Young People Ask . . .
Why Is It So Hard to Keep My Mind Off the Opposite Sex?
“Your curiosity about sex is a big thing when you are young,” explained young Lorraine. “You become more and more preoccupied with sexual matters.”
DO YOU spend much—if not most—of your waking hours thinking about, talking about, or looking at those of the opposite sex? Do you sit down to complete your homework, only to drift off into a reverie about some nice-looking boy or cute girl you saw that afternoon? Are your conversations punctuated by furtive glances at attractive passersby? Is it difficult for you to read, study, or even concentrate at Christian meetings and conventions—simply because you just can’t get your mind off the opposite sex?
If so, you may fear that you are going crazy! One youth confessed: “I think I might be sex-crazy or something. I mean, I’m so often thinking about girls, fantasizing . . . Do you think I’m okay?” As writer Lynda Madaras notes, when you are young, “romantic or sexual feelings can be very strong. At times, it may even seem as if romance and sex are all you can think about!”*
Sexual feelings are not evil in themselves. God created man and woman with a strong attraction to each other. This accorded with his purpose that they marry and “fill the earth” with righteous offspring. (Genesis 1:28) The Bible is also quite frank in showing that sexual relations can be a source of great pleasure for married couples.—Proverbs 5:19.
The problem is, as imperfect humans we often have difficulty controlling our feelings. (Compare Genesis 6:5.) “The desire of the flesh” can seem overwhelmingly powerful! (1 John 2:16) And because you are young, it may be particularly difficult for you to get your mind off the opposite sex. Why is this?
The Pressures of Puberty
One reason is that you are approaching “the bloom of youth”—the time when sexual desires are at their peak. (1 Corinthians 7:36) Explains Dr. Bettie B. Youngs: “During puberty, hormone levels increase dramatically. These are responsible for setting in motion all the physical changes that transform a child’s body into an adult’s. The increasing levels of hormones accompanying adolescence bring out many emotional and behavioral changes.”
What kind of changes? Well, the biggest changes often involve one’s feelings toward the opposite sex. Says writer Ruth Bell: “The body changes of puberty often bring stronger sexual feelings. You may find yourself thinking more about sex, getting sexually aroused more easily, even at times feeling preoccupied with sex. Several teenagers [we interviewed] described walking down the street or sitting on the bus feeling as if their whole body was on fire with sexual energy and excitement.” Such preoccupation with the opposite sex is one of the many “desires incidental to youth” with which young people must cope.—2 Timothy 2:22.
The Influence of the Media and Friends
The flame of this desire, however, is often fanned by outside influences. We live in a society that seems bent on stimulating sexual activity by means of television programs, advertising, books, magazines, music, and films. Reports one Christian youth who fell into sexual misconduct: “Pornography is quite common at school, and this creates a real craving for sex. I knew what was right, but my sexual feelings were strong.”
A book written for parents therefore says: “The media [have] profound influence. Our teenagers see young models their own age acting sexy and selling sexy clothes; they see adolescent sex promoted in the movies and on television.” In fact, cable television and videocassette recorders have given many youths easy access to hard-core pornography. “The media arouse the curiosity and desires of a young person,” admits one youth.
However, a book need not be pornographic on every page to be unwholesome. Consider the experience of one Christian girl. She recalls: “I read a rather nice book that had only one or two paragraphs dealing with sex. I started to skip over those paragraphs, but something made me turn back and read them. What a mistake that was! I had terrible dreams as a result.”
Your friends and associates can also have a big influence on your thinking. One book on adolescent development says: “Girl and boy watching are common pastimes that take place on street corners, in school halls, cafeterias, and shopping malls.” And when young people are not gazing at the opposite sex, they are often talking about them. “When I was younger,” admits 18-year-old Robert, “the pressures to have sex were very great . . . In the locker room, that’s what all the talk was about.” Admits another youth: “Sex was the number one topic of conversation among schoolmates, so it was often imposed on your thinking.”
It is hard to stand out as different. When your peers are constantly talking about the opposite sex—perhaps in a degrading, demoralizing way—it can be tempting to join in with them. But the Bible warns: “He that is walking with wise persons will become wise, but he that is having dealings with the stupid ones will fare badly.”—Proverbs 13:20.
The Need for Balance
Does all of this mean it is wrong to notice or want to talk about the opposite sex? No, even Bible writers took note of the fact that certain men and women were physically attractive. (Compare 1 Samuel 9:2; Esther 2:7.) Jesus, therefore, did not condemn someone simply for noticing that a woman is attractive. But he did exhort Christians not to ‘keep on looking at a woman so as to have a passion for her.’ (Matthew 5:28) In a similar way, you cannot allow yourself to be driven by blind passion. At 1 Thessalonians 4:4, 5 we are told: “Each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God.”—New International Version.
While erotic thoughts may come into the mind from time to time, dwelling on them may turn into a near-obsession, and then serious problems develop. Ecclesiastes 5:3 says: “For a dream certainly comes in because of abundance of occupation.” Yes, one preoccupied with personal desires often begins nurturing unhealthy fantasies and daydreams.*
While it is normal to have erotic thoughts from time to time, dwelling on them is another matter. Writer Ruth Bell notes that “occasionally a person will find herself or himself spending nearly all day and night in fantasies. They may come to seem more real than reality.” Consider one young girl who has got caught up in infatuation. She says: “I’m 12 1/2 years old, and I feel very strongly about a boy who attends my Kingdom Hall. I know I’m not old enough to date, but I’m having a very hard time controlling my emotions toward him.” Along similar lines, some youths find it difficult to read, study, pay attention in class, or prepare for Christian meetings when their minds are full of romantic or sexually arousing thoughts.
Serious problems can also result when a youth attempts to alleviate such arousal by masturbation. The Bible urges Christians: “Deaden, therefore, your body members that are upon the earth as respects fornication, uncleanness, sexual appetite, hurtful desire, and covetousness.” (Colossians 3:5) Masturbation is an unclean habit to be avoided by Christians and is the very opposite of ‘deadening sexual appetite.’ On the contrary, it stimulates and nurtures it. All too often, such desire becomes reality. The Bible writer James explains: “Each one is tried by being drawn out and enticed by his own desire. Then the desire, when it has become fertile, gives birth to sin.”—James 1:14, 15.
What, then, can you do to get your mind off the opposite sex? Please read the next article in this series.
On the other hand, writer Alvin Rosenbaum reminds youths: “Sexual feelings and attitudes vary widely. Some people can’t seem to stop thinking about sex while others don’t feel sexual at all. . . . Both responses are normal.” He adds: “Each person develops at a different rate.”
See the articles on daydreaming appearing in the July 8 and July 22, 1993, issues of this journal.
[Blurb on page 25]
“Romantic or sexual feelings can be very strong”
[Picture on page 26]
TV shows and magazine advertisements often promote an unhealthy interest in the opposite sex