200 Mistresses

Part two of a three-part series

I recently spent four weeks keeping track of the digital mistresses I allow in my life—every sexually suggestive message that assaulted my ears and every risqué image that enticed my eyes.  I wrote them all down in a journal, and at the end of the month, I tallied the number:

Two hundred.

Two hundred sexual images a month. Multiplied out, that’s 2,400 digital mistresses within a year’s time, way more than Solomon’s 1,000 wives and concubines. Guys, that’s not a skirmish. That’s an all-out blitzkrieg.

By and far, the most widely used entertainment mediums were covers for books, music, and movies (18%), website ads (17%), TV shows (14%), and commercials (14%). There weren’t many surprises when it came to the those outlets. But I was surprised at how often my innocent and passive actions still led to suggestive encounters. I couldn’t look at free Kindle downloads without scanning the covers of Harlequin novels. I couldn’t enter a department store without seeing swimsuit displays. And I couldn’t spend a couple of easy hours watching TV with my wife without picking up my notebook half a dozen times. And let me tell you about embarrassment—my wife was suddenly very aware of all the times I noticed another woman’s body.

There were a few times I wondered if my journal was worth the effort. Toward the end of the month I was tired of the constant journaling, burdened by my sudden awareness of battles, and unsure if my measures were making any real changes. And then one night I had a dream. Most of the time I don’t put stock in my dreams, but this one stood out. In my dream, I was playing chess in the woods with one of my brothers (I don’t play chess, and especially not in a forest). A car pulled up nearby, and a woman wearing a bikini stepped out.  And here’s the part that blew my mind. In my dream, I looked away. The moment I realized she was wearing something revealing, I turned my eyes away.

This was the reassurance I needed from God that He was beginning a new work in me. Even in my dreams, He was giving me the strength and ability to guard my eyes and thoughts, to make a covenant like Job did: I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman.

I love my wife, and she deserves my greatest efforts to keep a path far from sexual temptation, wherever it resides. That doesn’t mean I cut off all forms of entertainment, but it does mean I become more aware of my choices and make some difficult decisions to reroute my life around sexually explicit images.


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

6 thoughts on “200 Mistresses

  1. You mentioned that as a result of your journaling experience, your wife was suddenly aware of every time you “noticed a woman’s body.” As a woman, I’m curious: is every notice of a female body necessarily connected with sexuality?

    Throughout my personal life and in my work experience as an advocate fighting human trafficking, I am constantly aware of the fact that our culture refuses to perceive a woman’s body as anything but sexual in nature. When I attended conferences, I was expected to dress and act in a professional attractive way, to give power and impact to my message. When I’m working out, I’m expected to somehow disguise that same energy that board room maneuvering depends upon. Women all over the world are repeatedly told, from a variety of sources, for better or worse, that their only power (and shame) lies in the degree of sexual attractiveness that they naturally possess or meticulously cultivate.

    During your month of journaling as you perceived women’s bodies, did you ever find yourself noticing women for reasons other than sexual? Did it ingrain an image of “temptress” alongside the image of “woman” or did any encounters surprise you?

    Disclaimer: I completely respect your wife and certainly don’t expect a response if you deem this train of conversation crosses the line between desktop publishing and too-personal conversation with a stranger. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Jon, thanks for taking the time and the risk for all our sakes. I am enjoying the series and look forward to the next part.

  3. Thanks for your thoughts, Reisytal. During my journaling, I didn’t connect every notice of a female body with sexuality, just as I didn’t struggle with lust every time I saw an attractive woman. I tried to limit my journaling to when it should be embarrassing for me to physically be in the same room with my wife and the objectified woman. Thus I journaled every time a TV show showed a sex scene, every body lotion commercial that ran its camera up and down a woman’s naked skin, every time my eyes fell on a CD cover depicting a woman in a sexual position. It is those times that the message tried to focus my attention on sex rather than on her God-given beauty as a woman.

    I’d say that nearly 100% of my journal entries came from entertainment venues rather than with a woman I met in person. The journal gave me a picture of the times of day, places, and moments that I feel the weight of lust the most. I’m not going to tell a woman that she can’t wear tighter gym clothes when she works out, just as I’m not going to struggle with lust every time I visit the beach. However, if there are days that it’s a greater struggle to keep a pure mind, those are days I may choose not to go work out at a gym or surf the web.

    God created women beautiful – and He called his creation good. Our world, and especially the entertainment industry, has twisted a woman’s physical beauty into a sexual commodity. My journaling didn’t ingrain an image of temptress next to the image of every woman, but rather it opened my eyes and saddened me to how often entertainment only values a woman for her sexual appeal.

  4. Jon, I am very happy that you are fighting this fight. You are a hero to me. And your dream is no surprise to your constant struggle. This struggle is your personal chess game. Your brother represents all other guys out there that may or may not be interested in fighting their lust. You hope they all follow but regardless, you know yourself and fight or what you believe is a truly good and right thing to become. A holier and better person.
    You are my hero.

    And to the lady that commented about women feeling a pressure to be attractive, and asking if girls are always seen to men as a sex object or otherwise: no offense but lady, you don’t understand at all the male psyche. And you don’t understand at all how the media and entertainment industry and marketers are always trying to associate women with desire and sex. They are conditioning the men to see women as sex objects. And women don’t even realize how damaging they are to men when they dress in a flirty way.

    I am so glad I found this blog. (via the stupendous marriage website). Thank you so much for your encouragemnt with this very important topic.

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