An attempt at a Girardian concept of lust

A while ago, I sat down and tried to come up with a theology of sin that would jive with the work of Rene Girard. I failed, but came up with a few decent questions along the way. This was my unedited stream of thought.

I think, if you want to have a very robust Girardian anything, you are going to need a Girardian conception/definition of sin. What then is lust? Some sort of accelerated envy? Sexual lust is a perfect example and we might as well deal with it head-on.

The common, popular view of sexual desire is that it is something with its origin inside, solely inside the lusting ones body and mind and it projects outward and desires to possess outside things, objectify women to satisfy this internal fire. But if Girard is right about anything, then we must be imitating an outside model first. I think its really easy to fit this with beauty and aesthetics. Outside things shape and mold the desire into a particular image, but I do not believe they are the ROOT cause. I also reject raw biological need, though it clearly plays a part. It is likely the most truly “independent” force in the mix. Where though, does the chief mimetic source lie? What exactly are we imitating and who is it?

The who must be God and the what must be creating in our own image. The greatest of all God’s acts at the beginning, the most desirable thing and the most desirable thing for Satan to twist, was creating man. When we procreate, we bask in it’s glow. We feel for a moment like God, back on the virgin earth, shaping the soil into someone like… himself. We cannot downplay the existential power of the false substitute of sexual lust.

How does Christ free us from this? A new creative model? No envy? Huh?

No, this doesn’t work at all. For what is more distant from a man’s mind than children when his eyes are full of flesh clicking through porn? It much more closely resembles a heroin addict shooting up. Is there a deeper anthropological explanation to this? The chemical neuroscientists appear to have it nailed down. It seems that I must take a different approach. What the hell is the man desiring when he is in the throws of lust? Where did he pick it up? Why does it run so deep?

In contemplating this for some time over a drink, I am no further along. I think that many men do not ever venture past this point. The artist writes a song which is probably far more appropriate. The rest? They must dismiss it as unsolvable, or assign it to the bin marked “mysteries”. I suspect that even bookish Presbyterians do this, all the rest of their puritan talk notwithstanding. Can Girard contain the propellent to catapult one beyond into the “mysterious distance between a man and a woman” (to quote U2 again)? Lust proper has no procreative end. There seems to be no long-term in mind, except perhaps long term possession – a prolonging.

The traditional, non-Girardian view seems to ring true. The desire is born from this animal, testosterone-driven instinct and then we imitate others in how we aim to satisfy it specifically. In our youth we discover and experiment with what arouses us and we eventually pursue it within the bounds of our conscience and social constraints.  As (and this is important) we pursue many OTHER things as well. We have a lot of irons in the fire with regards to our self-fulfillment and meaning-derivation agenda.

It must begin with Eve. Even before the serpent arrived Adam slept with Eve. Why? Perhaps he longed to get back to himself? He was split. But their fusion is sloppy and prevented by – you name it. More than their own sin. This is why there will be no marriage in heaven (according to Jesus). Even that can not be “fixed” by the removal of selfishness and death. For a better unity it must be torn down utterly and made new. It’s original purpose was not it’s original purpose. Behold the Lord will make all things new – but not this. In place of this He will make a new thing – at the dawn of a new humanity. OR will He LEAVE it in place, just to make heaven a more interesting place? Lord knows there must be more action there than the typical water colourist give it! Reconsidering, I think it must be the formal institute of marriage that gets the axe, not all gender distinction. Then again, why was Adam split in the first place? He was too alone? This sort of thinking gets dicey pretty fast.