If you struggle with lust, consider this for a moment: Can you explain why you are drawn to the form of a woman or the form of a man?
Beyond the specifics of what part of the body titillates you sexually, have you ever considered why it titillates you? Why does your body stir at the sight of another’s body? Is it a learned response because your body knows the pleasure that awaits if you engage in sexual activity? Maybe, but it did not begin that way.
At the core, the bodily stirring, the feeling of being drawn, the romantic and sexual desire, all these happen because sex is relational.
In other words, the core reason you’re drawn is because you’re longing for intimacy.
In pornography and other forms of sexual fantasy, intimacy isn’t really there, of course, but something in the images suggests it is. Nakedness suggests it.
By God’s design, nakedness is a sign, an icon, an expression, an image of intimacy. It has always been so. God has made the human body wonderful and glorious—“fearfully and wonderfully made”—beautiful to behold.
We might also think of this in this way: The naked body reveals the person without covering, without veil, without obstruction. If intimacy is knowing and being known fully, then of course nakedness would serve as a sign of more complete knowing than clothing would. Clothing veils, even disguises the physical person. Nakedness reveals.
And nakedness as a sign of intimacy goes further still. Consider the sexual parts of the body. What makes them “sexual”? Isn’t it that they are designed to connect intimately with another human being?
In nakedness, a man and woman’s genitalia is exposed—the specific parts of the body by which we experience deeply intimate physical knowing and being known. The man and woman’s bodies are designed for intimate connection—two becoming “one flesh” with each other.
So doesn’t it make sense that the naked images of man or woman draws us because of our God-given need and our good longing for intimacy—to know and be known fully and without fear?
Lust, pornography, and other expressions of sexual sin hijack the icon of intimacy and use it instead as a false intimacy—the form without the substance. For a few moments, the brain and body may have a sense of nakedness without shame, a sense of being known and knowing. The human body on its own cannot tell the difference between the real and the false. But the soul can.
This is why lust never satisfies.
Jesus came to restore the union between body and soul. We were rent apart in the fall, but Jesus can make us whole again. Jesus can help us see again.
We are drawn to nakedness because we are created for intimacy.
Nakedness is a sign, an image, an icon of intimacy because it reveals that our bodies are created by God for intimacy, for knowing and being known, to love and to be loved. In this way, human nakedness is most profoundly an image, a sign, an icon created to reveal God Himself.
Do you struggle with lust? Recognize your longing for intimacy. Seek out healthy, non-sexual intimate relationships. Ask Jesus to show you who He sees when all you see is a what. And keep asking Jesus to raise your body from the death of false intimacy and to make you whole again—body and soul—an image bearer of God.
Question for you: What stands out to you in this post? How might this change your approach to dealing with lust? Leave a comment here.
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Image by Albrecht Durer, from the National Gallery of Art Rosenwald Collection, public access.
Thank you for writing this and making this a point of thought and discussion. I Praise God for Regeneration! A voice crying in the wilderness for sure.
So good Josh! Form without Substance. Seems like that’s always the case with temptation. The promise without delivery.
One thing I always struggled with in the past was being told that “lust didn’t satisfy”… but in my head I always felt like “oh yes it did. Physically, it was always very satisfying. ” I could never convince myself that it was empty because it always felt like rest and relief from pain or stress. The point you point out here though, is that lust doesn’t ever satisfy THE SOUL… now that makes sense. It explains the spiritual turmoil that comes afterward. By the way, that picture above is the most un-flattering depiction of Eve I’ve ever scene. No lust there.
Actually it can’t be Adam and Eve since they both have belly buttons. If you believe in the biblical account of creation as written in Genesis then for what reason would Adam or Eve have umbilical cords. Not a sermon, just a thought!
Great article, Josh. I especially liked the idea of nakedness/intimacy being an icon of our relationship with God.