Our greatest ally, our sexuality, is too often seen as our greatest evil. For decades we’ve been taught that sexual desire is inappropriate, dirty, raunchy, nasty, predatory, scary, and abusive, just to name a few adjectives. Those of us who were raised to believe these things have tried to keep our sexuality at bay as best we can, because we perceived that all sexual thoughts, feelings, and actions must be taboo and sinful.
Boy, were we off base! Do we really think that God was just trying to trip us up and make us fall into sin when He created us as sexual beings? Absolutely not! But perhaps these misconceptions explain why I often receive e-mails, from both men and women, sharing something along the lines of:
- “I don’t want to stare at my wife too much, or else I’ll just start burning with lust.”
- “Is it bad that I look at my husband’s body and think all kinds of kinky sexual thoughts?”
- “I truly believed getting married would cure me of my lust, but I still want sex with my wife practically all the time!”
In case you didn’t notice, each of these people has sadly mistaken love as lust. They have thought that something perfectly natural was completely perverted, and believed that they were wretchedly sinful creatures for simply experiencing the holy urges that God wove into the fibers of our being. But there’s nothing “lustful” about what any of them have presented.
It’s important that we understand the difference between love and lust so that we’ll know when we are crossing the line, and when we’re perfectly within appropriate boundaries. There’s no need to be fearful of something that ultimately brings us health and life — and nothing brings health and life into a marriage like sexual chemistry!
Let’s make it fun and put it in the form of a quiz. Answer “Love” if you think this is a healthy relational dynamic, but answer “Lust” if you think it’s a violation of our sexual and spiritual integrity:
- For a married man to look at his wife, notice what a gorgeous woman she is, and long to be with her sexually as a result — Love or Lust?
- For a married woman to drink her husband in through her eyes and ears and allow erotic thoughts to flow through her mind as a result — Love or Lust?
- For a couple to satisfy their sexual appetites through an intimate encounter, yet still long for more and more connection with one another — Love or Lust?
The answers? Love — on all three counts! Why in the world would anyone think any of these things are forbidden? Just because a thought, feeling, or action is sexual doesn’t mean it’s sinful! We must be able to distinguish between the two if we’re going to be good stewards of our sexuality.