It’s a word that we don’t hear much today, yet “lust” has been the subject of longstanding theological debates and its denunciation was commonplace not so long ago. The disappearance of this term from people’s mouths is not a sign of the disappearance of the phenomenon, on the contrary, it shows that lust has so permeated our societies that it now goes unnoticed.
Most of you know that lust is one of the seven deadly sins established by the Catholic Church. This is true of any sin that turns us away from God, in short, anything that is idolatrous is a capital sin. As a reminder, here is the list of the 7 capital sins as well as an explanation of why each one constitutes a form of turning away from God:
Stinginess: this is an overly strong attachment to money or material possessions. To be miserly is to place financial success in one’s heart instead of getting closer to God.
envy: it is to desire something other than the blessing of God, it is to covet the good of one’s neighbor, it is again a turning away from him by lack of confidence in what God has in store for us.
laziness: originally called acedia, which is more specifically spiritual laziness, that is to say the lack of effort that one makes to get closer to God through prayer, the study of religious texts, penance or fasting.
Gluttony: it is to make one’s stomach and not one’s heart the commander of one’s life. It is a sacrilege in that it reduces us to a purely animal dimension which turns us away from the search for God and his blessings.
Pride: it is the veneration of oneself. Pride by definition shows a lack of humility, a quality that is essential to get closer to God and to benefit from his good graces. It is again a form of idolatry.
Lust: This is the worship of the human body. It is sexual desire without nobility or sanctification. It is the desire to perform an act without being in communion with God.
Lust turns our eyes away from God.
Anger: It shows a lack of patience and ultimately a lack of belief in God. If we are angry, it is because we doubt God’s blessings, it is a sign that we are no longer in full communion with God and that we have put something or someone else first.
Lust can take many forms, but they all result in our dissatisfaction because they distract us from sanctification, which is the only guarantee of wholeness. However insidious they may be, the manifestations of lust are numerous:
– looking at someone as if they were meat
– having fantasies about someone you are not in a relationship with
– being overwhelmed with sexual thoughts or being often distracted by them
– watching erotic or pornographic movies
Most often we are invited against our will to entertain lustful thoughts. Music, cinema, art in general cultivate a form of lust making it acceptable and even desirable. As such, love songs are almost never about love, but rather about the harmful consequences of passion and lust on human nature. Mass culture has succeeded in perverting an entire society by using this sleight of hand: it calls “love” what is really only lust and “freedom” what is really only depravity.
Then we understand well why the youth is disoriented and wanders in all directions according to its inclinations. There is a lack of moral backbone allowing people to keep their dignity. The remedy to all these evils, starting with that of lust, is to stop exposing oneself to this depraved mass culture for a while. It is necessary to make a certain asceticism to recover both spiritual and moral clarity in order to become aware of these vices with which we were impregnated until then. Going back to the sources by reading religious writings and meditating on their teachings can be a good start.