Jimmy Carter, Jesus, Lust and Gay Marriage

August 17, 2010

I’m not sure if it was while running for President or as President that Jimmy Carter decided to give an interview to Playboy Magazine. But I remember that one of the things people got all worked up about (besides the fact that he gave an interview to Playboy) was his admission or confession that he at times struggles with lust. I guess most men in public office do not make such admissions (until perhaps they get caught acting out on it with someone other than their spouse). But I want to ponder today the relationship with lust and gay or same sex marriage.

Webster’s defines lust as “sexual desire often to an intense or unrestrained degree.” Many writers I have noticed over the years, especially writers of old, have spoken in sober terms of the destructive power of lust. Shakespeare for instance wrote, “The expense of spirit in a waste of shame is lust in action.” But no one has quite shaken their hearers or readers like Jesus Christ when He said of lust, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” I can promise you when all those male disciples gathered on that mountain – and heard Jesus make this declaration, they all wanted to crawl in a hole. I’m sure their heads all dropped, as did their jaws because the average man unless he is transformed by Jesus Christ greatly struggles with lust. Many are consumed by it.

So in my 30 or so years of ministry – primarily working with men – this has been a major topic of discussion. Whether it is working with young men who some day want to be married, or already married men, lust has to be dealt with because – if it isn’t it will very likely destroy any chance this man has of having a satisfying, harmonious marriage with a happy wife. Sooner or later unbridled lust drives a man to (at the least) a hidden life of pornography; at the worst one or multiple affairs. And the damage done by either of those is inestimable.

Because men are first aroused with their eyes, one of my main objectives when working with men is helping them learn to guard what they look at. Now because we live in a sex saturated society, gaining self control of one’s gaze and thus thought life is a huge challenge. So I need all the motivation I can get. And it helps tremendously if the young or older man I’m working with fears God and agrees with His word (the Bible). And typically the men who get my time and attention are men who know that God created sex, God created the genders, God created marriage, God established a righteous standard for the way men relate to women, etc. The good news is I know hundreds of men around the world who are winning this battle, and who by God’s grace have fulfilling and harmonious marriages with happy wives.

My question is: Who is going to help the gays who are marrying with this very real issue? Anyone who has researched the social science on promiscuity in the gay community knows it is a huge problem. Did you know that the dissolution rate of lesbian couples is more than four times that of heterosexual couples? Did you know that researchers have found that 43 % of white male homosexuals had sex with 500 or more partners, and 28% had 1,000 or more partners? Lots more data like this in my files.

Lust is a huge problem in the gay community and many go into relationships knowing they will not be monogamous with one another. And one of the big reasons is no one loves these people enough to tell them the truth about the destructive power of lust. You see if you throw out what the Bible says about marriage (that is – that it is designed for one woman and one man for life), then a huge source of motivation (pleasing God) and the only real source of internal power (the Holy Spirit) is gone. Clergy who are willing to marry homosexuals and thus ignore the obvious teachings of scripture on the subject, would find it very awkward to then refer to it about the call to purity and fidelity in marriage.

One of the primary callings of a pastor is to shepherd the sheep. And a large part of that is helping people grapple with the only thing that can set them free – and that is the truth. (John 8:31,32). So it might feel like you are loving a couple of men or a couple of women by agreeing to marry them; but in fact you are just setting them up (in most cases) for failure and deep disappointment. When lust is not allowed to be on the table, because the sole authority on lust is not recognized or submitted to, then lust has free sway to do what it does best = destroy lives and relationships.

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