Sexual lust does not agree with the Biblical command to love your neighbour as you love yourself. Love nurtures, cares, gives and protects, lust takes.
Lust is different from feeling physical/biological attraction or involuntary sexual arousal. Lust means that we consciously view another’s body mainly an object for our own self-gratification. It is selfcentred and disrespectful as it dehumanizes. It fails to define the person fully as a human, created in the image of God to be cared for, protected, nurtured and respected. Instead it objectifies the other as a means or thing to be used for our own pleasure.
Even within marriage lust is a sin and can lead to marital rape, infidelity and other forms of sexual sin. To feel sexually attracted to our partner is normal and healthy. To desire to express our love and appreciation for them by pleasing them romantically and sexually is healthy as is evidenced by a whole Bible book devoted to the celebration of this theme (Song of Songs). However, if we mainly appreciate how our partner can please us, sexually and otherwise, then we fail to respect and love them fully as human beings and treat them less than they deserve.
I have written about sexual lust for someone’s body but it applies to all forms of dehumanization. For example to lust for someone as a source of attention, affirmation and our happiness is just as wrong. Or to lust for someone because of the stability, wealth, lost innocence, youth, worldly or spiritual status they represent is just as wrong. Even as employers the lust for money can make us dehumanize our workers and treat them with less respect and care than we should. The same happens if as artists or politicians or even pastors fail to view and treat people as more than an audience to boost our fame and coffers. It means we predominantly see them in terms of what they can mean for us and not so much as human beings equally deserving of our care, attention, respect, nurture, love, kindness, protection and so on. This we ought to repent from for we owe it to people that we love them ( Rom. 13:8).
Love comes from God and is well described in Gal. 5:22-23 and 1 Cor. 13. If we view, approach and treat people from this perspective we do what pleases God. However, if we lust then we are allowing ourselves to be dragged along by evil self-centered desires of our flesh which leads to harm to ourselves and others:
But each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (James 1:14-15).
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age” (Titus 2:11-12).