I’m tempted to quote the entirety of The Divine Conspiracy for this blog. Seconds after encouraging someone in sexual purity, I opened the book and my next section to re-read is “The Poison of Sexual Desire Indulged and Fantasized.” Here Willard speaks of Jesus’ contrast between OT righteousness and NT righteousness with regard to sexuality (“You shall not commit adultery” vs. adultery of the heart). The really interesting bit comes when he writes that “sexual desire is not wrong as a natural, uncultivated response, any more than anger is, or pain. It has a vital function in life, and as long as it performs that function it is a good and proper thing.” Therefore looking at a woman with desire is not the same as choosing to entertain lust in my mind. This is very good news, because I’ve had no success in finding women unattractive, but I can (and do) take lustful thoughts “captive” by not allowing my mind to dwell on sexual desire. Still, I am far from sexual purity. In fact, it may be my dominant sin struggle. God, purify my heart. Sex is a lovely gift from You and I don’t want to twist it any more!

Willard goes on to discuss the often troublesome Matthew 5:29 verse: “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out…” But it’s clear in the context of everything else Jesus says about sin being of the heart, not actions, that Jesus is being sarcastic. Willard: “You could avoid sinning if you simply eliminate the bodily parts that make sinful actions possible. Then you would roll into heaven a mutilated stump… [but] the mutilated stump could still have a wicked heart.” So no: avoiding capacity for sinful action is the opposite of what Jesus preaches. It is the heart that must be transformed (Mark 7:21-23).

Meanwhile, in The Purpose Driven Life: Because life is about love, life is therefore centered around relationships. I’ve been growing in my respect for and investment in relationships, but I need to be more people-oriented and less task-oriented. Life is not about tasks, it’s about love. Tasks should always spring from love for people. God help me to value the people in my life more.

Also, our relationships must be intentional and active. James 5:19 reminds us of the importance of chasing after those who have strayed from the truth to bring them back to the Kingdom.

I learned some about AIDS, too: Already the deadliest epidemic of all time and still uncureable, HIV/AIDS currently infects about 45 million people (60% of that in sub-Saharan Africa, where some countries have 1/3 of their population infected). 8,500 people die every day from AIDS: the equivalent of 20 fully-loaded 747s crashing every single day for a year. HIV is transmittable six months before it is detectable; however, HIV is not always a death sentence if treated quickly and properly (the prime example is Magic Johnson, a U.S. millionaire in top physical condition).