This is the first post in a series on desire and following Jesus.
Desire. It’s the third rail of the soul.
On subways the third rail provides electricity to power the train. The voltage in the third rail far exceeds household current. Touching it can result in electrocution.
By analogy, desire provides the energy for our vitality or the fuel for our destruction.
Without desire we’re lifeless. There’s no energy drawing us toward a destination. And yet, desire is dangerous. We can and sometimes do yearn for things that can lead us to spiritual destruction.
Listening to Christians talk about desire lately, it’s easy to get the impression that the only desire worth mentioning is sexual desire. When it comes to sex, there seem to be two basic positions (okay, yes, that was an adolescent play on words).
There are those who insist that God has given us the appropriate object of our desire and has prescribed the context within which we may morally fulfill our sexual appetites. In other words: Get married (to a member of the opposite sex). Have sex (only with that person). In that order.
Sexual urges that fail to follow this pattern should be suppressed and rechanneled.
Others take what they suppose is a very different view. Our sexual desires are a gift of God. God loves us, which means that God wants to give us our heart’s desire.
On this view, ancient formulas about appropriate sexual objects and acceptable conditions under which sex is morally acceptable are a relic of a sexually ignorant time and place. So long as adult consent is granted, no harm is done to others, and mutual respect for personhood is present sexual pleasures are morally good.
Despite bogus claims about studies that ‘prove’ that men think about sex every six nanoseconds, I have to tell you that this seemingly endless argument bores me to tears.
The desires that keep me up at night, the yearnings that make me stay too long at the office, and the cravings that make me pace the floor don’t have the first things to do with sex.
What they all have in common is this: more. Desire is about more. When we get ‘more’ right, life is sweet, joyful, tranquil and contented. When we get ‘more’ wrong, we get spiritual electrocution.
Every day of our lives is about seeking our heart’s desire and about being a woman or a man after God’s own heart. It’s about getting ‘more’ right.
Does God want us to pursue our heart’s desire or fight our passions as temptations to do the wrong thing? What desires lead us to a full rich life and which lead to heartache and disaster?
In the next few posts, I’ll be talking about desire as a longing for more. More of the same. More that’s different. More of what I can get. More of what I can be. More of God. More of what God can make of me.
I’ll be talking about how our desire motivates us to a richer, deeper life or overwhelms us with destructive power.