Deadly Sin of Lust (Lent: Day 16)

Once again, I draw from Scot McKnight’s treasure-of-a-blog:

Jeff Cook, author of Seven: The Deadly Sins and the Beatitudes , has offered some brief meditations for us to ponder during Lent this year.

Lust

During Lent, we will meditate together on the Seven Deadly Sins and use this list as an aid in confession as we prepare ourselves for Holy Week, Good Friday and the Easter announcement of resurrection.

CS Lewis invites us to imagine that we have visited an alien world where scores of people have assembled to watch a striptease. Imagine, however, that instead of a woman, a small, covered platter is brought out—and with all eyes wide, someone slowly removes the lid, revealing a steaming hamburger. We think the striptease is a joke, but all around us, people begin howling. Others snicker, elbowing their friends. Some just sit quivering in their seats. If such a world did exist, we would not think this display merely odd. We would think something inside the audience was broken. A healthy appetite for food is good, but when appetites turn into manic behavior, something is in a state of disrepair.

Like all extremes, an out-of-control desire for sex is damaging. When our desire for sex takes over—when our appetites demand whatever they wish without commitment or care—our sexual longings step beyond their natural role. We call such rule by our primal urges lust. Lust is handing control of my body and mind over to illicit cravings. Those controlled by lust know something is wrong inside them, for they make their habits private. They hide evidence from those they care about most. Shame often reveals not just where I mess up, but where my life malfunctions.

When I give lust the steering wheel, it will rot my normal desire for sex, making it hollow and unappeasable. We can talk sensibly about brain damage. We may even say that a certain man is a lunatic, that his mind is erratic and unstable. In the same way, lust, if given its way, will make our bodies and minds erratic and unstable. When we give control of our lives over to lust, we lose not only the potential joy of sex but also the enjoyment of so much else. At its core, lust wars against the community we ought to share with one another—distorting duties, confusing friendships, breaking up marriages, betraying children, creating false intimacy, turning us away from the pleasure of another person toward mere self-gratification. As one ancient confession says, “With the lusts of passion I have darkened the beauty of my soul, and turned my whole mind entirely to dust.”

To those of us who struggle with giving the authority of our bodies over to lust, Jesus says, “Gouge out and cut off everything that causes you to stumble with lust. It is better for you to remove even a part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into that valley of flaming waste” (Paraphrase of Mt 5:28-29). Take a moment to let the Spirit expose lust in your life, so you may repent and be free.

(Excerpt from Seven: the Deadly Sins and the Beatitudes by Jeff Cook)

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