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Lust: Not for Men Only

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We’re well into the heat of summer now, and that means many churches across the American landscape have, at some point, reiterated the modesty message for the good church ladies everywhere.

Wait. I can actually see that eyeroll of yours even from here. But, friends, don’t click away just yet. Because I am going to go where large swaths of American church culture need to go on this topic … but often don’t.

I’m talking about lust. And women.

For the past eight years, I’ve had the privilege of writing two books and hundreds of articles and blog posts for women, which then led to numerous speaking engagements. Right from the start, I noticed a trend at each event, whether in the U.S. or abroad. Invariably, one woman would wait to talk to me until the bitter end, because she wanted to confess something that made her feel doubly shameful. She wanted to talk about her lust and sexual sin, a struggle she was sure was hers alone among the women in church.

How did these women arrive at this conclusion? Because for years most churches herded the men off to talk about lust, while gathering the women to discuss modesty. While those are valid and much needed messages, they are incomplete for the culture in which we now live.

To understand the times, let’s look at the messages women have absorbed in recent years. There are stripper pole classes at the gym and women’s magazines with screaming headlines about sex and seduction techniques. The morning talk shows candidly discuss sex toy parties. “Sex and the City” becomes a major franchise while “Girls Gone Wild” captures drunken sexual escapades among college students. Abercrombie & Fitch markets push-up bikini tops to 8-year-old girls. Lady Gaga bursts onto the pop music scene wishing she could shut her Playboy mouth. Not one item is sold in the mall without an erotic image. And women are increasingly immersed in online porn.

This highly sexualized culture is the new normal for young women who grew up in the ethos of third-wave feminism’s pro-porn, pro-sex work stance. So normal that when I spoke at a Christian college earlier this year, one woman raised her hand to ask, “So are you saying that it’s bad that there’s too much pornographic influence in our culture? But shouldn’t women embrace their sexuality?”

Um, yes. And yes. That answer highlights the problem: the counterfeit has usurped the authentic. Sex is God’s idea and his good gift to be properly stewarded within his design. For that reason, the church should be the most pro-sex group there is. We have a message of hope and redemption in the morass of sexual confusion. But first we need to help the women who are confused and in our churches right now.

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