In my 23 years of speaking and lay counseling with women on sexual issues, I’ve uncovered several popular myths that I believe confuse the issue and make sexual integrity far more challenging. Although at first glance you may not believe that you subscribe to a particular misconception, I encourage you to read about it anyway. We are often only aware of what we believe in regard to the things we have actually experienced but are undecided about our beliefs regarding the things or feelings we have not yet experienced. If we understand these myths and the lies they are based on, we’ll have a stronger defense if and when we’re tempted in one of these areas.
There’s nothing wrong with comparing myself or my husband to other people.
While it is common knowledge that women often compare themselves to one another and compare their husbands to other men, one may ask, “What has that got to do with sexual and emotional integrity?” To answer this question, let’s first go back to our definition of a woman of integrity: Her thoughts, words, emotions, and actions all reflect an inner beauty and sincere love for God, others, and herself. When we compare ourselves to others, we put one person above the other. We either come out on top (producing vanity and pride in our lives), or we come up short (producing feelings of disappointment with what God gave us). Regardless of how we measure up when we make these comparisons, our motives are selfish and sinful rather than loving.
Let’s be honest. When we compare ourselves to the large woman we saw in the cookie aisle, we may waltz through the parking lot with our groceries, feeling good about ourselves because we feel thin. We feel attractive. We may even feel powerful. If our obsession with our body continues, we may even open the door to further temptations. We may experience a yearning to prove that we are more attractive than other women. Some have taken this to the extreme by landing in bed with their best friend’s husband. How does this happen? It begins in a mind obsessed with comparison.
Or perhaps the opposite scenario plays itself out: We walk through the produce section and notice the local ballet teacher squeezing the organic tomatoes. We look at her perky breasts and tight behind and we feel like an overripe watermelon. We feel huge and sloppy. We feel powerless. We wonder who would ever want to be with us. Such feelings can lead us to become a victim of seduction. When we focus so much on superficial appearances, our self-esteem can become so low that if a man takes notice of us, we are pleasantly surprised and become affirmation-seeking missiles. We begin to hunger for a man’s approval so much that his flattery and attention can manipulate us.
Not only can we attract unhealthy relationships with men when we feel intimidated by or superior to other women, we also miss out on something we all desperately need: intimacy with our sisters. Whether we are single or married, our sisters often keep us connected to God’s love in a way that a boyfriend or husband can’t or won’t. If we could stop competing and start connecting with other women, this battle for sexual and emotional integrity wouldn’t be nearly as overwhelming. Remaining connected to healthy, loving friendships can keep us out of bed with the next guy we meet and help us satisfy our longing for emotional fulfillment.
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.