Of lust and love

oflustandlove_headerby Rod Wilson

My daughter is in college and she likes to bring her friends over to go swimming. With the bathing suits today…well…I’m afraid I might end up spending the rest of the summer going for walks so I am not around when they are there. Should I talk to my daughter or have my wife talk to her? Or get better walking shoes?

Quite apart from bathing suits, suggestive clothing is everywhere and you can not even go to church sometimes without being confronted by it. So walking shoes might not work since there is nowhere to go to avoid provocative attire. The alternative you present is talking to your daughter about the way her generation dresses, or having your wife address the subject. None of us can change global cultural shifts and those of us with college-aged daughters might raise questions about how successful we can be in influencing them. So what to do?

Know yourself. Some of us are sexually enticed by certain stimuli, while others are not. If a pool party with scantily clad women is a major problem for you, it might be wise to avoid as much of it as you can. You do not need to inform your daughter about the details. If it will help you avoid temptation, slipping into the walking shoes might be best.

When it comes to temptation, the Bible emphasizes the heart, implying that what goes on inside is a potential seedbed for sin. A man cannot guarantee that a pool party will not influence him, but a pure heart provides a context where the temptation will be lessened. Apart from what the women are wearing, be aware of your inner life. What you do in your heart prior to the party may have more influence on your temptation to lust than the nature of the bathing suits.

And while the heart is important, the eye is as well. While in the context of the pool party remember the commitment made by Job—“I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl” (Job 31:1).

I had a dream about my wife’s friend. There is nothing going on and it has really disturbed me, but I am not sure mentioning it to my wife is a good idea. I am worried she will think that I want something to happen.

Dreams can be quite overwhelming, can’t they? You wake up some mornings and wonder, “where did that come from?” However, it is important to remember dreams are not inherently bad, so simply having them is not something you need to feel guilty about. The Bible is filled with stories of people who God spoke to in their sleep. Remember also the words of the prophet Jeremiah (17:9) when he says, “the heart is deceitful about all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”

We live in a world where many people— therapists, psychics, astrologers and others—believe they can interpret and understand dreams. There is a mystery about the heart and its dreams that frequently defy human comprehension, so do not spend excessive time reflecting on them. If you have an open and transparent relationship with your spouse and a high level of accountability is already present, you could share your dreams with her. But it is neither appropriate nor helpful to tell one’s spouse every thought or dream of an inappropriate nature.

During the day when our defenses are operative and we are trying our best to think proper thoughts, inappropriate or evil fantasies can be kept down or at least held at bay. At night, when defenses are also sleeping, the mind can become absorbed with something we have “played with” during the day. When your wife’s friend is in your presence and you look at her sexually and allow your mind to move in the wrong direction, you are setting the stage for uncontrolled passion during sleep. Often, but not always, day dreams set the table for night dreams.

The article above was featured in the May 2009 issue of SEVEN magazine.