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Girls in Church: A Tough Trigger

January 14, 2010

Girls in church can be a trigger for guys recovering from sexual addiction.   

I haven’t heard this trigger talked about much.  We worry about the triggers on TV, Movies, magazines and pornography a lot.  We talk about triggery girls on a college campus, or the girls at work that are triggery for us.  But have you ever thought that many have struggles with the girls at our own churches.   

Some girls at church dress as seductive as the girls outside of church.  Low cut shirts, low cut jeans, skinny jeans, exposed undergarments, short skirts.  It doesn’t make it easy for a guy to be pure with his eyes. 

Church girls flirt too.  Some are acting out sexually.  Some are doing everything else.  But flirty girls are very triggery to guys.  

Skanky and flirty girls need to be discipled by older women in the church.  They may not realize that they are a problem for guys, but they need to be taught.

A more subtle trigger for guys are the nicely dressed girls at church.  You don’t have to be scanky or flirty to be triggery.  Some guys are attracted girls who dress preppy, or professional.  They may have acted out in their fantasy life or on the computer with pornography that involved girls who dressed more sophisticated.   

If this is your type of trigger, it doesn’t have anything to do with the girl.  The well-dressed girl is not doing anything wrong.  She is only trying to look nice in church.  You are the one who is sexualizing this girl in your mind.   



1.  Church is a public place – For a guy in recovery, all public places can be challenges.  He is out of his structured environment and cannot control what someone wears or does in public.   

2.  We are already struggling with lust – It shouldn’t surprise us that we bring our lustful mind into church.  If we are fantasizing about girls outside of church, it’s not a big step to be fantasizing about girls in church.   

3.  You know many of the girls in church – When we grow close to girls we have a tendency to sexualize the relationships.  We think the relationship is more than it really is.  But if a girl is flirting or giving off sexual signals, it makes it even more difficult.  We get to know a girl, then we are turning her into an object of our fantasy. 

4.  Something for our eyes to do – Church can be quiet and sometimes boring for us.  We are used to noise and activity.  Our eyes naturally roam, and our minds follow.  We don’t know how to focus properly on worship.   

5.   The forbidden – Churches don’t talk about sexual things.  They are shunned, and a person is outcast if he confesses to sexual struggles.  This leaves room for our minds to kick into fantasy.   

We also like the pursue the things of the flesh.  Sexual things are especially bad in church, but that’s where our mind wants to go.  Our wicked minds take us to bad places with the well-intentioned girls in church.   

6.  Spiritual battle – The enemy will do anything he can to distract us from worship and from drawing closer to God.  We feel an extra layer of shame if we are lusting after church girls.  After all, we shouldn’t be doing that in church!  The enemy even uses a church environment to trip up God’s chosen. 



1.  Talk to someone safe about it – You’re not the only guy struggling with this.  Bring it out into the light with someone you trust.  Confess it to your brother and get discipled. 

2.  Sit in different places – There should be places in your church that have less visual stimulation.  Sitting near the front is usually better.   

3.  Adjust your schedule – Go to different services or a different class.  Walk a different way to the auditorium if there is someone triggery you normally talk to. 

4.  Pray before you enter – Give your church time to God.  Ask Him to be with your eyes and your mind.   

5.  Close your eyes – This is very helpful.  Close your eyes during worship, the choir special, or the sermon.  Let your mind focus on God and not what the person is wearing in front of you. 

6.  Take off your glasses? – A buddy of mine told me that he took off his glasses in church when the girls are triggery.  He’s blind as a bat, so good fix!  His words:  “I already know what the pastor looks like.  It’s better to just listen!”  (nice)



I’d love to hear your thoughts on girls in church.  Leave a blog comment or email me privately at

  1. January 14, 2010 12:29 pm


    Good words!

    I once had an opportunity to hear Dr. Howard Hendricks, a professor at Dallas Seminary, author, former chaplain to the Dallas Cowboys, and simply a great teacher. He once said in a seminar, “It is a SIN! for a pastor or a church to be boring!” While he did qualify this (as he should), it is a very good statement. Church needs to be exciting, refreshing, and inspiring, especially for addicts. Someone at Celebrate Recovery once told me that his goal was to make the music at CR not so reflective (as this could cause depression in some) but more joyous, glorious, praising, loud, etc, similar to Chris Tomlin’s goals when he writes worship songs (not too loud but louder than average which forces a person to sing loud). As a seminary grad, I find church to be extremely difficult for me. However, I did get another piece of advice from Dr. Hendricks’ seminar. Later he suggested things like: (1) if church is boring, or even if it isn’t, chase your rabbit trails in the Bible. If something the preacher says catches your ear, chase it. (2) Or study the given passage on your own during the sermon: Observation, Interpretation, Application, Correlation (study method from his teaching and can be seen in Living by the Book). These things help me probably more than anything else I do.

    And, as you said, “Our eyes naturally roam, and our minds follow. We don’t know how to focus properly on worship.” However, worship should also be qualified. Worship is more than any service as surely would you echo. And typical American worship is not the only way. Yet on the other hand, it is for us to train our minds and develop self-control allowing the Spirit to manifest Himself in us in that way. This is pure war.

    And finally, another couple options to dealing with temptation at church are: (1) to move places during the service/class or (2) simply to leave church. Clay Crosse tells a story of going to church alone. Renee tells the story:

    “When he came home, he told me that an attractive woman had sat down across from him. He started feeling tempted, so he got up and moved away. My initial thought was, I can’t believe you are so weak you can’t sit in a one-hour Sunday school class without being tempted! But I didn’t say that. Instead I asked, “So did you sit there and lust after her?”

    “No. Absolutely not,” replied. “I didn’t get to that point, Renee. When I felt myself being tempted, I ran from the temptation rather than giving in.”

    Then it hit me. Instead of being angry that Clay had been tempted, I needed to rejoice that my husband was now a different man… (I Surrender All by Clay & Renee Crosse, p101)

    Thanks for another good post Jeff.

  2. January 14, 2010 3:09 pm

    I’ve done the glasses thing, actually. It is helpful. Makes me think about Jesus’ words about gouging out the eye that causes you to sin. 🙂

  3. JeffTN62 permalink
    January 14, 2010 9:41 pm

    There is a place where I believe we should obtain in our Christian walk where you can have true intimate pure relation towards a woman as Jesus did with the women he related to in his life that is my goal- I’m not there yet! I try to remember a woman at church or anywhere are someone’s sister, mother, daughter, etc.. pray for them..understand its part habit and part underlying validation that being dealt with in me- it has become easier over time as I have eliminated the triggers I can control- TV, movies, magazines, music- don’t listen to a rock song that puts imagery in your mind or read on Fox News the latest Hollywood starlet acting out… red carpet mishap, beach expose story with accompanying video in the name of conservative news.. someone explain to me why Fox news has this stuff on their site… they’re not TMZ or E News…! What keeps me honest is getting up before my Celebrate Recovery group and saying Hi I’m Jeff, I’m a Grateful believe in Jesus Christ and a recovering sex addict.. I do the sobriety chips for our CR group so I say that with Women in attendance… the thought use to shame me it now gives me freedom and hope.

  4. Paul R permalink
    January 14, 2010 9:50 pm

    Any comments on the book “How to get a date worth keeping” I was sent this book by the people who wrote the book.

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