All of the videos in the Common Objections series are important to me at a personal level. This is because they reflect they very way that I used to think. I’m certainly not the only one. They are common. I learned them from others. I was conditioned to think in a way that was prudish at worst or close minded at best. This strict upbringing meant to keep me away from lustful attitudes had the very opposite effect on me. These videos exhibit my new learning and what to me (and many others) is a better way of thinking. The lust issue goes away when a new and wholesome way of thinking emerges.
I have written about lust and my dealings with it and how I have overcome this sin at length on various posts. Here are the search results of all the articles tagged with the keyword of “lust.” This video is a short summary of both the problem and the solution:
I’m convinced that the solution to the problem of lust is to see others as God sees them. Last week’s article was about that, in case you missed it. The opposite of lust is love. You can’t be loving others and lusting after them at the same time. I think a big problem growing up with “purity culture” was that the church told us (in not so many words) that we would struggle big time with lust. If you believed that was true, it would become your reality. It was for me. I wrote the following into a sermon and I stand by it today:
I used to have a problem with lust. I’m ashamed to admit it, but it’s true. Lots of statistics would say that half of us men right here have the very same problem. It’s no surprise to hear that Catholic priests report this as the most common sin by far in the confessional. Popular Christian books say that it’s every man’s battle. And while I don’t agree with that notion now, I do think it WILL be a battle for you as long as you THINK that it will be. It doesn’t have to be. I once thought it was. I thought I’d struggle with this issue until the day I die. And I would have, if I had left it up to me, myself, and I. As long as it was ME fighting this war by my own strength, I’d be doomed to fail. I can only have so much willpower. I can do ALL the things the quote unquote experts tell me to do and still be one trigger away from failing again.
It’s defeatist to say all men are visual and can’t help themselves, they’ll always fight this impulse and compulsion. God helped me reject those lies and trust Jesus to be powerful enough to deal with this sin as he does any other sin! When you give it to God, he helps you see other people as he sees them, not like the world sees them, and that changes everything.
Let me put it this way. Do you struggle with the command not to murder your brother? Jesus tells us not to do that. If you’re like me, that’s an easy commandment to keep, because you have no desire to kill your brother (hopefully!). Jesus also says not to look at a woman with lustful intent. He says that’s adultery of the heart. When it comes to this, we often throw our hands in the air and say it’s hard, if not impossible to do. But it’s not! It’s actually easy! You can let God redeem your mind on this issue like any other issue and the desire will be removed from you. Praise God, I can thankfully tell you that I have no desire to lust after another woman, or even after my wife. Lust is selfish, and the opposite of love, so I don’t even want to lust after my wife. Let me be very blunt, I would rather die than objectify another human being!
Yes, I have other sin to deal with, but this particular sin that used to be a big struggle is over and done, I mean mortified and put to death! And it wasn’t willpower or software or accountability or trying really hard or anything I could do depending on my own power that killed this particular sin at the root. It was God! You have to let God kill the spider, not just brush away the cobwebs of lust prevention as they will surely grow back as long as the spider lives. You can bounce your eyes to death, and try to avoid all temptation, but you can’t. Or you can let God deal honestly with you at the core, the real problem- the issue, not the symptoms. All that is recommended to us by experts to deal with lust is as Dallas Willard calls it “sin management.” They are only coping mechanisms. But we weren’t meant just to cope in life. We’re meant to be responsible for our actions and to love others as God does. The trick was letting God do his work in my heart and mind to completely remove the desire to even be tempted in the first place. Charles Spurgeon said, “The swine rolls in the mire with delight, but the sheep abhors it… He is a new creature in Christ Jesus, and sin is destroyed in its energetic influence over his life.”
I stopped depending on my own understanding. I even stopped depending on the leading experts and what they say to do or not to do. It was complete and total dependence on God to change the way I think, to renew my mind. He did it, without my help. He’s powerful enough to do just that. Now I can thank him for the incredible transformation in my life.
When there’s a real transformation or metamorphosis, a butterfly can’t go back to being a worm (or caterpillar). It can only pretend to be one again and crawl around on the ground again instead of flying. Isaac Watts wrote the hymn “At the Cross” where the first verse says: Alas! and did my Savior bleed and did my Sov’reign die? Would He devote that sacred head for such a worm as I? People have been offended by that language or “such a worm as I” – they’ve changed the hymn to say “such a one as I” so as not to be so strong. I say keep it as Isaac Watts wrote it! I was a worm! I had this sin that I tried to shake on my own over and over and couldn’t do it. And then I’d hear at every marriage retreat and men’s conference that just about everyone else struggles with this too. They say “boys will be boys,” but I have boys I’m trying to raise to be different. God changed me from worm to butterfly with his power, reconditioning me to see others differently. And now I can’t and won’t go back to how I was before. I can’t go back! It’s so much better to fly than to go around on my belly like the cursed serpent in the garden in Genesis 3. That’s low and it’s dirty. It’s a curse. It’s bondage! God does not want us to stay that way. It’s so much better and it’s God’s intent to let your heart soar. God’s ways are truly better than any man-made strategy, plan, or tradition, or method of sin management. Now, having surrendered it fully to God, purity is easy, and it’s out of pure joy that I keep Jesus’ command.
One question I got was over the bit about not lusting after my wife. I do desire her, more than anything! However I do not want my desire for her to be lust– I want it to be love, and it is, and it’s amazing! I think that will be a whole topic for another blog someday. For more on the difference between lust and admiring God’s created beauty in people see this fascinating piece (What A Beautiful Tree! Is That Lust?) from Fig Leaf Forum’s website.