God created us as sensual beings. We touch, taste, smell, see, hear, experience.
God also created beauty, beautifully, and made us sensitive to it.
When we see a beautiful thing or person and are drawn to it, we are expressing our sensual natures and our sensitive natures. There is something both fleshly and divine in experiencing the pull that beauty can have on us. It draws us nearer to God's own nature, to what God must feel when observing God's own creation.
That's not lust.
Lust is the observation of an object or person, being drawn to it, and wanting to possess it. Lust is a function of the desire for power. When we lust, we want to own, to control. Whether we want to be the seducers or the seduced, lust is about asserting ourselves in such a way that we get what we want. Lust is a problem of the will.
The other day I caught a glimpse of the waistband of someone's underwear. He was crouching down to fix something, and the white elastic peeked out above his jeans. Under most circumstances, I don't have a thing for tighty-whities, or for the people wearing them. But for whatever reason, on that day that surreptitious sight stimulated something. I felt flushed, heated.
That alone is not a problem. That's the way we're made. Stimulus, response.
The problem is what happened next. My mind took off on flights of fancy. Actually, really fancy. Seduction. Toying. Blushing. Succeeding. All of which really had nothing to do with the underwear or the person wearing them and everything to do with my wanting to win. It wasn't about sex, or even really about attraction, but about the rush. It was about the potential power and ego boost that comes from getting your own way.
Here's why lust is a sin: my having power was not what was called for, and did not in any way take into consideration the well-being of the other person. In those split seconds, my mind turned him from a person with his own desires, strengths, and history into a kind of toy. Or a tool, to be used to my own ends.
When another person is transformed in our minds into an object to be used or won, when we allow ourselves to lose sight of his or her dignity and self-determination, that is a sin. And a tragedy, as the loss of holiness and humanity always is.
We overcome lust (and the other "deadly" sins) by practicing self-control when we don't need it. We train our wills to have mastery over the destructive habits of our hearts and minds. Support groups help, as do coaching and spiritual friendships.
@@For us to be holy, others must be allowed to be whole.@@
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