It is natural to be physically attracted to the opposite sex, however mankind’s evil cravings continually pervert the natural order. Because this is true, it can often be confusing to discern what attracts you to another person. I have learned that there is a broad spectrum in my heart ranging from a self-gratifying lust to an admiration for beauty and goodness.
What is lust?
Lust is a strong, often perverting desire. It is a ruling desire for something or someone. It’s a desire to gratify the cravings of the flesh. The problem with lust is that our lusts are unquenchable. Lust is never satisfied. With lust, you are always left craving and longing for more.
How is lust unquenchable? You likely have a certain body “type” you find sexually attractive. The reality is that attraction has been nurtured in you. The brain is every person’s most powerful sex organ, and once you have been aroused by something, it is likely that person or thing will become what has the most arousing impact on you. That nurture might have come from something like a pornographic magazine or website, Hollywood films, music videos, or cultural influences. But it might have come against your will through sexual abuse or unwanted exposure to any of the things mentioned above. Our lusts and desires are complex, and our environment affects us subtly without us ever knowing.
Believe it or not, 500 years ago, the ideal woman was pale, plump with a round tummy, and had child-bearing hips. Now, most supermodels are tall and thin with large breasts. As visually stimulating as a woman’s body may be, the lust inside a man’s heart will never be quenched. You will never be able to look at a woman (or man), touch her, and have enough sex to quench the desire of your lustful heart.
Lust objectifies. Lust is not only unquenchable, but it also leads us to view other people as objects to be consumed, instead of image bearers of God. When a woman becomes an object, she is defined by the size of her breasts or fitness level. When this happens, her personhood and soul is completely forgotten. An objectified woman (or man) is no longer seen as a person, but as commodity.
Lust is self-gratifying. Lust does not love others, but seeks to love and serve the self. Relationships are often left shattered due to lust. Imagine the pain a woman must experience to find out that she was never truly loved, but used for her physical body. The same thing can happen to men. This happens when someone in the relationship seeks to gratify the self. If the body is loved more than the person, when the body changes, so does the attraction.
What is love of beauty?
The other side of the spectrum is the love of one’s beauty. So, what does attractive beauty look like? This is a love of the beauty of one’s mind, the beauty of one’s body, and the beauty of one’s soul. Love of beauty is an admiration for another person. Beauty is seeing another and valuing another’s whole person. When you find someone beautiful, there also comes a desire for friendship, a desire to do life together, and desire to know one another more. True beauty is what drives you to want to commit to and marry her, so that you can continue to admire the full person. People can have admirable thoughts, admirable bodies, and admirable souls.
My wife is the most beautiful woman. I admire her willingness to do and follow through with hard things. I admire her desire to know and walk with God. I admire her hatred of abortion, sex trafficking, and sexual immorality. I admire her body. At one time, she struggled with her weight, then through hard work and self-disciple, she lost it and became very fit. I appreciate that part of her story. Now, after our first child, she has put on a few more pounds, but she has become even more beautiful and more admirable because I have seen her body grow and deliver our beautiful baby girl. It’s part of our story together. Her body has grown more attractive because of the beauty of God designing her body to bring children into the world.
Lust can’t do that! Lust cannot adapt as our bodies grow old together, but beauty can! Beauty remains through sagging breasts and weird veins popping up, through wrinkles, and all of our decaying physical features. True beauty doesn’t simply remain, but it gets sweeter with time as you experience and walk through life together.
What is driving you? Beauty? Or lust?