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.