The great debate about lust continues, inspired by U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner's sexting misadventures. To recap: I noted that Weiner "technically didn't break a biblical law" because he had no physical, adulterous contact with his objects of flirtation ("Defending Anthony Weiner," 6/16/2011). "Follower" wrote in to say that physical contact is not required to violate God's commandment, citing biblical passages to prove that "lust/adultery starts in the heart and mind" ("Lusting in Your Heart," 7/21/2011). That inspired me to open my big fat mouth and argue that "we should all be free to lust to our heart's content," given that God endowed us with healthy sex drives.
I admitted the possibility that I'd be sent to hell for such comments, but here's a reader who thinks I should merely be sent to the woodshed.
Hello Tell All: Your response to Follower demonstrated that you are a single young man with minimal biblical literacy. Before you volunteer to go to hell, I suggest you ask your female readers to enlighten you as to how it makes them feel when their husbands/boyfriends/partners are lusting after other women when they are with them. Does it make them feel loved and valued? Does it affect their trust in the other person? How did Anthony Weiner's actions affect his wife?
We men are very visual, and I believe that the first step to an affair is through letting what we see produce a desire for that other person. You may mock God, but I believe His instruction to focus your desires within the relationship instead of outside of it makes sense.
Not Following You to Hell
Dear Not Following: I may be a single young man, and I may not be. As an anonymous advice columnist, I work in mysterious ways.
In any case, I appreciate your thoughtful defense of God's commandment, even if I don't accept your premise. I just don't believe that all good relationships are damaged by lusty thoughts about others. In truth, most of us are going to have these lusty thoughts whether we want to or not - everyone from priests to politicians to dutiful husbands and wives. So I say stop feeling guilty about your normal urges while exercising as much self-control as you need to.