By guest blogger, Shannon Bond.
One of the most misunderstood areas of our sexuality concerns the mind. Foster writes, “Although all lust involves sexual fantasy, not all sexual fantasies lead to lust. How do we know the difference?” In answering the question, Foster notes, “Lust is an untamed, inordinate sexual passion to possess, and this is a very different thing from the usual erotic awareness experienced in sexual fantasy.” Sexual fantasy is a natural part of sexuality that needs redemption and submission to the lordship of Jesus Christ. When teens do not know the difference between lust and healthy sexual fantasy, guilt sets in and they feel as if they will never experience victory in this area. Then they ask God, “Why did you make me this way? Why did you give me these desires and then tell me to wait?” Giving in to temptation is not far off now.
Youth workers and parents combat this lie by helping teens to realize that sexual fantasy is a normal part of their development. Foster says, “Sometimes sexual fantasies signify a longing for intimacy; at other times, they express attraction toward a beautiful and winsome person.” Under the lordship of Christ, sexual fantasy allows teenagers to use their imagination in a positive way, glorifying God and honoring their future mate. When teenagers think that every sexual thought is sin, guilt becomes overwhelming. They deem themselves incurable sexual addicts who are without hope.
Two actions will prove helpful in this area. First, teens have to understand that temptation is not sin. Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin” (NIV). This realization can be very freeing for teens. Second, teens have to understand the role of temptation in the life of the believer. Teens often feel as if God has stacked the deck against them. Youth workers who can explain how temptation fits into the sovereignty of God and His good plan for His people will help teens immensely.
Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (NIV). “All things” must apply to temptation or we deny the sovereignty of God. Just as God used sinful people to crucify Christ, producing something good, He can use temptation in the life of the believer to produce something good.
For believers, salvation is “already, but not yet.” In other words, we are already saved (justified), but we are not completely saved (glorified). God uses temptation to produce growth in Christlikeness during our lifelong journey of justification. According to Hull and Mascarella, “To live as Jesus Lived, we must train ourselves to follow God into temptation, because in God’s skillful hands even temptation is transformational.” In similar fashion, as sexual beings, teenage sexuality is “already, but not yet.” They are sexual beings, but the ultimate realization of their sexuality, the sexual relationship between a husband and wife, has not yet happened. In the meantime, God can use sexual temptation to promote mature development in teenagers, both as Christians and as sexual beings. Teenagers need mentors who can lead the way in this area, both in the area of overcoming temptation and in understanding its role in the transformation of the believer.
- Richard J. Foster, The Challenge of the Disciplined Life: Christian Reflections on Money, Sex, and Power (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1985), 120, 121.
- Bill Hull and Paul Mascarella, Live as Jesus Lived: Transformed Character, Book 2 of Experience the Life: Making the Jesus Way a Habit (Richardson, Texas: Biblical Studies Press, 2007), 31.
Shannon Bond is in his first year as the youth minister at First Baptist Church in Bangs, TX. He is married to the former Stephanie DeBoom of Copperas Cove, TX and has three children: Raegan (6-year-old daughter), Sydnie (4-year-old daughter), and Joey (2-year-old son). He is a student at Logsdon Seminary in Abilene, TX. Before becoming a youth minister, Shannon spent 13 years as a teacher and coach.
Posted on June 24, 2008