The Trials and Tribulations of Temptations– Part Two

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Human beings have a rather infinite capacity for rationalizing or justifying their bad behavior. And one of the favorite tricks in the arsenal of self-justification is ‘objectifying’ things. In the old TV show Flip Wilson, whenever he was caught doing something he ought not to do would immediately exclaim ‘the Devil made me do it’. Interestingly, the Bible, at least when it comes to believers, does not agree with this theology. In fact it doesn’t much agree with objectifying one’s sin and blaming your upbringing, your parents, your neighborhood, your schooling etc. James puts it this way— “But a person is tempted by their own desires, being lured and enticed by it; then when the desire has conceived it gives birth to sin, and that sin when it is fully grown, gives birth to death.” The way I like to look at this passage is by drawing an analogy with the old movie ‘Alien’. There is a scene in the movie where human beings, having been used as incubators for aliens, suddenly start having ugly aliens popping out of their own chests, to the horror of Sigourney Weaver and others. Without question it is always disappointing to discover you are the source of your own problems and your own temptations. We’d rather play the blame game and say the Devil or other outside factors caused this or that sin.

Jesus knew something about this when it came to lust. Here is a famous verse from the Sermon on the Mount which I will give a fresh translation of— “You have heard it said, do not commit adultery, but I tell you that every man who so looks at a woman with lust so that she is led astray into adultery, has already committed the act with her in his heart” (Matt. 5.27-28). Jesus goes on to talk about how being a voyeur can land you right in hell, whether we are talking about spying on naked people, or looking at pornography on the internet etc. But I want to focus on what Jesus, like his brother, sees as the root of the problem— it is our own inner desires, in this case male lust. Notice that Jesus is not saying here ‘women are temptresses, so you better avoid them’ as if attractive women were the source of the problem. No Jesus is pinpointing male lust as the source of adultery, again and again, and he is right. I’m not saying that women never try to tempt men into sin, what I am saying is that fundamentally Jesus places the blame in this text on male lust— which in my judgment is the real culprit here. It’s not an accident that Viagra and the like have become billion dollar businesses in our sex crazed culture. They are appealing to male lust, the carnal desire as it used to be called. It is also not an accident that 95% of all rapes are perpetrated by men, not women. And no, rape is not just a crime of violence and power, it is also a crime of passion in most cases as well.

Think on these things.

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