Lust: A Topic We Just Don’t Talk About…and Are Dying Because of It

I don’t remember hearing much about lust in church growing up. My most vivid memory was on a Sunday morning when the guest speaker (no pulpit guy in his right mind would have done it then) used the word “masturbate” in his sermon. Now, I don’t remember a whole lot of sermons and I don’t remember the names of all the guys I heard preach as a child much less the reaction of the congregation to particular points in particular sermons. Needless to say I can recall with great clarity who said it, what they said, and how the congregation responded. I will only let you in on the third…the older folks let out an audible gasp while the young people gave him their undivided attention for the next 20 minutes.

That reaction points to a deeper issue…some of the most relevant and important topics are left untouched and unpreached because in some instances our sensitivities have outweighed proper biblical priorities.

The failure of the old bird’s nest analogy:
The only thing I can really remember really being taught about lust in church  growing up (aside from the above story) was that it was the phrase, “It is okay to let a bird land on your head but don’t let it build a nest.” In other words, seeing someone and thinking they are attractive is one thing but taking that a step further in your mind was a sin. The next logical question in the mind of a teenage boy is this, “at exactly what point does the bird’s nest building begin?” One might think answering that question was honest to goodness application of the lesson! I realize looking back that the question is immature.What we should have been taught is this – If we love and value people as God does we won’t have to spend time figuring out when the nest starts getting built…we will have a heart so in tune with God and so aware of the inherent value of others that lust won’t be a part of our thinking.

As humorous as we can make it…what is tragic about the story above is that it is far too common. As serious as this topic is…so serious that Jesus says if you have lust issues gouge out your eye (more on that later) and that is all I have ever heard taught on it? Don’t you think anything a parent or teacher thought might result in your eye being gouged out would have motivated them to teach you about it? How foolish is that? Most parents don’t educate their kids on this at all. Before we can raise young people properly, we have to realize that training our kids to see people from a godly perspective of worth and value won’t happen overnight. We also have to realize someone has to be able to speak openly and honestly about that and not make it such a shameful topic that we neglect giving our children and even adults a biblical perspective about it. That means church leadership needs to make room for these kinds of topics to be openly discussed. Too often this topic is shunned because it seems embarassing to have to talk about this in public.

Our young people are dying for lack of biblical training in this area. Notice I said training, not just teaching. This is not about talking to our kids about this. We have to walk alongside them and help them understand and deal with their God-given urges. We have to help them understand that the urges are natural and that what is important is the proper/biblical context for acting on those urges is the context of marriage. This will take breaking out of our comfort zones for the sake of our children’s future. Someone has to do it and we can’t just hope someone else will step in and fill in for us in the role of bringing up our kids.

The Crocodile Analogy
I think it was Tommy Nelson who said that our lack of teaching our kids about healthy sexuality is like a tourist who visited Egypt. He saw all these guys sitting around the banks of the Nile. They were missing arms and legs and were all bandaged up and dying. So he asked someone what happened to all of these people. A local told him that they had a crocodile problem. Just then a crocodile came out of the Nile and bit a guys leg off right in front of him. He asked the local, “Why isn’t anyone talking about people and warning them about what is going on?” That is where we find ourselves…all kinds of wounds and scars because people were too timid to tackle this issue and do the preventative education that would have saved our children countless hurts.

Hunger Games: A Satire on Entertainment and the Ultimate Form of Consumerism

Missy and I watched the Hunger Games. What stood out to us most was what we saw as a satire on American entertainment and the ultimate form of consumerism. In the Hunger Games, the dominant culture has basically enslaved their subjects into 12 districts. Those 12 districts provide raw materials to their overlords and entertainment via the Hunger Games. The Hunger Games is a mandatory event where each district sends two of their teens to compete in a battle to the death called the Hunger Games. What is more, society watches the battle and is entertained by the violence, bloodshed and drama they see.

In their world, there is no value to human life except what that life can provide for others in the form of raw materials to maintain the lavish lifestyle of the dominant culture and entertainment. There is a conversation in the movie where the president of that country has a conversation with Seneca Crane, the “gamemaster.” They talk about hope and how the purpose of the show is to offer a false hope to the workers to keep them going without stripping so much hope that they revolt. The reality was, there really wasn’t any hope at all if people could just see under the hood at the inner workings and attitudes of the Games and their creators. These are the ultimate consumers…they aren’t just consuming goods. They are consuming peoples.

We think people who act like that are confined to extreme groups in history (like the Nazi’s) who see people as having little to no value. But maybe our culture has embraced that far more than we can imagine. It hasn’t resulted in physical murder but in effect, we have murdered our entertainers with our thoughts. This consumerism and underlying value system is a part of Reality Television. We put people on the screen and form an entire industry around the drama in their lives. Often that drama includes their suffering. They typically aren’t valued for anything but the entertainment they provide. If they stop being entertaining (in the movie, death) they stop being of value to society. Missy and I have watched the Bachelor and Bachelorette from time to time. After watching the Hunger Games we have vowed to never watch it again. We do not want to take part of an entire industry that is profiting of the pain of others. People watch it for the drama, but if you dig beneath the surface the show doesn’t exist solely to produce drama. The show exists to produce an industry off the ups and downs of real people. We laugh at things that if they happened to our best friend we might cry over. We make fun of people we don’t even know. We are, in principle, the same audience you will see if you watch the Hunger Games, just not yet to that extreme…the attitude is the same. People exist for our entertainment. That is not godly and is destructive.

Dallas Willard put it this way,

“Love is not the same thing as desire, for I may desire something without even wishing it well, much less willing its good. I might desire a chocolate ice cream cone, for example. But I do not wish it well; I wish to eat it. This is the different between lust (mere desire) and love, as between a man and a woman. Desire and love are, of course, compatible when desire is ruled by love; but most people today would, unfortunately, not even know the difference between them. Hence, in our world, love constantly falls prey to lust. That is a major part of the deep sickness of contemporary life.” (Renovation of the Heart, 131).

Willard’s point is that true love is concerned with the well being of the other person. Lust is only interested in desire and desirability itself without a genuine interest and concern in the well being of the other person involved. The attitude of love is, “What can I do for you to make your life full?” and lust, “What can you do for me at the expense of your self?” I am afraid our country is addicted to the second.

Anyone else get any “aha’s” from this movie?

Two Free E-Books for Men Struggling With Pornography and Sexual Addiction

Pornography and sexual addiction is the elephant in the room in many congregations around the country. I heard one statistic that as many as 50% of Christian men in America struggle with some form of sexual addiction. How many men is that in your congregation if that statistic is true? That adds up pretty quickly. What is more, many ministers are also wrestling with this issue. We will be reaping the destructive results of these addictions in the church for many, many years.

It is important that Christianity puts its collective foot down on this issue and begins to educate local Christian communities with a biblical view of sex and sexuality.

I am going to talk about that more in some future posts but for now I want to make any of you men out there who struggle with this two free e-book resources that you might find helpful.

Mark Driscoll’s Porn Again Christian – This book is pretty hard hitting, straight forward and doesn’t hold back on much. It answers many questions that people might be afraid to ask and deals with the issue of how destructive pornography is and how it fights against God’s ideal of sex within the context of marriage.

Tim Challies’ Sexual Detox – This is the compilation of the posts I mentioned earlier in one pdf. While the first book I would only recommend to those who struggle with pornography, this one is something I think would be beneficial for all Christian men to read.

I have no way to know who is downloading these, it is completely anonymous. So if you need to read either one of these please do so. Don’t be so proud as to think you can deal with these things on your own and walk away with a healthy view of sex or a healthy marriage if you are currently wrestling with pornography or other sexual addictions.