I was watching television recently and saw a commercial for a new program this fall where the announcer asked if you would kiss a perfect stranger. I thought how silly but it got me thinking about the way the world thinking portrays love in our culture today. There are many dating apps and sites for finding love and I have been told that there are even apps and sites for those who only want to “hook-up” for the pleasure of sex with no strings attached. Really? Is that all people think about? Well I do not believe that lust is anything new but I do want to make the case that lust is not love. Lust is a desire for something we normally can not have. According to the dictionary lust is a strong feeling of sexual desire, a strong desire for something (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lust). In other words one could conceivably lust after chocolate, but mostly it involves some sort of sexual desire. Men lust after women that are beautiful or have a big bust. Women lust after guys with big muscles and cowboy hats or fireman helmets. The porn industry has built a financial empire on the lusts of people. Everyone’s doing it, or so we are told in Viagra commercials and so lust must be a part of being a healthy normal human being, right? I would like to ask you something about this culture of lust. Do you want your son or daughter to be the object of someone elses lust? I think not!
In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem. One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” 2 Samuel 11:1-3, (New International Version or NIV).
It began so innocently. The King is hot and so when the cool of the evening came he took a walk around the rooftop garden of his palace to enjoy the cooling of the evening. Bathsheba is also hot and sweaty so she takes a bath in her bathing room to cool off before she sleeps. Oh so innocent, both of them are. But that isn’t how the story ends is it? Lust came to King David’s heart. The man had so many wives and concubines that he really didn’t need one more, but lust overcame him and so it goes even today.
One day Samson went to Gaza, where he saw a prostitute. He went in to spend the night with her. The people of Gaza were told, “Samson is here!” So they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the city gate. They made no move during the night, saying, “At dawn we’ll kill him.” But Samson lay there only until the middle of the night. Then he got up and took hold of the doors of the city gate, together with the two posts, and tore them loose, bar and all. He lifted them to his shoulders and carried them to the top of the hill that faces Hebron. Some time later, he fell in love with a woman in the Valley of Sorek whose name was Delilah. Judges 16:1-4, (NIV).
Oh Samson, you lusted after women and that was your undoing. Remember the story? Samson was eventually blinded by those who sought to kill him and because of his lusting he was trapped and lost his strength that God had given especially for the work God had instructed Samson to do. Remember the story? Here’s another of unbridled lust from the pages of scripture.
King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter—Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. They were from nations about which the Lord had told the Israelites, “You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.” Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray. As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been. He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord; he did not follow the Lord completely, as David his father had done. 1 Kings 11:1-6, (NIV).
The wisest man in the world fell away from God because he couldn’t control his lust. Maybe he had learned it from his father King David. After all Solomon was the son of King David and Bathsheba. What a terrible price to pay. And yet Solomon is also the author of much of Proverbs which has many warnings for his sons for whom he wrote the book.
Wisdom will save you also from the adulterous woman, from the wayward woman with her seductive words, who has left the partner of her youth and ignored the covenant she made before God. Surely her house leads down to death and her paths to the spirits of the dead. None who go to her return or attain the paths of life. Proverbs 2:16-19, (NIV).
My son, pay attention to my wisdom, turn your ear to my words of insight, that you may maintain discretion and your lips may preserve knowledge. For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave. She gives no thought to the way of life; her paths wander aimlessly, but she does not know it. Now then, my sons, listen to me; do not turn aside from what I say. Keep to a path far from her, do not go near the door of her house, lest you lose your honor to others and your dignity to one who is cruel, lest strangers feast on your wealth and your toil enrich the house of another. At the end of your life you will groan, when your flesh and body are spent. You will say, “How I hated discipline! How my heart spurned correction! I would not obey my teachers or turn my ear to my instructors. And I was soon in serious trouble in the assembly of God’s people.” Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares? Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers. May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer—may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love. Why, my son, be intoxicated with another man’s wife? Why embrace the bosom of a wayward woman? For your ways are in full view of the Lord, and he examines all your paths. The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them; the cords of their sins hold them fast. For lack of discipline they will die, led astray by their own great folly. Proverbs 5:1-23, (NIV).
I think the man knew what he was talking about when he warned his sons not to go down the path in life that he had trod or that his father before him had traveled. Lust leads to sin and sin destroys rather than builds up. So why are so many in our culture today falling for the lie that lust is acceptable, encouraged, and to be carried out? I believe it is because so many in our world today are ignorant of what true love really is. It isn’t lust, it isn’t sex, but it is something so precious that when you actually find real love you won’t ever want to go back to the counterfeit. Look how love is described in the Bible.
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 12:1-13, (NIV).
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8, (NIV).
Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs. Proverbs 10:12, (NIV).
Did you notice that there was nothing in any of these passages describing love that involved sex? Love is a gift from God because God is pure love. Our world needs to be told the difference. Love is not lust and lust is not love. Lust is deadly and always leads us to sin which leads to destruction , marriages are destroyed, relationships are destroyed, and reputations are destroyed. Love, on the other hand is an encourager and builds us up and that is certainly what I desire in my own life. How about you?