Lust vs. Sex: "Lust" is a Motivation; "Sex" is an act

Part 1/2 (to see other parts of the article, click on the pages at the bottom)
How can a married man avoid the "first sip" if he is obviously not celibate?

by Dov (See all authors)

Someone asks Dov:

Although lust and alcohol addiction are similar in many ways, I find that there is one big difference that I struggle with. For someone going through the 12 steps when he is an alcoholic, he can have the mindset that the 1st drink is too much and that he can never have that first drink. With lust though, although the mentality is that "I cannot have the first drink of lust", one must still encounter this facet of his life (having relations with a spouse), as opposed to alcohol where one can simply avoid the situation. If one is an addict how is he supposed to balance the two? It seems to be that the alcoholic has an easier time to deal with this, since the answer at the end of the day can simply be to remove himself from alcohol and all places that associate with alcohol. One can't do that with lust, since sex with a spouse is part of someone's life? What are your thoughts?


Dov Responds:

Sex is far from the problem. Lust is the problem - and also self-honesty.

Lust is just getting and can only be getting. It may involve doing stuff to another person, but its value for me is measured in only one way: How good it makes my body feel.

Sex however, is just an activity. It's not really a need - it is just an act. Eating is an activity, too, but it is also a need. We will die without eating. But we will not die without sex - especially not tonight! Yet I feel tonight! Don't I sometimes? What's going on here?

Sex is just an activity. It is not necessarily an act of taking, nor an act of giving. Neither good, nor bad. It is not necessarily only about me and how it makes my body feel. It is fertile ground for joy and adding to, - or can be done desperately for getting from. The quality and reality of what is going on in it depends completely on me and how much Hashem helps me.

So then, how can sex the problem? Clearly, we onlyproblem. Lust is not an act, but a motivation. Kavanah changes everything.

So the place that our change must occur is in the motivations we really have for living, for doing, for everything - if we really want things to be different. Scary? No need. Just a little, tiny drop of change is all that is needed, and it grows from there. As the AA's put it, "It's an inside job". Sure, plenty of adjustment to our activities and behavior are needed for inside change to occur, but the only thing that matters in the end is finally allowing ourselves to try for a change of our motivations. That's why 'acceptance' is so important - it will not work if it is not real to me or if I do not really need na'aseh v'nishma acceptance that we need here, but rather the kofoh aleihem hahar kgigis. Apparently, since He did that after we said "na'aseh venishmah", it appears that He agrees!