When compared with other things people might do, many of us believe lust is a relatively harmless thing. But what if lust is actually doing more damage than we know?
It was Seth’s first night at his church’s sexual addiction recovery group. By way of introduction, each man shared about the sexual habits that led to joining the group: For most it was habitual porn use. Two men confessed having sexual affairs. One man opened up about voyeurism. When it came to Seth, he told them he had a life-long struggle with lust.
“Do you mean porn?” one of the men asked.
“Not really,” Seth said, “It’s mostly that I struggle with looking lustfully at different women I see at work, church, or other places throughout my week.”
“So why are you here in this group?” another man said. “That’s nothing!”
Since the fall of humankind, we’ve lived fractured lives. Adam and Eve sinned and at once felt self-conscious, ashamed, and fearful about their bodies, each other, and God. And so, like a child hiding the pieces of a broken vase from her parents, Adam and Eve hid.
Sin fractured them.
Lust is a fracturing thing. By lust here, I don’t mean feeling desire or attraction. I mean the sin of lust: Visually or mentally using another human being for one’s own selfish sexual gratification.
When we lust in this way, we fracture others and ourselves. We treat ourselves and others as parts rather than a living, breathing whole being.
You are worth too much to keep falling into sexual sin.
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We fracture ourselves by disregarding that we are created by God for goodness and love. We dissociate, splitting ourselves off from our God-given nature. In addition, often lust is a way of disregarding legitimate needs and instead turning our attention to a momentary sense of comfort, connection, or control. A woman who sexually fantasizes as an “escape” from her loneliness, may feel a momentary sense of connection, but she does so by disconnecting herself from her very real need for human interaction. She fractures herself.
When we lust, we also fracture others. To lust is to visually or mentally grasp at mere parts of another person. When we lust, we take the parts of a person that bring us pleasure and discard the rest. To lust after another human being is to say, “I want the parts of you that make me feel good but nothing of you that may require something of me.” When a man visually consumes a woman’s breasts but disregards her thoughts, her feelings, her concerns, her hopes, he fractures her.
In every case, lust gives the false promise of filling what’s empty, bridging the distance, healing the rupture, but it does the exact opposite.
Lust isn’t the worst sin, but it is a sin.
With it, we dissect others, fail to see their full self, and take them apart a la carte. And we dissociate from ourselves, fail to tend to our full self, and abandon needful parts to elicit a momentary experience of pleasure.
Jesus sees all of you, and all of each person. He came to put us back together, and He did so by letting Himself be broken by those who refused to see the fullness of who He was.
If you struggle with lust, know that God is all for helping to put you back together and helping you see other human beings as the full people they are. An un-ruptured life is so much more fulfilling, meaningful, and good. Keep going!
Question: Does the idea that lust fractures people make sense to you? How might this change how people can pursue sexual integrity?