“Thoughts about sex come from nowhere and completely take over. It’s as if someone else’s brain were in my head.”—Vera.
“Controlling thoughts about sex seems impossible. I might as well start flapping my arms and hope to fly.”—John.
Are your feelings similar to those of Vera or John? If so, this article can help you.
Why does it matter?
“My uncle told me that God wouldn’t have given me the desire for sex if he didn’t want me to act on it,” says a young man named Alex.
Part of what Alex’s uncle said was correct—God did give us sexual desires, and for good reason. The human race exists today as a direct result of procreation. So why should you even be concerned about keeping your mind off sex? Here are two good reasons:
If you respect that standard and you’re single, dwelling on sex will only frustrate you. It could even tempt you to give in and have sex—a decision that many have said they later regretted.
Keeping your mind off sex is part of a larger issue—self-control.—1 Corinthians 9:25.
That attribute plays a key role in your success, both now and in the future. In fact, one study showed that children with self-control were less likely later in life to have health issues, financial stress, and problems with the law. *
Why is it so difficult?
Hormones—added to the fact that we live in a sex-obsessed world—can make it challenging to keep your mind off sex.
“It seems as if every TV show puts a positive spin on premarital sex, without showing any dangers. It’s easy to dwell on improper thoughts when improper sex isn’t shown to have any consequences.”—Ruth.
“At work, I overhear a lot of vulgar talk about sex, and my curiosity starts working on me. Immoral sex is made to seem so normal that it’s hard to think of it as wrong.”—Nicole.
“It’s easy to let your guard down when you’re scrolling through images on social media. One sexual image can burn into your brain and become the hardest thing to forget!”—Maria.
Factors such as these might make you feel the way the apostle Paul did. He wrote: “When I wish to do what is right, what is bad is present with me.”—Romans 7:21.
What you can do
Direct your mind elsewhere. Try to focus on things besides sex. This could include a hobby, sports, exercise, or any activity that can redirect your focus. “Reading the Bible helps,” says a young woman named Valerie. “It contains thoughts that are on a higher plane, and when you have that in your mind, you don’t really have much room for anything else.”
True, thoughts about sex may enter your mind. But what you do with those thoughts is up to you. If you choose to, you have the power to dismiss them.
“When my thoughts start to get away from me, I make myself mentally switch over to something else. I also try to identify the mental opening that I gave myself—whether it’s a song that I should delete from my playlist or a picture that I need to delete.”—Helena.
Bible principle: “Whatever things are righteous, whatever things are chaste [or, morally “pure,” footnote], . . . continue considering these things.”—Philippians 4:8.
Choose good associates. If your friends are always talking about sex, it’s going to be difficult to keep your mind clean.
“As a teenager, I really struggled with my thoughts, and a large factor was my associates. When you’re around people who encourage wrong desires, you focus on your feelings—and that just adds fuel to the fire.”—Sarah.
Bible principle: “The one walking with the wise will become wise, but the one who has dealings with the stupid will fare badly.”—Proverbs 13:20.
Avoid improper entertainment. It’s no secret that virtually every aspect of the entertainment industry features sexual content. “For me, music is the biggest factor,” says Nicole. “It can fuel desires to the point that they seem overwhelming.”
“I started watching movies and TV shows that featured sexual content. Before I knew it, I was thinking a lot about sex. It was easy to trace those thoughts back to their source. Once I cut out those movies and TV shows, I didn’t think so much about sex anymore. Being selective with entertainment makes the battle against improper thoughts so much easier.”—Joanne.
Bible principle: “Let sexual immorality and every sort of uncleanness or greediness not even be mentioned among you.”—Ephesians 5:3.
The bottom line: Some people think that their sexual urges are so important that they should not—and cannot—be controlled. But the Bible says otherwise. It dignifies us by stating that we can control our thoughts.
Bible principle: “Continue to be made new in your dominant mental attitude.”—Ephesians 4:23.
^ par. 9 Self-control is needed by married people too—another reason to develop that quality now while you are single.