The Problem With Lust

by James Rudy Gray

Pornography is a growing problem among men in America. Pornography is estimated to be the third largest money-maker for organized crime, following drugs and gambling. Some studies have indicated that 86 percent of rapists admitted to the regular use of pornography. There are over four million child molesters in this country and 12 percent of all Websites (over four million) on the internet are pornographic. Around 72 million visits are made yearly to pornographic sites and over 100,000 young people are being solicited for sex every day in America in chat rooms.

What drives the pornographic industry? Lust. Lust is the intense, obsessive, sexual craving that reveals a self-centered, self-focused, and selfish attitude. In Matthew 5:27-30, Jesus taught that lust is mental or emotional adultery.

Even though more women are being involved in pornography, sexual lust is a significant problem with men. From this lust comes one of the largest addictions in the world: sexual addiction.

The most powerful force in the world is not nuclear warheads, but sex. Dr. Archibald Hart in his book, Healing Life's Hidden Addictions, has observed, "The human sex drive operates out of the cortex, that thin outer layer of the brain where all learning takes place. The fact that our sex drive is controlled by our brains also means that we can take our sex drive and add power to it with thoughts, fantasies, images, etc The more we enhance our sex drive this way, the more addictive it becomes."

Women seem to be more given to lustful addictions for romance while men most often develop lustful addictions sexually.

Lust is a problem we face in the church today among professing Christians. What can be done about it? Jesus taught us that it is better to pluck out our right eye and cut off our right hand than to go into hell. I believe He was teaching us that we must stop the look of lust (staring, imagining, fantasizing, and obsessing) and shun the behavior of lust (action fed by that wrong desire). The right hand and right eye were regarded as more valuable than other body parts. Jesus was not suggesting physical mutilation but radical changes in our thought life. 

Lust must be dealt with as sin and it must be dealt with at the level of the heart. Sexual sin can be forgiven, but it is also damaging. Images in the mind seem to die slow deaths. In Matt. 5:27-30, Jesus calls for a definite commitment and a ruthless self-denial. 

We live in a culture today that embraces all sorts of sexual behavior as normal. While a society may determine something is "normal," what is more important is what God says. Lust is sin. In the counseling room, it must be dealt with ­as such. You will need patience working with a client who is a sexual addict, but he needs the structure, accountability, and moral standards that are found in Scripture. 

The excuse is often given that a person simply cannot stop the addiction. That is partially true. Addiction is difficult and it is destructive, but unless the addiction is stopped, a person's quality of life will be stopped. It can be stopped and replaced with good and healthy habits, but I am convinced it takes the power of God. It seems that an addict may actually create an alter person (the addict) whose whole purpose is the addiction. That alter person must die so the real person can live again. That can happen through biblical counseling.

Sexual lust can lead to sexual addiction and that can lead to various types of self-destructive behavior like drugs, alcohol, stealing, lying, etc. It is better to teach people to run away than to yield to temptation. Joseph fled when he was tempted by Potiphar's wife. David lusted after Bathsheba and endured great pain and disappointment. Finally, David prayed the prayer that is the starting point for any man or woman trapped by a lustful heart. "Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me (Ps. 51:10)."

Lust is a problem in America..but there is a solution. It may take some time for change to take place, but change can happen. A person must learn to turn from the lust and turn to God as they seek to develop a pure heart.

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