Love or Lust, does it really matter?

I went to teach two eighth grade classes today at our local public high school. I really enjoy teaching these two classes, even though it is very difficult to keep them focused. I teach them once a week during their civics class. Part of the class involves human sexuality so I was invited to teach about the Bible and human sexuality. Today, we covered the story of Amnan and Tamar.

As the class started, I asked the students what they thought about virginity. Most of them boldly proclaimed that virginity is no longer popular and is not a necessity. I asked them to hold that thought and we would revisit it at the end of the lesson. During the previous 2 lessons, we studied about God’s perspective on virginity both for males and females, that it is a gift from God given to us at birth. We are to protect this gift and keep it pure until our wedding night when we give this gift to our spouse. Our virginity protects us from danger while we are single, no danger of acquiring an STD. On the other hand, if we view our virginity as something cheap, then we put ourselves at risk of catching an STD.

I would like to take a look at Amnon and Tamar’s case. It is the story of a young man controlled by lust who trades his future for immediate gratification. He believed that virginity was no longer popular, something old fashioned. Please keep in mind that this was over 2,000 years ago. Since the fall of mankind back in the garden, people have believed that virginity was old fashioned and not that important. This story is found in II Samuel 13.

I. Lust grows and grows and deceptively hides itself in the image of “love”.

1 Now it was after this that Absalom the son of David had a beautiful sister whose name was Tamar, and Amnon the son of David loved her. 2 Amnon was so frustrated because of his sister Tamar that he made himself ill, for she was a virgin, and it seemed hard to Amnon to do anything to her. 3 But Amnon had a friend whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah, David’s brother ; and Jonadab was a very shrewd man. 4 He said to him, “O son of the king, why are you so depressed morning after morning ? Will you not tell me?” Then Amnon said to him, “I am in love with Tamar, the sister of my brother Absalom.” 5 Jonadab then said to him, “Lie down on your bed and pretend to be ill ; when your father comes to see you, say to him, ‘Please let my sister Tamar come and give me some food to eat, and let her prepare the food in my sight, that I may see it and eat from her hand.’ ” 6 So Amnon lay down and pretended to be ill ; when the king came to see him, Amnon said to the king, “Please let my sister Tamar come and make me a couple of cakes in my sight, that I may eat from her hand.”

Amnon did not control his emotions, his sentiments, and his sexual desires. He allowed himself to be controlled by them. This is a dangerous situation to be in, especially for a young person whose blood is hot and full of hormones. What is worse is the fact that he fed that desire day after day thinking about this girl, probably fantasizing over going to bed with her.

How many young men do the same thing today by looking at porn, which feeds lust’s unquenchable desires? Amnon took it one step further (which happens because lust is never satisfied) being influenced by a bad friend who gave some very bad advice. When a man is controlled by lust, he does not use honest means when dealing with a girl. He is ready and willing to deceive a girl in order to get what he wants. He does not stop to think about her feelings or her future. He is just focused on himself and his desires and will do anything to get what he thinks of as “satisfaction”. Also. he does not seek out people who will give good advice in this situation. Instead, he seeks out people who will agree with his evil desires. Amnon was convinced that he was in love with Tamar even though it is clearly just lust. He has made himself ill with this lust (which is what happens when you fill your mind with garbage, which is exactly what lust is).

II. Lust must be satisfied and does not listen to any form of reason.

7 Then David sent to the house for Tamar, saying, “Go now to your brother Amnon’s house, and prepare food for him.” 8 So Tamar went to her brother Amnon’s house, and he was lying down. And she took dough, kneaded it, made cakes in his sight, and baked the cakes. 9 She took the pan and dished them out before him, but he refused to eat. And Amnon said, “Have everyone go out from me.” So everyone went out from him. 10 Then Amnon said to Tamar, “Bring the food into the bedroom, that I may eat from your hand.” So Tamar took the cakes which she had made and brought them into the bedroom to her brother Amnon. 11 When she brought them to him to eat, he took hold of her and said to her, “Come, lie with me, my sister.” 12 But she answered him, “No, my brother, do not violate me, for such a thing is not done in Israel ; do not do this disgraceful thing ! 13 “As for me, where could I get rid of my reproach ? And as for you, you will be like one of the fools in Israel. Now therefore, please speak to the king, for he will not withhold me from you.”

Amnon made his plan, deceived Tamar, and got her alone with him in his room. He locks the door behind her and tries to get her to sleep with him. She is a virgin and the two are not married. Tamar cannot escape so she seeks to get out of the situation by trying to speak reason to Amnon. She tells him that what he wants to do is:

  • a violation (he is taking advantage of her)
  • a disgraceful action
  • a reproach (the root of this word is jeopardize, he is jeopardizing her future with his actions)
  • foolish (because he is not thinking with his brain, he is being led by his lustful desires)

Amnon does not listen to her. He knows what he is doing is wrong and has been warned but his lust has plugged up his ears and he has a one track mind. Tamar sees that this method is not working so she tries another. She recommends that he go and ask her hand in marriage from her father. I assume that she hopes he will have time to think and come back to his senses as he ponders going and asking for her hand in marriage. That also does not work because Amnon is lost in his lust.

III. Lust does not satisfy.

14 However, he would not listen to her; since he was stronger than she, he violated her and lay with her. 15 Then Amnon hated her with a very great hatred ; for the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her. And Amnon said to her, “Get up, go away!”

Amnon put out the fire in his loins but he was not satisfied. I believe he came to his senses once the fire was put out and realized what all he had just done:

  • deceived a virgin
  • raped her
  • slept with his half sister
  • used and abused another human being

He was ashamed of himself when his passions were calmed and so he hated Tamar. In fact, he never loved her. It was just lust masked as “love”. He thought if he could just satisfy the hunger, the burning then all would be okay. Once it was over, he began to think with his head again. He was sick with himself and took it out on Tamar. She had tried to be the voice of reason but he had plugged his ears. Now he cannot even look at her. If men only understood that lust can never be satisfied and when it is temporarily quenched, you are left with the consequences of your actions. How many young men are controlled by lust, end up doing shameful things, do not want to listen to the voice of reason, and end up unsatisfied and ashamed? I deal with young men like this on a daily basis, as well as the young women who have fallen victim to them.

IV. Lust is closer related to hatred than to love.

15 Then Amnon hated her with a very great hatred ; for the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her. And Amnon said to her, “Get up, go away!” 16 But she said to him, “No, because this wrong in sending me away is greater than the other that you have done to me!” Yet he would not listen to her. 17 Then he called his young man who attended him and said, “Now throw this woman out of my presence, and lock the door behind her.” 18 Now she had on a long-sleeved garment ; for in this manner the virgin daughters of the king dressed themselves in robes. Then his attendant took her out and locked the door behind her. 19 Tamar put ashes on her head and tore her long-sleeved garment which was on her; and she put her hand on her head and went away, crying aloud as she went.

Our modern era has confused love and lust. Many men believe that girls show love by sleeping with them. Many girls use lust to get to love, saying things like “if I let him, then he will love me”. Both of these are different sides of the same coin of lust. When the lust is fed, it is not satisfied and grows even hungrier. Once the act is done, reality sets in and lust removes its mask and shows its ugly face, not as love. Love was just the mask that lust used to seduce and deceive. I wish someone would have taught all of this to me when I was a teen. It is because of this that I do try to teach this to as many young people as I can. No one wants to be disappointed in life but how many are because they believed lust’s lies? A young man who uses a girl for pleasure does not love her. In fact, he actually hates her because he does not care about her future. If you are a young lady, do not be tricked into giving away your purity to a man who does not love and respect you.

V. Lust leads to death if unchecked.

There is a price to pay if you play, as the old saying goes. Young people can choose to ignore what God has to teach them. Amnon has a price to pay for raping a girl. The price is death and he is about to pay it. It takes 2 full years for the bill to come but it comes. None of the men in Israel stood up to defend Tamar, not even her own father, King David. After 2 years pass, Tamar’s other brother, Absalom arises to avenge her.

20 Then Absalom her brother said to her, “Has Amnon your brother been with you? But now keep silent, my sister, he is your brother ; do not take this matter to heart.” So Tamar remained and was desolate in her brother Absalom’s house. 21 Now when King David heard of all these matters, he was very angry. 22 But Absalom did not speak to Amnon either good or bad ; for Absalom hated Amnon because he had violated his sister Tamar. 28 Absalom commanded his servants, saying, “See now, when Amnon’s heart is merry with wine, and when I say to you, ‘Strike Amnon,’ then put him to death. Do not fear ; have not I myself commanded you? Be courageous and be valiant .” 29 The servants of Absalom did to Amnon just as Absalom had commanded.

If lust is left unchecked and is continually fed then it will bring you to the point of death. This is not just some O.T. story. This is real life. If you play with fire then you will eventually get burned. Unchecked lust leads to ungodly actions, especially in the realm of sexuality. When you sin sexually, you sin against your own body. You expose yourself to STD’s, many of which can lead to death. Here are a couple of articles that reveal the consequences of uncontrolled lust.

May the Lord help us understand His love for us and follow His ways so that we can avoid much pain and suffering, especially in the realm of our human sexuality.

One comment on “Love or Lust, does it really matter?

  1. Pingback: The Fruit of the Spirit: Self-control | Erik and Elena Brewer's Weblog

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