An Examination of Sins and Virtues: Lust

By Kenny Kiratli

Kenny Kiratli ('17) attends Northwestern University.

Posted: April 9, 2015

In a society filled with inflated relationships and fictitious desire, a simple gaze awry can kindle a feeling known as lust. The strong sexual desire that is felt by many people has been seen to destroy relationships, or ruin the foundation of hopefuls.

Obstruction of common sense often leads the mind into a world of a contorted reality. Lustful intentions are shallow and harmful in their own, and a distinct line must be drawn between lust and the true feeling of love. As the artist Haddaway asked some 20 years ago, “What is love?”

The intense feeling of deep affection is known as love. On the surface, love and lust may seem similar in ways. As one feels a strong desire, we see the effects of the stronghold of sexual wants.

However, love and lust are polar opposites. The feeling of love is indeed a deep feeling, and lust is not necessarily a feeling, but a poorly founded idea, or inclination.

A 2014 study conducted by the University of Chicago showed the unmistakable differences between love and lust. Researchers showed test subjects pictures of strangers, and allowed them to study the images.

As the testers observed the strangers, their eye movement was being recorded and evaluated. What the researchers found was that if the observer focused primarily on the body of the stranger,  lust was felt.

However, if the observer looked and concentrated upon the face of the stranger, they saw them as a potential partner, and felt love. This research suggests that with everyday glances, by observing people in certain ways, we either feel love or lust.

Nonetheless, lust cannot be completely avoided, and most people have experienced a desire that is known to be immoral. Lust may be experienced on different levels or in different situations, and may come as involuntary. Everywhere we look or listen there are opportunities for a slip up into lustful thought.

Consumers in today’s society are bombarded with sensual advertisement hoping to catch their eye. Sex sells, right? Whether in magazines, on TV or anywhere in between, a product is often times advertised using profane images or seductive strategies. Who wouldn’t want to buy Axe products after seeing exposed women flocking to the man with a stick of deodorant?

Lust-provoking material looms over and surrounds us every day; succumbing to feelings of desire is all but inevitable after being constantly encircled by obscene things.

Thus, to avoid lustful thought and action, one must be aware of their situation. Making the right choices can be all the difference.

For example, if a married man constantly stops by the local bar to meet new people, this may lead to sexual desire and, in turn, female relations. Avoiding these relationships is not complex; by changing his environment and not going to the bar in the first place, lustful thought and action would not be the result.

Experiencing sexual desire in the form of lust is not uncommon, but how can one refrain? Self-control is certainly a large part of keeping away from this danger. If the mind is trained to be resolute in not wandering to secular desire, the actions of the person will largely reflect their divine thought.

However, self-control can only take you so far. Now, absolutely do not think about or expand on the idea of cheetahs prowling the African horizon. And what did you just think about? Cheetahs prowling the African horizon. All the same, never thinking about sexual interaction, whether it be lustful or not, is virtually impossible–the brain is simply too curious to explore suggestions from its surroundings.

“If I make it a habit of letting–whether it’s television, print media, gossip, whatever it is–into my thinking, the more I put myself in line with that stuff, then the more susceptible I will be for lust and its entanglements,” said Dan Bergstrom, a Bible teacher and chaplain at Minnehaha.

In this light, we must make an effort to surround our lives with material that is uplifting, and avert from situations and an environment in which we may be subject to falling captive to destructive action. We are, in fact, only a product of our environment.

“You must insulate yourself with the divine, and that can come in many forms,” said Bergstrom. “A prayer, a scripture passage, a friend, a walk out in nature. Insulate with what is good, and arm yourself with what is good. Then you’ll be able to most effectively resist lust.”

In other words, he added, “Crap in, crap out.”

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