Here's Part II of the "Controlling Lust" series that Faith & Society wrote. Read it; learn it; understand it; and apply it.
The Anatomy of Lust
Having described the benefits of controlling sexual desire, I want to address the problem of lust. There are two components to lust: the object of desire and the arousal.
The Object of Desire
The object of desire may take one or more of the following three forms: the Beautiful Stranger, the Beautiful Thought, or the Beautiful Friend.
The Beautiful Stranger represents those sexually attractive women which appear in our world but which we are not likely to ever know personally. We see them on the sidewalks, in the shopping malls, on the billboards, on the Internet, on television, in magazines, etc. They can be painted, or take the form of digital animation. They can be airbrushed or touched up with some photo imaging software. They cover themselves with mascara, lip gloss, and topical treatments of various kinds. Whether they be virtual or in the flesh, we are confronted with them on a daily basis and are not likely to escape them.
The Beautiful Thought represents those sexually attractive women that keep intruding into our minds. They may be thoughts of women we have actually seen or they may be entities created wholly from the fabric of our imaginations. They worm into our lives at the most unexpected and unwelcome moments.
The Beautiful Friend represents sexually attractive women that we actually know and interact with. These women can be coworkers, classmates, friends, women we meet at church, etc. Their personalities are known to us. For the most part, they probably represent the greatest danger to male self-control because of their personal dealings with us. These are the women that we cannot easily dismiss as being unpleasant people or the mere wisps of our imaginations. These are the nice ones that we are tempted to pursue.
In response to the objects of desire, a man reacts with arousal. In order to control arousal, we must acknowledge that the problem with lust is not that men think too much about sex. It is that they don’t think enough. They don’t think logically about it, especially regarding the social and personal costs of sexual desire. There are two basic ingredients involved in the unrealistic thinking that fuels arousal and thus lust.
First, there is fear. Men are afraid that they cannot control their feelings, and that if they try to, they will harm their bodies or have psychological problems. Men are afraid that if they don’t act on their impulses, they will miss out on some wonderful experience in life that men are obligated to have. Men are afraid that if they don’t submit to female sexuality (through marriage or otherwise), they will branded as being asexual, gay, weird, spiritually immature, etc. The result of fear is that men either are conquered by female sexuality, or retreat from it only to be defeated in some future battle.
The second ingredient often found in arousal is adulation. The object of desire is presented to men in strictly positive terms. In other words, when men lust, they merely see some gorgeous, sexually available woman eager to pleasure her beholder. Men’s minds usually trail off to some scene from an XXX rated video they play over and over in their minds. There are no unpleasant parts in the movie script.
The fantasy of finding a beautiful woman that will satisfy every primal urge for physical and emotional intimacy is just too compelling for men. They are looking for the feeling they lost when they grew up and were too old to to be held to the bosom of their mothers. They imagine some larger-than-life personification of the feminine driving away the shadows of loneliness and despair from their gray adult world. When they think of finding that one special woman for their lives, they do not think about the regimen of soiled diapers, boring trips to Home Depot, senseless arguments, and mountains of bills. No, they imagine themselves stepping into some scene from a Playboy magazine.
And so a man yearns for sexual union with beautiful women as the key to resolving the things that are banal about his life. He forgets that many women are just mediocre human beings driven by self-interest. In the end, he sets himself up for disappointment, failure, shame, and disaster. Instead of being nobody’s fool, he becomes everybody’s fool.
That was good stuff. There are two more parts on the way, so keep your eyes peeled!