A reader of my blog sent me a question privately. (Btw, I don’t mind questions being sent privately. Some of you might have a question you don’t want everyone to see on the blog. That’s okay! You can find a way to contact me privately.) As with all readers, I keep his identity secret, but he was asking me a question about lust.
He was wondering if he sees a beautiful girl and thinks “Wow! She’s hot!”, if he’s guilty of lust. Friends. I can really relate to this kind of question because of the way the church has treated us. I grew up in a style that sex just wasn’t talked about and you didn’t speak about it at all, which could be one reason I speak about it so much now.
What was lust? Who knows! You’d just better not think about sex! I have since dropped that view. For one thing, I think it’s doomed to failure. Let’s face it my single male friends. We’ve mentally played out in our mind our honeymoons countless times. When we see a girl, we are not thinking “I hope she has good moral character” first but instead “Wow! She is hot!”
I don’t think there is anything at all wrong with that.
Too often, we have come with a more gnostic view to Christianity with saying that the body is dirty. Now I do place great emphasis on the soul, but the body is just as necessary to my being fully human as the soul is. This body is important. I do not believe it is accidental that God made me to be a physical as well as a soulish creature.
My body was also made to be attractive to a female, and I hope that I am. The human male body was made partially to be attractive to the human female. (Interesting that you seem to rarely hear talk to girls about controlling lust though. You will never hear a talk about a girl needing to go and take a cold shower. It’s just the guys.)
Also, the human female form is meant to be attractive to the human male, and indeed it is! I am one who has spent some nights pondering, “Lord. Why did you make women like this?” or “What makes X attribute of a lady attractive?” I still ask these questions. There is something in the beauty of the human female that goes beyond the material of the body.
I think if God made the human female to be attractive, there is no sin in giving thanks for that, and personally, there are times I have probably been spellbound just seeing one specimen of the female of the species and thinking “Wow. I didn’t know they made them like that any more.” Does this count as lust? I don’t think so.
So what is lust?
I don’t think lust is desiring sex. I don’t think it’s even desiring sex specifically with another person. I think it’s when you treat that person as an object only for your sexual satisfaction. I also think there could be some truth to the idea that Jesus is speaking specifically of someone else’s wife in the context. Rest assured men, the days before our wedding, we will be thinking about the honeymoon night specifically and I don’t think it’s a sin. In fact, I’d be very concerned if you weren’t thinking about that.
To the church also, let’s do better. We’ve been so hard on the body and on sex that young people are getting confused messages. We speak sermons on abstinence without talking about joy. I have spoken before of being in a sermon on this topic and being bored. If you are in a sermon on sex and you are getting bored, there is something wrong. (There’s also something wrong if you’re in a sermon about God and getting bored.)
We need to speak of the joy of sex more than anyone else! We need to be of the style that we will show the secular world how it’s done properly. Sexuality is not meant to be strictly a list of “Do not’s.” There are “Do’s” as well. Do rejoice in the wife of the youth! May you ever be captivated by her love! These are commands for a Christian. He is to rejoice! He is to rejoice in the physical pleasure even!
To my friend, I hope this answers your question better. To the church, I hope this shows the need for your answers better.