Love makes us more human, lust dehumanizes

Matthew 5: 27-32

In today’s gospel, Jesus is using some incredibly serious language in order to warn us from succumbing to lust.  “If your eye causes you to sin, tear it out” – this is very severe language.  Why is lust such a dangerous sin?  Lust is so dangerous because it is in the opposite of love.  Lust has the opposite effect on us as individuals when compared to love.  Love humanizes whereas lust dehumanizes us and those around us.

When we love, we are focused on the person we love.  True loves draws you outside of yourself and leads you to make yourself a gift to the one you love.  When you love someone you want to look out for the good of that person. We can think of many examples.  A mother naturally desires to care for her child and sacrifices herself in order to do this.  Love is what makes a mother wake up in the middle of the night to care for her crying child.  A father wants to protect, provide for and nurture his children regardless of the costs to himself.  Because of the love a teacher has for her students, she will sacrifice many hours to help them learn and to become all they have been called to be.  When we love, we imitate Jesus who laid down His life out of love for us.  Imitating Christ, the perfect human being, makes us more human.  Therefore the more we love the more human we become.  Love leads us to make ourselves a gift to those we love.

In lust we are focused on ourselves.  When we lust after somebody, we are not concerned with what is best for the other person, rather we are only concerned with gratifying ourselves.  Unlike love which draws us out of ourselves to focus on others, lust turns us in on ourselves. Lusting after someone turns them into a thing that we must possess.  When we lust we become like Gollum from Lord of the Rings.  Gollum was totally preoccupied with the ring.  It consumed him.  He had to have it.  Gollum’s desire for the ring destroyed his life.  Likewise when we lust after someone we dehumanize both them and ourselves.  The person we lust after becomes our “ring” and we, like Gollum, become totally turned in on ourselves, unable to focus on anything else in the world.  Lust destroys us, as Gollum’s desire for the ring destroyed him.  When we lust we become less human.  Lust is the opposite of love because it turns us in on ourselves.

Today’s gospel presents us challenge for us to examine and evaluate our relationships with others.  We can look at our relationships today and ask ourselves the simple question: in this relationship, am I more concerned with what I can give or with what I can receive from the other person?