Swear it wasn’t me. Last week, I wrote a full-length column, as usual, but somehow, at the other end, nearly 400 words accidentally were cut. Not to worry, though; since there’s still a lot to be said about lust, we’ll just pick up where the conversation left off:
… But let’s be honest: Desire, otherwise vilified as lust, is something that comes and then goes, no matter how much one loves his or her spouse. In fact, it is hardly ever because they don’t love their wives that men – regardless of their religious persuasion – cheat. They cheat because they feel desire for someone else. And women are no different. We know it’s hard for a sister to get excited, all hot and sweaty, over the feller who’s been snoring and passing gas next to her for the past 17 years. And even if he is the most fastidious of persons, a man might just be dry and boring in bed… .
The truth is that when long-married or long-coupled people reach for each other between the sheets, it is inspired – although, generally, it is less inspiration and more erection – by availability or by plain old habit. And, over time, even that habit can die out – to the point where married couples begin to live like they’re cousins, or even like sister and brother. Seeing the other naked becomes as arousing as heating up left-overs, and they race to bed only to see who can get the bigger share of the blanket.
Fortunately – or unfortunately, depending on where you sit – humans have found other ways to fan the flame. Over Easter, I was catching up with some sisters and the talk turned to sex, as woman-talk often does, and, specifically, to “fantasies.” In trading stories and opinions, I came to realize that these flights of fancy are not at all restricted to the fellers and that some sisters are endowed with lavish imaginations. In fact, I now believe that when a woman closes her eyes during the act, chances are it is because it is an act, and she’s starring in her very own private show with a different leading man (and sometimes a best supporting actor, too).
And who can blame a girl for imagining herself going to town on, say, that ebony Adonis I saw Monday night on Dancing with the Stars? Or even that hunky mechanic who has been peering under her hood? The fact is that no woman alive mentally strips a man just because she thinks he’d make a great father. In the same vein, no feller stands at attention just because a woman cooks as well as his mother. It is that four-letter word that makes him follow the direction in which he is pointing. And I’m not talking about “love,” either; otherwise, he would be at home every night, watching TV with Mom or Granny.
Those who sit in the seat of the scornful would discredit these imaginary affairs, these mental feats of sexual prowess, as nothing more than a pale shadow of the real thing, and they would shake their heads disgustedly at such perversions. Those who sit in the judgment seat, meanwhile, would flip through their Bibles to Matthew Chapter 5, and thunder that a person who lusts, even only in his heart, has committed adultery already. But how can it be adultery if the object of a feller’s lust is his own wife? And what can be wrong with the missus dressing up in, say, a French maid’s uniform, or a skimpy lace teddy, if the objective is to get her husband’s blood racing? After all, lying there and thinking what a great housewife she is, or what a brilliant accountant he is, isn’t going to get any babies made. Unless, perhaps, your last name is Duggar… .
Face it: If the church, the state, or the society were to depend solely on “love” between spouses to keep the human race going, in the Christian world, at least, we would be nearly extinct by now. That is why we have elevated marriage to a religious and social contract; otherwise, sexually disappointed or jaded partners would be packing their grips and moving on all the time. And where would that leave pregnant women, aging men, and little children? As wards of the state and charity cases of the church; that’s where! So both lust and love have their legitimate places – one gets you into the relationship and the other keeps you in it – and equally deserve our respect.
Look: I consider myself pretty well-churched and morally grounded; and so I can appreciate the objective of trying to build stable families and strong societies through the strict control and rationing of sex. Hence, I would not advocate or condone the malpractice of lust, in the same way that I would not endorse sloth, envy or gluttony. What I cannot appreciate, however, is the discredit of this legitimate human feeeling – desire – and degrading it as “mere” lust. I cannot appreciate that those who admit it, entertain it, and do not apologise for it are acting on “animal instinct,” because I believe that such a mindset only insults The One who made us only a little lower than the angels – both human and divine.
As my mother used to say, “Lucky for us, God is not like man.” And I’m reminded of this every time I read or sing the Psalms, reportedly written by that great Jewish king David, whom God loved, and who not only loved God, but could look across the rooftops upon a woman bathing and whisper in reverence … “Hallelujah!”