Men are not the only ones who wrestle with sexual purity. Women, too, struggle with sexual temptation, although it manifests itself in different ways. Women read steamy romance novels and gossip magazines. They engage in mental fantasies and visit Internet chat rooms. Women are more inclined to become entangled in "emotional affairs" with co-workers or ministry partners; and although it happens with alarming frequency, most will tell you that they never intended to become emotionally involved with someone other than their spouse. Regardless of what form it takes, it is still sin. Many Christians mistakenly believe that unless you engage in physical intimacy with another person, your sexual integrity remains intact. Nothing could be further from the truth.
What constitutes adultery or marital unfaithfulness? What are common sources of sexual temptation for women, and how can women resist temptation?
God's Design for Sex
To answer those questions, we must first recognize God's design for sex. God designed the sexual union to be an expression of the lifelong commitment made between a husband and a wife within the boundaries of marriage.
The Bible tells us that when we sexually join ourselves with another, we become "one" with that person. But sexual immorality with our bodies is only one aspect of sexual sin. God's Word teaches, "Everyone who looks at a woman [or man] with lust for her [him] has already committed adultery with her [him] in his [her] heart" (Matthew 5:28, NASB). To remain sexually pure, we must guard our heart, mind, and emotions, which is where sexual compromise begins.
Too Close to the Edge
My son, a strong-willed child, often challenged my authority while growing up. He loved to "push the envelope" or "take it to the edge." One particular afternoon, my mother, my son, and I visited the local shopping mall. As lunchtime approached, I made my way to the food court, instructing my son before I walked away, "Listen to Grandma, while I go get lunch for everyone." I left them sitting near a fountain in the center of the mall. While standing in line, I looked back to where I had left them and noticed a crowd gathering. Several people laughed aloud. Oh no, I thought. I pushed my way back through the crowd, and I saw my son, soaking wet, a puddle forming around his feet, water dripping from his clothes and shoes. My mother stood nearby, looking embarrassed. "He fell in," she explained. After making sure he was all right, I asked, "What happened?" My son responded, "I wanted to see how close I could get to the edge without falling in. I was closer than I thought and fell in!"
Many Christian women engage in similar behavior. And most, like my son, will fall headlong into sin before they realize what happened!
Wisdom for Women
So, how can we guard our hearts, minds, and emotions and avoid falling into sexual sin? The Bible gives us some clear instruction:
"Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things" (Philippians 4:8, NASB).
"Flee immorality" (1 Corinthians 6:18, NASB).
Now, here are some practical ways to integrate these Scripture passages into your daily life:
1. Avoid soap operas, gossip magazines, and romance novels. Whereas men are more visually stimulated, women respond to romance. Romantic relationships portrayed on television, in magazines and novels are not "real." They can create marital unrest and dissatisfaction.
2. Abstain from emotionally intimate relationships with members of the opposite sex. Women in difficult marriages, or in marriages where their needs for love, affection, and emotional intimacy go unmet, are particularly prone to adulterous relationships. The Bible tells us to "flee from sexual immorality" (1 Corinthians 6:18, NIV). If you find yourself in a compromising situation, take God's Word literally, and run.
3. Avoid allowing your needs to go unmet for too long a time. Are you lonely? Do you need a friend? In addition to your marital relationship, build close relationships with godly women who can encourage, support, and affirm you, women who will pray for you and your marriage. Participate in an emotionally healthy, spiritually alive church--even if your husband does not attend with you.
4. Finally, establish accountability relationships with mature Christian women, with whom you can share your sexual struggles and temptations.
In today's culture, remaining morally pure can present a challenge. The media bombards us with sexually charged images that, on the surface, entice us with the promise of fulfillment. However, in reality, sexual immorality leads to bondage, heartbreak, and destruction. Do not be deceived. True fulfillment is found in Christ alone.
Mary J. Yerkes is an award-winning freelance writer. Her published work appears in books, magazines, ezines, devotionals, and newsletters. A member of Manassas Assembly of God in Bristow, Virginia, Mary serves on the Women's Ministries Board and teaches a weekly women's Bible study where she is passionate about applying God's never-changing Word to today's ever-changing culture. To learn more about Mary, visit www.maryyerkes.com.