4 Realities of Lustful Looking

Lustful looking is so tacky, isn’t it? You know when you see guys oogling some woman or  guy up and down how repulsive it is. And most of us know the feeling of being that guy too. But beyond that, there are a few reasons why lustful looking is so damaging. Nevermind that its hurtful to our spouses/significant others. Here are 4 realities we need to acknowledge to begin moving beyond it:

  1. You are the only guardian of your heart. The more toxic junk you take in through your eyes, the more polluted your heart will be, thus the more that pollution will manifest in the way you live. As if original sin isn’t enough toxicity, lets add to the garbage dump, right? Wrong. You are the guardian of your heart. You are the gatekeeper, deciding what goes in, thus what comes out. The key here is to recognize that until you decide you’ll no longer give the world permission to use your heart and mind as a septic tank, you’ll continue to live like …. you get the picture. I’ve told this story before, but I’ll repeat it because it’s so fitting. A few years ago, when I still had hair, I was about to take my son to a barber shop I frequented. It was edgy, with fairly wild folks working there, racy posters of bands and rock stars, and dance-club music blaring. I felt hesitation as I was getting ready to leave and Shelley asked what it was about. I told her I was a little hesitant to take our son into the place. She looked at me dead pan and said, “then why would you go there?” Boom. In other words, why wouldn’t I protect my own heart the way I was thinking about protecting his? You have to protect your heart, because no else will.
  2. Your discontent is directly tied to your lustful looking. By nature, it breeds comparison, contrasting and thereby leads to criticism and discontent. Want to find more contentedness and satisfaction with the person your with? Want to stop always finding something wrong with their body, hair, skin, walk, height, shape, nails or idiosyncrasies? Give yourself a chance to find the person you’re with satisfactory. Give them a chance to feel satisfactory. Every look you take and image you register is yet another point of note to somehow breed discontent.
  3. You’re a thief every time you do it. Every lustful look steals a little bit of that persons dignity. You rob the person of their basic humanity divorce them of their soul and objectify them into organized flesh created for your own consumption. And let’s not even talk about gawking at someone dressed inappropriately and obviously looking for attention. To objectify them is to take their woundedness, capitalize on it for our own gain, then leave them with less self worth than we found them.
  4. Your lustful looking is a direct expression of your awe of God. A lot of men get this one backwards. To look lustfully at a woman is to admire God’s handiwork; that’s what I hear too often. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth. To look lustfully at someone is to belittle, demean and desecrate God’s creation. Isn’t it interesting that God is so holy the folks he interacted with weren’t even able to see him? His majesty was so powerful, so overwhelming, so awe inspiring and his presence so intense that to look on him could result in death. Such was true of many kings who thought themselves to be god-like. When called into the presence of a king, the expectation was to look at the ground rather than to look directly at him, and especially not to make eye contact unless summoned to do so. The penalty for violating the etiquette could even be death. My point is this: the person you are looking lustfully at is handcrafted, by God, to reflect His own image and splendor. When we casually and flippantly look lustfully, we’re actually giving expression to our own lack of awe for and our arrogance towards the creator of the universe.

The point of this post isn’t to accuse or shame, but simply to be honest about what lustful looking is and does. We just can’t afford to soft sell it, downplay the effect, or to recklessly overlook it. Next time I’ll share a few key tips that help me move from lustful looking to a more redemptive reality.

What Not to Say

This is a super quick post to address a simple but particularly infuriating issue. If you are in the process of healing and restoration with a significant other there are inevitably moments where that other can’t see progress. Some conversations just feel like nothing has been accomplished and zero forward momentum can be found. When that happens, and the hopelessness sets in, some men will try to manufacture a sense of hope and progress by comparing what they are doing now to what they could be doing wrong now or what they used to do wrong in the past.

Examples of what not to say-

  • I used to lust after almost every woman I saw (but now I’m not)
  • I could be looking at porn every day when I’m at work (but I don’t)
  • If I wanted to sleep with my assistant I could (but I’m not)
  • I could lie and completely get away with it (but I’m not)
  • I could still be deleting texts from my phone and you’d never know (but I’m not)
  • If I wanted to get around the internet filter I could (but I don’t)
  • I used to flirt with women at church all the time (but I’m not now)

Hopefully you get the point. It’s never helpful to measure today’s progress against what you aren’t doing or could be doing that is worse. We talked about this a little bit in the Measuring Up blog post here. It is neither comforting nor reassuring to for a wife/significant other to hear how bad things could be or used to be, as a way of seeing progress in the present.

Practically, when you feel hopelessness because progress seems elusive, focus on the future rather than the past. Invite the person you’re wooing back to you to hang on and watch another day. To give you another week. To reassess on Friday. Whatever the timeline, give them something to cling to, rather than something to try to throw as far as they can see.

 

I can’t save Me from being Me

This weekend was another Every Mans Battle workshop. At the end of session 1, the staff introduces themselves, and usually say a word of encouragement. This month Jim said something that blew my mind. I asked him to repeat it because at first I was super confused. But the more I chewed on it, the more it became deeply profound. He said:

“Jim can’t save Jim from being Jim.”

Holy cow. I can’t save me from being me. That’s deep! When I finally got done chewing on it, it reinforced and rapidly propelled me towards the reality that I need a Savior. Not just for eternity, but in this life. Now. Present tense. Because if left to my own devices long enough, I’ll go back to being who I used to be, doing what I used to do, blowing my life and the life of the people I love the most on this planet.

I’d encourage you to give some energy to that pithy statement of Jim’s. It’s like a whole theology book summed up in 7 words. Talk to the people closest to you about how you process it. And think about what if anything might look different in your life if you lived by that statement.