It seems that what we learn in psychology class and what we might learn in Sunday school about the topic of sexual fantasy are miles apart. And perhaps you’ve already wondered, “Which approach does Shannon take to sexual fantasy? A psychological one? Or a theological one?
May I ask one question in response? Why does it have to be an “either/or” question? Why can’t it be a “both/and” question? In other words, isn’t it possible to embrace both a psychological and a theological perspective on sexual fantasy?
I believe we can, and that we’re wise to do so. After completing a master’s degree in counseling and human relationships from Liberty University and completing certification as a life coach through the American Association of Christian Counselors, I’ve learned that psychology and theology don’t always contradict one another!
First, let’s consider what psychology says about fantasies. Here are just a couple of examples, taken from my Human Sexuality textbook from Liberty University:
“Fantasy is a safe way to experience a sexual activity that a person might not morally, safely, legally, or maybe physically, be able to do in real life. The only limit is your imagination.”1
“Because they allow us to indulge our impulses without social constraints or conventions, sexual fantasies provide an interesting window to our evolutionary instincts.”2
For the Christian man or woman, this perspective can sound scary at first glance, as if it goes completely against what we’re taught in Scripture. However, the same textbook also says:
“Acting out a fantasy [can be] cause for concern if it involves pressuring or coercing an unwilling partner, goes against your value system, or puts you or a partner at physical or emotional risk.”3 (italics mine)
“. . . you can control the content of the fantasy with deliberate scripting, editing, and casting.”4
In other words, some psychologists take into consideration that if certain sexual fantasies create spiritual guilt or inner turmoil for an individual, that’s a bad thing. And most psychologists acknowledge that we do not have to let fantasies control us. We are mentally capable of controlling them, which is also what the Bible encourages us to do.
(1,2) Chris Hedges, Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle (New York: Nation Books, 2009), 68.
(3) Ibid, 82.