Summary: Part 5 in the series Freedom From., Dave takes on lust, explaining how it operates to damage our relationships.
Freedom From Lust
Freedom From... prt. 5
Wildwind Community Church
September 27, 2009
We're going into part 5 of our Freedom From... series and this morning I want to talk to you about Lust. Now I chose this video this morning not because it deals with pornography, but mostly because it accurately depicts the way our lustful feelings, and many of our lustful behaviors, are shrouded in secrecy. It shows the attempts we make to gloss over our lust - to hide it from others, and put on a good public front. Whether it is sexual lust, like that which was shown in the video, emotional lust, like that which so many women harbor in their hearts, or lust for money, or power, lust often carries with it this element of secrecy. We're lusting on the sly.
But what exactly is lust?
1.intense sexual desire or appetite.
2.uncontrolled or illicit sexual desire or appetite; lecherousness.
3.a passionate or overmastering desire or craving (usually fol. by for): a lust for power.
For the purposes of this message today, I'm going to talk about lust in terms of human relationships. We won't talk directly about lust for money and power and those kinds of things.
Having defined what lust is, let's set it in proper context this morning, so we understand why a person who is setting forth to live a godly life cannot continue to entertain lust. First there is nothing whatsoever wrong with lust under the first definition. There is no prescribed amount of sexual desire we are to have, and of course such a prescription would be ridiculous, as none of us have a whole lot of control over how much sexual desire we have. Some of us have a ton of desire and wish we had even more. Some of us have very little desire and are fine with that. Some of us have a ton and have significant others who wish we had less. And of course a very common problem is when one partner has a higher level of desire than the other and wishes the other person would be willing to have sex more often. But having a high level of sexual desire in itself is neutral. Desire is a feeling - it is an emotion. It is simply something we experience. But the concern with lust lies in its intensity, because its intensity is what gives it the ability it can have to rule over us. Definition #2 uses the words "uncontrolled," and "illicit," and definition #3 uses the word "overmastering." It is here that lust becomes a problem for the person who wants to be faithful in walking the way Jesus walked. In the book of Hebrews we see this about Jesus:
Hebrews 4:15 (NIV)
15 ...we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin.
From this passage we can understand that Jesus experienced sexual desire. He has experienced the temptations we all face. And yet for Jesus, these temptations -- these desires -- did not lead to sin.
And that is our great challenge, is it not? To be human, to experience sexual desire, perhaps very intense sexual desire, but to express it in ways that are appropriate to our station in life. To be tempted, but sin not.
Under the definitions we are looking at, I would wish that all of you would find yourselves lusting very deeply after the one to whom you are married. According to the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center,
Sexual activity is 25 percent to 300 percent greater for married couples versus the non-married, depending on age. The 1998 University of Chicago report that compiled available sex research also concluded that intercourse is more frequent among couples in happier marriages.
Lust belongs in marriages.
Sociologist Denise A. Donnelly explains, “While sex isn’t the only important thing in a marriage, it matters more than many believe. Couples who don’t have satisfying sex lives are more likely to get divorced. Plus, regular, intimate sex can help increase general happiness.” Donnelly adds, “Happy couples have more sex, and the more sex a couple has, the happier they report being.”
There is no way we can read scripture and come away with anything less than a wholehearted endorsement of passionate, frequent sex between married partners. In fact I think it's accurate to say that ALL of the issues that the church has had with sex stemmed from the sexual hangups of some of the early church fathers (and mothers). There isn't any place I could find in scripture that speaks of sex between married partners in anything less than glowing terms. Lust belongs in marriages. It serves them well, it helps them last and be healthy, and keeps the partners in those marriages happy, healthy, and whole. It protects against the evil of adultery and the suffering it brings upon all involved. It keeps families together and helps children grow up with two committed and happy parents. It is not intense desire we are concerned about this morning. It is when intense desire is misplaced, when its object is inappropriate, when it is uncontrolled, when it begins to master and rule over us. You will read in popular books and magazines today that it's okay for married people to fantasize about other people when they are having sex, but my friends, there is great power in lust. What the mind conceives as fantasy, the will eventually tends to want to bring into reality. It is not giving license to lust in the mind that we need, it is learning to develop intimacy with our partners, our legitimate avenues for sexual expression. As we do that, our desire will increasingly be for the person we are already with. Isn't that what happiness is? Continuing to want what you already have?