As a result of some very interesting conversations with a few counseling professionals, in particular Chris Legg, LPC, I’d like to propose that there are three words that best describe the various types of sexual thoughts:
- Auto-Erotic – automatically produces sexual excitement or pleasure without association with another person or intentional external stimulation8
- Erotic – intending to arouse or satisfy sexual desire9 within marriage through an activity that is perfectly acceptable to both spouses and not expressly forbidden in Scripture
- Illicit – disapproved of or not permitted for moral or ethical reasons,10mainly due to the relational context of the participants not being married to one another
Applying these definitions directly to our sexual fantasies, auto-erotic fantasy includes sexual thoughts that come into our brains completely unbidden. In other words, we didn’t conjure them up by looking at pornography or reading a romance novel. The thought simply came to us-out of the blue-either in our dreams or our random thoughts.
Should we feel guilty for auto-erotic thoughts, dreams, or fantasies? Many do, but there’s absolutely no reason to beat ourselves up over what happens naturally in our human bodies, even if those thoughts “turn us on” sexually. We can simply choose not to act on them. I believe this is what it means to take a thought captive and make it obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5).
Based on some research that I stumbled upon recently, it would be impossible for humans not to be turned on by random auto-erotic thoughts. There are several nerves that run directly from the genitals to our brains, so thoughts that cause the sexual parts of our brain to light up are also going to light up our loins! And any sensations to our genitals whatsoever can trigger these nerves to send sexy messages to the brain. In other words, we couldn’t turn off all sexual thoughts if we tried, unless, of course, we severed this bundle of nerves altogether.11
So let’s do ourselves a favor and give up the guilt over all sexual thought. It’s simply unrealistic to expect this of ourselves. Like expecting elephants to give up all thoughts of peanuts or monkeys to give up all thoughts of bananas! Not gonna happen.
8. “Auto-erotic,” Dictionary.com, accessed July 9, 2012, http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/auto-erotic?s=t.
9. “Erotic,” Dictionary.com, accessed July 9, 2012, http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/erotic?s=t.
10. “Illicit,” Dictionary.com, accessed July 9, 2012, http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/illicit?s=t.
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.