Monday, January 11, 2010

Lust or Love?

Is it lust, is it love?
Whatever it is, I can't get enough
Is it lust, is it love?
When I look around tell me who can I trust
Is it love?
-Scorpions, Lust or Love

A while back, I speculated on the high divorce rate in this country especially amongst christians (intentional little-c). The primary reason, I figure, is the notion of "irreconcilable differences." In other words, you're in an argument and you just refuse to give in. I think sadly, one of the reasons divorce is so prevalent is that our society has confused lust and love. I don't necessarily mean the desire to marry out of carnal passion, but more the contrast of lust and love and their root in our hearts.

Consider lust: "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever." (1 John 2:15-17, NIV) Here, lust is counted as "lov[ing] the world" and is in opposition to loving God. In the NASB translation, verse 16 reads, "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world." So both the lust of the eyes and the lust of the flesh are contrary to the love of the Father. This scripture has always challenged me, because it is a harsh priority-check. Do I love God more than myself? And that's what lust is- loving ourselves, aka selfishness.

It is obvious then that lust stands opposed to love, because love is sacrificial. And this is where society goes off on the wrong track. Often in marriages (and most other relationships) we have the attitude of "what's in it for me?" In an argument? You want to win. Stressful day? You want to relax and be served. House a mess? You want someone else to clean. That's what makes lust, both of the eyes and flesh, so dangerous. We become the center of our relationships. Wife not as attractive as she was when you got married? That's ok, go look at pornography. Husband doesn't listen? That's ok, have an emotional affair with a coworker. Not satisfied sexually? That's ok, have a physical affair. And it doesn't take long before more than half of all marriages come to a sad, selfish, lustful end.

But it was never intended to be that way. Again, love is sacrificial. "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13). Applied to marriages, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." (Ephesians 5:25, emphasis added) In an argument? Be the first to say I'm sorry. Stressful day? Do something for your spouse to brighten his/her day- you'd be surprised what you get in return. House a mess? Do something about it. Wife not as attractive as she was when you got married? "Rejoice in the wife of your youth" (Proverbs 5:18). Husband not listening? There's probably something on his mind. Listen to him. Not satisfied sexually? Give like you've never given before and reap the benefits.

We cannot love if we are full of lust because "God is love" (1 John 4:8) and if we are lusting after the world, "the love of the Father is not in [us]". Remember to love God first and foremost, to love ourselves last, and do not let lust rule in your heart.


Glynn said...

Good counsel here. My wife is the love of my youth, the love of my middle age, and I hope the love of my old age. As for looks, well, I don't anything liked I looked at 21. (But she does!)

Joyce said...

I had similar thoughts in my post. Enjoyed reading this today.

Anonymous said...

Excellent points!

The "what's in it for me" question seems to be a common thread in the posts on 'Lust'... go figure...

Thanks for posting!

Fatha Frank said...

Thanks everyone for your comments!

@Glynn: I need to remind myself my wife is the wife of my youth (I'm not yet in middle age!). For me, that's more a matter of attitude than attraction. The latter's not a problem, but the former...

@Joyce: I enjoyed your post too. Haven't gotten back to comment, but I will. :)

@Bridget: Thanks for hosting! I think we all had a common theme because we can all relate.

Helen said...

You have a good point about sacrificial love in marriage.
That intense feeling of youth lessens, but when replaced with mature sacrificial oh man....

Matt @ The Church of No People said...

Amen, Frank. My wife and I are reading "Reforming Marriage" and it is a phenominal look at sacrificial love.