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Lust vs Beauty

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? 

4 Big Unintended Consequences

Have you ever tried to control the outcome of a situation? When we want something badly, it is all too easy to do whatever it takes to get what we desire. Oftentimes, we use manipulative tactics and choose sin over purity to get what we want…. When we do this, we find ourselves facing unintended consequences.

Here’s a word of advice- set boundaries in relationships with the opposite sex! If you are dating someone, take some time and discuss expectations in dating, physical boundaries, and relational boundaries. Once the boundaries are clear, you’re good to date, right? It’s not that easy. 

Our hearts get involved in relationships, and we easily can become infatuated with one another. Infatuation and insecurity go hand in hand: “Does my date like me?” “What can I do to assure she likes me?” Infatuation is selfish: “No one looks at me the way they do!” “I like the way she makes me feel.” Infatuation is deep in our hearts, because of our desire for acceptance, approval, and control. 

So what do we do when our desires and infatuation clash with boundaries? One or the other must give way. In this moment, we have two options: exercise self-control and fight our desires or cross the boundaries. Crossing our boundaries may seem right in the moment, but with our sin always comes unintended consequences.

Unintended Consequence 1: She can’t trust your word.

First, your significant other can’t trust your word any more. She may say she does, but in reality you gave your word about not crossing boundaries, yet you did. How then can you be trusted to keep your word in the future? How can you be trusted to keep your marriage vows? Your actions speak louder than words!

Unintended Consequence 2: She can’t trust your leadership.

Second, when boundaries are crossed, the woman can no longer trust her boyfriend to lead the relationship. He led her to cross boundaries. Maybe he led her to making out, to lusting after one another, maybe to touching each other’s bodies, or maybe to having sex.

With all this sexual immorality comes shame and guilt. Sure, she will take some of the responsibility, too, but the responsibility to lead the relationship falls on the man. Crossing the boundaries for pleasure gives evidence that you shouldn’t be trusted to lead. She might be left with questions such as “how can you be trusted not to cross the line with other women once we’re married?” “What keeps you from flirting with a woman who is not your wife?”  “What keeps you from having an extramarital affair?” “What keeps you from running after your sinful cravings?” Women should be able to trust men to lead the relationship, your lies shatter that trust. 

Unintended Consequences 3: She can’t trust your spiritual maturity.

Breaking (or not setting) boundaries in dating is a major mark of spiritual immaturity. As we grow in spiritual maturity, we should embody more fruits of the spirit (Gal 5:22-23), such as self-control. Self control is the ability to see your sinful desires, and to say no to those desires because of God’s character and who He has made you to be. If you can’t see the ungodliness in pursuing selfish pleasure outside of marriage, chances are that you aren’t as spiritually mature as you thought you were. 

Unintended Consequence 4: She Can’t Trust Men Period. 

After boundaries have been crossed, after lies have been told, after a failure to lead, there often comes heartbreak. This heartbreak is a result of the cheap imitation of intimacy. This false intimacy leads to mistrust…. But here is the tragedy-- your failure has represented men as a whole for the woman. After one or two men have mistreated a woman by seeking his own pleasure, she naturally begins to mistrust all men. 

There is good news! Just like trust can be broken, it can slowly be rebuilt. Just like one man can lead a woman to trust no men, one man can also bring a picture of redemption of men to a woman. 

Learn from me… I have made all these mistakes. I had no idea of the weight of my actions or their impact upon the women I dated, including my wife. Here is another piece of advice-- if you do not trust your significant other, end the relationship… now. 

Date in community. When the men and women around you give the green light, pursue the woman God has potentially provided to be your wife. 

Although I have been in too many relationships where I broke a heart, including my own, I am thankful that, in Christ, guilt and shame do not get the last word! God has the ability to redeem broken hearts and restore men and women to live upright and Godly lives through the power of the Gospel.  (Colossians 2:13-14)