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    “See to it no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

    « A Little Perspective: Things Could Always Be Worse | On Spiritual Manifestations »
    Tuesday
    Nov302010

    On Lust, Obsession, and Self-Sacrifice

    A recurrent theme in many popular TV shows, cartoons, books, songs, and films are the subtle substitutions of God’s commands. Three big ones are lust, obsession, and self-sacrifice, all renamed and paraded as love.

     

    Any single aspect of love cannot stand alone as love just as Hydrogen or Oxygen alone does not make water. But lust, obsession, and self-sacrifce do not actually come close to even being aspects of love.

     

    Lust

     “A drop of desire... A pinch of passion... and just a hint of... lust!” (Fairy Godmother, Shrek II)

     

    [There are tons of other, better written articles on the subject of lust. Here, rather than focus on the definition, I will delve into the consequences of it.]

     

    Lusting after someone downgrades them as purely an object of desire to be had and conquered. Does this sound like true love? Real ove seeks to elevate another; it does not seek to conquer or control (manipulation-even minor or subtle-is also a form of controlling a person).

     

    Attempting to make a person do what you want, even if it is “good for them” is controlling and conquering. This is not the same as love.

     

    Even God, who truly does know what is best for all people, does not attempt to control or manipulate His own creatures (when the right is His).

     

    [Author's random side note: Hell is a place of torment, darkness, and sorrow because God is not there. People who choose to have nothing to do with God will wind up there (the Bible says) because they want nothing to do with God. It breaks His heart, but people turn from Him of their own accord.]

     

    In the Bible, lust leads to sin, often by rape, murder, and/or adultery, as in the case of David and Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11) and even one of King David’s sons, Amnon, and his sister Tamar (2 Samuel 13).

     

    Look it up for yourself: Many reports from various websites show stats indicating rape and sexual assault have increased tremendously over the past 2-3 years. Correlation does not always equal causation, but these disturbing trends are something to consider  (See also “Of Love and Lust” and “Love, Unconditional”).

     

    (http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2008/12/18/us-soaring-rates-rape-and-violence-against-women)

    (http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/uscrime.htm)

    (http://oak.cats.ohiou.edu/~ad361896/anne/cease/rapestatisticspage.html)

    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_statistics)

     

     

    Obsession

     

     “'Mad' is a term we use to describe a man who is obsessed with one idea and nothing else.” (Ugo Betti)

     

    Merrium-Webster’s online Dictionary defines “obsession” as “: a persistent disturbing preoccupation with an often unreasonable idea or feeling”. (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obsession). The site goes on to list “Synonyms: fetish (also fetich), idée fixe, mania, fixation, preoccupation, prepossession. Near Antonyms: apathy, disinterestedness, disregard, indifference, insouciance, nonchalance, unconcern, unconcernedness

     

    None of these terms have positive connotations. Considering the stated antonyms, obsessions consist of an all-or-nothing attitude. Obsession and lust are closely related to each other, in that they are both attitudes directed at something we want.

     

    Whereas lust typically involves another person, obsessions are not necessarily aimed at people. Hollywood is in the habit of glamorizing obsession (the Bible uses the term “idolatry”). Actors, authors, musicians, and athletes are idols to many, and celebrities usually enjoy this kind of godhood.

     

    It is fine to appreciate, laud, and even honor an individual’s talent, knowledge, or expertise to an extent. However, obsessions/idolatry go to the extreme, glorifying every action of mere people, places, things, or ideas.

     

    In obsessing/idolizing anything, we have (perhaps inadvertently) raised it to god-status. The object of our obsession rules all our thoughts and actions, distracting us from real living and the Real God, the Lord of the Bible. Only He is worthy of all glory, honor, and praise (Revelation 5:13) because only He has real power and true authority to do anything.

     

    God is good to prove to those who idolize anything other than Himself, that He is powerful, that He is patient (but He is also just, holy, and righteous), that He is worthy, and that He is the only One able to save (Read any or all of the accounts of Elijah, Jonah, Isaiah, the Exodus, the Philistines and the Ark of the Covenant, David and Goliath, and Jesus).

     

    The Bible also illustrates, however that God condemns idolatry. Obsessions usually come with a high price. It can be our health, our families, our finances, our emotions, and our friends. It can cost marriages, jobs, and sometimes lives.

     

    Children so obsessed with games or Facebook have murdered their parents who try to limit them too late (and vice-versa)

    (http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2010/11/16/20101116south-korea-killing-internet-games-fight.html)

    (http://www.gamepro.com/article/news/208369/boy-kills-mother-shoots-father-after-taking-away-halo-3/)

    (http://forum.baby-gaga.com/about1409778.html).

     

    Gamerwidow.com is an online site for those whose partners or spouses are so addicted to video or computer games, they never see them. I myself, have had a personal experience with this. Drug addiction and alcoholism are two classic examples of how making something an idol can ruin a life.

     

    Frankenstein (by Mary Shelley) is an excellent book which centers on obsessions. The Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer also describes an obsession perfectly. The “heroine”, Bella Swan becomes so obsessed with being with her teen love, she becomes unable to live without him.

     

    Everyone who cares for her becomes manipulated by her in her attempts to be with her love. She uses her normal (aka non-vampire) friends, lies to them and her dad, delves into deep depression, puts herself in danger (masochism), puts others in potentially dangerous situations, and attempts suicide when she believes she will never see Edward again.

     

    She is willing to sacrifice her morals, others, herself, and her eternal soul to be with him. Even Edward has sense enough to tell her she is not acting properly, but in this series (as opposed to Frankenstein), the main character gets what she wants in the end with little consequence.

     

    Somehow this plot is supposed to be a love story, but all Bella thinks of is herself and what she wants. The moral is, I suppose, if you go after your heart’s desire with everything you have and are, you will achieve your dream.

     

    This is true, but when does the price become too high? In the end, will you really be happy with your dream when it finally becomes reality? Although he had the power and willingness to save Bella time and again, Edward disliked the idea of his being worshipped by her.

     

     Self-Sacrifice

    “I'm your density. I mean... your destiny.” (George McFly, Back to the Future)

    "Self-sacrifice is very easy. It's having to sacrifice someone you love that puts your convictions to the test." (Malagant, First Knight)

     

    Self-sacrifice is an interesting concept. More than the other three, it is hard to imagine that giving of oneself does not necessarily constitute love. It is not easy to admit that even willingly laying down our own wants, needs, or even lives may not be for love of others.

     

    Many (but not all) appearances of self-sacrifice are motivated by secret pride, manipulation, an effort to look good, be seen, be praised, be remembered, gain fame, wealth, wisdom, etc. The Bible says,

    “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

     

    Consequentially, even certain fictional heroes like Nero (Matrix), Harry Potter, or Spider Man are willing to lay down their lives for others not because they truly love all the people they will help, but because it is their destiny. And compassion is not necessarily the same as love.

     

    “Finally the truth…where he had once thought he was learning the secrets of victory, Harry understood at last that he was not supposed to survive. His job was to walk calmly into Death’s welcoming arms” (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, 691)

     

    It could be argued that Jesus was also predestined to die for humanity, but in reviewing the weeks, days, hours, and even moments before His death, He had plenty of opportunities to run (See “Jesus Had a Choice in His Death”).

     

    Jesus’ life’s purpose was to teach others about God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness. Jesus’ death taught about God’s justice and the price of sin. Jesus’ resurrection taught about God’s power, wonder, and glory.

     

    It is difficult to compare Jesus’ story with those of films, television, or books. One reason is that Jesus really lived, died, and rose again. Another reason is Jesus’ focus was/is very different from the focus of fictional heroes.

     

    Jesus wanted people to know God, the Father. Jesus was interested in the physical lives and well-being of people, but He was far more interested in the eternal well-being of people. Jesus was sent to reunite people with God. Our heroes of fiction, noble though they be, are focused solely on the physical well-being of others.

     

    The final reason Jesus’ sacrifice was so different, is that He was (and still does) love every person on Earth, even His enemies. Even those who whipped Him mercilessly, shoved a crown of thorns on His head, spat on Him, stripped Him, betrayed Him, condemned, Him, laughed at Him in that state, hammered long nails into Him, and jeered as He struggled to breathe.

     

    No other human, no other character of fiction has ever been through such hell and still loved their tormentors enough to be willing to do it all over again. Jesus chose to die not just for His friends, not just for His family, but for everyone.      

     

    1 Corinthians 13:4-8 goes on to give the classic description of what love looks like,

    “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…” 

     

    Lust, obsession, and self-sacrifice do not even come close to this description.

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