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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Lust and the Search For Meaning

Not just sexual lust, but every kind of lust — whether they are lusts for people, positions, possessions, or pleasures — have some things in common. In David Needham’s Birthright: Christian, Do You Know Who You Are? there is an explanation that lust is driven, at least in part, by a search for meaning. Sometimes when we are frustrated in finding meaning in the eternal, we get stuck find meaning in the fleeting. This is often how sinful habits are initiated. He writes:

Usually we become gripped with an obsession to sin when some other more respectable or righteous fulfillment in life is being frustrated. Perhaps some relationship which should have been realized, some accomplishment which slipped through our fingers, some disappointment in our ability to fulfill a task or to use our heads. Nothing opens the door to sin faster than failure. (Unless, perhaps, it is success.) Since it is simply too unthinkable to be alive without some degree of satisfaction that will bring some sense into life, I automatically reach out for whatever object or experience is readily obtainable. That is why physical or sensory type lusts are so especially quick to arise. My vacuum of meaninglessness can be filled so immediately! There are times when stuffing my mouth satisfies. And for those moments life is making sense. Shallow sense, but then… any sense is better than an aching vacuum.

Sometimes it takes a little more time. If the lust is sex, it may take a little while to find that person, that book or magazine, that “something” which will awaken that fantasy of meaning. I must consider my reputation of course, and my financial resources… it may require some careful planning and delay, but that’s okay. For you see, from the very moment I set my mind on lust I am moving! My mind is alive—planning, anticipating.

And something else remarkable. Even if I cannot lay my hands on whatever object or experience lust demands, I can quite easily slide into fantasy. And for those few seductive moments, I can forget the real world. I can push aside the haunting frustration, the emptiness, the broken plans and dreams. I can even forget my lifeless, lackluster Christianity.

Then, of course, if my fantasies can be followed by actual experience, I have doubly lusted, doubly lived. Little wonder lusts are so consuming in view of such rewards! Temporary? Oh yes. And inevitably followed once again by the gnawing emptiness of that “meaning” vacuum.

1 Timothy 6:11-12: “But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called….”
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