After returning from our family summer vacation, I’ve had to “detox” from all of the rich food and drink I indulged in throughout the week while we were gone. The vacation packing list usually calls for shorts with the elastic waistband as I slide my belt one notch bigger and just relax and enjoy eating whatever…whenever. Salty, sweet, crunchy, creamy…you name it, we had it on hand during the break from our ordinary busy lives.
Having a large dose of hyper-palatable foods like chips, soda and cookies helped me realize a few things about this very popular food group. The more you have, the more desensitized you become to the degree of saltiness or sweetness that is packed in the snack of your choice. The taste of real food loses its luster rather quickly as I found myself addicted and feigning for the next hit of sugary goodness.
Don’t get me wrong, vacation is a good time to let loose and feast with your family. However, throwing out the training and the lanes you have built for yourself can also be an opportunity to call to mind some important life lessons about over indulging our appetites.
While the hyper-palatable foods that we love may be good in and of themselves, maintaining the freedom to say no when appropriate and delay instant gratification for the future good (bodily health) are solid reasons to practice and train within your wellness plan. For most though, the thought of disease mitigation for our senior years doesn’t really get the needle moving when making nutrition choices. We need small wins now that we can see and feel in order to gain the necessary momentum for developing a healthy lifestyle.
I believe that the moral life has a similar construct, especially with regard to the problem of lust. Our culture has all but re-defined the problem of lust and instead promotes it as a healthy outlet for men and women to indulge in…at the expense of the other of course. The moral problem of lust lies in that it is a desire to use another for our own sexual gratification. It inverts the powerful and life giving gift of sexual desire towards oneself and diminishes our unique God given ability to love another into a mere animal instinct.
For men, lust is a constant battle in a world replete with spandex and yoga pants. Ladies, don’t get me wrong, lust is always primarily the problem of the one lusting, but leaving nothing to the imagination of a man doesn’t help us overcome this twisted desire. Cultures typically swing between the two extremes with regard to sexual desire…repress or indulge. Our culture has certainly swung in the direction of indulging, but rather than swinging all the way back to a puritan repressive view of sexuality we need to look at the third option…redeemed sexuality.
Christ came to this world on a rescue mission to save us. He didn’t come to give us a bunch of rules or coping mechanisms, but rather to redeem our brokenness.
In order to overcome lust we can look at the long term benefits of deeper meaningful relationships with others and avoiding addictive behavior, but what we really need are small wins today that can help us build the momentum we need to live a redeemed Christ centered life.
I have found that when faced with the temptation to lust, reciting the first verse of Psalm 84 helps to flip that disordered desire around and properly reorients our powerful desire for sexual union. “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!” (Psalm 84). This recitation doesn’t deny the beauty that is before you but puts her in the proper context and calls you to look deeper and see the giver of the gift instead of just grasping.
The problem with our culture isn’t that it over values sex, the problem is that our culture has little to know clue how valuable sex is. Use this tool the next time you find yourself tempted by lust and choose the third option…redemption!
“Put on the Armor of God” (Eph 6:11)