I’ve heard some say the inherent appeal of the female form should be traced to evolutionary theory. Man sees woman. Man likes seeing woman. Man wants woman. And so, the species continues. The purported idea is that man’s desire to survive is the driving motivation behind all actions. Life must go on, and the more women a man garners, the better the chance his genes will rise above those of his competitors and be perpetuated throughout the ages. Followed to the logical conclusion, the argument is that men have no choice in the matter, no ability to deal with wandering eyes and no control over their genetics.
That idea creates problems, because we are responsible for actions; we are not mindless machines. So what do we make of this, and how can we see things rightly?
In approaching this topic, let’s first go all the way back to the beginning. God created Adam and saw that it was not good that he was alone. God then paraded the animals before this lone man so he might name them and also to allow Adam to recognize his lack of a mate (Gen. 2:18-20). Even in a perfect world, while enjoying the presence of God Himself, God gave Adam a longing for a mate. So, God crafted a woman, bone of Adam’s bones, and flesh of his flesh. Awakening from his sleep, he found presented to him a woman fashioned for him alone by the Creator Himself. The first recorded words of the first man were spoken as a result of viewing Eve for the first time, “This at last…” (Gen. 2:23). It sounds like he has been longing for her for quite some time, though according to the biblical account, it was likely a matter of hours.
Imagine the scene: two people, fresh from the hand of God’s pure, creative power. Very likely, we may safely say that no individuals have ever been both as brilliant and beautiful as these two were since sin had not yet tainted their understanding and appearance. The first couple on earth, still sinless, enjoyed an unblemished world in perfect bodies.
Adam and Eve (and so, we too) were made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27), and bore certain unmistakable marks of His image, yet they were given a divine mandate to function as ambassadors of God by ruling over creation and also by having children (Gen. 1:28). This was a command given to bring glory to God Himself (Is. 43:7).
How would obeying God by having children bring honor to the Almighty? The fulfillment of this command would result in God’s image being spread over the surface of the earth to all corners of inhabitable creation. Thus the knowledge of God and the glory of God would be manifest by those made in the image of God as they co-ruled alongside Him.
We also find that, because there was no sin in the world, neither of them had any shame of their nakedness (Gen. 2:25). That was the last time a human relationship existed unmarked by shame, pain, grief and conflict.
When sin entered the world, so did physical and spiritual death (Rom. 5:12-14). Sin twisted humanity’s view of the original intent and dignity of being made in the image of God, Adam and Eve began to age physically, and most tragically of all, they experienced separation from God Himself. They wove together fig leaves in order to cover their nakedness to hide their shame (Gen. 3:7). God, in turn, covered them with animal skins (Gen. 3:21). Something died to cover their sins. Blood was shed. A sacrifice was made by God (Heb. 9:22).
Fast-forward to Revelation. The new heaven and earth are described in terms that remind us of the original Garden. The river of life flows, trees bear life-giving fruit and precious stones abound (Gen. 2:10-17; Rev. 21:18-21; 22:1-3). God’s restorative plan includes “re-Edenizing” the world. God will have His mandate fulfilled; the universe will be full of His glory (Hab. 2:14).The bible begins with creation and ends with re-creation. Clearly, the latter surpasses the former; Eden will not come close to the glory of heaven.
In Christ we see the beginning of our redemption and the gradual restoration of the image of God which will be ultimately accomplished by Him. In the meantime, we live in the “in-between.” We are not fully perfected by God now, but if we know Him as Savior, we don’t remain controlled fully by sin as He transforms us (2 Cor. 3:18). We still wrestle with the common struggle of a sinful world, but with restoration in mind, not judgment.
But what does that have to do with the nature of attraction?
In order to answer that, bear in mind some things…
There was only one Eden.
There is only one restoration.
Satan, the world and the flesh seek to counterfeit that restoration.
Back to the woman…
God created men to be visually stimulated and to desire the beauty of a woman. And God knew exactly what He was doing when He crafted the female body and formed a being that would appeal to men. There is a very good reason for that: the desire for and enjoyment of a sexual relationship in marriage (1 Cor. 7:3). God created sex as a great thing (just read The Song of Solomon). But it is not just the beauty of a naked woman that is the issue. It’s an “intimacy thing.”
We want the intimacy. We want to know another and be known. We desire to be with another without shame and to become one. That is what marriage is designed to give, even though we must battle sin and insecurity in order to experience it. Marriage offers a small taste (in a sinful world) of what we will experience when all is restored, and we are in perfect relational harmony with each other and with the eternally-faithful God Himself. That is why we are called to loyalty to one wife (Prov. 5:15-20). Marriage is practice for heaven.
All of this brings us to the point of women who are not our wives…
A part of us remembers Eden, and left to our own devices, we try anything we can to recover what was lost in the Fall and sinfully try to restore things by ourselves rather than by God’s plan.
It’s been said rightly that the hearts of men and women are wired by God to ask two different questions. A woman’s heart asks, “Am I worth it?” She needs reassurance that she is pursued, treasured and loved. A man’s heart asks, “Do I have what it takes?” He needs confirmation that he is appreciated, valued and respected.
For the woman of the man viewing porn, the message is clear, “No, you are not worth it. You are not worth fighting for. You are not treasured, cherished or loved.” It is a powerful, sinful weapon that will crush her heart and rob her of security.
But, in answer to the man’s heart-question of whether or not he has what it takes, porn, strip clubs and the immoral woman offer this lie: “Yes, you do have what it takes…and more. What a man you are! Look how bare I am before you. I trust you. You are wanted. Here I am, for you.”
Porn is a sin-twisted glimpse of what it means to be vulnerable with another. When we, as men, are down, hurt or lonely, the lure of false intimacy is strong. Any sexual sin promises the intimacy and openness of Eden. It promises knowledge and nearness without any shame. We are hard-wired, by God, to desire that.
But sexual sins, including porn, fail to deliver. Sexual sin, whatever it may be, requires no discipline to achieve it, no time to build it, no trust to enjoy it. It breaks the heart of God, circumvents His perfect plan, damages the ability to hear His word clearly, hurts earthly relationships, devalues women and leaves one empty. Ultimately, we are trying to regain a communion that can only exist by the power of God in a perfect realm. When we desire to let our eyes rove, it’s a good indication that we are not living satisfied with God.
This is true for any type of sin. When we sin, we believe that what we are doing will bring us happiness. It’s a passing pleasure (Heb. 11:25). The enjoyment never lasts, but we want to believe it will. All sin is a false path promising to lead us back to Eden. One day, in heaven, we will experience no lies, no struggle and no death and forever live in peace, joy and perfection.
But the world, the flesh and Satan all whisper to us that reality then and there isn’t enough for the here and now. The appeal of sin is we know things should be different than they are, and the seductive lure of that knowledge tugs at our deepest, God-given desires for restoration. We turn a good gift bad.
We must remember that only God can satisfy our greatest needs, our deepest desires and our strongest longings. The thirst we have is the thirst He gives for the water only He can supply.
“The young man who rings the bell at the brothel is unconsciously looking for God.”
– Bruce Marshall in The World, The Flesh, and Father Smith
“The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust in them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself, they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers.”
– C. S. Lewis in The Weight of Glory
“There is only One Being who can satisfy the last aching abyss of the human heart, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ.”