On a recent camp for high-school kids we did a seminar for boys on pornography. At the beginning we ran an anonymous survey; the first question was ‘have you ever seen pornography?’ The results came in – 100% had. The second question in the survey was, ‘have you ever actively searched for pornography?’ This time the result was slightly less – 98%. This should really not come as a surprise given we live in a sex-saturated society which is hard enough to navigate without having puberty thrown in.
One only has to follow an American (or Australian!) political campaign to be assured of a sex scandal from high profile candidate. Men like Casanova, Don Juan and Hugh Hefner have become famous role models based only on their sexual exploits! And it’s not just a ‘male problem’- there is a growing trend of hotels replacing bibles with the recent explicit novel aimed at women, ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’.
This is clearly a relevant issue in our society, but what is lust? Lust is the strong desire or craving of an object. In the Bible, this idea is identified when Jesus famously declares that, ‘everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart’. (Matt 5:28) Adultery here is just the physical outworking of the greater heart problem – lust – the fervent desiring of an object other than God. This was the same error that the Pharisees would continually make focussing on behaviours rather than heart motivations. Jesus’ declaration sets the bar unashamedly high – condemning almost everyone of this sin. He does this to highlight both the problem and the serious nature of sin; not only does it take us away from God, it leaves us incomplete, empty, and unfulfilled.
With such a high standard to hold to in a sex-saturated world, the need for Christians to pursue sexual purity has never been more desperate. Most of us will struggle with some form of lust, whether it be pornography, homosexuality, lusting after someone other than your spouse, or even treating your spouse as an object and neglecting to serve the their sexual needs. All of us need to be vigilant with this problem. Practical ways of doing this include seeking an accountability partner, setting up filters on your computer for yourself and your kids or talking to one of the leadership team here at church.
While these are wise measures to take the most important need is an understanding that our fundamental problem lies with placing sex (or anything else) at the centre of our lives instead of God. If we are to deal conclusively with the problem of lust, God must be at the centre of our lives – we must immerse ourselves in His Word, living our lives solely for His glory. By restoring God to his rightful position in our lives, we will shine like stars before mankind, pointing people to the only one who always completes, satisfies and fulfills.