Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Defining Lust

atheism, atheist, religion, religious, jesus, bible, christian, christianity, muslim, hell, judaism, jewish, orthodox, burqa, modesty, lust
Quasar, over at the SMRT board, has possibly explained a fundy (and I'm speaking of Christian, Jewish and Muslim fundys here) viewpoint that has long confused me- lust.

Fundys make a big deal about sexual attraction, and it's never made sense to me. (Growing up Catholic, you learn a lot about the evils of birth control, but nobody makes a big deal about clothing or lust in general.)

We all know about the burqa and the head scarf, and if you live where I live, you've seen how Orthodox Jewish women dress. Christian fundys aren't generally quite that extreme, but they do make a fuss about modesty.

Quasar's explanation:

Now that I've got you interested with the title... how broad is the definition of lust, and how does this apply to sexually repressed fundies?

For me there are three distinct levels, and I only define the third as 'lust.'

1. The first is simply in passing: I notice a girl, and may not even consiously think about her, but my mind recognises that she has attractive features and I could tell others that she was attractive if they asked.

2. The second is more like 'admiration.' This is simply a platonic admiration of the other persons aesthetics: consiously registering their beauty. An example might be when your eyes fix on someone as they go by. Happens to me a lot.

3. The third is what I call lust, and involves actual sexual attraction. This emotion is extremely rare, and takes a lot to evoke, in me at least.

Now, I'm beginning to think that fundies may have a much broader definition of lust. Consider those who force women to wear head-scarfs to prevent lust from being evoked.It seems to me that they consider even the first definition, simple recognition of attractiveness, to be lust. Something Ray once did (Hi Maragon!) and the general behaviour of fundy christians, leads me to believe that they consider the second definition as lust. Or is it possible that the sexual repression both groups enforce causes them to experience the third definition of lust far more frequently than myself? Or a combination of the two? Chime in! What do you think?

While I find it entirely possible that people who are repressed about sex might end up thinking about it even more (Pink Elephants! I dare you not to think of them!), I think it may well be true that simply noticing a member of the opposite sex, or recognizing their relative attractiveness is what qualifies as lust to fundys.

This is an extremely odd viewpoint because, as another SMRT member noted, one could achieve 1 or 2 with a dog, a horse, a painting or a piece of furniture. Simply acknowledging the beauty in a person is not lust.

To view acknowledging beauty as sin is just mindblowing to me. "God made the world a beautiful place- don't enjoy it or you'll burn forever!" has to be the most depressing theology I've ever heard of.

Now on to 3, real lust. I fail to see what exactly is wrong with lust. For one thing, lust is a desire to act, not an action. For another, we're biologically programmed to lust. Perpetuation of the species and all that. I know, I know, Jesus did say that desire and action are one and the same. Lusting is the same as fucking. Anger is the same as murder.

What a peculiar viewpoint. For one thing, who can control their thoughts? Just writing this is sending me into a really detailed fantasy involving [censored] and it is HOT! What were we . . . oh, yeah, controlling your thoughts. Not possible. I suspect that any religion that puts you in the position of thought sinning is really aiming at a particularly insidious form of control. "You can't control your thoughts, pervert? Better get some Jesus before your burn! Oh, what, Jesus isn't enough to stop you from thinking sinful things? Better start attending church and reading the bible and tithing- otherwise it's the outer darkness for you!"

Thoughts are normal. Noticing another person's beauty is normal. Appreciating another person's beauty is normal. Lustful thoughts are normal. (This fantasy I am having- not so much.) Homosexual thoughts in an otherwise hetero person? Also normal. Getting worked up about it? Not normal, not healthy and not necessary.

We may need a few more bus ads.


  1. Man, I love lust. I fall in lust all of the time (being single I get to do that and not feel guilty about it, yay!). It's a fleeting thing, but it's also wonderful. And I would never be able to stay in a religion that told me it was bad.

  2. Who doesn't love lust? Well, okay, but what well-adjusted person doesn't love lust?

    I fall in lust all the time, and I don't feel guilty about it. What's in my head is none of my hubby's business. (And he watches Top Chef just to drool over Padma, so we're even.)

  3. Padma is hot. Can't fault him for that.

  4. I don't. She is superhot. Oh, and that actress, Paz Vargas, something like that . . . he lusts after her, too. Again, I understand.

  5. Padma... i guess she's attractive, but I can't listen to her for more than a sentence without cringing.

  6. I kinda doubt he's really listening to anything she has to say. Though he did wonder aloud why she would wear hotpants to walk around an active kitchen. Not that he was complaining.

  7. Nice cover story PersonalFailure. :)

    Figured I'd post here since the SMRT thread has gone into a very weird place, and that combined with PZ Myers recent snail-porn posts is making me wonder whether we need another, far far creepier, definition of lust...

    I wasn't thinking about other instances of beauty when I was writing the post, but you're right: number 1 & 2 can be experienced as a result of a sunset, a tropical rainforest, a pet bird or, indeed, the photo a few posts down. ;)

    Despite this fundy reactions seem to confirm, time and time again, that they either think that recognition of beauty is lust, or they are really really lonely people.

    I wonder how an actual fundy would respond to the question? I wonder if Ray would humour me...

  8. For one thing, who can control their thoughts?

    Maybe the best way to control people is not to make them afraid of you, like Machiavelli would have suggested, but afraid of their own thoughts. If at the same time you provide salvation and succor from the thing which you've convinced them is evil, you've got a very effective horizontal monopoly on your hands.

  9. honestly, i think a lot of the problem with lust is that these people are either stupid or ignorant.
    they canNOT tell the difference between lust and love.
    also, they cannot tell the difference between the different TYPES of love: Agape, Eros, Fidelius (and the other one, that i can never ever remember, sigh)

    i already took my meds for the night (which is why i haven't comment elsewhere) but i wanted to throw that in.
    i will try to go more in depth tomorrow. also, the library should be back up so i can try and find that paper.

  10. Quasar: Thank you! and thank you! Ray is humorous, but . . . well, actually he'd probably be thrilled to redefine lust in some really disturbing way. And then tell us we're all sinners and we need the magic Jesus prayer to save us from hell. Hmmm . . .

    Frodosaves: I am convinced that is the aim of thought adultery. Convince people random thoughts are sin, then tell them you've got the only answer, and they can only get it from you for a price.

    Denelian: Storge- the natural affection felt between parents and chilren. (I had to google it, as it wasn't talked about all that often.)

  11. yes!
    i always forget whats its called. does that make me a bad daughter?

    thanx for looking it up. i was going to, agyer i woke up for reals :)


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