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.

Protecting Me at Your Expense

One thing a lot of married men don’t realize in the recovery process is that self protection always does damage to our wives’ heart. In effect when we lie, excuse, blame, hide, avoid, criticize and minimize we are saying, “I am willing to protect myself at your expense”. We like to think self-protection has a zero impact. We like to think that not acting out anymore is enough.

But it’s not.

We have to decide that we will stop protecting ourselves for the sake of our wives. We must deliberately engage their pain, some of which we caused and some we didn’t, to become an accessory to her healing. For some of us, that means we’re going to have to stop demanding that our wives fix themselves, and instead focus on creating a safe container for them to come to terms with their own brokenness.

If your wife feels like she’ll be blamed, shamed, criticized, rejected, abandoned, or will hear “I told you so” for admitting her own faults and insecurities you are NOT creating a safe container.

Just a few weeks ago Shelley qualified a statement she was about to make to me by saying, “I’m afraid to share this with you because I’m afraid of what you’ll think of me”. Translation: Jason hasn’t created a safe enough container for Shelley to be vulnerable with her deepest insecurities.

So what do we need to do to create a safe space for our wives’ to heal? I obviously haven’t done it perfectly, so here are 2 key things I’m working on:

1) Remembering that I’m no one to judge, and I am called to extend the grace I’ve been given. After being addicted to porn and committing serial adultery, I’d say I have no leg to stand on to judge her sin. I need to remind myself of that, not in a shaming way, but in a grace way.

2) Intentionally monitoring my response when she shares something less vulnerable. I realize that sometimes when she shares simple, kinda silly things with me I blow them off. I’ll dismiss them, laugh at them and minimize them. Logically, if I can’t take a small thing seriously, how can she possibly trust me to take a huge thing seriously?

After I post this, I’m going to ask Shelley what I need to work on to be more safe. I want to know what she thinks I need to tweak so that she can naturally share more of her heart.

Will you ask your wife the same question?

 

Legacy

Psalm 78:1-7

My people, hear my teaching;
listen to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth with a parable;
I will utter hidden things, things from of old—
things we have heard and known,
things our ancestors have told us.
We will not hide them from their descendants;
we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
his power, and the wonders he has done.
He decreed statutes for Jacob
and established the law in Israel,
which he commanded our ancestors
to teach their children,
so the next generation would know them,
even the children yet to be born,
and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God
and would not forget his deeds
but would keep his commands.

God is interested in Legacy. He was interested in his own legacy, in his son’s legacy and he is interested in your legacy. We see Jesus as the reflection of God; he was a visible, tangible portrayal of the Father’s love and mercy and was devoted to living out the Father’s legacy. He believed the way of the Father should be his way. And he became the Way. His legacy rolls on over generations, in the most widely published book on earth, through the most powerful movement ever known to man.
The early disciples believed in the Legacy so much they carried it on. And how they lived their lives, chronicled in the Scriptures, became worthy of following. Their legacy is carried on even today. They were sold out to God and His purposes; so much that they left everything secure to be a part of the movement.
We also are leaving a legacy. Whether intentionally or not, we’re writing a story with our lives to be read by generations to come. We are setting an example and a tone for the next generation to follow.

What will your legacy be?

Will it be one marked by bad decisions and unfaithfulness, by besetting and addictive sin patterns? Or will it be one characterized by humility, contrition, boldness and change. Will you be known by your stubborn resistance or by how you sold out to God and his purposes? God’s desire is for you to leave a positive legacy; one that points this generation and those to come back to Him.

Today we all get to choose the legacy we’ll leave.