At the heart of the romance novel is the thrill of being desired—irresistibly, intoxicatingly desired. And since that genre is the most frequently visited Internet category among women, there is a lot of “desiring to be desired” out there. A lot. Since men’s idolatries get most of the attention, this is a short meditation aimed at bringing fairness to this imbalance.
The desire to be desired fits nicely into the story of evolution. The female must attract males in order to contribute to the survival of the species. So, she needs to get out there and be desirable. Some animals use vocalizations, others use physical displays. Humans use both. And human mothers seem pleased to help. They are often quite invested in helping their female offspring become highly desirable.
This cycle, however, is a disaster for humans. It is de-evolution. The desire to be desired did not serve those mothers very well. If they allow themselves a moment to reflect, misery was always close by. Perhaps the reason they pass it on to their daughters is that they have no viable alternative.
Sadly, the porn industry can profit from women with this desire. Some women pose nude because the thought of men desiring them is satisfying. It is horribly dehumanizing and shameful, but temporarily satisfying. Then other women have to compete with the women who pose nude, which is impossible but one has to try. They are always wondering who their spouses or boyfriends are really desiring.
Some women get married. But what are they to do when their husbands no longer seem to desire them, or someone else desires them more than their husbands? Divorce and aging can make the desperation even worse. Ugh.
The Way Out
The only way out of this bondage is fairly well known: desire being desired less, and desire God more. To desire less is done through confession and repentance. What could you confess? Narcissism, self-worship, fear of aloneness, a conviction that God is not so good—when possible, reach for something that is ruthlessly accurate.
To desire God more? That is a hard but wonderful path that can make you feel alive and satisfied.
Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. (Ps. 73:25)
He fulfills the desire of those who fear him. (Ps. 145:19)
This is what we want to pass on to our children.
But the way out is not something we can easily find by ourselves. Just as men benefit when they talk to other men about their struggle with porn, women will be helped when they talk with each other about their struggle with being desired. So as the church mobilizes against pornography and for desiring God with men, it can also mobilize against the need to be desired and for desiring God with women. What we aim for is to be amazed that God desires us for himself.