Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Isn't dating the opposite of avoiding lust?

A question from past perfectnumber628:

Right now I'm single and I know my own weaknesses and how to deal with lust. When I encounter some really hot guy, or I'm in a situation with a lot of temptation, I know I need to get out of there. But I don't get how this strategy is compatible with dating. If I'm dating someone, I have a responsibility to spend time with him. And it would be someone that I considered physically attractive. So isn't dating about being CLOSER to lust, rather than fleeing from it, like I'm supposed to do? It just seems like dating is a highly dangerous thing, in terms of temptation, and I don't get how God can be okay with me putting myself into that situation. But this doesn't make sense because dating is necessary in order to get married. How is this supposed to work?

And now, an answer from present perfectnumber628:

Yo wat up, past perfectnumber628? I love you and I TOTALLY get where you're coming from.

Here's your error in logic- you believe "the more time I spend with a hot guy, the more likely that I will lust." This may be true in some cases, but if it's the kind of guy you should be dating, it won't be like that. Why? Because you'll get to know him, and you'll like him for other reasons too.

I remember when I first met my boyfriend, I thought he was really hot. While this is obviously an undeniable fact (and REALLY IMPORTANT- I wouldn't date someone I didn't think was attractive), I don't think about it much anymore, now that we've been dating for a few months. Why? Because there are so many other awesome things about him, so many other reasons that I like him.

Lust is about objectifying someone, reducing them down to one dimension, desiring to use them for sex and for my own pleasure. The more I get to know someone, the less likely I am to think of him in that way.

Ironically enough, this means that to address the problem of lust, we should have men and women spend MORE time together, not less. If you completely avoid the opposite gender, for fear that you will be tempted, then you will see them only as strange mystical sexual beings- you see them as one-dimensional, where their most important characteristic is their (highly dangerous) sexuality.

But if you have healthy friendships with members of the opposite gender, then you treat them as real people. As friends. And why would I objectify my friends? Why would I want to use them for sex?

And I know that temptation isn't so straightforward and logical- it's not like my advice here is going to get rid of all lust forever. Every person is different, and you have to know your own weaknesses and limitations.

But my point is that it's NOT true that the more time I spend with a hot guy, the more likely I am to lust. In fact, given the existence of Absurdly-Hot-Guy, in which of the following situations would I lust more?
  1. I am dating Absurdly-Hot-Guy
  2. Absurdly-Hot-Guy is just an acquaintance that I see occasionally.
I think #2 would have more potential for lust. Why? Because then I don't really know this guy- I just know some superficial things about him, and I can imagine whatever fantasy I want, without even realizing how far it is from reality.

But if I was dating him, I wouldn't call him Absurdly-Hot-Guy anymore. My relationship with him would be based on so much more than physical attractiveness. He'd mean so much more to me than just his appearance... the label Absurdly-Hot-Guy just wouldn't seem fitting. Hotness is a prerequisite for dating, but a healthy relationship is about so much more than that.

So do not fear, past-version-of-me. You can date, and it won't make you automatically more vulnerable to lust.

Also, because I know you need to hear this too: Don't be so afraid. God gives us freedom. ^_^


  1. "Ironically enough, this means that to address the problem of lust, we
    should have men and women spend MORE time together, not less."

    Amen. I've always had a lot of male friends, and that group has virtually no overlap with guys I've had crushes on. It's the guys that I don't know that I look at in this way, because frankly I don't have any other way to look at them. And while on occasion I've wanted to get to know one of my male friends better, it wasn't the same as lust or having a crush.