To continue a series I started yesterday on my experience with each of there seven deadly sins, today…. Lust.
I should begin with my biasses on this one. I just took the ‘Lust Test’ on the website deadlysins.com, and according to my result, I am “perverse and disgusting”. If you’ve ever seen the website, you will know that this means I did very well. So, while I am going to try to be objective in this post, keep in mind that I seem to have a pretty lustful inclination.
First, what are we talking about? Lust is an inordinate craving of the human body. At the time the Seven Deadly Sins were conceived, philosophers defined this as anything from masturbation to homosexuality to bestiality. It really turns on what we consider an inordinate craving. Christianity believes this is is any expression of lust outside the proper context, which means outside of marriage. Since God, apparently, lust becomes disordered when we engage in sexual expression outside marriage – masturbation, pornography, wanting to sleep with someone other than your spouse.
Personally, I agree that having an ‘inordinate craving’ can, in certain circumstances, be sinful (not to God, but to yourself). I just define inordinate cravings quite differently.
Firstly, lustful cravings are natural and they vary greatly between individuals. My thing for large breasts may be your secret water-sport fetish. Secondly, my own view is that if your cravings don’t hurt others or you, I am not sure how they can be consider sinful. So masturbations, fantasizing over that hot work colleague.. fair game Finally, while this may be controversial for a lust-positive guy, I do think we can go to far with lust; we can have ‘inordinate cravings’ that are harmful; when they start to consume us in ways that keep us form our other responsibilities.
Let me lead with my own example… the good and the bad. First the good. For me, my wife and my family are my top relationship priority. I fully acknowledge that I have all of the natural lusts that most guys have — our neighbour with the awesome body, the waitress who flirts with us, porn… I like all of that stuff. So, my wife and I have both acknowledged these lustful inclinations – in each of us – and rather than allow them to threaten our relationship, we use it to enhance it. For lusts we share, we indulge together. For example, we both think our busty neighbour is hot, so we play out elaborate threesome scenarios. We watch porn together or (occasionally) will check out a strip club. For lusts we don’t share, we allow the other to explore those but within limits that will not compromise our relationship.
The bad. I remember when we first decided, years ago, that porn could be a fun thing. For a guy – me – this can be incredibly liberating. Too liberating. We subscribed to a series of adult movie channels. I felt, for the first few weeks we had it, I was simply watching too much. I don’t feel this way because I feel the pen was evil, simply that I was doing less of other things I think I should be doing. So I dialled back. It wasn’t the porn that was wrong; it was the degree to which I was indulging and the other things I was not doing during that time. I was wasting my time – and I think that’s kind of a sin.
So, where does that leave us with lust? I think I will take the Canadian approach (In Canada we have an expression that belies our practical nature. When asked how we are, we say we are great… at least as great as can be reasonably expected in the circumstance).
So… Lust, far from sinful, is a great thing, if we manage it reasonably.