distracted woman
Women struggle with sexual temptation as much as men although it's more subtle. Here are 7 ways that women silently struggle. (http://www.stockfreeimages.com)

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Singles who indulge in this kind of sexually suggestive entertainment can find their struggle with temptation intensified, as I did. They may also find their future attempts at enjoying intimacy in marriage hampered.

6. Self-sex. While some experts say that masturbation doesn't hurt anyone, we are being selfish lovers when engaging in sexual pleasure apart from our spouses rather than sharing a mutually satisfying experience. I suggest incorporating a "no masturbation" rule in marriage. When sexual tension is felt by either or both partners, it's a great motivator for us to draw closer to one another, creating a stronger, more intimate bond.

Singles often think, "Once I have a husband, I won't feel the need to masturbate any longer." However, a wedding band on your finger and the freedom to have guilt-free sex doesn't always remove the craving for self-gratification.

Many women remain addicted to masturbation even after marriage. We train our bodies as to what it finds pleasurable, and once you train your body to fly solo, sharing the experience with a partner can prove challenging and frustrating.

It's often argued that the Bible doesn't expressly forbid it. However, let's be honest, when women masturbate, they don't think pure thoughts, and the Bible is very clear about that issue (see Phil. 4:8). Masturbation enslaves you and is a very proud response to our human desires. Such actions tell God: "You can't satisfy me, nor is Your Holy Spirit strong enough to control me. I must take care of my own physical desires."

But God does know what will truly satisfy you. Once you allow Him to prove Himself in this area, you will understand that God-gratification instead of self-gratification will ensure that your body, mind, heart and spirit remain pure.

7. Using sex to manipulate or control. A woman doesn't have to engage in secretive extramarital acts to defile her own marriage bed. Using sex as a reward for good behavior or withholding sex as punishment for not-so-good behavior makes a mockery of God's design for sexual intimacy. Marriage should be about ministering to each other's needs, not manipulating each other.

If you have a tendency to use sex as a bargaining tool, make a concerted effort to engage in sexual pleasure with absolutely no strings attached. Some women may also use sex as a form of control, avoiding it altogether while appearing to be disinterested.

However, a sexless marriage is a sure sign of trouble. God created us to be sexual beings and if our libido is low, there are likely medical or emotional issues hindering your natural sexual desires. Talk to your doctor or professional counselor if such is the case.

The issue of sexual flirtation should also be addressed here. Some women are too naive to recognize the impact of their words and mannerisms on men. Others are so hungry for affirmation that they will continue to jeopardize their integrity in order to fish for compliments anyway.

We must recognize when our communication begins to border on becoming flirtatious. Whether the relationship is a forbidden one or one you do not want to cultivate, keep your conversations on a level that does not lead to intimate talk and compromise.

The Rewards of Sexual Integrity Once a woman learns to guard her mind, heart, spirit and body from sexual compromise, she is free to discover the joy of connecting physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually with her husband.

To help you visualize the powerful bond that such a connection creates, imagine a light bulb and a laser beam. The power of a single light bulb is limited because it sends light in many different directions. But with a laser beam, light rays are parallel to one another, instead of fanning out in all directions. A laser beam is so concentrated that you can cut metal or perform surgery with it.

Many marriages have only experienced "light bulb sex." Because of pornography, masturbation, emotional affairs, fantasies and such, our sexual energies are often spread out in a multitude of different directions. But I want to challenge you to concentrate your sexual energies just like rays of light are concentrated in a laser beam.

There is nothing sexier or more satisfying than two people, committed for life, focused solely on each other's pleasure, and on meeting each other's sexual and emotional needs. Make your spouse the sole object of your sexual desires and the beneficiary of your passions, and you will both discover the definition of sexual integrity and fulfillment.

If you are single, allow yourself to be courted by our Creator. Focus your energies on Him. The same God whose words formed the entire universe longs to whisper into your hungry heart words that have the power to thrill you, heal you and draw you into the deepest love relationship of your life.

One day a husband may say to you, "I'm committed to you until death," but God says to all of us today, "'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you'" (Heb. 13:5, NIV).

I encourage you to draw a hard line against sexual and emotional compromise. Be honest with yourself about any hidden motives you may have and, above all, pursue a love relationship with Jesus Christ. Once you experience a love so pure and so passionate, your heart will be strengthened in a way that you never imagined possible.

Shannon Ethridge is the author of several books on sexual integrity, including Every Woman's Battle (WaterBrook), from which portions of this article were adapted.

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