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Lust

Read: Matthew 5:27-30

If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out. (v. 29)

A student of mine approached me as she faced a difficult decision. Her father had recently left his family of four, and his marriage of twenty years, to marry his co-worker. Now dad wanted my student and her sisters to spend the weekend with him and his new wife. Should she go, she wondered, out of duty to her father? Or should she stay home, out of solidarity with her mom?

In his masterpiece, The Divine Comedy, Dante devises a poetic punishment for those guilty of committing the sin of lust. In his version of hell, the lustful are whipped around by an eternal whirlwind—a symbol of the passions that controlled their lives. But sin doesn’t merely have personal consequences. Uncontrolled passion wreaks havoc on those around us.

Jesus is unsparing in this condemnation of lust. What begins as a “harmless” look has the power to ruin individuals and tear apart families and communities. Think of the people you know whose marriages have been destroyed by adultery or pornography, or churches fractured by a leader’s affair. Or perhaps think of your own painful struggles.

Combating lust requires drastic tactics. If you are struggling with lust, be honest with yourself: what situations tempt you to lust? Do you need to change what you watch? Where you work? “Better to lose an eye,” Christ says, “than that your whole body be thrown into hell.”—Jane OlsonAs you pray, ask God to teach you how to avoid temptation, and give you strength to do it.

About the Author

Jane Olson is a college counselor and high school teacher. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband Lars and her children Claire and Teddy.