Noting both the Old and New Testaments mention sexual sin, a client remarked, “Why is there so much sex in the Bible?”
The Bible does talk about the dangers of sexual sin, sometimes mentioning it together with the command to be faithful to God. Both are a call to holiness. They speak about being true to God and to our spouses. I believe our commitment to our spouses is meant to mirror, in a small and earthly way, our commitment to God.
So how do we manage sexual urges and remain true to one significant other? We must refer to the Owner’s manual and the Designer’s specifications. If you try using a blender as a coffee maker, you will of course encounter difficulties.
The recently launched book, Men for Christ: Living out Our Faith, Vol II1 includes a transcript of a talk I gave on “Mastering our Sexual Desires” last year. I would like to offer three suggestions to complement what was written in the book. The letters ABC summarise the points.
A stands for “Authentic Intimacy”. All of us crave intimacy but some may have a wrong or incomplete understanding of it. For example, some men equate emotional intimacy with sexual intimacy. They wrongly think that physical intimacy can lead to emotional and relational closeness. Relationships based mainly on physical attraction tend to have shallow roots and may be short-lived.
Authentic intimacy takes time to develop. Once there, it stands the test of trials and hardships. Authentic intimacy is about being vulnerable and allowing our significant other to meet our innermost needs. Such mutual vulnerability happens only in a trusting and loving relationship.
B stands for “Beyond the Body”. We are more than just nerve endings, electrical brain impulses and hormonal urges. A purely biological model depicts us as slaves to our sexual desires, with no option but to act on them. It also holds that humankind is wired to procreate, and thus attracted to the opposite gender who offers the best chance to produce genetically “good” offspring.
However, we are more than mere biological organisms—we are moral beings capable of making responsible choices in how we live. And after our bodies die, we will bear the consequences of the choices made in this life.
C stands for “Community”. When faced with the challenge of managing our sexual desires, we may well need to rely on the support of others. Men who have faced or are facing similar challenges can help encourage and keep a watchful eye over one another. This is a community not of the perfect nor of individuals who have neither felt tempted nor stumbled. Rather, it is a community of “veterans” in a battle that carries on till our fallible human bodies give way to our perfect and permanent form.
You may notice that a common thread in all three points is to view our human desires, sexual self and relationships very differently from how they may be presented by the world.
Having a clear understanding that sexual desires are part and parcel of the way God made us and that they have a place and purpose in our lives goes a long way in helping us manage them.
1 Ho Peng Kee, Jeffrey Hong, Siew Kim Siang, and Yeo Siew Yam, eds., Men for Christ: Living out Our Faith, Vol. II (Singapore: Graceworks, 2019).
Benny Bong has been a family and marital therapist for more than 30 years, and is a certified work-life consultant. He was the first recipient of the AWARE Hero Award, received in 2011, and is a member of Kampong Kapor Methodist Church.
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