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4 Causes Of Sexual Fantasies And Lustful Thoughts (Matt Cline)

Matt Cline Restored Ministries
Understanding is typically the first step in any healing process.

Fantasy refers to an alternative reality that an individual creates to fulfill some psychological need. Maybe that individual is trying to escape some pain, achieve some pleasure, or fulfill some desire that reality is not granting. If you are like most people, you have probably entertained a sexual fantasy at least once in your life. Understanding the motivation behind a sexual fantasy is key, not only to purifying our thought life, but to obtaining holistic healing. If we merely address the symptom of a problem, but not the problem itself, the symptom is likely to return at a future date, or to be swapped out by another symptom of equal severity, much like the side effects of a drug.

Today, I’ve transcribed a short clip in which Matt Cline, a Canadian from Edmonton, addresses the issue of sexual fantasies and lustful thoughts. Cline is affiliated with Restored Ministries, which “works with various ministries, churches and leaders who share a passion in seeing men and women set free from pornography and other unhealthy sexual behaviour.”

In the clip, Cline identifies four causes of sexual fantasies: unfulfilled desires, sexual trauma, nurturing events, and sexual memories. Cline argues that identifying the source of a sexual fantasy or lustful thought can create an opportunity for healing to take place. Sexual fantasies, Cline explains, are an impediment to joy, peace, platonic relationships, and the abundant life that God has for us. When we understand this truth, we can begin to stop indulging them and start hating them.

Can you relate to any of the four causes? Or maybe another comes to mind? Check out the video and clip down below!

And so the beautiful thing about understanding this is that when we go to fantasy and can understand where it’s coming from, it shows us an area of our life that we have to deal with. . . but if we never understand where our fantasies are coming form, we don’t necessarily know that we have more work to do to get emotionally and spiritually healthy.

Matt Cline

For more, see the complete archive of articles on integrity.


I want to quickly share with you 4 places fantasies come from, and then give you a few things you can do today to crush fantasies in your life.

Number one, the first places that fantasies come from is unfulfilled desire. What’s an unfulfilled desire that maybe you think about? It’s something that you haven’t experienced, but you long for it. You really want to experience that thing. Maybe it’s something that you have experienced, or are experiencing right now with some frequency, but it is not with the frequency you want. [Or maybe] it’s an unfulfilled desire that you have, and you’re longing to experience it, so you go to fantasy in your mind.

The second place fantasies come from is trauma. Now trauma is a hard one because there’s a lot of work that goes into dealing with trauma, and into coming into a healthy place, but specifically with sexual trauma, it’s such a confusing thing for people to experience, because they know they’re being violated. They know that this is wrong, but you still feel the pleasure. You still feel the excitement in your sexual organs, that you’d feel in a healthy sexual experience. And so there’s this that part of trauma that marks us, and we never forget it, and so often when people go years after the trauma, they start going back to this fantasy that’s reliving the abuse that they had.

And so the beautiful thing about understanding this is that when we go to fantasy and can understand where it’s coming from, it shows us an area of our life that we have to deal with. Maybe we need to talk to a counselor or coach or get involved with a ministry that can help us walk through that, but if we never understand where our fantasies are coming form, we don’t necessarily know that we have more work to do to get emotionally and spiritually healthy.

The third place that fantasies will come from are nurturing events that we experienced in our past. And this is one that we come across regularly in our ministry. When a man, when a boy, wasn’t loved or nurtured by his mother in the way that he wanted, but then he had a piano teacher, or a schoolteacher, or a sports coach that was female, and really took to that boy. The female, who is in a position of authority, of leadership, who is older. They really nurtured that boy in the way that they were longing to get nurtured for by their mom. And then they grow up, and they start searching for pornography or dreaming of fantasies where they’re submitting to an older woman, to someone in authority, to someone who is leading them, telling them what to do.

Sometimes, it can be the opposite. Sometimes it can be that someone’s in their 20, 30s, or 40s, and they’re single. This is just one example. They’re longing for love in their life, and then they have a niece that really takes to them, and now they’re minds start fantasizing about being with someone younger, maybe even incestual fantasies. Understanding this, again, can point to something that we don’t realize is a wound in our lives that we have to deal with, but when this is highlighted to us, then we can start moving into a place of health.

The fourth places that fantasies come from are sexual experiences that we had early in life, often the first sexual experience. It was exciting. It was fun. Often, it was spontaneous. We want to relive this. We want to have the excitement of that first sexual experience, and so we relive it over and over and over again.

I don’t want to go too long, this is just kind of a summary, but think about you. Think about the common themes or types of fantasies that you go to. Which category does it fit in? Is there maybe more work that you have to do with a counselor or a coach or ministry in working through some trauma?

An intellectually curious millennial passionate about seeing people make healthy, informed choices about the moral direction of their lives. When I’m not reading or writing, I enjoy hiking, web-making, learning foreign languages, and watching live sports. Alumnus of Georgetown University (B.S.) and The Ohio State University (M.A.).


    • This article is indeed more contextual. But take trauma, for example. Working on getting healed from trauma can be a huge step in the right direction. As can finding healthy ways to fulfill emotional needs. I also think understanding where an impulse came from, and where it is going, can help us respond to it in the present. Still need to think some more about applications.

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