A Calvin Theological Seminary Publication by Students & Alumni


The notion that lust doesn’t do harm to anyone is one of the most problematic ones. Two willing adults are involved in fornication. Fornication is not a sin since no one is harmed; it is a carnal action that is enjoyable and joyful, so what could go wrong? This may be the case, but as DeYoung correctly points out, sometimes the injuries are evident;

David and Bathsheba (2 Sam. 11 – 12), David’s selfishness cost Uriah his life, it cost Bathsheba the death of her husband and child, and it cost David a painful rapture in his relationship with God (Ps. 51) and the loss of a son. But the damage did not just stop with those directly involved. Uriah was betrayed by the king he served faithfully, and David’s general Joab became complicit in that betrayal. Trust was broken, loyalties undercut, and relationships at all levels were damaged. (Glittering Vices, p. 170)

DeYoung used the account of a police officer from Alan Parton’s book “Too Late the Phalarope” to illustrate the strength of lust and how damaging it is to our feelings, relationships, and especially our families.

And how long he stayed there he could not remember, but at least he came out of the vacant ground. And his body and clothes stank with the smell of the weeds, and the sinking was the symbol of his corruption… and he taught again of his children with special agony, for what kind of man would destroy what he had created, and hurt what he had loved?… In those last twelve hours, the whole world has changed because of one insensate act. And what madness makes a man pursue something so unspeakable, deaf to the cries of wife and children and mother and friends and blind their danger, to grasp one unspeakable pleasure that brought no joy, ten thousand of which pleasures were not worth one hairs on his children’s head? Such desire could not surely be a desire from the flesh, but some mad desire of a sick and twisted soul. And should I have this desire? He asked himself. Where did it come from? And how did one cure it? But he had no answer to those questions…

And his terrible knowledge of himself lay in him darkly and heavily, and took away his laughter, and the laughter of his wife, so that the children were the only creatures that laughed in that house. He went to work darkly and heavily, and came back darkly and heavily, and played with the children because that was his habit, but his wife could hear and see that it was not the same. (DeYoung, pp. 171 – 172)

His last question “And how did one cure it?” is the most serious one. This is where we need the discipline of chastity. The discipline of chastity is the deliberate decision to temporarily refrain from thinking about or acting on the sexual component of our relationships with others, including our spouses or partners. By doing this, we can learn how to avoid letting this influential aspect of our lives rule us.

Regarding how to deal with lust, DeYoung argues that the solution is not sex education because we already know how it undermines human love, but in reality we struggle mightily to do so. She offered some more sensible alternatives:

·        Expanding the definition of what constitutes lustfulness will help us better understand the area that chastity must also encompass.

·        Lust flourishes in seclusion and isolation, and because it frequently makes individuals feel ashamed, it drives them to keep their troubles a secret from others. But when we conceal and reject our sins, we are unable to repent or deal with them. This implies that community, transparency, and responsibility are necessary for lust’s cures. Chastity demands consciously participating in a community in order to counteract lust’s tendency to alienate.

·        She suggests that we utilize technology responsibly by keeping our laptops in public spaces, using an internet filter, and using accountability software. By being more aware of our vulnerabilities, we can plan alternatives for those times or ask for assistance. We can much more carefully control what television shows and movies we watch, as well as what periodicals we read.

·        Maintaining appropriate language and clean jokes is another crucial suggestion made here.

      (DeYoung, p. 176 – 178)

By Martin H. Kamaidan