Lust: I WANT you

March 9, 2012

in 1 + 1 = 1, Aff Link, Links to good stuff, Series, Sexuality

Lust © Simona Cassisa |

You should lust after your bride.

Lust? Really? Yes, lust. You see, lust has a bad rap in our language, but not in Greek at the time of Christ. The Greek word used by Jesus in Mt 5:28 “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” [ESV] is epithumeo. The word epithumeo is not a sexual word, nor does it indicate sin; it actually means nothing more than a strong desire. The word is use 16 times in the NT, including:

“For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people epithumeo [longed] to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” [Mt 13:17 ESV]

“And He said to them, ‘I have earnestly epithumeo [desired] to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.’” [Lk 22:15 ESV]

If Jesus said He “lusted”, then I think it’s okay for us to do it*.

Why have I taken the long way around on this, why not just call it something else? Because we need to understand it is not strong sexual desire that’s wrong, it is the target of the desire that makes it sin or a good thing. Lusting after your spouse is not just allowed, it is expected. If you don’t lust after her, something is wrong. You should want her, sexually, in a very deep and physical way. 

Of course, if all you feel for her sexually is what happens in your pants, you are still missing the mark by a long shot. Lust is also emotional and mental – it is a deep craving that goes beyond your body; a hunger that remains after your physical desire is spent. This is how God created our sexuality; it’s not some sinful creation of Satan, he just corrupted what God made. I am convinced God intends you to desire your wife more strongly than any sinful sexual desire you have ever had or imagined. I am also convinced He intends her to desire you just as much (albeit not in exactly the same ways).

One big obstacle to this is women think sex is something to enjoyed in moderation or a necessary evil. We’ve taught women lust is bad, even when it’s lust for her husband. The desire to be right with God then clashes with the lust God Himself put in her heart, mind, and loins. This clash is a major part of the sexual struggle many (most?) women face. Beyond the direct effect it has on them, wives put this onto their husbands – criticising him for living out the lust God put in him. Maybe he buys into that, or maybe he just backs off to avoid the hassle; either way he starts holding back what God put in him. This leaves her without an example, and leaves him tempted to express his God given sexual lust in ways and places he should not.

I challenged some of the lady bloggers I know to deal with this subject – links to those who have already posts something along these lines below (with more to come I hope).

Pursue Me Sexually, Dear Husband by Julie of Intimacy in Marriage discusses a woman’s desire to be pursued. (Grunting “You wanna?” does not, apparently, qualify.)
3 Reasons You Should Pursue Your Husband Sexually also from Julie, and the one you really want your bride to see.

When Your Spouse Isn’t Interested in Sex: Communicating Your Needs by Sheila of To Love, Honor and Vacuum is a follow up to two posts for women with husband’s who don’t want sex, or don’t want enough sex. (If your bride needs those posts, PLEASE do something to fix the situation!)
When Your Spouse Withholds Sex also by Sheila is for the really bad cases.

The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex by Kate of One Flesh Marriage. This is a review of Sheila’s new book, but it’s very much in line with this subject (the post and the book!) (AfLnk)

What’s On Your Playground? by Lori “The Generous Wife” (aka my bride) talks about separating the good and the bad, and enjoying the good.

Lust: The Pigpen or The Feast? by J of Hot, Holy and Humorous adds dimension with other uses of the Greek word in the NT. 

* Yes, I know, Jesus could have spoken those passages in Aramaic, Hebrew, or Greek, and Matthew may have been originally written in Hebrew. Regardless, if one accepts the Holy Spirit as the ultimate “ghost writer” then we have to take the Greek words as significant.

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I don't know if you see comments from this far back, but this came across one of your facebook feeds today, and I thought I'd share a little study I did a while ago on lust.

Interestingly, as I looked in the Bible (KJV if it makes much difference) for incidents of the word "lust" one of the first references I came across was Ps. 78, and, interestingly, in this context, the Bible isn't even tallking about lust in a sexual context, but as it relates to food. Specifically, Ps 78 reviews some of what God had done for Israel during the exodus. From about verse 17 through about verse 32, it talks about how the Israelites complained about food. As I understand it, it is referring back to incidents recorded in Ex 16 and Num 11.

As I thought about it, it seemed obvious that God would not be so harsh on them if it was merely about "what's for dinner" or "what will we eat on this journey" (this latter seems like a wise question when setting out on a journey similar to what they undertook). I decided that it must be more about how they approached their hunger. A lack of faith seemed prevalent (there is no way God can provide food for us) and a rebellious attitude (I'd rather be a slave in Egypt than following God into this wilderness where I will die).

My thoughts are not fully developed, but it does seem like lust is more than just being hungry or wanting sex. It seems that lust -- at least the KJV translators translated it -- has some element of rebelliousness against God or dissatisfaction with what God has provided that makes it truly sinful.


This is an interesting post for me. I recall, shortly after we got married, that I asked my bride how she felt about "lust" now that we were married. Her response was along the lines of it is still wrong because lust implies selfishness as part of the desire. At this point, I doubt an appeal to the nuances of ancient Greek are going to convince her to change her mind regarding the nuances of modern English. Of course, that's only important if you decide that the word "lust" is the only word we have in English to express sexual desire. That said, though, you are correct in that, whatever word we use to express it, sexual desire is not evil, wrong, or necessarily "shallow." It sometimes seems to me like the problem with a concept like lust is that the proper expression of "lust" gets lumped in with all those "players" out there seeking only to get as many notches in their bedpost as they can. I think that maybe for some men and women, the real difficulty is to separate the "good lust" from the ways that culture perverts sexual desire.


Fantastic post- full of truth that needs to be spoken more often. Thanks for encouraging the ladies to address this too! Scott


  1. […] Lust: I WANT You – Paul takes up the same topic as his wife, Lori on The Generous Wife, but from a different perspective.  He also provides links to some other great marriage blogs we recommend on the topic of Sex and Intimacy. […]

  2. […] also encourage you to check out Paul Byerly's post LUST: I Want You.  Not only does he do a great job of exploring the issue of lust, he also includes links to other […]

  3. […] your bride.” That’s how Paul Byerly of The Generous Husband began a post last Friday on LUST: I Want You. Paul pointed out that the word translated as “lust” is the Greek word epithumeo. […]

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