In Part 1 and Part 2, I talked about the flip side of lust–”wanting to be lusted after” as opposed to the more familiar “lusting after someone else.” Today, I again want to holler from the rooftops about the harm caused by lust and the peril that members of the LDS Church face when they ignore the pernicious reality of lust.
Lust is a drug–a debilitating drug–so it modifies the way we think and feel. It also creates a false reality. It is never satisfied. Lust creates more lust which then demands even more lust. Lust makes people unhappy. It drives a wedge between husbands and wives who then can’t understand why more and more and still more sex doesn’t seem to strengthen their relationship, but rather seems to weaken it.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: Lust is not passion. Lust is not passion. Lust is not passion! But lust fools a lot of people–including Mormons–into thinking that it must be the highest form of passion out there.
Passion has two sides: godly passion (a component of pure love and charity) and carnal passion (a component of lust). Carnal passion is always present in pornography, masturbation, flirting, adultery and objectification–including the objectification of one’s wife. Carnal passion is never good. It is always harmful to those who engage in it and to those who surround them.
Godly passion in contrast is noble, selfless and edifying. Jesus Christ is the ultimate example of godly passion. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (Matt. 15:13). Godly passion, pure love and charity are infinitely more satisfying to the soul than lust and carnal passion ever can be.
Now here’s where people get confused about how sex fits into the equation. We have dumbed down our understanding of love, passion, sex and lust to a point where pretty much the only two things we consider about sex anymore are where we do it and who we do it with. Many LDS men now adhere to the notion that as long as they don’t touch anyone but themselves or their wife and as long as their wife is involved–at some point–in their sexual behavior, hey, it’s all good. “Lustful sex is OK as long as it’s with my wife (and if we ignore the issue of masturbation)!”
What too few Latter-day Saints realize and what even fewer of them ever experience is that a lust-free intimacy which can include wonderful sex and godly passion is way better than lust-driven sex. Way better, as in “night and day” better.
Pornographers sneer that Christians (obviously including Latter-day Saints) are uptight about sex and that there’s nothing better than “uninhibited sex,” whatever that is. They’re wrong, of course. We who claim to follow Christ are not uptight about sex, but we are uncomfortable with the type of lust-driven sex that they’re trying to force-feed us and our kids. Discomfort can often be mistaken for uptightness.
As for the unsupported assertions that nothing beats “uninhibited sex,” we need to remember that these statements are coming from those who have never in their lives experienced lust-free intimacy. It’s like a stubborn pre-schooler insisting to a world-renowned French chef that nothing beats juice boxes and Oreo cookies. The chef quickly realizes that it does no good at this point to encourage the pre-schooler to set his sights a bit higher. Pornographers have a pre-schooler’s understanding of love, passion and intimacy.
This is the truth:
We love and we want to be loved. (This is what Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ want us to experience.)
This is the counterfeit:
We lust and we want to be lusted after. (This is what Satan so desperately wants us to experience.)
Regarding the LDS men who consume porn, many of whom are now addicted, they no longer have the ability to love with the pure love of Christ. They are no longer able to aspire to lust-free intimacy because lust has choked the life out of the pure and noble feelings in their hearts. They lust and think that that’s as good as it gets.
As for the many LDS women who are now dating or married to porn-consuming men, they have been subjected to sexual objectification by so many boys and men for so long that they have now lost the ability to dream of true love. They want to be lusted after and think that that’s as good as it gets.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is that sex and pornography addiction can be overcome if the addict becomes willing to do whatever it takes–including coming out of secrecy and isolation, and getting involved in therapy and an effective 12 Step group like Sexaholics Anonymous. This is where growing numbers of LDS men are finding real recovery, a recovery that is wonderful. It makes repentance possible. It makes lust-free intimacy possible.
The other piece of good news is that an LDS woman can recover from the damage inflicted on her (knowingly or not) by her husband and his sex and porn addiction–and she can do it whether he gets on board or not. Again therapy and an effective 12 Step group like S-Anon are breathing life back into the downtrodden LDS women who had lost the hope of ever being happy again.
Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers. I have been watching it happen.