This is the second part to this post. The first is available here.
I guess though there is also the very important point that what you are initially attracted to in someone could itself be lustful or not lustful. If you’re looking only at certain physical attributes which I am sure I don’t need to spell out, or only managing to notice these, then yes, these things do tend more towards lust. But then again this can come from what you spend your time thinking on. However, if you notice these same attributes as part of your awareness of the whole person, if in your heart you refuse to spend your time thinking about how to exploit other people sexually, if you refuse to make a god out of your sexual self-gratification, then once again, that is something more positive. I say “refuse”, because this temptation is dangled before our noses day in, day out. It is presented to us almost as a “right” – “This is your inalienable right, Tosin!” And yet any of us can name the ugly and devastating things that often result when people try to make a claim on this “right”.
In this post, I have considered the issue from the viewpoint of one person using the other sexually. However, it may so happen that both parties are acting lustfully towards one another and happily using one another for mutual self-gratification. If there is an “equality” in this, then it certainly does not mean that the relationship is more likely to succeed, or last. What will most likely happen is that each party will follow the desire for self-gratification away from the current partner to the next more gratifying object…then the next….and so on and so forth.
To me, it sounds obvious that of course marriages can be founded on lust. Some Christians seem to behave as if marriage magically sanctifies any relationship, as if a relationship outside marriage might be suspect, but any relationship within the general umbrella of marriage is “OK”. But then let’s think about those billionaire/millionaire playboys, sometimes in their 80s, who marry women in their 20s. Far be it from me to be judgemental, but…seriously? Notice that the women that these men marry are always outstandingly attractive, physically speaking; often surgically “enhanced”. They are never a little plain, a little homely, wearing simple clothes.
This might be wading a little beyond my depth here, but Christians also seem to largely behave as if marriage is enough to sanctify any marital sexual acts. I think this is wrong for the same reason as above – if your marriage is based on lust then the sex within the marriage could also be based on lust. Marriage in itself is not enough to legitimise any sexual activity within that marriage. Or at least that is what I think.
A very important point to make in conclusion is this: Even if by God’s grace, we manage to succeed to start out on a marriage that is based on love, and consideration for the other person, rather than lust, it will remain an ongoing battle throughout our marriages, to put our spouses first, after God, to keep mindful of their needs, to refuse to succumb to worshipping our own self-gratification. The reason for this is because the temptation will always be there, to look to our own selves, and what we feel we want, or we need, or what is our “right”. As human beings our ongoing and natural tendency is to act in ways that serve ourselves. This is a battle that we face our entire lives, even as Christians. This could have different expressions within marriage. Sometimes we might start exploiting our spouses sexually. While I am sure that women are as capable of doing this as men are, or of wanting to do this, as women we don’t tend to have men’s physical strength, do we? So it does tend to be one gender that more visibly exploits the other in this way. Or perhaps we might start looking outside the marriage to other potential partners. And this might be the root of extra-marital affairs. Some spouses might leave their marriages for the sake of these new liaisons. Other spouses might stay with their original spouses, but conduct serial extra-marital relationships, sometimes juggling multiple partners at the same time.
Other alternatives grow increasingly dark. In some truly extreme and thankfully rare cases, it is all of the above. (How can someone stay with their original spouse and leave them at the same time? Well they might stay with their spouse at first, and then eventually leave after many years of deceit and broken promises).
So lust, fixating on ourselves and our own desires, is dangerous, it is deadly (often literally so), it is destructive, it devastates everyone in its path. Love on the other hand, making up our mind to serve our spouses above our own selfish desires, gives life, security and peace to our partners, to our families and it gives stability to our society.
If we have been fortunate or wise enough to get married based on love, let us not become complacent. Let us not think that that in itself will be sufficient to protect our marriages for their entirety. Rather let us continue to fill our hearts with love, fill our hearts with purity, aggressively strive after righteousness and holiness and service to our spouses. Let us regularly come before God, and pour out our hearts before Him, and be sincere before Him regarding our struggles, because He will help us. Aggression is a word that is usually used for warfare and battle. Let us not be under any illusions. This is a fight. Everything in the Christian life is a fight. Often this can feel like a desperate fight. It is a fight that is worth winning, because it is a fight that we cannot afford to lose.
25 Do not lust after her beauty in your heart,
Nor let her allure you with her eyelids.
16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
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