It’s pretty tough to get a handle on it, but here’s what it looks like in my life. It’s a slave master that wants to control my sex in its own ends in its own way whenever it wants. And it’s like mental-spiritual noise that distorts and perverts sex, much as a raucous radio interference distorts a lovely melody.

Lust is not sex, and it is not physical. It seems to be a screen of self-indulgent fantasy separating me from reality – either the reality of my own person in sex with myself or the reality of my spouse. It works the same way whether with a girlfriend, a prostitute, or my wife. It thus negates identity, either mine or the other person’s and is anti-real, working against my own reality, working against me.

I can’t have true union with my wife while lust is active because she as a person really doesn’t matter; she’s even in the way; she’s merely the sexual instrument. And I can’t have true union with myself while I’m splitting myself having sex with myself. That fantasy partner I’ve conjured up in my mind is really part of me! With lust, the sex act is not the result of personal union; sex doesn’t flow from that union. Sex energised by lust makes true union impossible.

The nature of the lust-noise interference I superimpose over sex can be many things: memories, fantasies ranging from the erotic to revenge or even violence. Or, it can be the mental image of a single fetish or some other person. Seen in this light, lust can exist apart from sex. Indeed, there are those who say they are obsessed with lust who can no longer have sex. I see my lust as a force that apparently infuses and distorts my other instincts as well: eating, drinking, working, anger… I know I have the lust to resent; it seems as strong as sexual lust ever was.

In my experience, lust is not just physical; it is not even strong sexual desire. It seems to be a spiritual force that distorts my instincts; and whenever let it loose in one area, seems to want to infect other areas as well. And being non-sexual, lust crosses all lines, including gender. When energized by lust, my sexual fantasies or acting out can go in any direction, shaped by whatever I experience. Thus, the more I indulge in sexual lust, the less truly sexual I become.

Therefore, by basic problem as a recovering sexaholic is to live free from my lust. When I entertain it in any form, sooner or later it tries to express itself in every form. And lust becomes the index of not only what I do, but what I am.

But there is great hope here. By surrendering lust and its acting-out each time I’m tempted by it, and then experiencing God’s life-giving deliverance from its power, recovery and healing are taking place, and wholeness is being restored – true union within myself first, then with others and the source of my life.

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