One sultry Friday night in south Texas I was turning on my sprinkler system. Because of an extended drought the city only allowed grass watering between midnight and six a.m. No big deal to me since I was a night owl.
As I walked across my backyard, I noticed my neighbors’ lights were on. Curious as to why they were up so late, I approached the fence and looked through the slats. I expected to see a handful of people playing cards inside their home. Or at least, I convinced myself that’s what I expected so see. Instead I saw a hot young brunette talking on the phone. That wouldn’t have been any big deal if she had been dressed. But she wasn’t.
Instantly my eyes locked on her. Adrenaline raced through my body.
In that moment my mind flashed back to the night I was playing on the swing set in the backyard of the home where I grew up in Roswell, New Mexico. As I swung up and down, to my right, I saw my older sister’s bedroom light turn on. A moment later one of her high school friends, with the body of a goddess, undressed in front of the window. At the time I couldn’t believe my good luck.
Yet on that balmy night in Texas I wasn’t a kid. I was a thirty-year-old pastor, with a gorgeous wife, a son . . . and . . . and . . . and I wondered, What am I doing?
After gazing at her for a few seconds, I pried myself away from the fence. Okay, it might have been more than a few seconds. But it wasn’t a minute . . . definitely not a minute. Anyway, as I walked away I felt intoxicated by the spectacular beauty of that naked woman’s body. And I couldn’t help but wonder why the form of a nude female would affect me that way.
Since that experience, I’ve addressed thousands of men around the world and talked personally with hundreds more. I’ve administered confidential surveys to find out what men are thinking and doing. In the process, I’ve discovered a reality that will no doubt surprise you as much as the presence of salt in the sea — namely, every man, Christian or otherwise, has his own personal battle with lust. Those who disclaim such a battle are either in denial or lying. I guess they could also be dying and just too sick to think about sex. But even dying men may have sex on their mind. My eighty-seven-year-old father was talking about sex just hours before dying of pneumonia. The point is, if you’re a man you’re wired to enjoy the beauty of a woman, and that enjoyment can take your mind and body to some sinful places with severe consequences. And I suspect you’re reading this book because you’re trapped in a sinful place and want out or you want a map to keep you from going there. Before providing you with such help, I want to talk about the question raised on the night I saw that au naturel brunette. Namely: why do naked women look so good?
As I basked in the belief that I had banged out the last line of the last paragraph, a thought occurred to me. The more I contemplated this thought the more it bothered me. The thought flowed from my observing that a lot of Christian men, maybe even you, think it’s sinful to enjoy looking at a beautiful woman. Such thinking is reinforced by writers and Christian experts who, in an attempt to call men to sexual purity, decry not only adultery and pornography-fueled masturbation, but the act of drawing pleasure from a woman’s beauty as well.
I just finished reading a popular book written to help Christian men live sexually pure lives. While the book provides helpful insights and practical suggestions, the author gives the impression that whenever a man derives pleasure from looking at a woman — he seemed to mean any woman in any situation — other than his wife, he has committed adultery, or at least foreplay, in his heart. In essence, he seems to insist that the magnetism a man feels for a beautiful woman who is not his wife is always fueled by and feeds sexual lust. So the author coaches the men to never look at a woman except his wife. With such super-spiritual and utterly impossible standards, is it any wonder so many Christian men live under a load of failure and guilt?
I’m convinced your ability to enjoy the beauty of a woman is a gift from God. That doesn’t mean God would approve of your feasting your eyes on Internet porn or the gyrating hips of the skimpily dressed girls who dance during a beer commercial. Nor is it okay for you to check out the lingerie ads in the morning paper — an entry point ritual for me. But I don’t buy into the idea that if you’re walking through a park and a gorgeous girl walks by it’s wrong for you to notice her beauty and enjoy it. Would it be okay for you to ogle her? Or to follow her so you could continue “enjoying” her beauty?
Umm . . . do you need me to answer that question? Come on . . . you know the difference between glancing at a gorgeous girl and locking in your visual video recorder and capturing her every move for future reference. The key issue is for you to enjoy a woman’s beauty without compromising your character and using her excellence to feed your lust.
“Okay,” you may be asking, “how do I accomplish that?” I’m convinced the first step down the path of sexual purity involves understanding why naked dogs look so dressed and — more importantly — why naked women look so good. Once we understand the sacred gift God has given us, we’ll realize why we should cherish it and keep it pure.
The Mystery of a Woman’s Beauty
When I saw my wife’s body for the first time, I beheld something heavenly. Nothing in all of creation compared with the beauty of her nakedness. Being the modest type, she refused to run, or even walk, around our apartment naked . . . even though I pleaded with her. I simply couldn’t see enough of her unexcelled naked beauty. I remember feeling as though I shouldn’t stare. But I wanted to stare.
Evolutionists strip the mystery from a woman’s beauty. They tell us men are attracted to naked women because of natural selection. They reason that if men didn’t find women attractive, they wouldn’t be inclined to reproduce. While that makes sense, it also reduces sexual magnetism to a purely biological, animalistic experience. It isn’t. God created men with sexual appetites. He wired us to be attracted to women. There’s more here than some sort of accidental evolutionary programming. The book of Proverbs addresses the magnetism between a man and a woman. Agur, son of Jakeh (some of those ancient Jews had weird names), described four things too amazing for him to understand. One of them was how a man loves a woman (Proverbs 30:19). That ancient sage couldn’t decipher the mystery of the magnetism between a he and a she. So why do naked women look so good? The answer may disappoint you like the punch line to a very long and bad joke. You see, there’s something about the buzz men get when they look at a beautiful woman that defies understanding.
It’s kind of like sleep. Did you know that nobody fully understands why people need to sleep? Doesn’t that seem odd to you? Researchers understand what happens when we sleep and what occurs when we’re sleep deprived. They can even state the benefits of sleep. But nobody knows exactly why humans need to sleep. Similarly, we don’t know why naked women look so good to men. God has created something wonderful for you that defies understanding.
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Adapted from When Good Men are Tempted by Bill Perkins.
Copyright © 2007 Bill Perkins. Published by Zondervan, used with permission.