Another Look at Lust: A Christian View
- Saturday, February 14, 2004
Joshua Harris takes lust very seriously--so seriously in fact that he has written a book that takes the issue head-on. In Not Even a Hint: Guarding Your Heart Against Lust, Harris provides a candid appraisal of lust as a challenge for the Christian believer.
According to Harris, lust is wrongly directed desire. "To lust is to want what you don't have and weren't meant to have," he explains. "Lust goes beyond attraction, and appreciation of beauty, or even a healthy desire for sex—it makes these desires more important than God. Lust wants to go outside God's guidelines to find satisfaction."
Joshua Harris' approach is counter-cultural from the start. Most Americans reject the very notion that there are any pleasures that we are not "meant to have." Our society has institutionalized lust, weaving the patterns of illicit sexual desire throughout the culture's interplay of media, entertainment, status and advertising. Lust is now part and parcel of the modern vision of the good life.
Harris argues that "lust may be the defining struggle for this generation." Previous generations faced the moral challenges of war, poverty and pestilence, but this generation is absorbed in a continual cycle of lust and sexual gratification.
A best-selling author, Harris is known to many young Christians through his works on biblical courtship and marriage. In I Kissed Dating Goodbye and Boy Meets Girl, he helped to educate a generation of evangelicals about the biblical notion of courtship as preparation for marriage.
A pastor at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Md., Harris combines pastoral experience with keen spiritual insight. In his earlier works, he focused on the dangers inherent in the conventional pattern of dating that has become the norm among young Americans. This system of one-on-one dating between young men and women is morally suspect because it places the couple in a context of premature sexual intimacy.
The escalating rate of premarital sex among young Americans—including many who claim to be Christians—is sufficient evidence to give Harris' arguments credence. Furthermore, he roots his argument in a more biblical vision of courtship as intentional preparation for marriage.
Why choose now to write on lust? "Writing two books on the topic of dating and courtship in the last five years has helped me to see just how serious this problem is for a broad spectrum of believers," Harris explains. "I've received thousands of letters and e-mails from people of all ages around the world who are struggling with sexual impurity." As Harris sees it, the problem is deadly serious. "The stories are heartbreaking and they're from both women and men. They're stories of small compromises that lead to serous sin and regret. They're stories of secret and anguishing battles with premarital sex, with pornography, and with homosexuality. They're stories from those who once swore to remain pure and now can't believe the depths of impurity to which they've descended."
With lust now standing at the center of American culture, celebrated as a vital part of the good life, Harris sounds like an absolute extremist when it comes to the seriousness of lust. What is God's standard when it comes to lust? How much lust is allowable in the Christian life? Harris' answer is the essence of simplicity: "Nada. Zip. Zero." Just in case you missed his point, Harris goes on to insist that lust has no place at all in the Christian life—not even a hint.
Why such a high standard? "I'm not saying this to be dramatic," Harris insists. "I really believe it's what God calls each Christian to regardless of what kind of culture we live in or how old we are. And its not because God is heavy-handed, or strict for the sake of strictness. Its because He loves us—and because we are His." Joshua Harris is an honest man, and he brings that honesty to Not Even a Hint. He confesses his own struggle with lust as a young man, and allows readers—both male and female—to identify with the depth of his moral and spiritual struggle.
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