There’s no one who would really understand my struggle.
I believe that this myth exists because women don’t usually discuss their sex lives with other women, perhaps because they fear judgment. Unfortunately, these fears are often confirmed as legitimate very early in childhood when you trust a grade-school friend with a secret and she inevitably whispers it to two friends, or worse, tells the boy you have a crush on all about your confession. These experiences taught us that we must guard our deepest, darkest secrets from other women.
Some of us grew up with guys as our best friends because we felt so strongly that girls simply could not be trusted. Many of us also found out the hard way that confiding in a young man could even be more dangerous than confiding in a female friend. All a girl could do is betray your confidence. A boy could take advantage of your vulnerability and make you his next prey if you weren’t standing firm in your convictions.
Another reason women aren’t as open about their sexual struggles is because of the humiliation that comes with giving sex in order to get love. Most women don’t brag about the number of sexual partners they’ve had. That’s because for a woman, the relationship is the prize; the sex was simply the price she had to pay to get the prize. If she paid the price, but still didn’t get the prize, there is an incredible amount of humiliation that comes with that. What woman wants to announce to the world her humiliation?
Maybe if we knew how common these struggles are to women, it would remove some of the stigma behind having these kinds of “issues.” According to Dr. Tim Clinton, president of the American Association of Christian Counselors, 67 percent of all women will experience at least one or more premarital or extramarital affair in her lifetime1. That is the number of women who give in to these temptations. I believe the percentage is much higher (I’m guessing in the 90 percent range) of those women who simply experience the temptation to engage in premarital or extramarital affairs.
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to [woman]. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” Paul didn’t say, “If you experience sexual temptation, there must be something wrong with you because no one else struggles with it that much.” He said that all temptations are common. And because God creates all human beings (regardless of gender, nationality, or economic background) as sexual human beings, you can bet that sexual and relational temptations are by far the most common temptations on the planet.
What “way out” does God usually provide so that we can stand up under the temptation? Does He turn off our emotions altogether? No. Does he make the object of our desire fall off the face of the earth? No. My experience has been that the way out is usually provided through an accountability friendship with another woman who can sympathize with my weakness and encourage me to stand firm in the face of battle. As I give a trusted confidant permission to ask me the hard, personal questions and speak the truth in love (even if it hurts), I am required to examine the condition of my heart and mind much more than if I harbor these things within myself. And when I fail to live up to God’s standards, an accountability friend will sharpen me, not with harsh judgment but with a reminder to use good judgment. As I have confessed certain temptations to trusted friends and asked for accountability, I’ve learned that I am truly not alone in my struggles.
(1) Tim Clinton, Counselor Professional Identity, Function and Ethics Videotape Course, External Degree Program, Liberty University, Lynchburg, Va. Used with permission.
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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.