The Substance of Faith

The Substance of Faith

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Seven Deadly Sins – Lust

Half-truths are often the worst lies. It’s hard to think of an innocent half-truth.  Their whole purpose is to deceive.   They hide lies behind a portion of truth.  Like a magician’s slight-of-hand, a half-truth directs our attention away from what we aren’t intended to see.

Among the seven deadly sins, lust is the most obvious half-truth and therefore, the greatest deception.   It represents sin’s slight of hand.

To see my point, we have to understand the proper connection between sex and love.  Our society conflates the two.  We use the expressions “having sex” and “making love” in the same way.  To society at large, their meanings are close enough to be used interchangeably.  In a biblical world view, sex and love are related, but not identical.

Love is patient and kind.  It is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way. It’s not irritable or resentful. It does not rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  It never fails.  (Of course you recognize the teachings of Paul in I Corinthians 13.)

When a couple loves each other this way and commits to each other for a lifetime, sex is the physical communication of their commitment in its highest form.  Despite some flawed “Christian” views of sex, in this context, the context of marriage, sex is good.

Lust’s slight of hand tries to convince people that sex is always good, even when divorced from love, commitment, and marriage. It’s half-truth says that we can divorce the physical from the personal. From the biblical point of view, however, “casual sex” is an oxymoron.  In this regard lust always fails.  It can’t deliver the fulfillment it promises because it has come unmoored from it’s natural and necessary anchor, which is commitment.  It becomes, what Eric Fromm calls, a “joyless pleasure.”  (Think about that expression for a few minutes.  It can describe binge eating, substance abuse, pornography addiction, and the hollowness of sex for the sake of sex. I find it revealing and haunting. See Fromm’s To Have or to Be, p. 100)

This is why lust always fails.

Here are some insightful quotes on lust.

Quoting Malcolm Muggeridge:  “Christianity…does not say that, in spite of appearances, we are all murderers or burglars or crooks or sexual perverts at heart; it does not say that we are totally depraved, in the sense that we are incapable of feeling or responding to any good impulses whatever.  The truth is much deeper and more subtle than that.  It is precisely when you consider the best in man that you see there is in each of us a hard core of pride or self-centeredness which corrupts our best achievements and blights our best experiences.  It comes out in all sorts of ways—in the jealousy which spoils our friendships, in the vanity we feel when we have done something pretty good, in the easy conversion of love into lust, in the meanness which makes us depreciate the efforts of other people, in the distortion of our own judgment by our own self-interest, in our fondness for flattery and our resentment of blame, in our self-assertive profession of fine ideals which we never begin to practice.     Philip Yancey in Rumors of Another World, pp.123 ff

“When you have indulged a lust, your wing drops off;
you become lame, abandoned by a fantasy.
…People fancy they are enjoying themselves,
but they are really tearing out their wings
for the sake of an illusion.”      Rumi

“There is no dignity when the human dimension is eliminated from the person. In short, the problem with pornography is not that it shows too much of the person, but that it shows far too little.”  John Paul II

Lust and disgust keep close company.   John Updike

 

See Also:

Seven Deadly Sins: Introduction

Seven Deadly Sins:Envy

Seven Deadly Sins: Anger

Seven Deadly Sins: Greed

Seven Deadly Sins: Sloth

Seven Deadly Sins: Pride

 

 

 

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