Love, Desire and Lust

Is there any difference between love, desire and lust? If we’re listening to the conversation in today’s circles, not much! Tolerance and equality, it seems, can also be ported to mean acceptance and legitimising that which isn’t moral or good.

Allow me to explain. A friend, we’ll call him George, dearly loved three young women. They too apparently loved him, and quickly became more than “good friends”. That’s when things got complicated. George’s desire was torn between them all. Society dictated that he could only legally marry one. But, the foursome wasn’t dissuaded by such mores. They assumed suburban “family life” and over time worked to legalise their relationships. In effect, he was “husband” to three women, which isn’t uncommon in some countries. In terms of Western law, however, the merits of consent and love between a union of more than one man and one woman was not seen as eligible criteria for the historical, religious, legal and widely-accepted definition of “marriage”.

So, legally they weren’t married. Civil law defines marriage as the monogamous, lifelong union between one man and one woman, the origins of which lie at the heart of Christianity. So, George and his wives sought a compromise. A civil union of sorts was attempted in order to give some legitimacy to their family status. By that time, several children had been born. Soon, various government departments began investigating. The news media quickly picked up the story, and of course it made sensational weekend reading.

Were they not consenting adults who chose their relationships? Weren’t they “in love”? They seemed happy! Isn’t it all about love, and the freedom to choose? The vexing question is who dictates then how they should live their lives, or deny them their “equal rights”? It’s an ongoing and topical narrative that seems to reverberate within today’s media and politics. There are those who uphold traditional marriage between a man and a woman, and those who espouse other models, such as homosexuality, lesbianism, union with under-age children, transgenderism, as well as polygamy.

Governed by higher law, civil laws generally adopted and accepted what was understood to form the basis for strong, peaceful and enduring societies based on the healthy, stable family unit constituting a paternal father and a maternal mother, united for life, and including the nurture of any children born to that union. After all, that’s a foundational premise which Christianity espouses to be the God-ordained mandate for human life – as reflected in the pages of its Constitution, the Holy Bible and thus reflected in the marriage vows of: “A natural union but a Divine institution”.

Today, unfortunately, we’re hearing a vocal minority attempting to redefine the family unit without knowing or assessing what future complications and consequences might be – legally or societally. The Christo-centric values that Western society grew from, it seems, have all but been abandoned. Recognised historically, as is woven throughout our legal system, is the understanding that a loving and responsible father and mother together provide the best environment for a stable, nurturing home for the next generation. Marriage also provides that children have a right to life, a right to be protected, as well as a right to know who their biological father and mother are, and benefit from that nurture. Traditional marriage preserves the family as no other unit can, and therefore society depends on its strength. The covenant relationship within marriage between a man and a woman reflects a higher relationship of what God desires of us – of holiness, fidelity and covenant. Interestingly, most gays don’t want “traditional marriage” for the sanctity, holiness and Godliness it represents; it’s said that their desire rather is to malign and ultimately destroy marriage. It is widely known that unions such as those generally outside of marriage contribute to higher than normal rates of depression, dysfunction as well as suicide. Homosexual cultures historically are recorded as being more violent, and generally short-lived.

In terms of defining what healthy desire is, there’s a vastly big chasm between love and lust. It is here that society seems to have blurred the lines. Genuine love leads to covenant, lifelong union between a man and a woman. This nurture in turn is extended to the children which in turn benefits society as a whole. Lust, as a base desire, is a powerful and dangerous agent, parading as love but seeking unhealthy sexual fulfilment as it chooses. Lust is not love. It’s an aberration, a fanciful, unfettered and unhealthy selfish orientation. It may parade as virtue. But it isn’t love – not historically, legally or morally. Lust, a lack of self-control, is the very opposite of what God intended in the tenth commandment when he said, “You shall not covet”. If not remediated, this kind of self-centredness can be also diagnosed as a form of mental illness.

The conversation we’re currently having regarding the “definition of marriage” is one of foundational challenges we face today. Like a ship without a compass, blown with every uneasy wind, a noisy minority is actively and avidly working to simultaneously erase history’s other virtues and bastions beyond traditional marriage, especially those with Christian origins.

An example of this might help. We no longer count the years as from AD, a Latin term meaning “Year of our Lord” (a reference to Christ’s birth), in recent times having subtly changed AD for CE (meaning “Common Era”). Why the change? Perhaps it’s a subtle assault on faith history! Another example: Today we call babies in utero as “foetuses” or “embryos” which seem to be an additional attempt to further dehumanise them, and thus giving abortion the appearance of greater legitimacy. Family and faith values seem to have been progressively eroded in more ways than one.

Of course, although traditional marriage is generally upheld within the faith community as it ought, the virtues and blessing of marriage are generally poorly argued. The Christian community has failed to connect marriage to Jesus Christ, the “Lamb and His Bride”, and it is on this platform that the Christian voice must be united. Ordained at creation, traditional marriage has proven its value. The alternatives of anti-human and anti-family thinking will result in consequences to those of similar past histories remembered for escalated violence and vanishing. Sadly, the assault today on traditional marriage is accompanied by concerted efforts to remove it from its past faith history, and repaint it within the context of a purely secularist and evolutionary-modelled society – a model too many have blindly accepted.

Western society, it seems, is progressively stripping away traditional and historical connections with the past, especially faith-oriented belief, in a subtle attempt to promote its new, moral-less agenda. Changes to legislation are sometimes slow and barely noticeable, other times accompanied by vocal and persuasive politics, but either way progressively swaying the morality and opinion of greater numbers of people.

Yet, the fact remains that lust and uncontrolled desire is not love. It has no place in marriage. It has no place in relationships. It has no place in society. For some it is an illness; for others it is an obsession and perversion.

Concerned followers of Jesus need to know that now is the time to be accounted for. Now is the time to speak for Jesus. Our neighbours, friends, workmates, parents and grandparents, as well as the “George’s” of society, need to know of the healing and new life offered them in Christ alone, as well the consequences of any alternate legacy they’re leaving the next generation. It’s time for the church community not only to voice genuine concern in its reformist voice for the brokenness of society, but also be able to articulate solid, immovable reasons in Jesus Christ as to why their belief in traditional family values as modelled over thousands of years and as ordained at creation, is the only way forward.

John Klassek

John Klassek

On behalf of our children

On behalf of our children

Surely someone will speak up on behalf of our children! Acquiescing to a popularist, media-driven agenda is nothing less than dangerous – if not fatal.

The definition of marriage and family life is one father, one mother, married for life, providing both emotional and spiritual nurture for their children. Anything else, like homosexuality, paedophilia, adultery, fornication, incest, bestiality and the like are an aberration. In other words, these deviations are plainly sinful and wrong.

Who says so? Why, Jesus, of course! And so do His followers – or at least they should by their example.

When entire countries, supported by their judiciaries and driven by the media, begin “voting in” and incrementing what become sweeping immoral changes, then perhaps we ought to spare a thought, first, for our grandparents who would shudder to think that such immoral antics are undermining the very society they pioneered, and secondly, for our children whose minds and hearts become irreparably damaged because they’ve never known the true love and identity that only a loving father and mother in marriage can provide.

The greatest of civilisations rapidly declined when their morals also waned. Babylon, Persia, Greece and then Rome were once thought invincible. The writing is again on the wall.

Violence today is generally accepted to be on the rise, whether highlighted in other countries or in our own suburbs. Mental illness is a growing scourge, with suicide dramatically increasing. And when our children become the pawns because of our immorality (deprived of a father and mother combination), when we kill the unborn with abandoned wanton (and call it “pro-choice”), when our sophisticated, immersive entertainment becomes more violent and pornographic – then it isn’t long before the law of natural consequences catch up.

Political correctness is dangerous as it is deceitful. We label a baby in his or her mothers’ womb as an “embryo” or “foetus” as the underlying notion is that they are not human. They are. They’re our children. And yet we so easily succumb to a politically correct violence that dissects their little bodies before they gain their first breath of air. And we proudly call it “pro-choice”.

We’ve thrown “God” out of our society. “Hooray”, you say! We no longer introduce children to the Bible. “Ditto”. We no longer believe in absolutes, that right is right, and wrong is wrong. And so, if this God has anything to say about this, it’s in the law of natural consequences that He designed.

Jesus said, “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up your voice like a trumpet and show my people their sins.” (Isaiah 58:1)

He said the defiantly rebellious would be “pursued with the sword, with famine, with pestilence; they’ll be delivered into trouble among all the kingdoms of the earth – to be a curse, an astonishment, a hissing, a reproach among all the nations… because they have not heeded My words…” (Jeremiah 29:18)

“The alien who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower. He shall lend to you, but you shall not lend to him; he shall be the head and you shall be the tail. All these curses shall come upon you and pursue and overtake you, until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the voice of the Lord your God…” (Deuteronomy 28:43-45)

And so, accordingly, history is beset to repeat itself. Nations of strange language and customs seem to assert their power as never before. The Islamic State, for example, defined by their throat-cutting brutality and an ominous black flag seem uncannily unstoppable – perhaps because our will-power and weakened response has become one of containment. Their goal is to raise the black flag of Sharia law on the entire world, and they begin by enticing our gullible youth.

Another example is the increasing Chinese influence through trade and expansionism. It isn’t all that it seems, as this economic juggernaut sponsor the construction of military bases well beyond their recognised international borders. Our policies of acquiescence, appeasement and containment will not work. No need to reiterate the details of the Ukraine crisis at the moment.

The days of western dominance and economic might are over.

Hope for a return to basic morality might seem distant. Revival and right relationships, according to history, do however return, but only it seems after a time of suffering – a time of suffering when our enemies are victors, when perhaps Sharia law displaces democracy, and when the entire world is at war. That is, in effect, what Jesus says. That’s what the Christian Bible echoes in both old and new testaments. And that’s what we need to understand.

War is coming. We have the nuclear missiles, the warships, tanks and planes, as well as the protagonists. And in this war, be it outright conflict or through years of attrition, because of our immorality, it will quickly become apparent who is the weaker side.

Now the “politically correct” might describe our embrace of Jesus’ teachings as “homophobic”. They also commonly tout the term of “marriage equality”. Such trendy buzzwords are subtle inventions designed to linguistically sound appealing to the voting public. And yet marriage historically and culturally has always been defined as the covenant lifetime relationship between one man and one woman to the exclusion of any others. Homosexuality isn’t marriage.

Followers of Jesus cannot remain silent; we’re called to shine the light in both our life example and in the things we speak out for. And as our words find momentum and authorship in the Holy Spirit, then we would have committed the greater sin by remaining silent.

So, cry aloud, spare not, lift up your voice like a trumpet, and allow Jesus’ words to again echo across this country. Someone has to speak up!

Written by John Klassek

John and Rebecca have been married for 26 years and have six children. He serves in ministry in the Church of God (Seventh Day) in Australia, and works as a film producer for MessageWeek Ministries.

In Union With Christ

Is the hope for Jesus’ return close to your heart and mind as much as it was on those first century disciples who also believed that Jesus would return in their lifetime?

Living in this world, however, we also recognise the power of distraction that can so easily take away our focus from Jesus. The devil would love for Jesus’ followers to love Him less, to become lukewarm, to get distracted, or to get overly busy. After all, the devil is an expert in beguilement and deception. But, when we’re close to God, in intimate covenant relationship with Jesus, when Jesus is the focus of our waking thoughts, prayers, all our actions (spontaneous or premeditated) then there’s little threat for any serious distraction.

One of the hardest things for us to do is to openly proclaim our love for Jesus. It may have not been in our culture. It might not be in our “personality”. Excuses in that area are often aplenty. And that, in some ways, is a sad reflection. Thankfully, a faithful few have responded to their calling and continued growing in Christ despite perhaps the “lots of head knowledge” and little “love of Jesus” in their previous “non-church” experience. On that note we can be glad that the times are changing within our church fellowships and in our own personal lives; after all, Jesus is the good shepherd and we must not deny Him that honour. We can be glad that more people are coming to a knowledgeable faith in how Jesus works in our lives: that He knocks on the door of our world, but doesn’t push in. It is for us to reach for the handle and only when we swing open the door, does Jesus intimately come into our lives. And that is important to understand. We are called into a responsive relationship with Jesus – a covenant relationship that is bound by both expectation and responsibility. We’re discussing a relationship that becomes a deep, intimate and accountable friendship.

So although God the Father calls us, and Jesus knocks on the door of our lives, Jesus will not push in where He’s not invited. He did not perform any miracles in the towns where unbelief existed when He ministered in Judea some 2000 years ago. And so it is with us. God has given us freewill. We are to choose life. We are to bring our lives completely in surrender to Jesus, and only we can volunteer this. We are not puppets. The detail of our life’s journey is not completely foreordained. To Abraham, God said, “Now I know…” only after Abraham’s faith was displayed by his actions, tested to the very last moment. The future is changed and mountains are moved only by the fervent, effective prayers of the righteous.

For all the mistakes we’ve made in our lives, we can never blame God for them. For if we believed that our entire lives were preordained and that we had no choice in anything, then we could also easily pass the blame onto God for our sins. Not so. Jesus paid for my sins and your sins. God has entitled us to free will, beginning with the very choices he gave in the Garden of Eden. It is liberating to understand that we do have choice – a grace that stems from a God-ordained freedom – from which we don’t have to be clueless. We can ask for wisdom. Wisdom is something God eagerly awaits to grant to those who ask Him – so that we may be equipped to make better choices that reflect God’s righteousness.

“A man’s mind plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps”, is a scripture that seems to indicate that while we may dream and have aspirations, it is only when we willingly submit to God that these dreams begin to have any substance to them. That’s why we go to God in prayer multiple times each day. We invite God into our lives, in every passing moment, and in every desired outcome.

Today, in this age, our lives are being “tested”. God will never tempt anyone, but He will test us. This testing happens over a lifetime. The seed of the Holy Spirit is planted at baptism with the laying on of hands. As the years go by, the Holy Spirit grows and flows mightily, working with us and through us. When it comes to covenant relationship, baptism is the touchstone of all relationship standards, because it brings us into marriage communion with Jesus Christ Himself – sealed with the Holy Spirit. And to truly enter into the depths of that communion and covenantal relationship that will transcend and transform us into the very image of the Son of God, we, then, desire nothing that this world can offer, with our eyes exclusively fixed on Jesus and His Kingdom. Every other relationship, every other offer, and every temptation pales into insignificance. Even our immediate families, spouses, parents and children on this earth must come secondary to the relationship we have in Christ Jesus.

That is why as a collective community of believers, we have been given different gifts but the same Spirit. In union with Christ, in love with Jesus, His word, His faith, His Majesty, His righteousness, His will and purpose, His love and attention, His awe and Glory – to which nothing compares.

Thus, we find ourselves talking about Jesus all the time. He’s the head of every table. He is the Lord of our hearts. We openly confess our love for Him. His wisdom and presence adorns every grey hair – which the Father numbers. He is in our inner thoughts. His word, and will, moulds our days and shapes our lives. We approach His throne of Grace in all areas of our lives and our family’s lives, especially, for example, when it comes to matters of finding Godly spouses for our children, and praying for their spouses decades before they meet finally meet. We ask God for His help and guidance in all areas of our lives. Because of that covenantal relationship, we want Him from that moment onward to shape our destiny, and this is only achieved by willingly surrendering our will.

And each day, He wants us to innovatively look out and beyond to find ways that glorify Him. He wants us to be creative, to trust Him. He wants to bless the work of our hands. He wants us to live the surrendered life to Him. Many times God will answer our prayers when we’re totally out of any other options, when we’re “hemmed in by the Red Sea”, or watching the “setting sun” on some experience, or when we’ve struggled with a trial sometimes for decades – God wants us to confess our love for Him, our faith for Him, our trust in Him.

Those in the world who choose a different path become deluded and blinded, of course, by the god of this world. Those who have left the faith, who broke covenant with Jesus, made various choices – in a similar way perhaps to Judas. Did God cause them to leave the faith? No. God forbid! Their life’s path was formed by lots of little choices, day by day, moment by moment. Freedom and consequence walk hand-in-hand. The hosts of heaven cheer when one sinner repents. In one sense, we are indeed the centre of the universe’s attention, for what God is doing and how he is doing it – through us, inviting us into more than just a partnership, but inferring on us as joint heirs with Christ Jesus.

As the love of God grows in our lives, and we increasingly become the new creation, the new person in Christ, we become creatures of love. We’ll then tell all those around us how much we love them. Our actions will “speak” of love. That’s our testimony. Our children will “feel” loved as well as be loved. Our motives will be understood through the lens of love. Discipline will not be harsh, but loving, with kindly eye-to-eye contact. And people around us will feel and experience that love (and ultimately attribute it to God’s glory). We will truly be Jesus’ disciples when we love each other. Love has to grow for it to thrive. It has to come from God’s Holy Spirit. It has to be in everything we say. Even the truth must be spoken in love! And because of love we will listen intently to those in our families, our church and those in our communities. And those who oppose us, we will also kindly entreat them. We will also be wise to the devil’s ruses, the attractive distractions that can if momentarily confuse us – should we, God forbid, take our eyes off from Jesus. The fruits of our love in Christ, when tested, will unite families, and always bring people together who are also in Christ.

May our focus at this time, perhaps more than ever before, be open and transparent before Christ firstly, and then to each other. May we be accounted worthy, worthy to stand before Jesus. May there be no straw or chaff in our lives, but only grain – good fruit. May we be people of the Book, and use it wisely. Too many have manipulated the scriptures to suit their choices. May we be people quick to bless, quick to forgive, easy to entreat, eager to please. May the righteousness of God in us speak louder than the “rights” of this world’s life. May our lives, in every detail, reflect the union we have with and in Jesus Christ.

John Klassek

 

John Klassek