March 25, 2014 by Chris French
It doesn’t hurt to look, right guys…and ladies? It’s not cheating as long as I don’t touch. Over the last couple of decades this has become as much of a problem for women as it has historically been for men, thus we have movies like Magic Mike and People’s issue of Sexiest Man Alive. Lust isn’t a new problem for either gender though. You can trace it’s root in women back to Potiphar’s wife, although undoubtedly she’s not the first person to encounter lust.
So what do you think? Does it hurt to look as long as I don’t touch? Jesus certainly thought so!
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.
– Matthew 5.27-30
Adultery is the action, but lust is the driving force behind it. Jesus condemns both unequivocally. It DOES hurt just to look! In Every Young Man’s battle Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker compare lust to a sumo wrestler. He wants to get bigger so he eats more. The more you allow yourself to lust the stronger your drive for it becomes and the harder the habit is to break. You’ve fed your lust sumo wrestler so much that it’s next to impossible to beat him. You’ve got to starve him back down to a manageable size. Cut out all the glances you allow yourself, quit the porn, stop looking at fitness magazines and stop watching provocative shows. Go cold turkey. This is the only way to beat your lust problem. You’ve got to starve it down to a size where you can control it. If you’ve never read Every Young Man’s Battle it’s worth a read. They have several helpful techniques that will help you starve the lust sumo.
At the very heart of our lust problem though is a lack of intimacy. We’re searching for intimacy and we can’t find it so we pervert true intimacy into lust. You need to starve the lust sumo, but if you never deal with the driving force behind your lust, a lack of intimacy, you’re going to wind up feeding your lust again and again. If you’re married work on your intimacy with your spouse. Make sure you’re sharing everything with them. Be completely transparent. You’re also going to need a group of people around you who share your sexual standards that can hold you accountable and encourage you. I feel like this could go unsaid, but just in case…make sure the members of this group are all the same gender as you. Don’t play around with lust or you’ll get burned. The final connection we’re missing that will help us control our lust is intimacy with God. A weekend relationship with your spouse wouldn’t be good enough so only interacting with God on the weekends isn’t going to work either. For more on the intimacy side of controlling lust you can read Tactics by Fred Stoeker. I reviewed it here if you’re interested.
Here’s the weird thing about lust: it doesn’t need to be stamped out, it needs to be controlled. It need direction. Lust is a God-given desire. We’ve abused it and let our lust run wild throughout our lives doing whatever it wants. Lust has a place. That place is within your marriage. There it’s a good thing. Anywhere else it’s just as harmful as adultery.