Lust (and Santa Claus)

You have heard that it was said to those of old, "You shall not commit adultery." But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

In the entire sermon on the mount, that's about all Jesus had to say about lust. The verses that follow give some tough guidance on how to respond to your lustful human nature, but this is the core of it.

Matthew 5:27-30 was the subject of last Sunday's high school lesson. I touched on how, as if it weren't already hard enough to remain chaste, Jesus walks in and announces that anyone who even thinks lustfully has sinned. And we, being sexual creatures, find it nigh on impossible to get through a single day without a lustful thought of some nature. But the heart of this teaching isn't actually about lust. Its about love.

Christ is showing us here that our tendency to lust after others actually is proof positive of our complete misunderstanding of love. Society's general understanding of love is one that simply turns other people into objects for us to desire, which, at the end of the day, is actually lust.

And the focus of lust is the self.

Lust is an interesting (deceptive) sin in that the focus of lust isn't what you would be first led to notice. We generally think of the object of the lust - that's the problem after all...Why if it hadn't come along, I never would have thought to lust for it. But lust is, in fact, a sin of complete selfishness. It really has very little to do with anyone else but you, because it objectifies another person and thereby eliminates their person-hood - makes you the only person in the picture. It looks to see how the self can benefit from or exploit them as the object of desire. Gratification of the self is the end goal. The object of the lust is simply a vehicle.

Love, in truth, is the opposite of this - it lays down its life, puts its own desires to death, realizes that we are not here for ourselves, and sees others as children of God.

Christ is implicitly teaching us in this verse - not just setting up a rule or law that we should avoid breaking - but setting a standard that we should seek to go above and beyond. We are challenged to totally change the way we think about others, from the ground up.

Right. And this has, what, exactly, to do with Santa Claus? Find out here.

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