>Sexuality and lust

> “This is my body which is given for you.” Any Christian worshipper will recognise these words of Jesus by which he declares his love for the world because they are central to the Christian gathering. We meet round the table and celebrate that Jesus gave his body for us. The words are repeated by lovers who give themselves to one another. They could be words used in the marriage service – that would hot things up well wouldn’t it? Tim Radcliffe – in What is the Point of Being a Christian? – underlines the importance of the body in love and sexuality, and in so doing manages to distinguish between love and lust, and between erotic and pornographic art. (Rodin’s kiss is lovely. It’s erotic and it’s good because both partners are lost in their mutual self-giving).

We give ourselves in love. With lust we make of the other an object of desire for our own pleasure. Often the focus of desire is one part of the body, so the object of our desire is dismembered before our very eyes. Interestingly Jesus says “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away.” (Matt 5:29) presumably to help us to understand that if we dismember others we ought to dismember ourselves. Radcliffe refers to the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland who wouldn’t let Alice eat the mutton to which she had been introduced. “It isn’t etiquette to eat anyone you’ve been introduced to.” she says.
The cure for lust is not chopping off our hand or plucking out our eye – and it’s good that very few have tested that theory – the first step, according to radcliife’s wise words “is not to abolish desire, but to restore it, liberate it, discover that it is for a person and not an object.”

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