Marriage and Lust


#1

Is it even possible for a husband to lust after his wife if they love one another? If so, how exactly then does one seperate a legitimate sexual desire for her from lust?


#2

Yes it is possible. (As Pope John Paul II noted…and of course others…such as S. Thomas)

For example treating her as an object…

Treating each other as simply a means…

or other disordered approaches…

(sexual desire between husband and wife is good…unless it is disordered …)


#3

Lust is legitimate sexual desire. None of us would be here without it. When would lust be wrong? I believe from a Catholic view that it is wrong when it is divorced from love. When it is entirely selfish. When you feel intense sexual craving for your wife it is part of your love for her. You care about her pleasure as well as your own. You are expressing more than physical desire. There is more to it than just your own physical pleasure. Even most non Christians would admit that sex within love is usually best.

You can not have a fulfilling sexual experience without a certain amount of lust. Trying to is really quite impossible. Being lustful of your wife, who you love, should not me thought of as sin. To be sexual without it would be psychologically bizarre. There is a proper time for everything. There is a time for religious reflection and a different time for the sexual expression of love. Personally, I do not want to even want to meet the man who can perform sexually while contemplating Jesus on the cross.

So your sexual lust is not and can not ever be wrong if it is part your loving relationship.
I will add “with your wife” as that is what Catholics believe, although that is not something I believe.


#4

[quote="mcteague, post:3, topic:213515"]
Lust is legitimate sexual desire. None of us would be here without it. When would lust be wrong?
So your sexual lust is not and can not ever be wrong if it is part your loving relationship.
I will add "with your wife" as that is what Catholics believe, although that is not something I believe.

[/quote]

Such is not the way the Church defines the term...(she is asking according to the way the Church uses the term here)


#5

Lust is about what “I” can get out of my beloved for my own pleasure, period. As Bishop Sheen used to say, “Drink the water, forget the glass.” Love is about what I can give to my beloved, regardless of my own desires, etc. It doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy it, but the focus is on the other, not self.


#6

[quote="mcteague, post:3, topic:213515"]
You can not have a fulfilling sexual experience without a certain amount of lust. Trying to is really quite impossible. Being lustful of your wife, who you love, should not me thought of as sin. To be sexual without it would be psychologically bizarre. There is a proper time for everything. There is a time for religious reflection and a different time for the sexual expression of love. Personally, I do not want to even want to meet the man who can perform sexually while contemplating Jesus on the cross.

[/quote]

False. While I don't believe lust in a marriage is sinful, I don't think it is necessary. My marriage has become infinitely happier once we got over the secular myth that "lust" is necessary for a satisfying sexual encounter with each other. And sex has become infinitely better and more meaningful now that my husband and I think of sex as a spiritual expression of our love for each other, and not just a physical one.

Perhaps your sexual encounters require lust, but it's NOT a perquisite for sexual encounters in my experience as a married Catholic.


#7

I think this is probably an issue of definition. For me lust is the desire for the physical act of sex. I do not know about your husband, but do not think I could achieve the necessary physical requirement for intercourse without that desire. To me what you are saying is that for your husband looking at you naked has no affect on him except feelings of love. I can’t imagine that that is what you really mean. It would certainly be true though that as marriage continues sexuality is not as dependent on raw physical desire. But I can not believe that it is ever totally absent.


#8

[quote="mcteague, post:7, topic:213515"]
I think this is probably an issue of definition. For me lust is the desire for the physical act of sex. I do not know about your husband, but do not think I could achieve the necessary physical requirement for intercourse without that desire. To me what you are saying is that for your husband looking at you naked has no affect on him except feelings of love. I can't imagine that that is what you really mean. It would certainly be true though that as marriage continues sexuality is not as dependent on raw physical desire. But I can not believe that it is ever totally absent.

[/quote]

The Catholic Church uses the term "lust" in the sexual context for "disordered sexual desire/pleasure or for when it is inordinate" not for ordered/good sexual desire.

Catechism:

2351 Lust is disordered desire for or inordinate enjoyment of sexual pleasure. Sexual pleasure is morally disordered when sought for itself, isolated from its procreative and unitive purposes.


#9

[quote="Bookcat, post:8, topic:213515"]
The Catholic Church uses the term "lust" in the sexual context for "disordered sexual desire/pleasure or for when it is inordinate" not for ordered/good sexual desire.

Catechism:

2351 Lust is disordered desire for or inordinate enjoyment of sexual pleasure. Sexual pleasure is morally disordered when sought for itself, isolated from its procreative and unitive purposes.

[/quote]

I am sure that is correct. One of the problems I have is that I have seen many posters here identify any sexual impulse as lust. There was a guy here who thought was going burn in hell forever because he accidentally looked at an dirty picture for moment online. So I do not think we can presume that the term is used in a way meaning inordinate or disordered. I do not think that what I have described would be either.

Although I personally disagree with some of the Churches teachings on sexuality, they are not nearly as extreme or as insane as the interpretations of them that some people make.

One would presume that from a Catholic perspective disordered refers to non procreative sexuality. The real difficult issue is inordinate. That seems often over interpreted. Probably inordinate should be equated with normal. So as long you are not quitting your job or missing meals for a roll in hay, your desire is probably not abnormal or inordinate and therefore not lust by the definition provided.


#10

[quote="mcteague, post:9, topic:213515"]
I am sure that is correct. One of the problems I have is that I have seen many posters here identify any sexual impulse as lust. There was a guy here who thought was going burn in hell forever because he accidentally looked at an dirty picture for moment online. So I do not think we can presume that the term is used in a way meaning inordinate or disordered. I do not think that what I have described would be either.

Although I personally disagree with some of the Churches teachings on sexuality, they are not nearly as extreme or as insane as the interpretations of them that some people make.

One would presume that from a Catholic perspective disordered refers to non procreative sexuality. The real difficult issue is inordinate. That seems often over interpreted. Probably inordinate should be equated with normal. So as long you are not quitting your job or missing meals for a roll in hay, your desire is probably not abnormal or inordinate and therefore not lust by the definition provided.

[/quote]

Yes some can misunderstand the difference between "temptation" and sin.

As for the inordinate part...there are various ways such can be inordinate.


#11

[quote="Ora_et_Labora, post:1, topic:213515"]
Is it even possible for a husband to lust after his wife if they love one another? If so, how exactly then does one seperate a legitimate sexual desire for her from lust?

[/quote]

You might want to look into learning about John Paul II's Theology of the Body teachings. Christopher West has written some very good material based on it. He explains (among many thing) how lust is the opposite of love. Love, in the Christian sense, is given selflessly, as a gift between spouses. Lust, on the other hand, is the act of using selfishly.

I think that understanding the Christian meaning of lust goes hand in hand with the Christian meaning of love (which is not exactly the same "love" used in mainstream culture. I mean, I think that the colloquial meaning of loving someone romantically seems to include some lust that should not be there (n.b. this statement is a broad generalization, and there are definitely exceptions to it!)

So once we take the word "love" as meaning a self-giving Christian charity, which can include sexual desire to give oneself to spouse, we can better see lust as being a selfish desire to have or attain for ourselves. I remember someone telling me that another Theology of the Body speaker, I think Jason Evert, said, "Love can wait to give, lust can't wait to take."

So, if love is synonymous with giving to another, then the opposite of this giving, is taking for you own use, i.e., lust.

Lust should not be confused with sexual desire. Sexual desire can be very legitimate and very important in a marriage. But lust, by this definition, should never be present in a marriage. For example, a husband should not want sex with his wife only for the physical and visual pleasure; a wife should not want sex with her husband only as a means to get pregnant-- these are instances of selfish use of the other person, not selfless giving to the other person.


#12

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.