My pastor preached a sermon that made a huge difference for me in how I looked at other men. I had been under the impression that seeing a man and realizing he was attractive in some way is wrong. Well, he said that finding someone attractive isn’t wrong at all. It’s, in fact, natural. We are created with the capability of seeing attractiveness in other people. Acknowledging that attractiveness is not a sin. Learning this was such a relief! I used to spend time in prayer, asking for forgiveness for noticing that someone is attractive.
Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s a big difference between the acknowledgment of someone’s attractiveness and taking it another step, to lusting after that person. That is obviously sin, and we do need to make sure not to cross that line.
When I see someone who is attractive to me now, my usual response is to thank God for making them so attractive, like I would thank Him for making a waterfall or a sunset so beautiful. I also sometimes ask Him to bless or help them in some way.
This approach does two things: It lets me acknowledge what I innocently feel about their appearance (acknowledging it), and it brings God to my mind. Both work to prevent any lust that, in my past, could have crept into my mind in these moments. I’m not claiming to have reached “purity perfection,” which I’m not sure any of us will achieve this side of Heaven, as much as we’d like to. But, thinking lustful thoughts is just not what comes naturally to me anymore. That’s only because of making the choice – the continual, daily and moment-by-moment choice – to let Christ rule my life, and to fill my mind with things of Him.
After I’ve prayed, I try to always stop and think what it is that I find attractive about them. Sometimes, it’s just that they have all their hair (since I don’t anymore). Or it might be an article of clothing that they’re wearing, more developed muscles than mine (which doesn’t take much), or just a nice-looking face. Sometimes, I don’t pray at all, but just go about my business after a quick glance (that is becoming my norm, actually). It took me some time to get to the point where noticing something attractive about someone is no big deal. If you’re not there yet, go easy on yourself, but keep praying for progress.
For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ… 2 Corinthians 10:4-5
If you do cross that line into lust, you must train yourself to immediately take the lustful thoughts captive. Right away – before you’ve dwelt on those thoughts for even a second – pray for God to take them away and tell Him you don’t want them. It takes practice, but it’s a wonderful tool against lust, or any other thought that pervades your mind and has no business there. I use this method of taking thoughts captive for thoughts that Satan loves to try to plant in me; for example, lies about my worthlessness, or thoughts of past sins, and how I couldn’t possibly be a child of God.
Another thing that I have found helpful when seeing someone attractive is to look for their faults. If you’re like me, you know quite well all your own faults, especially the physical ones – all the parts of you that you wish were better in some way. What I have found is that every person has some kind of physical fault – even the “beautiful people.” Now, I don’t want to make a practice of looking down on people because of their faults (and that can be tempting, especially when the fault you found in them isn’t one that you have). And, I don’t want to use their faults to help me feel better than them. But, if I see an attractive man, I look for his flaws. Invariably, I see at least one, and that helps me to realize that, while he has some feature that I consider to be superior to mine, he also has flaws – just like I do. It helps me know that I’m okay and just like him, in that I’m flawed. That should be obvious to me, but I need a lot of reminders of obvious things to keep them as part of my normal thought patterns (and to counteract Satan’s whispering in my ear of garbage about me). I guess the bottom line is, I think less negatively of myself when I remind myself that everyone has problems and things about them that are less than perfect. It helps my self-esteem, because I used to go around assuming everyone but me had it all together in every area of their lives.