Friday, December 19, 2008

Seven Deadlies: Lust

I have been and will be (for a few more weeks, at least) dealing with the seven deadly sins, and their applications in the modern world by those who give lip service to being Christian, and those who declare that sin doesn’t exist. The seven deadly, or serious, sins are wrath, greed, envy, sloth, lust, gluttony, and pride. So far, I’ve written about the first four; today, I’ll discuss lust—one of the easiest to see in our modern, sexualized culture.

To reiterate, Thomas Aquinas’s definition of mortal sins is “something said, done or desired contrary to the eternal law, or a thought, word, or deed contrary to the eternal law.” The Catholic Encyclopedia online further clarifies that as “an aversion from God” caused by a “preference given to a mutable good.”

With this definition, it’s easy to see how lust is one of the mortal sins. Sex seems pretty harmless, and is considered holy when confined to the marriage bed. I cannot say that I have fully lived my beliefs, but I can say that the only people I’ve ever slept with were people I intended to marry (the first one was, obviously, not the one I married, but that’s a whole different episode of Jerry Springer). I have not, however, allowed my lower nature free reign to the detriment of my higher nature and my relationship with God.

And it’s when the lower nature takes over, causing the individual to pursue sex—whether with the opposite sex, same sex, or both—that the sin becomes mortal.

Look at our current culture. Anybody watch MTV lately? Wait, I forgot: they don’t play music anymore; nor does VH1. However, if you can find a station that does play popular music videos, what do you find? Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl,” among other things. Many of today’s popular songs are blatantly sexual—and the videos border on pornographic.

And speaking of pornography, ever noticed how easy it is to find? How hard (no pun intended) it is to protect our children from it? I have no objection to a married couple using it in private, but when it damages or replaces relationships, it’s certainly problematic. Also problematic is how it can numb people to the joy God intended the marriage bed to bring.

Ever taken a look at the girls walking around on college campuses? Seriously, there are times I want to pull some of them aside and explain that they don’t want to advertise what they do to pay for college like that. They’re desperately chasing momentary pleasure, hoping that it’ll turn into a lifetime with one partner without realizing that, by participating in the culture of casual sex, they’re both implicitly approving of the culture that mocks commitment, and damaging their chances to find the love they’re longing for.

Everyone has a lower nature that seeks out pleasure. Most of us understand, and are tempted by, this particular sin. However. I’ve said it before, and I cannot overemphasize it here: humans are unique amongst the animal kingdom only in that we can fight, and overcome, our lower natures. Once again, yes, it is a fight, but it’s well worth it.

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