Thursday, October 25, 2012
Lust vs. Chastity
Tonight's sermon is on the subject of Lust - one of the seven deadly sins - and Chastity - one of the seven virtues. I have to admit, it has been a difficult subject to research. First, I wanted a nice image to go at the top of the sermon. Have you ever tried to Google "lust" or "chastity"? I don't think I have ever (unintentionally) seen that much pornography. Even chastity gave some pretty interesting image results - nothing like seeing metal teeth on a chastity belt.
So, after giving up on that search and deciding to make my own image, I decided to try to find some more information on this particular sin. No, I do not want to take a quiz to see how lustful I am. No, I do not want to find out how to add more lust to my life. I don't want to hear about how great lust is, or read any stories about the loss of virginity. I did find some good information, but only after sifting through a lot of garbage.
It's a good thing I'm already a bit corrupt on the subject of lust, otherwise all this searching would surely have done the job. Not that I'm a highly corrupt person on this topic. Generally. What lusty sins am I guilty of? Well, I write smut. I'm sure this could be considered lust, although, I'm not sure as the characters engaging in sexual relations are fictional. And, I have been known to drool over a sexy male once or twice. I even pretended to be a lesbian stripper for a free drink or three. Back in college, I was engaging in premarital sex with my boyfriend, then would go cheat on him with a friend of his, and all this while secretly (well, not too secretly) pining of the boyfriend's roommate. Additionally, I was two months pregnant with my first child the day I got married. So, obviously, there was a bit of premarital washing-our-clothing-in-the-same-load going on (yes, as a mother of 6, I finally figured out that washing our underwear in the same load is what causes babies).
Are the above mentioned actions sins of a lustful nature? Yes, at least, I believe so. However, I do believe there are some sins which are even worse yet are also in the same category of lust.
When I was a very young child, I was molested by a friend of my father's. This continued for a few years. When I was 16, I was raped by someone I thought was a friend of mine. I have met many other people whom have been raped or molested to varying degrees. These lustful actions, in my opinion, are much more heinous than teenager engaging in consensual premarital sex.
And, of course, there are "less-evil" lustful sins (again, my opinion) such as lustful thoughts. However, even the Bible points out these thoughts are still sin. Matthew 5:28 - But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
But anyway, I think we all know what sins are categorized under the heading "lust" - and we all know that to varying degrees, we're guilty of such sin. Why is lust one of the 7 deadly sins? For starters, it is the origin of other sins - adultery, rape, bestiality, sex addiction, porn addiction, and the list goes on. But additionally, and more seriously, lust goes against love. Much of the Bible and Christianity is about God's love for us. Love is powerful and real and from the heart. Lust walks over this love, ignoring it. It is passion - it is powerful and temporarily real and from the body.
I found one good story in another sermon as I was doing research. I'll paraphrase here, but if you'd like to read the sermon I stole it from, click here: stolen sermon. So...
Most of us learned in school that if you're ever stranded in the ocean with no food or water - do NOT drink the ocean water. Ocean water is salt water, containing about seven times more salt than our bodies can safely handle. The kidneys need more water to flush out the excess salt, and the salt makes us thirstier, and so we drink more, until we basically die of thirst - our kidneys becoming dehydrated because of the salt.
Lust is very similar to this. We are thirsty, and take what looks like what we need. But, in reality, what we need is love and what we're substituting is lust, which will just make us thirstier until it eventually kills us.
Chastity is the virtue we should all aim for. By doing so, we will limit our exposure and tendency to gravitate towards lust. Chastity is purity of thought, word and deed. Perhaps you have a "purity ring" - a symbol many young people wear as a promise to their parents, themselves, and God that they will wait for sex until they are married. I've heard it often argued that a ring will not stop a person from having sex. This is true. However, with the strength of God and the support of family and friends, these rings help serve as a reminder to the person of the promise they made. It is almost like if you were to cheat on your spouse - having a picture of your spouse on the bedside table, within clear view of both you and the sex partner, would make it a bit more difficult to complete the adulterous act. Or, at least, it would if you had any kind of conscience.
But, I digress (nothing new there)...
Why should we convince our children to be pure? Why should we live as chaste of a life as possible? Relationships are about giving of yourself. This doesn't matter what kind of relationship it is - friendships, we give our love and trust; and the person we love? We give our love and trust, but much more - our body, heart and mind. Shouldn't we give these things as whole and untouched?
Besides, as many of us know, once you start down the path of lust, it is difficult to break free. Perhaps you're a man whom is used to being used by females. You fell in love with one. You'd saved yourself, still a virgin at an age where virginity was quite uncommon, especially for men. You chose her to be the one and so you gave all of yourself to her. And, it was good. For a month or two. After it all fell apart, you find yourself giving your body to women, but not your heart. You have allowed lust to take over but it is not what you truly need. Granted, you can never get that virginity back. But you can still act from a place of purity and love.
It is never too late to turn from our lustful ways, and start acting in a way more in tune to God's wishes, and His love, and His path for us.