The Pursuit of Power

The Pursuit of PowerMost of my single days are a tragic testimony of a young woman striving to gain some sense of power through inappropriate relationships with men. Rather than use what beauty God had given me to bring glory to Him, I used it as bait to lure men into feeding my ego. Rather than inspiring men to worship God, I subconsciously wanted them to worship me, and if I was successful in hooking a man with my charms, I secretly felt powerful.

I never realized these tragic truths until I went through counseling after I was married. I was seeking to understand why I still felt tempted outside of my marriage, so my therapist asked me to spend a week making a list of every man I had ever been with sexually or had pursued emotionally. I was shocked and saddened to see how long my list had grown through the years.

At the next visit, she asked me to spend a week praying and asking myself, “What do each of these men have in common?” God showed me that each relationship had been with someone who was older than I and in some form of authority over me⎯my professor, my boss, my lawyer.

As I searched my soul to discern why such a common thread existed in my relational pursuits, the root of the issue became evident: my hunger for power over a man. Due to my feelings of powerlessness in my relationship with an authoritarian father, I had subconsciously been re-creating authoritative relationships in order to “win this time.” Each time I managed to get the upper hand in a relationship, subconsciously seducing my prey into feeding my ego and catering to my needs and desires, it was really as if I were saying, “See Dad! Someone really does love me! I am worthy of attention and affection!”

In my attempts to fill the father-shaped hole in my heart and establish some semblance of self-worth through these dysfunctional relationships, I was creating a long list of shameful liaisons and a trunk load of emotional baggage. I was overlooking the only true source of satisfaction and self-worth: an intimate relationship with my heavenly Father. Through pursuing this relationship first and foremost, not only has Jesus become my first love and given me a sense of worth beyond what any man could give, He has also restored my relationship with my earthly father and helped me remain faithful to my husband.

I believe that many women who struggle with sexual and/or emotional integrity are still little girls trapped in a grown woman’s body, desperately seeking a father figure to give them the love they craved as a child. This pursuit of “love” takes the form of searching for intimacy and closeness, and unfortunately the world we live in teaches that this intimacy and closeness can be found only through sexual relationships. However, as many women have painfully discovered, relationships can be built entirely on sex and still be devoid of any intimacy or closeness at all, which leaves us feeling even more powerless to have our needs met.

Excerpted from Every Woman’s Battle: Discovering God’s Plan for Sexual and Emotional Fulfillment by Shannon Ethridge. Copyright 2003. All Rights Reserved. Published by WaterBrook Press, Colorado Springs, CO 80921. Used by Permission. Not to be copied without Publisher’s prior written approval.


Satan’s Limited Role

Satan's Limited RoleWhile it’s easy to assume that all of our sexual fantasies are simply Satan’s way of attacking us, let’s be real. Sometimes Satan doesn’t need any help! We’re perfectly capable of falling prey to inappropriate fantasies on our own. Jesus said that evil thoughts come not from outside ourselves, but from within our own hearts (Mark 7:21, NLT) But it’s so much easier to pass the buck and blame Satan, isn’t it? That way we don’t have to take responsibility for our own thoughts and actions.

Although Satan is definitely responsible for many sexual distortions, which we’ll discuss in a moment, let’s not be paranoid enough to think that there’s a devil waiting for us behind every bush. I’ve learned that Satan and his band of demons are limited in size and strength. Their population has not grown because demons are not physically capable of reproducing themselves.

Satan and his demons are not omnipresent nor omniscient like God is. In other words, they can’t be everywhere at all times, and although they may be able to see our actions, they can’t read our minds or know our innermost thoughts. We can rest secure in the truth of 1 John 4:4, that “He who is in you [God] is greater than he who is in the world [Satan]” (NKJV).

However, we can’t make the mistake of completely underestimating Satan’s power. Let’s recall how quickly he made his move to mess things up for us . . . and how our sexuality was his prime target.

In Genesis 2:24–25, we see how God gave Adam and Eve the perfectly sublime gift of their sexuality, and He gave them free reign to fully enjoy one another’s bodies without guilt, shame, or inhibition:

So a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife, and the two will become one body. The man and his wife were naked, but they were not ashamed. (NCV)

God’s first step toward fulfilling His divine, overall plan was forming the heavens and the earth, providing a place for mankind to dwell. His second step was the actual creation of man and woman, marriage, and sex. This pattern and plan would produce what God longed for most—people He could reveal Himself to and be in relationship with.

But it didn’t take long for Satan to try to build a very different kind of relationship with these same people. In the very next chapter, we see Satan slither into the Garden of Eden with a crafty plan to confuse Eve first, then Adam, about God’s expectation that they should not eat from the tree of knowledge (Gen. 3:1–6).

Scripture tells us that once Adam and Even disobeyed God, their eyes were opened to their own nakedness, and they were filled with such shame that they felt the need to cover themselves and hide from God (Gen. 3:7-10). This was the first “fallacy” that Satan introduced into the human mind—that our bodies and our sexuality are something we should be ashamed of.

But he didn’t stop there. As the book of Genesis continues to unfold, we see Satan distorting sexuality all the more through the introduction of seven further fallacies:

  • Polygamy (Gen. 4:19)
  • Homosexuality (Gen.19:5)
  • Fornication (Gen. 38:16-18)
  • Rape (Gen. 34:2)
  • Prostitution (Gen. 38:15)
  • Incest (Gen. 19:30-32)
  • Evil Seduction (Gen. 39:7) 

Having more than one marriage partner, engaging in sex with someone of the same gender, indulging in sex outside of marriage, sex as an act of force, sex as an act of bartering, being intimate with someone young enough to be your child or old enough to be your parent, using sex appeal to lure someone into a forbidden act—aren’t these the very things that most illicit sexual fantasies are made of? It’s time that we woke up to the fact that we play right into Satan’s schemes when we accept these types of fantasies as “normal” or simply as fodder for more intense orgasms.

Some of our sexual fantasies fall directly in line with this distorted thinking simply because we’re fallen sons and daughters of Adam and Eve. However, understanding the deeper meaning behind why these activities would appeal to someone in the first place can be incredibly insightful. Perhaps even freeing, believe it or not.

Excerpted from The Fantasy Fallacy: Exposing the Deeper Meaning Behind Sexual Thoughts  by Shannon Ethridge. Copyright 2012.  All Rights Reserved. Published by Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN. Used by Permission. Not to be copied without Publisher’s prior written approval.