Welcome to Counting the Cost of Misplaced Desire, our series on lust. Let’s clarify a few things before we dive in. Lust is effectively ubiquitous among men. Its presence does not indicate a lack of respect for women, an unhealthy relationship with a spouse, or any deficiency on the part of our partners. We four guys writing this blog love our wives with all of our hearts and live in deep gratitude for their presence in our lives. If you have read the blog, you know that we disagree about gender roles (hopefully that makes for interesting reading). However, we all agree that while experiencing lust seems unavoidable, fueling that lust and acting on it are not.
We hope to offer insight and encouragement to others fighting the ongoing battle with lust, and we also hope to spark meaningful discussion here on this page (rather than on the referring social media site). Since this is Odd Man Out, and we pride ourselves on cherishing a variety of views, we are particularly interested in hearing from people with perspectives different from our own. In particular, we would love to gain insight from the other half of the population. How does lust affect you and your relationships?
Finally, we hope to provide some unvarnished perspective ourselves. Men have been described as “dogs” constantly thinking about sex. This is unquestionably true for many, but that does not mean the constant intrusion of those thoughts is always welcome in our minds.
Lust Around the Campfire
Lust is a critical threat to my transformation and sanctification because it pulls and distracts me from the often subtle and difficult-to-discern path of faith. It urges, fools, and entices me to set down my cross and wander after destruction. I don’t have to look at porn or indulge in extensive fantasy for Satan to use lust to knock me off of my course. Listening for the subtle whispers is enough.
In that sense, it seems like a hopeless battle. My entire existence is saturated with images and people that invite lustful attention. Lust is not one click away; it is on billboards, in TV shows, movies, banner ads, and news stories. It is in the lobby at work, at school, and at church.
And so we (for I know that it is not just me) battle to keep our eyes on Jesus. We swim in the sewer of popular culture and pray that God will keep our bodies clean and the filth out of our mouths. Sometimes it works. Sometime it does not. Sometimes I tuck in my daughter and climb in bed next to my wife far less clean that I want to be. Even when I close my eyes and pray, the images and thoughts of lust intrude. Can there be any hope?
Is it truly possible to pray without ceasing in order to keep lust at bay? Can we actually rejoice that God honors us and sing for joy on our beds? Have we truly been set free from our slavery to sin?
Even as I write this, the lustful thoughts that inspired it dance in and out of my mind like predators of the night that flit through the protective ring of light around my campfire knowing that I can do nothing to truly dispel them. They know that sooner or later I will grow weary. I will drop my guard. The flames of my concentration on Christ will burn down, and they can creep closer to my heart.
What do we do in the face of this relentless onslaught? Who is to blame? Is there hope, and if so, what form does it take?