Look, But Don't Lust

Back in college when we were dating, Jake had this idea that he shouldn’t find other women attractive because he was in a relationship. Regularly, he would firmly state that nobody but me was beautiful. It used to drive me crazy!

One afternoon, I assured him that it was perfectly normal for him to find other women attractive. To which he replied with a sigh: “Fine! So-and-so is hotter than you.” Which wasn’t quite what I had expected. In addition, “hotter than you” wasn’t some random actress or model, it was a girl on campus ... with a twin sister.

The icing on the cake came one afternoon two weeks later when we were at the beach playing catch and guess who decided to walk by? Hot co-ed and her twin sister. As they passed us, I missed a throw and was smacked in the face with a baseball. My glasses fell off and my face burned as the twins giggled and walked away. Needless to say, we didn’t stay much longer at the beach.

Since then, we’ve learned that being attracted to another person while in a committed relationship of any kind is, unfortunately, inevitable. Humans are wired to appreciate the bodies and appearances of the opposite sex. This hard-wiring doesn’t disintegrate when we begin dating someone, become engaged or get married. The issue isn’t if we are attracted to other people, but how we can handle attraction appropriately when it does occur.

Attraction Vs. Lust

Many Christians believe attraction and lust are synonymous. Jake recently had a conversation with a friend who was concerned that he noticed a couple of cute girls even though he’s currently dating someone. Jake himself has struggled with guilt about finding other women beautiful. However, attraction and lust are very different things.

Attraction is simply the acknowledgement that another person looks good. They have certain features that catch your eye and draw your attention. Attraction is what causes us to do a double take or mention how great that person looks. There is nothing wrong with this. In fact, it actually affirms the creativity and beauty that God displays when he created humanity. All kinds of people, with all kinds of shapes and attributes, can be attractive. There is a common phrase, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” We must first behold in order to find the unique beauty in people.

However, attraction can cross over into lust when gazes or comments become purposeful, continual (as in you keep thinking them) and/or sexualized. Notice in Matthew 5:28 that Jesus says, “anyone who even looks at a woman [or man] with lust has already committed adultery.” It’s not wrong to look at or notice an attractive person, but it can become lustful when we can’t look away, stop the thoughts or allow ourselves to fantasize about that person. Let’s be clear: While it’s much more mainstream to expect lust out of men, women are equal culprits. Women might dwell on the physical, but also fantasize about what being with that rich man would be like or how this certain man would treat her better than her husband. This too is a form of lust.

So, if it’s not wrong to be attracted to other people, should we tell our significant others when we are? How do we go about doing that in a healthy and non-destructive way? Here are a few helpful thoughts in answering this question.

1) Every couple is different.

At some point in your relationship, it would be a great idea to talk about what each of you feel in regards to attraction and what you expect in terms of sharing this within your relationship. Some will want to know every time you find yourself attracted. Others won’t want to know at all. It’s really important to understand both people’s expectations in this area.

2) Beware of details.

When sharing, it can be better to leave out details. Your significant other doesn’t need to know that specific woman has great boobs or that guy has large biceps. Sometimes knowing details can lead to insecurities and comparisons, which cause unnecessary stress in a relationship. After all, your loved one is more attracted to you than anyone else!

3) Choose your words with care.

Being attracted to an actor or actress is much different than being attracted to a close friend or co-worker. The closer a person is to you, the wiser it is to choose your words carefully. Saying that an actor or actress in a movie you just watched is “really hot” goes over very differently than saying the same thing about your neighbor.

If you’re attracted to a friend or co-worker, we would counsel being open about this with your significant other in a sensitive way. It is also better to communicate about it sooner rather than later. Being honest about your feelings allows the attraction to be less serious almost immediately, as it is no longer hidden. It can also provide some accountability for how you interact with the person as well.

4) Understand your proximity.

In situations where the attraction is someone of close proximity, be honest about your motives for interacting with them. Why do you regularly want to stop by your co-worker's office just to say hi? Or why do you want to check that friend’s updated Facebook photos so often? If your motives aren’t purely relational, you could find yourself quickly slipping from attraction into lust and on into cheating. We’d also advise lessening (as much as possible) interactions with the friend/co-worker.

5) Be open to space.

Another thing that can be helpful, although difficult at times, is to be sensitive to your significant other’s desire for boundaries in how you interact with a person you are or have been attracted to. This could be a simple thing like not driving in a car with them by yourself or making sure lunch meetings are in a public place. It could also mean de-friending them on Facebook or cutting off contact altogether.

6) Find an accountability partner.

Lastly, it would be wise to find an accountability partner of the same gender, who knows both you and your partner. They can provide wisdom, discernment and advice that stems from personal experience. Having another person involved in our thought-life helps to keep our attractions as simply attractions. And nothing more.

30 Comments

Mewithouyou4eva

6

Mewithouyou4eva commented…

Did I really say there wasn't a difference? Or is it that
you are reading what you want to read, just as one who reads a holy book, then
interprets it to endorse slavery, or the subjection of women, or bigotry against
homosexuals. Perhaps read my reply again and read it without wanting to
immediately regurgitate the philosophies of modern evangelical culture. I will
tell you again what I said, the two feelings/emotion/thoughts are not wholly
the same though they are impossible (as "God" made us) to extract,
before we fall into sin. To give you a
very simple example, they are just as rain and clouds are.

Oh, the Christian will then say, but God can help you
distinguish the rain (which is letting go/sin/giving in to base thoughts) from the
clouds ("attraction"/"Godly appreciation") He can prevent you
from letting the rain fall and you can stay as a cloud might, with all its ugly
rain hidden inside. You dont have to release your poisonous, hedonistic wetness
all over, spilling you seed on ground, as it was said not to do, in the good
book.

Do you understand how dumb that is? That these people are
telling you that there is a line, which you are able to understand, sure, but a
line nonetheless that they are sure you are able to have mastery over because
an invisible, silent, mythical being, who created everything and had his son
murdered so you can have eternal happiness in the sky, gave you the power to
hold dominion over your thoughts from leaking from the amorphous "attraction
into "lust." I would love, LOVE if you would be able to demonstrate
that through any kind of tangible example other than, "I just can, God
helps me now, I can." I would LOVE that. I would fall on my knees and pray
to Jesus for the rest of my life if you were able to do that.

Also, make no mistake, if you believe in God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ,
and His Death and Resurrection, as well as the Holy Spirit, you most certainly
HAVE to believe that one sin will separate you from God. And if you are separated
from God, tell me again where you are? I'm
not sure what church youve been going to, or what catechism you learned from,
or what apostate preachers you've been listening to, but sure as you are
reading this right now, one sin is enough to send you to Hell, for
eternity. In fact, to God, the one you believe in, a single sin is as bad
as countless sins. So, yes, in the creed in which you proselytize to others and
claim to be divine, someone can go to hell for strictly lust. No doubt about
it. We can talk about "grace" and "what's in our hearts" and "God's leading" all until we're blue in the face. But it's meaningless if you have no base line in which to judge the rest of your actions against a perfect, all-loving God. So yes, one lusty sin will send you to hell. You know, in fact, it doesnt get any more clear-cut than that.

Mewithouyou4eva

6

Mewithouyou4eva commented…

Ugh, why did it format like that? Poop. That's definitely not going to increase my "likes." Is there a dislike button? I would press it, if I could.

85,157

Anonymous commented…

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85,157

Lucy McBees commented…

A very well done write up again, butAttraction and Lust are not very different things! Look at the heart. Do you found anything nicer?

85,157

Kzi commented…

I'm an actress, and movies are no different than real life. They are real people, rather if you're looking at a friend on facebook on the computer screen, or looking at an actor on the t.v. screen.

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