The Image of God and Lust

According to Merriam-Webster, lust means “a strong feeling of sexual desire” or “a strong desire for something”. With this in mind, is lust a sin?

As any good lawyer will say, “it all depends”.

A strong sexual desire for your spouse isn’t a sin, but a strong sexual desire for you neighbor’s wife is trouble. A strong desire for a thing is likely to border on idolatry.

Years ago I was at my best friend’s house one fine Saturday, and his father told a story about my friend. One time when he was very little, he was sitting in the child seat in a grocery store shopping cart that his father was pushing around the store looking for groceries. They passed a young lady, and his father whispered under his breath “wow wee!” They continued along their way and passed the young lady again with the same result. Finally, they got into the checkout line, and guess who was right behind them? My friend said in a loud childish voice, “Look Dad, there’s the wow wee lady!” Needless to say, many years later, his father still remembered that day.

So, if a man sees an attractive woman, or vice versa, and the reaction is “wow wee” have they sinned?

We don’t need a lawyer for that one, do we? Of course the answer is “No”. Are you surprised? It doesn’t become a “yes” until you go the next step and say “Would I like to get my hands on that!” Once you arrive at that point, you have lust in your heart and you have turned God’s image bearer into a mere object. Noticing that a woman is beautiful or that a man is handsome, is no sin; and the jump to the next step is not a given, and we as a species, are not wired to automatically do that.

Yet reacting in that way does reflect where a person’s head and heart are. If a man sees a woman who is dressed provocatively, the sight will not change the man into a sex-crazed maniac. That is, of course, unless he was one of those already: Think about it…

You see, we’ve come back to temptation here; a temptation may arise to indulge one’s self in erotic fantasies when we come across an attractive person, but it is entirely our choice as to whether or not we indulge ourselves in it. I would suggest that such a response is more a result of culture, conditioning and habit, then anything else.

Let’s take a break and think about it, and we’ll pick up on Monday; have a great weekend, please leave your comments, and I’ll see you next time!

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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10 Responses to The Image of God and Lust

  1. Anonymous says:

    This is so true. I deal with this all the time. I tell people even Jesus was tempted and they fall out with disbelief!

  2. pipermac5 says:

    We may think that “lust” was a new concept which originated with Jesus, but “lust” is just another word for “covet” which God said “You shall not covet…” in the Ten Commandments. The essence of lusting or coveting is desiring for one’s self what cannot legitimately be made your own. God doesn’t allow us to STEAL something from our neighbor just because we want it, whether it is his wife, his RV, or his Mercedes.

    If we have a Biblical understand of how we are God’s image-bearers, we may admire our neighbor’s wife, even think that she is beautiful, but she is HIS wife, his “other-half”, and we don’t have any “right” to her, and we know that.

  3. “but it is entirely our choice” I absolutely agree with this, Don. It puts the responsibility exactly where it belongs – on the one who chooses. Thank you!

  4. Matt Brumage says:

    James 1:14 and 15 is a very concise treatment of the connection between temptation, lust, and sin. And, of course, death, the end of giving in to temptation. So much more to be gained from repentance.

  5. Very true of any manner of temptation – we can acknowledge it’s there but it is for our free will to choose whether it will cause us to sin. It is also very important, I believe, to understand that not everyone is tempted the same way. Consequently, blanket statements about scantily clad women tempting all men, or chocolate tempting all children are wrong. The Devil will tempt each person where they are the weakest…and again, we must be responsible for being aware of that and dealing appropriately with that temptation….not blaming the source of temptation and causing others to suffer for our weakness.

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