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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Confront Lust

The theme for the Blog Carnival hosted today by Bridget Chumbley is lust. (More articles on "Lust" are here.)

The first gentle piece I wrote for today was rather wimpy so I tossed it. And since it was in a Twitter discussion that Mike Ellis suggested this theme and I responded with the dare for constructive confrontation of lust, I thought it only fair of me to meet that challenge head-on with these more forthright words.


"The average girl would rather have beauty than brains because she knows the average man can see better than he can think."
~ Anonymous

Confront Lust

"I have made a covenant with my eyes;
Why then should I look upon a young woman?"
~ Job 31:1 (NKJV)

Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.
~ Proverbs 31:30 (NKJV)

Because they are less discreet, men are seen as the gender with a lust problem. Before addressing female lust, shall we acknowledge that women help perpetuate male lust with the way they present themselves?

I’m not proud to admit it, but I remember what it was like a couple of decades back to measure all my attire, adornment and mannerisms by their affect on the opposite sex. Shame on me and the women who have tried to manipulate a man’s attention with subtle (or not so subtle) yet open seduction. And it is seduction, even if a woman says she doesn’t mean it that way.

Gentlemen, surely you are not so weak and stupid that you cannot see such female behavior for the snare it is. If you don’t want to be a woman’s prey, I suggest you keep your attention on her from the neck up, and keep your contact with her clean. I know this can be a challenge, because my own eyes have difficulty from straying to attention grabbers on women—and hardly because I'm attracted to it. But if a painfully attractive, bronzed and bare-chested construction worker can stand three feet from me while I keep my eyes above his neck, keep my hormones in check, and keep my attention on the roof work being discussed, then I know it’s possible for you to do likewise with women.

Ladies, do you reduce yourselves to a pretty piece of hairdo and flesh? If you do get a man to drool over the outward, how difficult will it be to re-divert his attention to the inward? Women were created not as advertisements, but to radiate beauty—the beauty of the Lord's light.

Furthermore, ladies, can we acknowledge that our lust may be as pervasive as men's? If we don't struggle with keeping our eyes above a man's neck, it's because that's where our primary lust lies. Regardless of any interest in his body, we're more interested in his attention.

What do little girls dream of? The Prince Charming who will marry the maiden and shower her with his love so that they live happily ever after. But either Prince Charming fails to marry us, and leaves us with broken hearts; or, he marries us, we discover that Prince Charming has other things on his mind besides us, and we decide he's not so perfect.

So we're inclined to lust after potential Prince Charmings: the co-worker who's such a gentleman; the man at church who treats his wife in a manner we wish a man might treat us; the kind and handsome sir who frequently crosses our path too briefly. The fact that female lust is more emotional than physical doesn't mean it isn't lust, and doesn't make it less dangerous to either present or future marriage.

We women forget that no man is perfect, and no man can meet all of our emotional needs. Admit it ladies: if you were married to the Lord Jesus Himself you'd complain that He gives work all His attention and is on the road too much.

If you're a single woman, be careful about where you let your heart wander. You'll miss out on blessings of what is if you're too caught up dreaming of what might be.

If you're a married woman and have serious marital issues, address them respectfully. But remember that you're not perfect, and no matter how your husband might change he still wouldn't be perfect. Resolve not to day dream about other men, make your marriage the very best it can be, and give your husband the respect, attention and passion that belong to him, both in the bedroom and elsewhere.

Men, if you feel your wife fails to give you all this, do you fantasize or lust over women who might? If your wife isn't generous enough with physical affection, do you feel you're being denied your marital rights? Do you deny her the affection and attention which warm her—which constitute her marital rights? The Bible says, "Husbands, love your wives." Do you love your wife and put her needs above your own, as Paul instructs? Or do you turn the attention that belongs to her elsewhere? (Just some suggested thoughts from a woman's point of view.)

There's plenty more I might say. I'll simply leave men and women alike with a recommendation for "bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ." Trying to push away temptation doesn't tend to be effective, because the resulting void creates a vacuum into which the temptation returns.

More effective is filling your mind and heart with something more valuable than the object of temptation.

I say then: Walk in the Spirit,
and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
~ Galatians 5:16 (NKJV)

A postscript: Wives, husbands, remember to pray for each other. Even if you're single, you can pray now for the man or woman the Lord might one day make your spouse.

Father in Heaven, please use Your Holy Spirit to speak to each of us how You'd fill us with something better than whatever we might lust after. Please increase our desire for such blessing. Please give us all the needed strength to direct our hearts and minds toward You.

Contrasting points-of-view, questions and feedback are invited. Post to "Comments" or e-mail to Copyright 2010, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.
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  1. It's about all of us, isn't it? We all have something to be red-faced about here. Good post, Anne.

  2. You hit this head on... men and women are equally guilty and the points you make are excellent!

    Thanks for this post, Anne.

  3. How thorough you were!

    A few years back I developed a rule to not look at men while shopping or out in general. I found I didn't really need to give them polite smiles or accidentally make eye contact with them. When I see a man is coming down the aisle, I simple get out of the way, look elsewhere or at his shoes. I suggest this technique to my hubby, lol. I think due to the media there is so much coming at us in pretty little packages making living a lust free life a near impossability. The football message boards my husband views are rife with scantily clad co-ed's and cheerleaders on the sidebar. Magazines and movies have a variety of men to distract me if I let them. I'm not sure how to navigate this other than with the Holy Spirit. It's such an easy snare. Quite possibly the most invisible sin (to man).

  4. Such a wonderful post sis, bless you.

  5. Really good post.

  6. Someone said that every man who visits strip-clubs, indulges in porn, etc., is really looking for God. I agree with that thought 100%.

    Another mistake men make is going to their wives for their strength and not to God.

    When people realize that they will never get the ultimate love only God can provide from their spouse, resentment falls away, forgiveness and understanding is made easier, and paradoxically relationships improve . . . the love we can offer each other flows easier.

    Thanks Anne.

  7. Pointed words for a culture steeped in and controlled by lust after lust after lust. This is a message shouted from a metaphorical mountaintop...and well it should be.

    Men--I apologize for what is to follow, if it offends you.

    This woman sees men as wandering and vulnerable in the "post-modern" world. Our culture dares to scold them like little boys throughout their lives: do this, do that, you must not do this, you must not do that. You must not hold a door open for a woman, she may be offended. You may lust after an anonymous woman on the computer but you must not honor the wholesome beauty of a real woman by doffing a hat or offering a polite smile or waving her in ahead of you. The proverbial rug has been yanked out from under our men's feet. In my lowly, humble opinion, we have taken their best, most godly characteristics and called them worthless and laughable. My heart bleeds for men in our society. I don't hold them blameless for what goes on--don't get me wrong. But I see their pain daily, and I can't claim to understand it, but I do sympathize with it.

    Thesis over. Thanks for letting me get that out, dear Anne. God bless today.

  8. Anne,
    You handled this topic with such finesse. I think I have to mention my vice to continue my thoughts. I watch The Bachelor. My husband rolls his eyes as I make comments about all that unravels on the show. Last night on the show, a woman used what she had to “play” “the bachelor.” It made me sad for all parties b/c I saw it happening even before the big shocker was revealed. A show first. She was asked to leave late in the show for having inappropriate relations with a show staffer. I visualized her life story. Knowing I could be way off base, I saw her gaining attention her whole life b/c of her looks and what she learned to manipulate into sex appeal. My husband reminded me the whole show is messed up.

    Reading your post reminded me of our responsibility to behave and dress in such a way that honors God. I’m big on focusing what I can do (I’ll have to give account someday).

    Powerful message and I can’t believe I just admitted my vice b/c of it. ;)
    ~ Wendy

  9. My husband and I have been married for almost twenty-five years. I have made it a part of my prayer life to ask God to help me be faithful to Him first and faithful to my husband. I have asked that my husband be faithful to Him first and faithful to me. Temptation is not a respecter of persons or religious affiliation, it comes to all.

    As you mentioned there are many things that we can put into practice in our lives in order to avoid falling into this pit. The temptation is even confronted at this point ~ are we willing to put these things into practice.

    Where is the focus of our heart, of our mind? If not on God how vulnerable we are.

  10. Excellent post, Anne, and so pertinent to our society today. I so agree with what Gwen was saying as well. You all make great points that remind us all the importance in staying close with God through His Word and prayer.

  11. I love the reminder that we are to 'radiate' light...excellent post...when it comes to lust men and women can equally share the blame.

  12. Great thoughts. I especially liked the tie you made between a man's lust for what he sees and a woman's lust for his attention (being seen?).

    Very thought-provoking.

  13. Glynn, I suppose there are some people who haven't had to face this, and I'm happy for them. But I suspect few of us escape the need to deal with lust.

    Bridget, I'll be curious to see how others address this. I trust that the Lord had a hand in this being today's topic. Thanks for hosting!

    T. Anne, I've likewise gone the "don't even look" route. It definitely has its place and time. I think there is also a point at which the Lord empowers us to face our temptations. They're not conquered til we can stare them down without cowering. I think it's critical to do so only when we're walking in the Spirit.

    Denise, thanks for being here in the midst of your own challenges. Stay strong in Him, my dear sister!

    Thanks, Natasa! :D

  14. Russell, I agree with your statement about strip-clubs, etc. But I don't think it's only sexual lust about which this is true.

    Lust is also for power, money, other forms of physical gratification (including drugs, alcohol, food), internet contact ... where do I stop? All lust is the desire to filled a God-shaped void.

    As far as men going to their wives for strength, isn't there a balance? Wives were created not as merely a reproductive means, but as a helpmeet, a companion, a lover—body and soul.

    All strength does come from God, true enough. But haven't you often pointed out that what we need from the Lord often comes through one another? While all of us should seek strength from our Creator, don't we also obtain it through the people created in His image?

  15. Gwen, the way women treat men is another whole topic, and I hope my reminders about respect—as well as your words—provoke some reflection on it.

    Wendy, I'm not familiar with "The Bachelor," but I think I can appreciate what you're saying. Admitting any vice is the first step to confronting it. I pray the Lord will continue the conversation with you. : )

    Patty, I so appreciated this comment. I realized that I'd forgotten to mention prayer and added a postscript to the post.

    Ralene, the world does struggle. If we Christians can't get this right, how are we to minister to the world?

    Joyce, it took me a while to figure out that overdoing modesty can also put Light under a bushel. After the extreme of "flaunt it" I spent several years at the other extreme, clothed in yards of fabric. I now focus on an appearance which is attractive because it puts Light on display with as much beauty, joy and purity as possible.

    Stephanie, it is indeed a curious inversion between the sexes. If we'll seek out the Creator's design, that inversion will surely work for our good.

  16. Excellent points- thanks for taking it head-on, Anne.

  17. You are correct to point out my contradiction. If I advocate for anything at all it is the belief that our relationship with God is incomplete if we do not love each other. Jesus taught us to focus like a laser-beam on our love for each other.

    Still, the opposite can be true. Sometimes we focus on loving each other, and forget God.

    Social conservatives often remember to love God and forget to love people. Social liberals remember to love people and forget to love God. Both, are dysfunctional and miss God's intention.

    We cannot love God without loving people. Likewise, and the point I was trying to make earlier is that we cannot love people unless we love God.

    Men often seek God-love, strength, from their wives. When we learn to seek love from God first our ability to love each other, forgive each other, support each other, falls into place.

    You are REALLY making me think this morning ... :-)

    The love of Jesus to you :-)

  18. Jason, I knew this would come out more preachy than I like to be. I didn't see another way to do it effectively. I appreciate your comment.

  19. Russell, the social conservative / liberal point is well taken. And if I made you think, then it's about time I paid you back. :D

  20. Great post. My favorite part (made me LOL): "Admit it ladies: if you were married to the Lord Jesus Himself you'd complain that He gives work all His attention and is on the road too much." Tie for favorite: "Wives and husbands pray for each other." Thanks for your courageous words!

  21. Sooooo well written. You have addressed a prevalent problem in our society, and as Wendy said, you did it with such finesse.

    A good book that deal with lust and other sexual misbehaviors is "False Intimacy" by Harry Schaumburg. He makes the point that Russell did above that someone pursuing lust or other sexual outlets is really looking for intimacy which can only be met by 1) God and 2) Our spouse. Great book!

    Again, very good post. wb

  22. Amy, that LOL isn't entirely original. I heard something similar years ago and loved it. I've used it countless times to remind myself of how easily dissatisfied I can be.

    Warren, I thank you for that glowing compliment. (It's a welcome affirmation that I did okay to can the wimpy post.) Something I didn't address here, which the title "False Intimacy" brings to mind, is the lust that occurs within marriage, to the couple's detriment.

  23. Anne, this is a slam-dunk! It's right on the mark! Amen!

  24. That is so right... bring every thought into captivity! Wonderful post...

  25. Sarah, a slam-dunk? For 5'1" me (if I stretch), that's a first! :D

    Lorrie, I don't believe the Lord's Word would exhort us to do what the Lord's Spirit would not enable.

  26. Don't pull any punches! Great post and very convicting. Thanks, as always.

  27. Very good points. I was thinking after I read Jason's post that the Romance Novel genre is porn for women, and that I missed the boat with my own lust entry, but you hit the same points even if you didn't mention novels. It's the dreaming of someone more charming that entrap us.

  28. Wow, I'm a bit late in the conversation. I would like to agree with everyone and say this is a great post!

  29. Fatha Frank, thanks, as always, for stopping in and for commenting. I'm glad to hear "convicting" and not "condemning."

    Helen, I thought your post was adorable as well as appropriate. That's what happens with a blog carnival. We get different perspectives which enrich us all.

    Vanity, thanks for the "amen." :D


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