Think about it.
God created our bodies to be beautiful. Our entire bodies.
Yet we’ve turned it into something shameful and made it impossible for someone to appreciate the body as a whole without it immediately being “lustful.”
But then in an attempt to fight this, people have taken it to the other extreme and embraced a sexualization of the body, which isn’t the answer either, but actually rather fuels the initial problem - equivocating the naked body solely with sex.
If you cannot take in and appreciate the naked body of your preferred gender without it being lustful, then there’s going to be some issues come the wedding night.
It’s a fine line to walk, I admit, but maybe not as fine as we think. When we give into this idea that all appreciation of nudity, all sexual desire is immediately lust, then it opens wider the doorway to actual lust. We resign ourselves immediately to lust without consideration, which in turns makes it easier for us to fall directly into actual lust.
We also end up ultimately demonizing what is supposed to be a good thing. It’s dangerous to think of something “bad” or “forbidden” that actually really isn’t, because it turns a small stumble into a huge fall. It creates guilt and shame that may very well actually be unwarranted, and once that precedent of shame is there, it’s actually easier to fall deeper into something that actually is bad. Shame has a funny way of driving you further into sin. Shame makes you feel like you’re not good enough, so why not just give completely in since you can’t fight against it?
(Whereas grace draws you to something much better than what you’ve been doing. It gives you the freedom to overcome, the knowledge that you have been made good enough and with that comes the strength to resist.)
I think we define lust a lot of times as something as it’s not. I think we also use it synonymously with “sexual desire/attraction” which just not the case. Don’t get me wrong here - I’m not writing this in order to justify certain behaviors or thoughts, or to “widen” the narrow path. Not by any means. When the issue actually is correctly defined as lust, then it needs to be handled appropriately.
Lust is consuming. It takes control. It drives your actions, your thoughts, your motives. It takes a good thing and makes it the only thing, thus sucking all virtue out of it.
You can want to have sex with someone without it being lust.
Even bolder - you can have premarital sex with someone without it being lust. And I personally believe that sex should be had within the context of a lifelong covenant between two people (what we like to commonly refer to as marriage), but to reduce all sex outside of marriage to being lust-driven is ridiculous.
I just know I can admire a beautiful body in the same way I can admire a beautiful face or beautiful heart. It’s driven by attraction, sure, but it doesn’t have to be lustful.
Has it been lustful before? It’s not something I deal with often, to be honest, but yeah, sure, it’s happened, I suppose. But if I see a nice pair of legs, I will go, “Wow. That is a really nice pair of legs, and I find that quite attractive…” Then I will move on. And I should be able to say, “She has great legs” without it being considered in the realm of lust. Because it’s not.
Because why is it that we’re made to feel like we can’t appreciate God’s creations fully without it being sinful? There is a line - I will return to that, because I do think, say, pornography objectifies, exploits and is used to feed lust. But I honestly wouldn’t consider a tasteful, aesthetic and artful photograph of a naked woman’s (or man’s) body pornographic or inherently lustful if it’s intent is to truly highlight the beauty of God’s creation rather than present this woman or man solely as a sex object.
A common Christian complaint is that the world puts too much weight on sex, but I think traditional Christianity falls prey to that as well. Human attraction and relation doesn’t all come back to sex; there’s something much more beautiful and complete that it manifests into. If we say the object isn’t sex, then we need to stop freaking out about everything that can be remotely tied to it, too
I know I’m all over the place with this post, and a lot of it is relatively convoluted, but it’s not meant to be some put-together essay but rather the thoughts floating around in my head.
I think it’s a multifaceted issue. Wanting to have sex is not a bad thing. We’re supposed to want to have sex. And exercise self-control, of course, but have the maturity, wisdom and such to be able to embrace sexual desire as a part of being human. Repressing and villainizing it until marriage is a little ridiculous; are we supposed to suddenly turn on a switch to change how we feel about it as soon as the ring gets on?
I really don’t know if this is my concluding point, but you can think about sex without it being a lustful venture. It may very well be a harder thing for people to do, I admit - I am largely speaking from personal experience. I don’t know. I just think a lot of the dialogue about sex and lust within Christian circles is really ridiculous and ultimately ignorant. This “fight” against premarital sex that the church has taken up has turned into criminalizing all things that have to do with sex in some attempt to keep the unmarried away from it (which as we have seen is so effective) and I think there’s so much more to the sex thing than that.
I don’t know. I’m just talking.