Mental Illness & Lust by David Lee Chu Sarchet
“…but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” -Matthew 5:28
Now, before I get started on this blog, I must say that I fully understand how this topic is pretty controversial in today’s society. I also understand how my view about mental illness causing one to sin is controversial as well. However, I do believe that mental illness often can and does cause people to sin.
This does not mean that sin is excusable by any means. All sin is heinous before the Holy God and there is no excuse for it. I have said many times that mental illness does not excuse sin, but it does provide the context for sin.
As for the topic of lust, I do not know any man who does not struggle with the sin of lust. I do not know just how badly women struggle with lust obviously because I am not a woman. But I am pretty sure that the struggle with lust is universal. Men may struggle with lust more so than women because men are more visual, but this does not negate the fact that women struggle too.
Why is it that we struggle with lust? Besides the obvious answer of The Fall, I think we struggle with lust because of loneliness. I believe the inside the core of every human being is an innate desire for relationship and companionship. This should be basic because it goes all the way back to Genesis 2:18 when it says,
“Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for man to be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him’.”
It was at this point that God created Eve to be Adam’s helper.
What this text indicates is that man was never meant to be alone. We desire and crave to be a part of a community of people who understands us. We also crave and desire to be with someone in a romantic relationship who truly understands us as well. If you do not believe me, just look at the slew of romantic-comedies out there that are all about the main character being alone and misunderstood and just wanting to find someone who understands them intimately.
I believe the reason these movies are so popular is because it reveals a deeper desire inside all of us. The desire to know and be known by someone is a good and godly desire. However, the devil is in the business of distorting anything that is good and godly. Lust is a distortion of the good and godly desire to be fully known by someone.
People who struggle with lust are people who really want is a relationship. While this is true, I believe that mental illness does exacerbates the lust we feel.
For instance, I know that when my mental illness is unstable I do struggle with lust even more. My specific lust comes out in a couple of different ways:
- 1) Sexual Fantasies
- 2) Bisexual Attractions
I do believe that at the root of all lust is idolatry and that whenever I succumb to these lustful behaviors I am becoming an idolater.
In this blog, I will expound on these two points and I will discuss what helps me overcome lust.
I would like to say that I am thankful to the Lord that I have never looked at any “hardcore porn”. I believe that the Lord in His graciousness has prevented me from looking at that kind of pornographic material.
However, I have succumbed to looking at “twerking” videos on YouTube. If you are not familiar with “twerking” then consider yourself blessed.
In the past, I have also succumbed to looking at what is deemed “humiliation porn” too. Again, if you are not aware of that then consider yourself blessed. I no longer look at “humiliation” porn, but sometimes I do struggle with avoiding “twerking” videos though.
I am also thankful to the Lord that I have never been in an actual homosexual relationship and I believe that the Lord has protected me from that too. However, at one time I did struggle with being attracted to both men and women. I even also at one time was led to question whether or not I was a transgender too.
Thankfully, on most days I no longer struggle with these attractions.
Like I said earlier, my mental illness caused these symptoms to be exacerbated.
These symptoms were evil through and through and they tormented me for many many years too. However, these days they are not much of a problem.
In this next section I will discuss what helped me overcome lust. The four things that helped me was:
- 1) Marriage
- 2) Being Grounded In God’s Word
- 3) Fellowship
- 4) Corporate Worship.
All four of these things has really helped me overcome the lust that I battled for most of my life. I explain how in this next section:
Now, I am not saying that one should marry solely to overcome lust. If anyone does this then they have missed the entire purpose of the marriage covenant. However, there is wisdom in the Apostle Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 7:9 when he says,
“But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”
Basically, what he is saying here is that if you absolutely cannot control your lust then it is better for you to marry that way you do not end up sinning against the Lord. Marriage provides the outlet for our sexual passions. In my life, I know that when I am feeling especially in the mood I can let my wife know and she will accommodate me and the same works vice versa.
However, you must be respectful to your spouse’s boundaries though. It is never right to force yourself onto your spouse if they are not feeling up to it. Basically, you must know and understand your spouse and their needs, wants, and desires.
Being Grounded In God’s Word
This really helps me because when I am feeling like my passion is overwhelming I find that after five or ten minutes in the Word the passion dissipates. I am not saying that you should be reading the Word of God only when you are battling temptation. We should be in the Word daily regardless of how we are feeling. However, I cannot deny that there is something about the Word of God that casts all temptation I am facing out.
Like I have already established earlier in this blog, we were not created to be alone. If it is true that lust comes from a place of loneliness then that means fellowship with other brothers and sisters in the faith is vital. It really helps to have at least one or two serious accountability partners whom you talk to on a weekly basis who are not afraid to “hold your feet to the fire” per say. When we know that certain people whom we trust will be holding us accountable then we will think twice about falling into the trap of lust.
As Proverbs 27:17 says,
“As iron sharpens iron,
so one person sharpens another.”
I cannot stress just how important it is to gather weekly with the other saints of God in order to worship our Lord. The thing about lust is that it keeps us focused on ourselves and our desires, but when we are gathered together for worship every week, we are then focused on Him.
This makes all the difference because as long as our minds are centered on Jesus Christ then we will not be thinking about ourselves. This is what the Gospel message does: it takes the focus off of ourselves and instead places that focus on Christ. As long as we are focused on Christ, we will not fall into the temptation to lust.
As the Apostle Paul says in Galatians 5:16,
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”
Does this mean that if we do all of this we will never fall into lust? Absolutely not! As long as we continue to live on this earth we will always struggle with sin. However, whenever we do fall into lust, it is vitally important for us not to fall into despair.
I find myself constantly reminding myself of Romans 8:1 which says,
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Another Scripture that helps me is 1 John 2:1 which says,
“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
Jesus is constantly interceding to the Father on our behalf and as our great High Priest He is able to sympathize with us because He was tempted in every way we are, except He was without sin (Hebrews 4:15). This means that Jesus can sympathize with our frailty. This is good news for those of us who struggle with lust or any kind of sin. So, be encouraged and whenever you fall just give it all to Jesus because He cares for us.
-David Lee Chu Sarchet
Christian Mental Health Advocate And Apologist
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