A Man's Perspective: The History of Lust
For Christian men, it can be difficult to address lust without perpetuating abuses and wounding our sisters along the way. In a former post, I confronted the blame-shifting that unfairly burdens women when it comes to issues of lust and modesty.
When the conversation gets framed in these terms, we men exhibit that we are our father's—Adam's—children. On no other issue do we men so unabashedly and inappropriately play our father's card: "God, it was that woman you put here."
The issues of lust and immodesty date back almost to the very beginning, stemming from a disruption of the relationship God intended for women and men. Digging deeper into Adam and Eve's unity—and disunity—helps shape our current understanding of male lust.
Adam and Eve initially existed in unity, enjoying and exemplifying interdependence. In Genesis 2, God removed Adam's rib and from it created the body of Eve. Remarkably, this creation of Eve from Adam produced a strong physical inclination toward her that illustrates the general inclination men have for women. It's an inclination that prior to the Fall, served to unify the two.
After Adam recognizes Eve as bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh Scripture tells us that for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and cling to his wife. While Bible teachers and scholars tend to refer to this "leave and cleave" in strictly emotional terms, the context indicates that the "clinging" is also physical and sexual: He will cling to his wife and the two will become one flesh, the latter a euphemism for the sexual consummation of marriage.
The Hebrew term used for cling confirms the physical and sexual nature of the inclination. In similar scriptural contexts between men and women it connotes a man's deep attraction for a woman, almost at the level of irresistibility (Shechem and Dinah, Genesis 34:3; Solomon and his many wives, 1 Kings 11:2). Scripture repeatedly depicts this inclination in men, both in corrupt forms such as the story of David and Bathsheba, or in celebrated fashions like that of the lover and his beloved in Song of Songs.
Before the Fall, the inclination that man had for woman—both physical, emotional, and sexual—was good. It encouraged marital unity and signified that man did not own the place of dominance. It meant that there was a reciprocity and interdependence between male and female, a power dynamic of mutuality.
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