Don't Lust After Your Wife

Oneness is not possession.

Everyone knows what lust looks like. If you've ever seen a teenage boy at a beach surrounded by bikinis, you've seen lust. Eyes wide, jaw dropped, perhaps a little drool, and an expression so blank you know that neurons have ceased firing everywhere except in his pants.

It's pure, unbridled desire. And it's not particularly attractive.

Lust drove kings like David in the Bible to murder one of his own soldiers so he could add another trophy wife to his collection. It drives successful young athletes like Brock Turner to rape a young woman and then shame her in front of his friends. Few would contend that lust has any redeeming qualities in our society.

Except Christians.

Lust is a lot like sex: before marriage, it's demonic and evil and makes you second to Hitler. But once you're married, most Christians will tell you that it's game on, no holds barred, banging for Jesus time. He may have washed our sins white as snow, but marriage is the sex savior for turning something so dirty and disgusting into heaven-on-earth pleasure.

I grew up hearing sermons about how important lust was for married men to keep them from getting bored. In fact, a number of Christian authors and teachers have used the phrase "holy lust" to placate the wife's discomfort with her husband's adolescent gawking. Michelle Duggar, of course, wins the grand prize by advising young wives to always be available to meet their husbands' "special need"--no exceptions.

Last time I checked, God didn't need women's help to sanctify men. Furthermore, marriage can't turn sin into purity.

A lustful man is not an adulterer because his desires for another woman lack the sanctifying power of marriage. He's an adulterer because his desires lack faithfulness. And believe it or not, it's possible to be unfaithful to your wife without ever cheating on her.

Faithfulness in marriage means being faithful to the oneness you share with your spouse. Though an affair is a devastating manifestation, being unfaithful to that oneness is ultimately just selfishness. Think about it, that's all an affair really is: putting your desires ahead of your marriage.

We often forget that marriage was always intended to be beautiful picture of our relationship with God. When we follow Christ, we lay down our lives for him as he did for us. Likewise, marriage is a daily sacrifice of self. As we become one with Christ through selflessness, we become one with our spouses through the same.

But oneness cannot exist if one is lusting after another. Not to be confused with passion or delight, lust is a desire to have, to own, to possess. Oneness implies unity, but lust implies subjugation--that one lives for another, not two living as one. Thus, lust outside of marriage is no different than lust within.

It should be a sobering thought that we can be unfaithful to our loved ones without ever thinking about another person. Unfortunately, the church has programmed us for centuries to believe that marriage protects us from sexual sin, and that so long as we remain safely inside it, the various New Testament warnings won't apply.

For example, many Christians understand the Greek word, porneia, to mean fornication or sexual immorality:
Flee from sexual immorality [porneia]. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. (see 1 Corinthians 6)
However, porneia actually comes from a root word meaning "to prostitute". In fact, it's the same word the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) uses to translate the Hebrew word, zanah. Ironically, zanah carries more of an adultery connotation than a generic immorality one.

Anyone who's read through the prophets will understand the significance of prostitution and adultery in the Bible. It was God's chosen metaphor to explain his relationship with his people, Israel. Prophets like Ezekiel and Hosea made frequent use of zanah to describe how Israel had treated his metaphorical marriage and faithfulness to her as a nation.

So while it may make sense on the surface to equate porneia with any sexually deviant behavior (thanks, Puritans), it's better to associate it with unfaithfulness.

Certainly, Israel often "played the harlot" with the gods of other nations, but the prophet, Zechariah, makes it clear that God's real issue with them was that even the sacrifices they made for him were really for themselves. They didn't love him; they lusted after his favor.

You don't need "7 ways to put the lust back in your marriage." Marriage is not a license to treat someone like a piece of meat, nor is it a punch card for unlimited sex. It is sacred union, a oneness, a testimony to the life God intends for us with him.

If you want to keep the romance alive, then don't objectify your wife. Remember that she is also someone's daughter and make your passion about mutual submission, mutual respect, and mutual desire.

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