top of page
  • Writer's pictureScott Carr, Jr.


As a young, single male living in 21st century America, I found this week’s formation reading to be difficult and convicting. With a culture immersed in sexuality, lust seems as natural as breathing, and is nearly as difficult to detect as the air around us. Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung’s words drew my attention to aspects of my sin I had learned to ignore.

An element of DeYoung’s discussion of sex which most stood out to me was her emphasis on its interpersonal nature: "Good sex has an interpersonal and social dimension, a dimension that brings us into connection and relationship with others. Lust is deformed sexual desire because it cuts us off from this potential. Sexual desire is meant ultimately to bring us into a union of intimacy with another person….Sex’s natural bonding effect is something we have to actively resist if we want to keep things casual, recreational, no strings attached….Lust makes sexual pleasure all about me….Lustful sex makes the other person instrumental to getting what I want, or a necessary audience for my successful performance….Lust is a vice, then, because it does not honor the fullness of sex, and it alienates people from each other just when they are supposed to be experiencing intimate union. There’s a betrayal of meaning in lust’s use of sex for nothing but self-gratification, and it is difficult to be lustful without feeling that loss at some level. If one is successful in becoming immune to the goods involved in sex, one has also been successful in becoming less fully human." [1]

I believe her insight that lust disconnects us from other people and dehumanizes both them and ourselves is not exclusive to sexuality. I found in my early days at Emmanuel Ministry working with the homeless community that I had a tendency, which I still struggle against, to define our guests by their circumstances, and it was a struggle to come to recognize their humanity beyond socio-economic status and ethnicity. None of it was overt. It just seemed I had been taught by a culture to not recognize groups of people as full human beings or connect with them as such. Does culture teach such attitudes through promoting lust, or does it do it in other ways which in turn encourage lust? I am not sure which comes first, but it seems the inability to connect is a pervasive hallmark of our modern world.

DeYoung offers several guidelines for living a life of chastity: "As a first suggestion, we should broaden the parameters of what counts as lustful, so that we can see better the territory that chastity too will need to cover….Lust’s remedy requires community, openness, and accountability….We can follow Paul’s advice to seek out what is true, honorable, just, pure, excellent, and praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8), rather than letting just anything that comes our way drift in." [2] Perhaps her most helpful description of chastity set against lust comes near the end of the chapter: "If chastity is not a rulebook of “don’ts,” then what is it? It is a “pro-love” lifestyle, and therefore a virtue one needs whether single, married, old or young. Chastity is not something you need only when dating or surfing the Internet; it is a quality of one’s character, evident in all areas of life. Chastity is a positive project, a project of becoming a person with an outlook that allows one to selflessly appreciate good and attractive things-most especially bodies and the pleasures they afford-by keeping those goods ordered to the good of the whole person and his or her vocation to love. Chastity’s fundamental question is not, “How far should I go on a date without crossing some invisible line of ‘sin’”? but rather, “How can my life-my thoughts, my choices, my emotional responses, my conversation, and my behavior-make me a person who is best prepared to give and receive love in relationship with others?”" [3]

So how can I better live into this reality of chastity? I have a group of guys I meet with weekly to pray together. Several of them serve as accountability partners. However, I am not certain we have been the most effective accountability partners. Could we be stronger allies than we are in the fight against sin? Could we show the good news of Jesus to one another more? I think we could. While I think we can do better, these guys have been the greatest assets I have had in turning from my lustful habits. My connections to them have already served to lead me away from the promises of less-than-human connections. My prayer is that as our relationships deepen, we will be more faithful allies in our sin struggles and more faithful reminders of the Gospel.

[1] Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung, Glittering Vices: A New Look at the Seven Deadly Sins and Their Remedies, pp. 163-164.

[2] Ibid. pp. 176-177

[3] Ibid. p. 178

3 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page