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Maybe it was an attraction you felt for a co-worker or a neighbor or a parent on your kid’s sports team.
Maybe it was a mutually-shared attraction, where you knew—you just knew—that if you gave any indication of willingness, the other person would be all in.
Even if you are confident you would never act upon sexual temptation, it’s good wisdom to have healthy awareness. Sure, temptation can be blatant and billboard loud, but more often, it’s a subtle slide, a drift toward compromising values.
And it’s not just becoming physically and sexually enmeshed with someone other than your spouse that is a concern. Emotional affairs also are a betrayal. (Some betrayed spouses say that emotional betrayal is a deeper sting than the sexual betrayal).
Temptation comes with a lot of the same calling cards of what it feels like to fall in love, so it’s no wonder our interest can be piqued. It feels good to receive affectionate attention. And to give it. Those are human experiences that are undeniably real, even if they can be morally wrong because of context.
And from a spiritual standpoint, it’s good to remember how fierce the battle is. Satan has his sights locked on marriage, which is something beautiful that God designed. The enemy is not a fan—not a fan at all—of the covenant relationship of marriage, and his go-to tool is division. Add to this arena that we are imperfect humans prone to frailties and sin, and it is the perfect storm on so many levels.
Sexual temptation isn’t quite the shocker we make it out to be.
While temptation itself is not sin, temptation is dangerous quick sand if you stand in it. And acting upon temptation is sin. Whether you have only felt sexually tempted or you have acted upon it as well, God wants to speak into your heart.
God longs for us to wrestle with Him in a way that draws us to him rather than prompts us to flee in shame. Shame is a work of the enemy (causing division between you and God), whereas Holy Spirit conviction is a work of God, drawing us to His redemption and love.
Seeing how marriage is sacred ground, God longs for us to do all we can to build a hedge of protection around it. That includes protecting it from sexual temptation.
I don’t know if I buy this idea that “we didn’t see it coming.” I do think we see sexual temptation coming. That’s why it is vitally important to know yourself. If there are triggers going off in you when you are around a certain person or certain people, pay attention to those triggers.
Treat them as a real smoke alarm, rather than the one that goes off just because you burnt fries in the oven.
Know yourself. And as soon as you become aware of the triggers, actively choose to not put yourself in situations where the temptation is going to be higher. This may suck, I’m not going to lie. It may mean you have to set boundaries about how, when and where you interact with the people who are triggers for you.
I can’t flesh this out completely to cover all scenarios, but at the minimum, do not be alone with the person with whom you feel sexually tempted. The better you know yourself, the better equipped you are to be transparent with God, to pray for His guidance and then to heed it.
The best defense is a good offense. The best offense is a good defense. However you want to phrase it, you’ll arrive at the same place. If you want to protect your marriage from sexual temptation, you and your spouse will take to heart 1 Corinthians 7:3-5.
There are many reasons God tells a husband and wife to not withhold their bodies from each other, and guarding against temptation is high on the list. So have sex. As often as reasonably possible. Not just to go through the motions, but to enjoy it as the gift God intended it to be.
We are less likely to fall into sexual temptation if we are exploring sexual pleasure and oneness to the fullest with the one we married.
I am sharing this point with caution, because I know some people will disagree with me. So if you don’t feel like you can be honest with your spouse about your struggle with sexual temptation, then I respect that. But I pray you will at least hear me out.
God works in the light. Satan works in the dark. The hidden struggles in your heart likely will become all that more difficult if you keep them hidden. Does it take courage to be honest with your spouse? Maybe more courage than you have ever had to muster.
But if ever there was time for light, it may be now. If you are hesitant in how to start, I encourage you to talk first with a professional counselor. Maybe even suggest to your spouse that the two of you together go to a counselor to talk about a concern you have. This may be even more imperative if you have acted upon your sexual temptation.
If you are the spouse hearing this news, please keep in mind how hard it must be for the person to whom you are married to admit such a struggle. If your spouse is humbly and vulnerably admitting their genuine experience with sexual temptation and are repentive, they obviously don’t want the marriage to be in jeopardy any longer. This is a crossroads moment. This is a huge opportunity for a conversation that could be monumentally important to the health of your marriage going forward.
The more honest you and your spouse can become with each other with a motive to strengthen your marriage, the less room there will be for sexual temptation.
And I have a 5 video series available on building better sex in your marriage. Great way to invest in your marriage! You can find out all about it at this link: Better Sex in Your Christian Marriage.
Copyright 2020, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog. Links may be monetized.