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Whenever I’ve been around a conversation that includes the topic of lust I have noticed that at least one person will ask, “Isn’t a little lust a good thing?”

I get where they are coming from. From what they say, they typically mean that between partners, it’s good to have some passionate desire for each other. That’s certainly true. The thing is, that’s not what lust means.

Lust is when we have a desire and we want to use another person to satisfy it. It’s selfishness because we put our needs above the other’s needs, it’s objectifying the other, dehumanizing them. It’s an abuse. With that understanding, asking “Isn’t a little lust a good thing?” is similar to asking, “Isn’t a little abuse a good thing?”

When Jesus was showing us our deep need for healing, he pointed out that adultery isn’t just a physical offence but begins in the heart and concerns how we treat or mistreat others. When we lust after another person, even if we don’t or can’t follow through with a physical act, we’ve already done the worst of it – reduced the person to just a thing to satisfy our needs.

How do you know if you are loving or lusting; passionate for your spouse or objectifying them? To me, the simple test is asking how you feel when your partner is unable or unwilling to participate. If you feel angry or annoyed with your lover, rather than compassionate towards them, you were probably lusting rather than loving.