About sexual feelings
Are sexual feelings sin? Is it OK that I have such a strong desire to sleep with my boyfriend or girlfriend? How can I relate to these feelings? In this article I’ll try to iron out the confusion and maybe show you some new perspectives.
Do you think these questions are a bit strange, unnecessary or provocative? Perhaps you think that they’re relevant and good, or a mix of good and bad. Everyone has sexual feelings, unless they’re sick. So most people can recognise what sexuality is: a basic attraction to be near someone else and be one with them.
A basic driving force
Sexuality is one of the basic human driving forces. The psychologist Freud (1856–1939) thought there were two basic driving forces in people: sexuality and death, the creative and the destructive. Subsequently, many psychologists have criticised him for oversimplifying things. Many psychologists from different disciplines now say that the foundational need a person has is for affirmation and intimacy. Infants who don’t get intimacy will probably die. This shows just how important intimacy is.
Later on, when our sexuality awakens, this is also an aspect of this need for intimacy and deep affirmation. It involves the most intimate relationship we can have with someone. In puberty our bodies develop in pace with our feelings, which are preparing themselves for a sexual relationship. This does not mean, however, that you must have sex to ‘quench your thirst’, as if this need is similar to the need to drink when you are thirsty.
The difference is simple: sex is based on a relationship with another person, and not just any old relationship.
There are feelings and experiences that are stored up in each person’s body. A psychologist once told me that the human body is like an archive where all the feelings (both good and bad) are stored and can surface at any time. This is fascinating! Feelings aren’t temporary, they are lasting. They may seem temporary, but they can reappear anytime. If you want to change your feelings, then you have to work through them through counselling or in other ways.
If we have sex, then another person is involved. That is why it is about so much more than simply having our needs met. Sex can be one of the most beautiful things life can offer. However, sexuality can also be destructive. God has created it as one of His best gifts to us, but much of it is damaged due to the fall of man. Marriage is a help to live with the difficult and vulnerable parts of ourselves, while at the same time being loved.
These are sexual acts, but what about sexual feelings? We can also have them without being in a relationship. Our feelings are a response to something happening. Feelings don’t have willpower or common sense. So we can’t demand that our feelings behave in a set way. But neither does it mean that we are powerless when they surface. God created sexual feelings and they are a fantastic resource. It’s up to us whether we will follow our feelings or not.
Feelings are not always helpful. If you read newspapers and magazines you may get that impression, you might read about how people ‘fall out of love’ and how they just couldn’t say no to the next crush. This is far from the ideal we see in the Bible. We ourselves are responsible for our own choices. So we have to see our feelings (including sexual ones) in the context of other things that are of importance for our choices.
A lot of relationships can influence our choices, for example what friends, siblings or parents think. It may be what we’ve read, seen in films or the opinions of other people around us. The Christian groups we mix in can influence us. It may also be what the Bible says or our conviction of what is morally right. Of course, our feelings also contribute something. If they hadn’t been there, we wouldn’t be forced to make a choice.
A good gift
I believe that sexual feelings in themselves are a gift of God, but we need to take responsibility for how we relate to them. It’s natural to want to sleep with your girlfriend or boyfriend. It’s a healthy and God-given feeling. But it’s up to you whether you will act on your feelings or not. I believe sex belongs in marriage, and I’m convinced that it is best that way in the long run. However, you should thank God that you have feelings.
The Bible says ‘Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it’ (Proverbs 4:23). The Bible sets a high standard for our lives. It’s not there to discourage us when we don’t keep to that standard, on the contrary there is always forgiveness and healing available. But God wants us to make good choices in our lives. We don’t have to act on our impulses even though it can be hard not to. We’re encouraged to make choices that guard our hearts, and that make us people of strong character.
I want to challenge you not to be ashamed of your sexuality, but to thank God for it and for all the feelings He has given you. They will last your whole life, and therefore saying ‘no’ to something in the short term will lead you to saying ‘yes’ to something better in the long term. Good luck!