I don’t remember hearing much about lust in church growing up. My most vivid memory was on a Sunday morning when the guest speaker (no pulpit guy in his right mind would have done it then) used the word “masturbate” in his sermon. Now, I don’t remember a whole lot of sermons and I don’t remember the names of all the guys I heard preach as a child much less the reaction of the congregation to particular points in particular sermons. Needless to say I can recall with great clarity who said it, what they said, and how the congregation responded. I will only let you in on the third…the older folks let out an audible gasp while the young people gave him their undivided attention for the next 20 minutes.
That reaction points to a deeper issue…some of the most relevant and important topics are left untouched and unpreached because in some instances our sensitivities have outweighed proper biblical priorities.
The failure of the old bird’s nest analogy:
The only thing I can really remember really being taught about lust in church growing up (aside from the above story) was that it was the phrase, “It is okay to let a bird land on your head but don’t let it build a nest.” In other words, seeing someone and thinking they are attractive is one thing but taking that a step further in your mind was a sin. The next logical question in the mind of a teenage boy is this, “at exactly what point does the bird’s nest building begin?” One might think answering that question was honest to goodness application of the lesson! I realize looking back that the question is immature.What we should have been taught is this – If we love and value people as God does we won’t have to spend time figuring out when the nest starts getting built…we will have a heart so in tune with God and so aware of the inherent value of others that lust won’t be a part of our thinking.
As humorous as we can make it…what is tragic about the story above is that it is far too common. As serious as this topic is…so serious that Jesus says if you have lust issues gouge out your eye (more on that later) and that is all I have ever heard taught on it? Don’t you think anything a parent or teacher thought might result in your eye being gouged out would have motivated them to teach you about it? How foolish is that? Most parents don’t educate their kids on this at all. Before we can raise young people properly, we have to realize that training our kids to see people from a godly perspective of worth and value won’t happen overnight. We also have to realize someone has to be able to speak openly and honestly about that and not make it such a shameful topic that we neglect giving our children and even adults a biblical perspective about it. That means church leadership needs to make room for these kinds of topics to be openly discussed. Too often this topic is shunned because it seems embarassing to have to talk about this in public.
Our young people are dying for lack of biblical training in this area. Notice I said training, not just teaching. This is not about talking to our kids about this. We have to walk alongside them and help them understand and deal with their God-given urges. We have to help them understand that the urges are natural and that what is important is the proper/biblical context for acting on those urges is the context of marriage. This will take breaking out of our comfort zones for the sake of our children’s future. Someone has to do it and we can’t just hope someone else will step in and fill in for us in the role of bringing up our kids.
The Crocodile Analogy
I think it was Tommy Nelson who said that our lack of teaching our kids about healthy sexuality is like a tourist who visited Egypt. He saw all these guys sitting around the banks of the Nile. They were missing arms and legs and were all bandaged up and dying. So he asked someone what happened to all of these people. A local told him that they had a crocodile problem. Just then a crocodile came out of the Nile and bit a guys leg off right in front of him. He asked the local, “Why isn’t anyone talking about people and warning them about what is going on?” That is where we find ourselves…all kinds of wounds and scars because people were too timid to tackle this issue and do the preventative education that would have saved our children countless hurts.