More from Michael Mangis on this most interesting topic
Lust is rooted in the belief that God’s love is not enough to satisfy our longing for intimacy. Purity is the antidote. Various expressions of lust:
- Unchastity—all forms of sexual expression outside of marriage, including unfaithfulness. Fidelity and chastity
- Immodesty—attempt to stimulate sexual desire in others or in oneself thru inappropriate dress, words, actions, images or fantasies
- Prudery—fear of, or condemnation of sex and sexuality. Playfulness or passion
- Cruelty—desire to inflict physical or mental pain on others. Needs compassion or empathy
- Masochism—lust of power over another person or animal
Lust and sexuality–an easy topic. First, a couple of links about men, our culture and sexuality. First, Katherine Kirsten uncovers how our culture increasingly provides easier access to the dark basement of the soul. Second, Mike Adams over at Townhall offers five rules for rule men.
After looking at these articles, I went back to Rob Bell in Sex God where he writes about the deceptiveness of lust, “It isn’t just what lust does, it’s where lust leads.” 75 God created us to enjoy life, but when lust is in control, there is a loss of joy. Lust can lead to addiction and Bell says, “Addictions often rob people of their appreciation of things. . . Whether it’s food, sex, shopping, whatever what was supposed to fill the hole within us didn’t. It betrayed us. It owned us. And it always leaves us wanting more.” 76
But, the emptiness of lust leads to other problems. “. . . lust, over time, will always lead to despair. Which always leads to anger. Lust always leads to anger.” 78 This ties in with what Terrence Real says the connection between depression in men and addiction (in his book, I Don’t Want to Talk About It).
What do we need to do? Bell provides some questions that require a courageous and honest look inward. “To be free from lust, we have to move from being darkened in our understanding to being enlightened in our understanding. And to be enlightened, we have to ask lots of questions about the things we crave:
- What is this craving promising?
- Can it deliver?
- Is this lust about something else?
- What is the lie here?
- Where is the good in this person or thing?
- Where is the good that has been distorted?
- What good thing has God made here that has been hijacked?
- Have I been tempted like this before?
- Have I given in before?
- What was it like?
- Did it work?
- Was I more satisfied or more empty?
- What will the moment, the morning, or the week after be like?
- Is there a pattern here?” 81
A prayer that Bell suggests, “Maybe the most important thing we can do here is simply to pray, ‘God give me eyes to see the lie here.’” 80 And for any of us that have struggled with lust, we know what Bell means when he warns that it is foolish to fight the “lust” battle alone; we need others. “To be honest, if it’s us against the craving, we will often lose. It too hard. . . And when we give in, it can start to feel pointless. Why resist today if tomorrow we won’t be able to?” 80
There are others that want to walk with us in our journey of faith, even through the rocky and treacherous valleys of lust. Sometimes, we just need to reach out and ask for help.
Since I struggle with lust as much as any other man, I expected that Gary Thomas would mention Job 31:1 (I made a covenant with my eyes not look lustfully at a girl.”) in his chapter on “Eyes That See.” However, what I was not prepared for was his point that it is having transformed eyesight does not mean an avoidance of evil, it means looking on all people the way God sees them. God wants to start with our eyes and end up with compassion in our hearts. Thomas writes,
“It’s not enough to see someone and refrain from hating him. It’s not sufficient to abstain from lust, prejudice, or disdain. . . The gospel of transformation calls me to progress from not lusting to having eyes that honor, respect, and generate compassion. God wants to transform my eyes from being selfish possessors and consumers to being his servants of selfless love.” 62-63
Thomas writes about the covenant of the eyes in Job 31:1
“Make a covenant with God, offering your eyes to be his servants, to notice the discouraged, to have compassion on the poor and hungry, to see what God wants you to see through his eyes. What you once saw as beautiful you may now see as hideous; what you once loathed may now be awe-inspiringly gorgeous.” 69
I guess the problem with my eyes is worse than I thought it was and yet there is also more hope than I thought possible.
Allender in his seminar showed us how lust and anger are related in Mtt 5:21-28. He shared with us about the need to acknowledge sin in our world. Two key related sins—lust and anger
- Lust is desire gone mad
- Lust is demanding that you have a husband, children, job, money NOW
- Whenever desire becomes a demand, we have lust
- Every lust is an effort to fill a core emptiness in us that we demand to be filled NOW!
- Anger is a form of vengeance
- Anger is making someone else suffer for your emptiness
- Mtt 5:21-28 describes our universal struggle with lust and sin. If we don’t admit our sin, there will be hurt