Saturday, March 04, 2006

Of The Idols We Worship . . .

Lust is likely the most pernicious. It is listed among the Seven Deadly Sins. A story in today’s Deseret News describes it the “sexiest” of the Seven Deadly Sins:

Lust is the sexiest of the Seven Deadly Sins. Lust dances the tango and looks good in tight clothes. It flames. It feels good. And lust has ensnared presidents and paupers alike. Still, in modern America, where sex sells everything from toothpaste to jeans, many people find the idea of "lust is a sin" to be hilariously old-fashioned.
What exactly is Lust? The story provides a good definition as well:
David Pascoe, vice president of the Salt Lake Theological Seminary, says we tend to think the Seven Deadly Sins are quaint and musty. But they aren't. Pascoe likes this definition of lust: "Lust is the self-destructive drive for pleasure out of proportion to its worth." He emphasizes the words "self-destructive." And "out of proportion.” Sexual pleasure is a gift from God, Pascoe notes. But sexual pleasure is often made into a false idol. Worship of this idol is woven deeply into our modern-day culture, Pascoe says . . . The Roman philosopher Seneca said if you conquer the desire for sexual pleasure, you can conquer anything.
But, really . . .what does a little lust hurt?

Pascoe reminds us that lust hurts the person you are cheating on — and yes, Martin Luther beat Jimmy Carter by many centuries in saying that cheating in your heart is also a form of cheating. However, even if you are single, lust is not a victimless emotion.

Pascoe reminds us that no matter who else it hurts, the sin always hurts the sinner, personally. Dante knew this to be true as well. Even though he pitied them, Dante said lusters would spend eternity being smothered in fire and brimstone. Dante believed lust was a sin strong enough to suffocate the soul.
The cheating aspect is all the more interesting in light of Elisabeth's post over at BCC here. Even if the wife knows about it and approves, how does that vitiate the idol of Lust? It seems, to the contrary only to feed, strengthen and nourish it.

Here's a pretty interesting little quiz to see just how high you rate on the lustful thermometer. Don't worry its an anonymous quiz, and relatively harmless. It might be an eye opener about how influenced we are by our moden culture.

So, how do we avoid Lust? There are some excellent reminders for us in the scriptures, starting in Galatians 5:16-26:

16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

Another guide, as Jeff Lindsay posted on not so long ago here, is to always remember Christ, to consciously remember Him, so that we will have His Spirit to be with us. Another is to pray always, as counseled in 2 Nephi 32. I'm struck by how the emphasis is that we must constantly make an affirmative effort to keep Christ as the Center of our lives, or we will allow lust and its accompanying works of the flesh to suffocate our souls.


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