Saturday, December 3, 2011

Looking to lust (3 Nephi 12:28-30)

I have to begin by saying that I know already that this will be my most difficult and awkward post to write yet. I'm going to explore in words difficult feelings that much of this blog is about trying to understand. Please bear with me as I talk about delicate thoughts and emotions that are uncomfortable to express and the relevant gospel applications that guide me. So, here goes...

I have had crushes on lots of men in my life--even long before I recognized/labeled them as such. The fact is, there isn't anything inherently wrong with that either. It's hard to describe what exactly a crush is. To experience is a crush is to feel somethine compelling, magnetic, exciting, and confusing. The person on whom you have the crush is absolutley beautiful to you, and every thing they do seems wonderful.

This whole semester, even while for a short time I was dating a girl (yes, I date girls and I'll discuss that in a future post), I have had a really strong crush on a guy whose name is NOT Methuselah, but that's what I'm going to call him in this post. He's a little younger than I am, average-athletic build, very kind, and his smile completely disarms me. As I said, this is a very difficult post to write. What I just said I could never, ever say out loud and it feels uncomfortable to admit this. Nonetheless, it is also pretty important that I come to terms with these feelings in order to understand and master them, rather than letting them master me.

To make matters all the more complicated, I am in a leadership position over "Methuselah" and see him on a daily basis. In case you are reading this and do not have same-sex attraction, just think of a crush you've had on anyone of the opposite gender. It would be especially awkward if they ever noticed you just staring at them and admiring them. Well, now imagine how much MORE awkward it would be if you were a guy who saw another guy staring at you that same way. Happily, I can report that he's never seen me do any such thing... but that doesn't mean I haven't been looking. I don't look at him for very long, as I try very hard and consciously not to, despite my fascination with him. I try so hard that there are days I scarcely look at him at all because I just avoid him with my eyes at all costs. It doesn't help that he has a fantastic personality that reinforces his stunning looks. In the future I'll probably address more about the interesting dynamic of attempting a normal friendship with "Methuselah," but for now I'd just like to discuss the idea of a crush vs. lust.

I absolutley love the sermon on the mount, as well as its parallel sermon at the temple in Bountiful as recorded in the Book of Mormon. Most of the verses in the two versions are exactly the same, with only a few occasional and subtle changes. Interestingly, some of the verses where the biggest textual discrepancies exist are about the subject at hand. I'm going to go with the 3 Nephi version for this post, though I won't rule out comparing the two in depth in a future post as the changes are very intriguing. While discussing adultery in a higher law context, the Savior says,

Whosoever looketh on a woman [or man] to lust after her [him], hath committed adultery already in his heart. Behold, I give unto you a commandment, that ye suffer none of these things to enter into your heart; For it is better that ye should deny yourselves of these things wherein ye will take up your cross.

What does it mean to look at a man "to lust after him"? It seems to me that a crush doesn't qualify for that in and of itself. After all, everyone has crushes, and yet I doubt all of us are guilty of committing sexually immoral sins in our heart. I think the line for "looking to lust" lies in fantasizing upon our crushes or sexualizing our thoughts about them. We will all feel attracted at one point or another, but we must let only love, and not lust enter our heart. Honestly, there are appropriate forms of charity and love we must feel for everyone. There are romantic forms of love we must control and only let out when appropriate. Lust is a corrupted form of this latter love.

Sometimes, weakness will happen and you'll begin to fantasize or think thoughts that lead to arousal. Don't condemn yourself for that. Rather, just work on controlling it. Sing a hymn, think of a scripture, solve a math problem, think of your long list of homework and other responsibilities, PRAY (those last two are my personal effective favorites) or whatever it takes to get your mind somewhere else. For it is better that you deny yourself those thoughts and take up your cross.

Some of you feel embarassed or guilty that you feel the way you do about certain men. Please don't. While you don't need to allow yourself to let your thoughts go too far, that same standard applies to people attracted to the opposite gender as well. As for a crush or a strong attraction in and of itself, however, you are not at fault for that! Don't hate yourself. If you are having suicidal thoughts, get help. Talking to someone about those feelings can help. You, like me, may not be comfortable sharing those thoughts out loud. You are always welcome to email me for advice at . God loves you, and He will give you the strength to press forward. He will help you keep your thoughts within appropriate bounds.

My Best,



  1. The same thing happens to me. I see a really hot guy and I can't put him out of my mind. The trouble I have is the inferiority complex I've developed from it. I end up feeling like I'm not attractive and therefore not wanted by anyone. I have to constantly remind myself that I have a lot of good qualities to offer.

  2. Tyler,

    You've hit on a really important subject that's been on my mind a lot: body image issues! It seems like most guys with SSA have serious body self-esteem issues. I experience them all the time! I almost never feel attractive. I need to post about that soon.

    My best,



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