In “The Good and Beautiful Life” by James Bryan Smith, the author talks about the lust in our lives. He brings up how our society is obsessed with sexuality, as it is the main focus of our music and our television content. The advertisement industry markets to people under the idea that sex sells.
The church has attempted to stand against this sexual culture and place the highest importance on sexual purity, but this is hard because of the content people go home to. Most churches are afraid to talk about sex and prefer to write it off as taboo and sinful, but the church is still struggling. Every person struggles with lust and sexual desires.
Modern culture takes on a more welcoming approach. It tries to say that everything we want to do is completely acceptable. The media shows random people hooking up with no strings attached. There is very little you don’t find either online or on TV these days. Does this really reflect reality?
The bible has God telling Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply, so our sexuality is a good thing. You can notice an attractive man or a beautiful woman, but when you look up and down and only care about them for their bodies, it builds a lot of lust in your heart and that is sinful.
Our lives become stale, and lust always causes us to go searching for the next best thing. The problem is a satisfying the flesh is only temporary, the author wants us to take steps towards living in God’s Kingdom, “Living in the kingdom is like an adventure. I never know how and when God is going to work in my life, but God always seems to do something at the right time, in the right way.”
The soul-training exercise for the chapter is called Media Fast, and it asks us to take a break from all media (television, internet) for two days in order to experience reality a little more. Maybe read a book, go for a walk by yourself or with friends, help someone in need. Our minds are filled with false narratives of who we are and how our lives are supposed to be, and we need to replace those with something better.
I’m barely able to explain the chapter, but the lust is something that deeply applies to me as a young person. I have gotten caught up in pornography before, and every time I go through something it brings me to a dark place and in my mind, I stop seeing women the way I should. Many of the guys I know are much farther along with it than I am. I hear about people sleeping around, and Christian couples wondering why they must wait until marriage to have sex.
The idea is appropriate physical intimacy, as represented by a triangle diagram. The base of the triangle represents a relationship with no physical intimacy or commitment. As commitment rises, we have more intimacy.
Finally, sexual intercourse represents the final stage of commitment – marriage! So its good to have our relationships, but we have to do them in ways that reflect our level of commitment. I remember hanging out with a girl who insisted we were just friends, but she treated me too much like her boyfriend. After a while, I decided we could still be friends, but we had to set up some boundaries because we weren’t committed to each other like that.
I find escaping the lust aspect to be important because it determines how we treat people. I watched a video showing a woman being cat-called as she walked around the city. None of those men were going to get anywhere with their mindset, yet they found it was acceptable to act like that. When you only care about someone for their body, man or woman, it changes your perspective, and sooner or later you become willing to act on those impulses. The lust turns into many of our sexual assault and “No Means No” campaigns.
– James –