People aren’t created to lust.
But many people do. Most Christians I know who struggle with lust have one of two responses: They give in to temptation or they run away. Given the option between the two, running away is better.
But running away from temptation isn’t our goal. At least not if we want to become like Jesus.
If we want to become like Jesus, our goal should be to no longer see people as “temptation” at all, but instead, to see them as people.
Behind every temptation to lust is a fantasy—a fiction, a lie about the person in front of us. And this fantasy clouds our vision, so instead of seeing a son or a daughter in need of love, we “see” a sex object, a titillating image, a source of sexual gratification.
Sometimes that fiction is fostered or projected by the person in front of us, but in every case we see what we see because of us, not because of them.
You and I are responsible for what (or who) we see. Every time.
This is why James could write with such certainty, “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust” (James 1:14, emphasis mine).
Jesus’ heart was pure, and it beat for every person with whom he came into contact. Confronted with “opportunities to lust,” Jesus saw opportunities to love. Better said, Jesus saw people to love. And in so doing, he changed the lives of at least a few women and an entire Samaritan town (see Luke 7:36 – 50, John 8:1 – 11, John 4:7 – 42).
We live in a world clouded by lust. And there is much wrong that will not be righted unless that changes: adultery, pornography, out-of-wedlock pregnancy, abortion, fatherlessness, date rape, sexually-transmitted diseases, prostitution, sex-trafficking.
Better awareness, legislation, medicine, technology, and criminal justice can help. But they cannot fix any of these problems. As the 19th century abolitionist Josephine Butler said long ago, “Something must be done, and that something is that men must learn to live chastely.”
If we are going to learn to live (and see) as Jesus did, it will only happen as we courageously present our own eyes and hearts to the One who sees. Like the blind man, we must learn to cry out, “Lord, I want to see!” (Mark 10:51).
This Saturday, May 7, I’ll be leading a half-day event for men: Becoming Men of Courage: A deeper look at desire, friendship, sex, and love. Please come.
We’ll be getting after this topic in a way that will challenge and encourage all men—those who struggle with lust and those who simply want to love with greater courage—including a special interview with Alicia McDowell of Araminta Freedom Initiative.
For the sake of this generation and the next, I hope you’ll join us. Click here for more information or to register.
Question: What’s your favorite example of how Jesus saw people to be loved where others didn’t? Leave a comment below.
Learning to see,
Josh, I’m looking forward to joining you at the men’s event on Saturday. Reading this post felt like watching a trailer for coming events. Everytime I read your stuff or spend time with you I walk away a better man for the experience. Thanks for investing in the lives of so many other men including me. See you Saturday. I hope everyone reading your post will take advantage of early or walk up registration.