I saw a woman who wasn’t my wife today and I was attracted to her. GASP! Yep, the Christian guy with a Godly blog found another woman attractive. Why, Michael? Why would you say she’s attractive? Um…because she is. How can I say that so casually? Because extramarital attraction is only a home wrecker if you let it be.
Attraction happens all the time, to me and Christians across the globe. I’m not just talking pornography, alluring models, or the girls walking by in short skirts. I’m talking about casual encounters, too. I had a good female friend start working out hardcore, then took a picture of herself in a bikini with her new rock-hard abs. Thanks, Facebook. Another friend flirted with me constantly, making it very clear she was into me and probably would have had sex with me regularly. Yeah, take a look at my profile picture and convince yourself of that!
Still feel like your attraction is dirty and unclean? Listen to this: I was ogling the curvature of girls in my church. Yep, in the sanctuary. Still not enough? My busty cousin wore a low-cut shirt to Thanksgiving. Boom. I’m nastier than you.
A lot of Christians don’t know what to do with their feelings for a double-stuffed Oreo, much less another person. Do we stab our brains with forks to kill the desire? Do we indulge? Do we run screaming from the room? What do we do when we’re attracted to someone, but shouldn’t be?
Well, as a man who has had ALL of those attractions and stayed faithful to his wife, I think I can help. First, some housekeeping notes. ONE: Attractions can be emotional, but in most cases, it’s physical/sexual, so I’m mostly addressing this. TWO: Men seem to deal with this more than women, so I’m primarily speaking to the guys. But ladies, don’t feel left out; just switch the pronouns and you’ll be fine. THREE: I’m primarily speaking to Christians.
1. Accept it.
Being attracted to someone is not a sin. Read that again. Knowing this will relieve you of a lot of tension. That woman I saw earlier today who wasn’t my wife? Why did I say she was attractive? Because she was attractive. She was a very pretty woman. That’s not temptation; that’s just fact. A woman’s beauty is not defined by whether you’re married to her or not.
Attraction is a biological reaction implanted by God himself. When Adam first saw Eve, the first thing he said was “Hot dang!” (Genesis 2:23, heavily translated). Men especially are like beauty radars; we’re made to recognize and appreciate beauty and a woman is God’s most beautiful creation. Ladies, you were designed to see the attractive strength of a man and appreciate that, too. Attraction is sometimes simply recognition of God’s grand design.
Don’t blame the girl, either. Maybe she’s trying (often she isn’t), but the attraction comes from within you. Is a girl’s low bust line causing a rush of endorphins? Maybe you’re a heterosexual! GASP! Own up to your attraction, accept it as perfectly normal, and then…
2. Make a boundary.
I said to admit your attraction, but I didn’t say to act on it. In fact, part of admitting attraction is taking steps to keep it where it belongs. You can’t help recognizing beauty, nor should you, but it’s unwise to allow undue temptation. And it is a sin to give in to it. Here are some more practical ways of guarding yourself against temptation.
- When you walk past Victoria’s Secret, try looking the other way. It’s fascinating when you realize your neck can hold your head away for that long.
- Hot girl walks by, let her walk. Why should she stop being attractive because you can’t control yourself? Keep looking forward.
- Looking at a girl’s curves? Try her face, bro. Treat her like more than a body.
- Internet site getting a little shady? Try hitting that little X in the corner. Poof! All gone!
- Check the ratings on your movies. IMDB.com has detailed info, and if it’s too sexual for you, it’s a good idea to stay away, no matter how good the movie is. Love, Actually was freaking amazing. Neeeever watching it again.
- If it’s a real person, try keeping your distance. Don’t be rude or standoffish, but don’t put yourself in a place where you’ll be tempted.
- Ask God for help. Yeah, it sounds lame, but God is more than willing to help you fight anything that’s bad for you. He won’t make it go away, but he’ll show you the way out.
Whatever boundary you use, it must be effective. If hitting the X-button on that risque site only results in you opening another browser, seek a stronger boundary. Remember that persistent friend I had? Well, I was attracted all right. In fact, it threatened my marriage. Eventually, I had to cut of all contact, yes even deleting her off my Facebook. This worked, as I wasn’t bombarded by her presence anymore, reminding me of all those offers. This is a very extreme example and dealt with a lot of personal issues for me, so I’m not recommending you all do this. I’m simply stating that boundaries must be effective.
Don’t let your feelings dominate you. Use wisdom. Ask a trusted friend for help if you must.
3. Invest in What You Already Have
One of the biggest reasons I overcame my addiction to porn was loving my wife. I invested in her and I was so bleeding attracted to her that I found I was more turned on by the body that God had created than the airbrushed and silicone-injected bodies that man had made.
If you’re married/dating, invest in that person. Focus on them daily and see all the reasons you’re crazy about them: the way she flips her hair, the way she laughs, the way she beats your sorry butt in Scrabble every single time. The more focused you are on the one you truly love, the easier to avoid temptation, the easier to look away when some pretty young thing walks by, the easier to turn your mind away from fantasy into the fantastic reality you’re living.
If you are not married or dating, I still say focus on the one you love: God. The more tuned you are to him, the easier it is to turn your gaze to him instead of the world. Note I did not say it becomes impossible to be tempted or attracted. It simply becomes easier to handle.
What if it’s more than attraction?
What if I’m in love with my best friend’s wife? What if I took that sexy bartender home already? What if I stayed up imagining that celebrity naked?
If you’ve sinned, admit it. Confess to God and to your spouse/significant other. If your attraction has gone too far, admit that to someone you deeply trust. If you’re not sure you have such a friend, talk to your pastor. Confession may not seem like fun, but there’s healing in it. God shines a light on the issue not to shame you, but to burn it away.
Seek help if you must, perhaps set stronger boundaries. In some cases, you may need to actually talk to the person and let them know what’s going on; they may be totally clueless. If someone is persistently and actively trying to tempt you, you may need to take extreme measures, such as burning a bridge. Heck, some people need restraining orders to keep away. These may be extreme, but if it came down to it, would you get extreme to guard against temptation–physical or otherwise?
Don’t let attraction kill you. I certainly didn’t linger on that woman’s picture today and don’t you linger on someone who isn’t yours. Admit attraction, accept it as part of your natural makeup, and move on. Dwelling only creates unnecessary guilt. Sin is a choice, so don’t kill yourself because you thought some passing chick looked sexy in those jeans. But don’t turn your head for another look, either.
Do what you can, accept what you can’t. Keep on walking.