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Look and lust, or look and repent?

 “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

In my Bible this verse is (Matthew 5:28) in red ink and no, it’s not because I tried to scratch it out! This verse Jesus spoke in His own words and therefore we should sit upright and listen.

How it came across to me when I grew up in the Church, is that you mustn’t look and lust. It was drilled into me that you should treat all girls like your sister (1 Timothy 5:1-2). This was a problem, because I saw all of my sister’s friends differently than I saw my own sister.

It is unrealistically expected that a man’s sexuality be switched off until he marries and when he is married, his sexuality only belongs to his wife. But in reality each person’s sexuality belongs to him or her. And without looking and desiring, no man would’ve asked any woman to marry him.

The whole look and lust message is one that makes man feel guilty about his sexuality, to just remind him that he has one thing on the brain and to drive home the point that sexuality is actually something dirty, ugly and wrong, something that we as Christian men should turn away from and repent.

If the man is made to be visually stimulated, why then is it wrong to be stimulated by visual things?

Looking and lusting is normal. It’s a sign that you are a healthy, full blooded man. Jesus shows man their shortcomings during his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5) and makes it very clear that nobody can be perfect without God’s grace. Jesus doesn’t try to communicate in a manner that goes against a man’s sexuality. He rather uses adultery and lusting as an example to highlight man’s weakness. Lusting is a normal and healthy part of every man’s sexual life, a part of his being that God gave him. But it is when man can’t control his looking and lusting that it becomes a problem. It is almost like the first look is inevitable, but the second look is a test of your character.

The danger of feeling guilty about the lusting-part and to try switching it off, is that you are messing with sexual DNA, which can result in much greater consequences. The more you suppress your sexuality, the bigger the fallout will be. Let us use King David as an example. He looked at Bathsheba, he desired her and according to my understanding of sexuality and the Word this is still a sign of a man with 20/20 vision. Thereafter he carried out an investigation to find out who she is. Here it starts becoming dodgy, because he makes plans to turn his looking and lusting to another level. He had no reason to do it, because at that stage he already had more than three other women to see to his sexual needs.

After he found out she was a married woman, he didn’t let that bother him and he had a one night stand with her. In other words: He used her for his own pleasure. He had no interest in her as a person. He didn’t want to marry her. He just wanted to satisfy his own desires and to hell with the rest. From there onwards it only went downhill for him until he ended up committing murder.

David’s problem wasn’t that he found Bathsheba attractive. His problem was that he couldn’t manage his sexuality. Sexual sin is when you just care about yourself. And what Jesus also mentions in Matthew 5 is that it’s better for the man to pluck out his eye or chop of his hand. In other words, the man must sometimes manage his own desires in such a manner that it will cost him something of himself, for example, like Joseph. Joseph had desires for Potiphar’s wife, but he managed it to the point that he said he could not sin against God and his boss Potiphar.

Lust on its own is not wrong, but ensure that you manage it correctly, otherwise you can land in the soup!