David was king of Israel. He wrote many of the Psalms. As a devout Jew, he was a person of faith and character. But one spring night, he became careless and curious. He should have been out with his men fighting a war, but instead, he takes a stroll on the roof of the palace. And down below, he sees a beautiful woman bathing. He glances, and then he stares. This is a beautiful woman he thinks to himself. His thoughts are not innocent. He desires her; he craves her. He is alone; and he is lonely. He finds out about her. He sends for her. He seduces her. He wanted what he wanted, and being king, of course, he could get it. And he got it. Eventually, he has his lover’s husband killed to cover up his sin. And, to add to the ugliness of this picture, the baby she conceives dies.
What’s wrong with this picture? David was in the wrong place. He should have been leading his men on the battlefront. Instead he relaxed at the palace with time on his hands. He was alone. He lacked the emotional support he needed to keep his hormones in check. He allowed his mind to wander. He was thinking impure thoughts. He lounges, then he lingers, then he lusts.
Lust reaps its greatest havoc on our lives when we are in a tempting place, when our mind is not guarded, when we choose to face life alone, and when we are spiritually distant from God.
Lust is a craving, a yearning, a longing, and a passion. Lust, according to The American Heritage Dictionary, “is a sexual craving, especially when excessive; to have an inordinate desire, especially a sexual desire.”1 While we most often think of lust involving sex, it is not limited to that domain. We can lust for power, for a car, for a house, or for children.
Lust always starts in the mind. Adultery starts in the head, before the bed. First, Satan gets our attention. Then, he engages our feelings resulting in action. Once something has our attention, then it is easier to get our feelings. And once our feelings are engaged, then it is easier for our actions to follow.
I recently shopped for a new car. Each time I visited a car dealership, the salesperson encouraged me, “Go ahead. Take it for a test drive.” He wanted to engage my emotions and my feelings with the smell of the new car and the feel of the drive. And once something or someone has my feelings, then it is easier for my actions to follow. Satan knows that.
This is what happened to David when he seduced Bathsheba. He was out for a walk. He looked. Then he looked again. It has been said, “You can’t help the first look, but you can avoid the second look that becomes lust.” The woman got David’s attention. Then, lust got his feelings. The second look created the desire. And once his feelings kicked in, he was easy prey for temptation.
Lust gives no thought to the consequences, no consideration of what might lay ahead, simply the thrill of a particular moment’s challenge.
Have you noticed that we lust for or lust after? Lust, then, always involves objects. At its most basic level, it is a preoccupation with objects of our desire. We lust after or for something or someone, not with something or someone. Lust reduces the other person to a non-person. Lust accepts any partner for a momentary service. It has nothing to give. It has nothing to ask. It reduces everything to a mere object, one to be acquired, then discarded when it’s used up.
Lust treats people like football players treat a football. That ball is cradled and cuddled. Players will risk life and limb to protect the ball when their team has it on offense. But once the football crosses the goal line and a touchdown is scored, then it is thrown, pounded, and spun on the ground. Then, the player will dance around and mock it. Finally, it is ignored. Its purpose has been served. It was merely an object used to accomplish a goal.
If you have been the object of someone’s lust, you know how demeaning it feels.
Lust is deadly. Oh, surely not, you say. But think about it. Where do promiscuity, rape, incest, pornography, prostitution, adultery, many unhappy marriages, and a lot of divorces come from, if not from lust? And to add to its destruction, it causes bitterness, guilt, disillusionment, and strained relationships. Its consequences are mental, social, vocational, and spiritual heartbreak.