17th March

Lust

Live by the Spirit and you will not give in to the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature and the Spirit are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery … Galations 5: 16, 17

Most of us have times when a wave of sexual desire threatens to overwhelm us. Everything else in our life, however fruitful and of God it may be, seems as nothing compared with this. And we justify the idea of indulging our lust on the grounds that we will never have lived if we do not experience what we desire. This is a delusion, and the experience is always that of let-down, barriers, disappointment, guilt.

Is there anything we can do to avoid such a defeat? Celtic Christians offer us one drastic remedy: They stood in a cold bath or river in order to cool their passions!  And from the Desert Christians comes this intriguing example of a remedy:

A young disciple was so constantly tempted that he eventually announced to his soul friend: ’I cannot go on unless I actually commit the deed’. The wise old abba replied: ‘I want to do it too, so let me come with you to the prostitute’s house and then we’ll return together to our cell’. The abba took the money with which to pay the prostitute. When they got to her house, he asked that he should have the first session, while the younger man stayed outside. He won the trust of the prostitute, explained that his friend was at heart a holy monk, and that what he needed was not a one night stand, but for his fantasy to dissolve. She agreed to co-operate.

When the young man came in for sexual intercourse she told him: ‘I,too have a Rule. It requires my clients to make repeated obscene oaths with me before we lie together’. The young man started to do this, but became so sickened by all the filth, that he realised he wanted to live a life of prayer more than anything else, and left the room. The two men returned, chaste in body and heart, to continue their desert calling.

Lord, when waves of lust roll over me,
Remind me that my true destiny lies
In being clean in body and mind.
Cool me, calm me, and protect me I pray.

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