Lent 2: “in my heart”
President Jimmy Carter gave us one of the all-time favorite lines when he granted an interview to Playboy magazine. He mentioned he might have “lusted in his heart”.
That pretty well sums up our attitude for that “so-called” deadly sin: lust.
What’s the big deal? “Just appreciating the scenery.”
In fact when we trip over the trail-hazard of “Lust” on our Lenten wilderness walk, it hardly seems important. We pick ourselves up, regain our composure and set off again. There are scarier things in this wilderness. Surely that minor-demon can’t cause much trouble.
After all, it’s only a “problem” for those with a puritanical attitude – people who clearly don’t know how to have fun at all – people who are “goodie-two-shoes”.
Of course if we pay attention to life in general, we know that the vines of entanglement will only get more pronounced. We know we have been caught in a web of deception for lust does have the power to dehumanize, to demean, to diminish God’s beloved daughters and sons. We know also that we remained silent far too often and for far to long about the insidious nature of this demon of our modern life. We know that lust’s power has been for generation unto generation.
We live in a time when stories of rape, sexual harassment, domestic violence, sex trafficking are front-page news in our major newspapers, not just the grocery store tabloid. The “Me Too” movement assumed a prominence few people would have ever expected. Major celebrities have had their careers aborted. Plenty of people have spent time apologizing for behavior – and also minimalizing actions as “no big thing”.
God, known through the prophets of old, called to people of Israel to be a light to the nations – to let justice roll down like water and righteousness as an ever flowing stream. God, made known in Jesus of Nazareth, confronted evil as he saw it and cast it aside so that those who were oppressed could be free.
The evil that is lust actualized is very real. It touches so many lives of those whom we know. Although the most visible consequences happen to women, men also have been victimized by the evil whose infancy was that seemingly unimportant vice called lust.
We meet this demon in our Lenten wilderness and we know we have to make a choice. Do we follow the temptations proposed by “lust” or do we follow Jesus?
If we say we follow Jesus then we are choosing to make a lifetime of standing up against the injustices oppressing women.
· We can neither put women on unrealistic pedestals nor can we silence them
· We must begin teaching our children to respect one another
· We will need to listen as science gives us information we did not learn when we were young about gender, sexual orientation, how our bodies are formed
· We will need to learn the discipline of not sharing the lewd joke, the lusty comment, the “locker-room” talk
· We will need to learn how to value our own bodies so that in turn we can stop glamorizing unrealistic and unhealthy ideal images
· We will need to realize that good ideas and creative thinking is not gender based
· We will be asked to challenge those systems that pay women less for the same amount of work
· We will be forced to evaluate some government policies and laws
· We will need to look at the scope of global sex trafficking, name it as the slavery it is and work to end it.
· We will need to consider pornography and how much our society dare ignore its implications
· We will need to say that healthy dating and strong marriages do not include date rape or domestic abuse.
· We will need to advocate for our children so that they are not victimized by sexual abuse
Our society has been entangled by the work of lust unleashed. Some have fallen, caught in their own actions. Our Lenten encounter asks us if we can be Christ’s healing touch in these circumstances. Some have been trampled as victims of sexist attitudes and misogyny. Our Lenten encounter asks us if we can confront these forces of evil and lift that burden from their lives.
May our walk though the wilderness this Lent lead us to become agents of hope and healing and examples of compassionate listeners.
Grace and Peace