When is sexual desire natural, and when does it become disordered (i.e. "Lust")?


#21

I agree- it is a touchy subject. Honestly it’s the only serious problem in my marriage. I wish I knew the solution because even compromise doesn’t work perfectly. Spouse A is never satisfied because s/he doesn’t get the amount of sex desired, feels unloved and gets frustrated even when the other person “gives in” because even then it’s like other spouse isn’t really into it. Spouse B always feels guilt because s/he knows other one is dissatisfied and has guilt for not being a good sexual partner. And while Spouse B may appreciate the other persons pleasure during sex, s/he still has to force him/herself.

But, if the couple was truly Catholic before marriage, then both people were chaste before marriage, so it’s not even like they can discuss it beforehand. Because how can you know how much sex you’ll want if you’ve never had it?


#22

Excellent point! It’s like discussing the merits of truffles if you’ve never eaten truffles.

I don’t want to de-rail the thread from the original topic, but as I said, I don’t have an answer to the question of sex in marriage, and that’s after 45 years of thinking about it. I don’t think there is an answer.


#23

I agree that there’s no answer. But I do think it leads to selfishness, and possibly lust.


#24

The common perception that men are the ones that want more sex is only partially accurate. The perception is there for two main reasons:

  1. Men vocalize it, whereas women are more bashful on the subject
  2. Male sex drive is stronger in youth than female sex drive, which is when most people still get first married.

Biologically speaking, a female sex drive can actually be stronger in her 40s than in her 20s. A woman’s virility is more like a bell curve. The male sex drive instantly peaks as a teen, and then gradually diminishes over time. It’s increasingly common to hear of women in their 50s or 60s that are dissatisfied with their husband’s lack of desire to have sex with them. This is a subject that more or less dwelt in obscurity prior to the 20th century. It also doesn’t help if the female was diffident towards sex in their younger years. By the time she’s in her 50s and may desire intimacy more strongly than the man, the man has developed a “whatever” attitude based on the way she responded when they were younger, and instead just watches TV, hunts, hangs out, etc, even if the wife is giving him hints.

Although there’s only so much you can do about your biological sex drive, apart from perhaps popping pills, lack of sexual desire can also stem from lack of romantic stimuli. In the case of older men, they’ve failed to develop an appreciation for their wife’s beauty in her older age, which is compounded with his diminished libido. In the case of women, who are excited more by actions/words than by visual cues in the way men are, their partner might not offer much in the way of enticing her, and after years upon years of this being accumulated, she’s mostly “shut off” that part of her brain that is enthusiastic about romance & spousal intimacy. She becomes more-or-less a married nun that occasionally has sex out of a sense of duty.

Conflicts in desire for sexual intimacy are usually done by a compromise. In many cases, if the partner is dramatically less interested, there is likely something more going on here. A physiologically healthy human that isn’t ill or enfeebled ought to desire sexual intimacy with the spouse on a semi-regular basis.


#25

If your husband just keeps approaching you head-on about how he wants more sex, this will ironically probably be a turn-off for you. This is a common reaction in women and it’s God way of showing a harsh sense of humor and having a laugh, and trying to get men to love their women more properly.


#26

And that’s why I’ve always wondered about Matthew 5:28 “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” That’s an impossible command for a normal man to not break, at least on occasion. Why would our Savior command us to do something as impossible as anything in the old law, when one of the “selling points” in abandoning the old law was that it was impossible to follow to the letter? Is it wrong to think that maybe Matthew inserted that passage on his own? :shrug:


#27

My understanding has always been that there are varying degrees: 1) admiration–a pretty woman is like a rainbow or a waterfall–nothing wrong in admiring beauty 2) desire–goes beyond admiration because you think how nice it would be to …. if you’re straight, you will get these thoughts automatically–so still nothing wrong with that as long as you don’t dwell on it 3) beyond desire; now you’re in the planning stages of how to get her into bed. And this is where it turns into sin. But it’s in the planning to turn thoughts into action that things go wrong.


#28

That makes sense, thanks :thumbsup:


#29

Copy/pasted from another thread:

Recognizing feminine beauty is not lust. The attraction of male to female is in accordance with God’s design in our bodies, and is on the same automatic level as our pupils dilating in the dark. Lust is often used in vernacular language as a synonym for sexual desire, but the Church uses lust in a very different context.


#30

I agree.


#31

A person can be lustful without actually planning how to take action. Desiring a person, allowing yourself to dwell on thoughts of what it would be like- that is sinful.


#32

I agreed in my point #2–“as long as you don’t dwell on it.”


#33

But if a person is thinking about how nice it would be to…isn’t that dwelling?


#34

Not to me. I think it’s automatic. I see a pizza, I want to eat the pizza. I’m sure others would disagree. There seem to be an inordinate amount of ultra-scrupulous people on this site–although so far not on this thread–that see sin everywhere. I don’t. But that’s another topic!


#35

If you are attracted to something, by default, you also desire it. It isn’t possible to cleave these two things into separate categories.

Sexual rumination - the endeavor of fantasizing - is prevented not when this desire - somehow by magic - goes away. The only way a lack of desire itself would be achieved is if you possessed a malfunctioning body. This isn’t God’s purpose and this line of thought falls in with Buddhism, not Christianity.

But, lust is overwritten when this desire is accompanied and surpassed by another desire, which is the desire to love her, either as a wife or, for any other woman on the planet, a beloved sister, whom you would die for. When you look at her, she will always be beautiful, as she was meant to be, because she is knitted in the image of God. Indeed, if she is not beautiful in appearance, as some women are not, it is only because of original sin. When the element is sinfulness is removed, all women are beautiful just as Eve was.

So, the physical beauty of women (or men) can either be a tripwire or an aid for us. It can be an aid in that the physical appearance of her beauty is a symbol - or even a sacramental - that informs us of her inner beauty, as one who bears the image of God and possess a dignity of infinite value. The outward beauty speaks of an inward truth.
This beauty is also a tripwire, because it possesses a means of pleasure by itself, which can be corrupted and used towards selfish ends. When you commit adultery with a woman in your heart, you have offended God in two ways. 1) You are committing idolatry, because you value the woman’s body over the sanctity of marriage, which is a simile of the Trinitarian life of God. 2) You are committing violence, because you seek to take possession of her, even though she possesses an infinite dignity & value, and therefore can never be taken possession of.


#36

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