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Thoughts vs. Actions

Thoughts vs. ActionsExpecting a human being to never think sexual thoughts is like expecting monkeys to never think about bananas or expecting birds not to think about flying. Sorry, but it’s never going to happen. The sooner we accept the fact that the human brain is a sexual brain, the better we’ll be able to control (rather than try to eliminate) our sexual thought patterns.

In the spirit of making no provision for the fulfillment of our lust, here are a few practical things to keep in mind:

*Whatever you fail to feed eventually is starved to death, or at least it loses control over you. If there’s a particular person that keeps popping up inappropriately in your mind, don’t hesitate to simply go out of your way to avoid that person whenever possible.

*If this person seems to be going out of their way to be in your presence, make it as un-fun as you can. Stick to business. Don’t banter back and forth with innuendos or suggestive comments. Remember that you teach people how to treat you, and you want to be treated with respect for the faithfully married person that you actually are.

* If you’re unable to avoid a particular person that seems to be lighting a sexual fire in you, try to never be alone with this person, especially behind a closed door or in a car by yourselves. Many an office romance has started in just such a manner.

* If you must speak privately with this person (a legitimate need, not a justified desire), monitor every word that comes out of your mouth as if your spouse is standing beside you. And keep in mind that nothing is out of God’s earshot.

* Refrain from moving conversations to more intimate methods such as personal phone calls, amorous e-mails, titillating text messages, etc. No one ever went wrong by keeping things both pure and professional.

* Just because a thought enters your mind or a feeling enters your spirit about a particular person does not mean you have to act on it. I’ve thought of robbing a bank many times, but I’ve never acted on it. And I’m not fearful in the least that I ever will, especially considering the harsh consequences. An extramarital affair can certainly yield similar painful and destructive results.

Remember that thoughts and feelings that aren’t acted upon can’t possibly hurt us (or our marriage) nearly as badly as those that are.

As Martin Luther said, “You can’t keep a bird from flying over your head, but you can certainly keep him from building a nest there!” In other words, occasional sexual thoughts may be inevitable, but sexual obsessions or actions do not have to result.

Looking back over our relational histories, chances are we’ve never regretted not acting out on an inappropriate sexual thought or feeling. Right? Yet if we have acted out at times, regret has most likely come part and parcel soon thereafter. So let’s allow history to teach us the valuable lesson of mind-and-mouth control rather than having to learn it anew, shall we?

 Excerpted from The Passion Principles: Celebrating Sexual Freedom in Marriage by Shannon Ethridge. Copyright 2014. All Rights Reserved. Published by W Publishing Group, and imprint of Thomas Nelson, Nashville, TN. Used by Permission. Not to be copied without Publisher’s prior

Thinking Equals Rehearsing

Thinking Equals RehearsingImagine an actor preparing to perform in a play. She memorizes her lines, gets inside the character’s head, and tries to imagine how this person would feel and act. She rehearses being that person. She thinks intently about doing what that person would do and saying what that person would say exactly the way she would say it. The more she’s rehearsed being that character, the sharper and more “automatic” her performance. 

 

Something similar happens when we fantasize sexually or emotionally about inappropriate or sinful behavior. We are rehearsing when we think about the conversations we would have with a particular man if we were ever alone with him, when we entertain thoughts of an intimate rendezvous, or wish that a certain man would take special notice of us. When we rehearse these scenarios, we imagine what we’ll say and do in these encounters. Then when Satan lays the trap and leads that man your direction, guess what? We are more than likely going to play the part exactly the way we have rehearsed it. When we don’t guard our minds in our relationships with men, we weaken our resistance before any encounter takes place. 

But we do have some choice in the matter. We don’t have to be sitting ducks. We can train our minds to mind. 

One of my favorite sayings is: “You can’t keep a bird from flying over your head, but you can keep him from building a nest in your hair!” 

Even though inappropriate thoughts inevitably pop up into every person’s mind, we do not have to entertain them. Such thoughts are not sin, but dwelling on such thoughts is essentially rehearsing for rebellion, and acting on such thoughts is sin. We can’t keep from being tempted, but we can avoid rehearsing, and we can certainly refuse to sin. No temptation becomes sin without our permission.

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.