David, etc, God either seriously honors men who don’t give in to sexual temptation it or goes hard after men who do.
7) Fight masturbation:
This is especially important if you are an unmarried man. If you can’t control sexual desires with yourself, you won’t be able to resist it with another person.
If you have an issue with masturbation, it might be very difficult to escape sexual temptation. If you can’t curb the need to masturbate at least most of the time, it will be difficult to beat off – no pun intended - moments of sexual temptation.
8) Practice NOT looking:
Quite often, it’s hard not to see, but you can practice not to look. Once you see something or someone on your radar that can cause you to mentally go to places you shouldn’t, prayerfully practice not looking. I think it helps when you just play that game in your head where you constantly try to outdo yourself in not giving attention to those things or situations that make you feel tempted and then celebrate your wins. Over time, as simple as that sounds, it helps to build confidence in yourself that you have the capacity to show restraint.
9) Decide before the opportunity:
John Maxwell said something that has stuck with me. “You cannot manage a decision you have not made.” Now…this may sound so cliché but as a man, have you actually made a decision on sexual temptation? Like…have you ever sat down to articulate your belief system and decision when it comes to sexual temptation? What line will you NOT cross? If you haven’t, it will be difficult to manage it if/when the opportunity comes your way.
So…what are your decisions about sexual temptation?
10) Pray about it:
As basic or unpractical as that may sound, the truth is that it’s very hard to go from a meaningful session of prayer right into sexual temptation. Stay with me here. Any time you feel it rising, go into meaningful prayer in that very moment and that will help a ton.
In fact…for unmarried couples who are trying to stay pure during courtship, praying at the very beginning of your “hang out” helps A TON. I think prayer (meaningful prayer) helps because you get to articulate exactly what you are feeling and get it “off your chest” to a God that does not judge you but understands exactly what you are feeling and appreciates it when you honor him by doing something different than what you feel, for his sake.
11) Know when it’s strife talking:
Married men NEED to hear this. When you are angry/upset with your wife, you are very vulnerable and susceptible to temptation. So, you must be very careful how you mentally, emotionally and spiritually manage conflict in your home. Otherwise, the conflict will not only drive you apart, it will drive you away into situations you wouldn’t think you’d be in.
I may not have all the answers and, heck, half of these may not apply to you but I know it’s one of those topics we don’t talk much about in a practical way so I wanted to offer some practical thoughts on it. I hope it helps someone. All of us are on a journey and no one is perfect. We just have to continue to do our best and do the things that will set us up for success as men and as husbands.
That’s it! For now at least. If you are a man, and have any PRACTICAL advice that other good/godly men can benefit from, please share below. God bless you my brothers!
Tobi Atte is a certified Neuro Linguistic Programming Practitioner, motivational speaker and the writer behind IJustMetMe, a lifestyle website for young adults who need a good dose of daily inspiration to tackle tough life issues. Tobi is also the author of the new book How to Make Sure Your Values are Aligned: A Guide to Avoiding Relationship Frustration. For more on relationships, motivation, fresh perspectives on faith, personal improvement and more, read/learn more at www.ijustmetme.com, watch him on YouTube HERE and download his free e-book HERE.