Lust does not mysteriously appear in the heart of a teenager, as though it came out of nothing. Lust is part of their Adamic wiring, which is every parent’s call to action to cooperate with God in shaping their hearts and lives to a purer kind of love that is in Christ alone.
Listen to the podcast
You may want to read:
- Backward porn addiction: when women draw attention to themselves
- Staying pure does not make you pure
- Ep. 33 Rick and Lucia talking about lust in their marriage
A Letter From Ally
Hi, my name is Ally. I’m 22-years old. For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted guys to like me. It makes me feel good to catch the eye of a guy. I realize men are weak this way, but it gives me an adrenaline rush to be able to manipulate them with my looks.
Honestly, I don’t want to sleep with any of them, or even date them. Okay, maybe I would like having sex with a few boys, but it’s mostly about getting their attention. I like the drama when I catch them watching me. It makes me feel important and powerful.
I was in Starbucks the other day, and there was this guy with his wife. (I think it was his wife.) She did not see me because her back was to me, but he was facing me. The whole time he was talking to his wife, he was scoping me out. If we were alone, I probably would have left because he gave me the creeps. So glad he was with his wife, and could only sneak looks. (Hate to be her.)
I owned that dude. He was under my spell, and it felt good. I suspect if this creep knew how I was manipulating him, he would be ticked (or maybe embarrassed). Then again, he may be delusional, thinking I was interested. I suppose we both were getting our fix on in Starbucks. I tease him. He takes thirty minutes in fantasy land. We go our merry way.
The Path to Lust
When I was a child, I used to idolize my dad. He had a strong personality and seemed to know everything. There was no doubt he ruled the roost. Mom never talked back to him, and the little chickadees towed the line. Dad was our angry ruler.
By the time I became a teen, the selfishness and anger my dad had for mom began to spill over on me. I didn’t know how to process it at first. I always assumed he was right and what he did to mom was their deal, not mine. Then he got mad at me.
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My teenage years was when it occurred to me it was his problem, not mine. I always assumed I was wrong when he yelled at me. What does a punk kid like me know anyhow? After I had become a teen, I learned it was not always my fault, my brother’s, or my mom’s. It took me a long time to get to this point in my life, but I did learn the truth: My dad is selfish.
He didn’t love me; he didn’t love anyone but himself. He was a pompous, self-absorbed jerk who expected everything to go his way, and if it didn’t, he would go off on us. It all came to a head when I was fifteen. That’s when I realized I was cute, had the right kind of body, and boys liked me. It is hard for me to explain how good it feels to know I am not as bad as by dad made me feel.
I would spend about an hour getting ready for school. I always made sure my shorts were just short enough, and my panty lines showed through. I learned that trick from sister. She was a senior when I hit high school. We bonded quickly, and she taught me the lust rules–as we liked to call them. She told me how guys preferred to leave things to the imagination.
Never show it all, sis. Only give them enough to where they can fill in the blanks.
That was her motto. There were some things we did in school that would give my dad a coronary if he knew–but he never knew, which is one of the upsides to having a self-absorbed, emotionally detached father.
He kept his head stuck up his reputation so much that he was blind to what was going on with us. He thought he was on top of things. He was only on top of his image. As long as I went to church, said all the right things, and made A’s in school, he left me alone. I made him look good; I checked the boxes that kept his reputation in tack and lived the way I wanted to
Your Approval Drive
Ally’s story is pure fiction. But not really. On our website, I can monitor the search criteria from people who are looking for content. Though I cannot tell who the individuals are that are searching, I know what they are looking for by their search criteria.
Recently, I was scrolling through a few searches and noticed there were a lot of people using search criteria that began with, “How to.” One of those “How to” searches was, “How to get guys to lust after me.” Initially, I laughed, but as I continued to reflect on this person’s search, my knee-jerk reaction turned sad.
To be honest, I am not shocked by what I saw. This person is representative of millions of women who enjoy the pleasure of a guy’s lustful gaze. She represents what is at the heart of broken humanity, which is not “gender exclusive.” There is something inside of us that wants to be appreciated, accepted, loved, and respected by others. We were born this way because God put those desires in our hearts (Genesis 1:27; 1John 4:8; 2 Timothy 2:15).
Being made in the image of God comes with the hardwired desire to be loved, which was fully satisfied at the dawn of time. Adam and Eve experienced the sinless reciprocal love between each other and their Creator.
Then their dawn turned dark, and everything went sideways. Satan threw the first family a curve ball when he dramatically took control of their approval drives. What used to be satisfied by sinless means could now be met by evil means. Desires became depraved, and the man and woman could exercise a new option that fitted their ungodly cravings of love, approval, significance, and acceptance.
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. – James 1:14
A Fatal Flaw
Almighty God, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you; so lead us by your Spirit that in this life we may live to your glory and in the life to come enjoy you for ever. – Augustine
What God meant for good for all humanity, the devil meant for evil (Genesis 50:20; Romans 5:12). The objects of our affection changed after our first parents succumbed to sin, and our desire for love fell prey to the distorting effects of sin.
Ally is a case study of a person born with an Adamic deficit that sinfully craves approval, significance, acceptance, and affection. She has yet to come to the regenerating place of finding those things in God (John 3:7), and to make matters worse, her dad compounded her preexisting Adamic condition. One of two things will happen to Ally:
- She will find God in spite of her dad.
- She will continue on the same self-centered path with her dad.
He gave her a fantastic education. He made sure she attended the right church. He legislated excellence in every way. If the world were producing children, his children would be the prototypes. But there was a problem in his parenting methodology–two to be exact:
- He refused to factor in the spiritual dynamics of her heart.
- His self-absorption fed and motivated her Adamic desire for serial lusting.
Exporting Lust to Your Children
You can give a child all the accouterments of the world, but if you don’t spiritually shepherd their hearts toward the Lord, all your efforts will more than likely blow-up in your face. Ally’s strongest desire is to be emotionally connected by love to someone, and she does not know how “God alone” is the filler of that desire.
Her dad was the gatekeeper of her soul. He had the opportunity to cooperate with God in directing her heart to the Lord by his other-centered example or tempt her to go the way of the world. By the time she was twelve, the Adamic possibilities of the world had captured her heart.
Too often parents who miss this important opportunity to help their children down a righteous path do not understand how their own lukewarm (or non-existent) spiritual relationship with Christ impacts the children they are supposed to guide.
You cannot export to your children what you don’t possess. Ally’s dad did not have an authentic walk with God, which disqualified him from helping her have one.
What he did export to her was what was in his heart: self-centeredness, which motivated her to reject both him and God. Hypocrisy does not play well with Christianity; it ruins families. It is one thing for an unbeliever to deny God. They do it because they do not believe it works. But it is profoundly sad when Christianized children with Christianized parents reject Christ. They do so because they have seen objective proof that it’s a hoax, as they have observed their hypocritical parents.
If you put forth Christianity as the way, but Christianity does not authentically grip and affect you, there is a good chance your children will reject Christianity. (If they do come to Christ, it will be in spite of your parenting, which can happen after the children leave home.)
Call to Action
The first and foremost thing to address when it comes to shaping the heart of a child is your motive (not your motive for parenting). What is your rationale for associating with Christianity?
The good news is that God does not mysteriously hide in His Word what your primary reason should be. Exodus 20:3 is one clear example of this, as you are told to put no other gods before Sovereign Lord. Matthew 22:37 is another place where Jesus said loving the Lord more than anything else must be preeminent in your heart (Colossians 1:18). He went on to say in Luke 14:26 that all loves when compared to your love for God should look like hate.
There is no mystery here. If you want to be part of what God can do in your child’s life, specifically as it pertains to their sensuality and desires for love, the place to begin is in your heart. These questions will help you reflect upon your heart motivations for participating in Christianity.
- What have been your thoughts about God today?
- How has your love of Christ been displayed through your life today?
- What is something you hope people do not find out about you?
- What is something that you cherish (Matthew 6:21)? What does that thing say about your relationship with God?
It may benefit you to share your thoughts with a friend. Two of the more beautiful things about Christianity are (1) we enjoy our life with Christ in a community and (2) we can always have a do-over.
The world tries to evolve to a better self-made image through behavioral modification techniques. Christians are transformed into the image of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18), as the Word of God (James 1:22) and Spirit of God have their way in our hearts (Ephesians 4:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:19).
- Will you be honest about where you are with God?
- Will you be open about your secret desires and ongoing frustrations?
- Will you reach out for help?
Perhaps you have blown it with your child. Do not be discouraged. It’s not too late to change (Psalm 32:1-3). No matter what you have done wrong, God can bring good out of it. Grace has broad borders for people who are prone to wander. You can be part of your child’s God-centered solution.
Children don’t insulate themselves from the lusts of the world. They were born with lust in their hearts. They are also not isolated from the attitudes, words, and behaviors of their parents. The battle against your child’s lust begins in your heart, and it’s your family community context that is the most prominent redemptive influence in this fight. Will you help your child to set her affections on Jesus?
Also published on Medium.