Lust and Evangelism

Years ago I read a book by Ferrol Sams called Run with the Horsemen, in which he describes this scene from a small-town barbershop:  “Once Mr. Sam Percy was waiting his turn on a Saturday morning for a haircut and shave.  He was making detailed anatomical comments about each and every female who walked down the street or across the courthouse square.  Finally one young girl hove into view, and Mr. Sam was silent.  Mr. Lum Thornton loudly remarked, ‘Now there’s a fine one!’ [and went on to describe the finer points of her anatomy in graphic detail].  “‘Dammit, Lum,’ complained Mr. Sam Percy, ‘Watch your mouth.  That’s my daughter.’  Mr. Isaac Harte flipped his brush around the neck of the current customer, creating a cloud of talcum powder.  ‘Sam,’ he said softly, ‘ever one of them girls was somebody’s daughter.’” 

That’s just the truth, isn’t it?  Every woman is somebody’s daughter, somebody’s mother, somebody’s wife, and if you can remember that it will help you think of her in a different way.  When you lust after anyone—male or female—you turn that person into a thing, into an object of lust.  Which reminds me of the way some people practice evangelism.  Instead of seeing non-Christians as precious children of God they see them as “souls to be saved.”   Is that any different from looking at a woman and seeing only a body—looking at a person and seeing only a soul? 

I was talking about this to someone who was getting ready to go to a Muslim country as a missionary.  I said, “Please just love those people like God loves them.  Get to know them.  Chop vegetables with them in their kitchens, notice how they put their children to bed, watch the way they move when the music is good, learn the sound of their laughter.  If you form real relationships with them, simply because you want to get to know them and not because you’re trying to convert them, there will be plenty of opportunities to share your faith.  But don’t “use” your friendship to convert them to Christianity.  Just be a Christian friend.”

Now, that may not sound very “strategic” to you, but to me it sounds more like love and less like lust.  It sounds like a way of seeing people as people, and not only as souls.  You see, I don’t think God gave his only begotten son begotten because he loves souls; I think he gave his only begotten son because he loves people.

6 thoughts on “Lust and Evangelism

  1. I need to read your blog more often because I was just blown away by that analogy. Thanks for sharing, Dr. Somerville.

  2. I, too, am so glad you wrote this particular blog and hope both of these issues will be heard also from the pulpit. A wonderful analogy it is!

  3. That was powerful and reminded me of the book I am reading now called The Submission by Amy Waldman. I haven’t finished it, but I pray it ends with the same sense of justice and love that you convey in your post. This is Waldman’s first book and has received at least five awards for best novel of 2011. It is about a jury that gathers in Manhattan to select a memorial for the victims of the 9/11 attack. Their deliberations complete, the jurors open the envelope containing the anonymous winner’s name—and discover he is an American Muslim. What is riveting about the story is that the reader gets to see the reactions of the characters from the inside out: the committee chair’s, the winner’s, a Muslim who lost her husband, a juror who lost her husband, a fireman who lost his brother, the media, and more. I cannot imagine how it will end!!

  4. OK, sorry, I’ve never done this before, but it popped into my head in the night and I thought it applied also. I heard Gov. Chris Christie of NJ say recently, “It’s hard to hate up close.”

  5. Dr. Somerville,

    This was such a powerful story and analogy of how we lose sight of the person and either make everything an issue or a project. It just is that simple; it’s taking that step to see the person as someone that God loves that is difficult for us.

    This is the first time I have read from your blog but found a pearl of wisdom in the message. Thank you for sharing this story.

  6. I like your blog – what a great way to inspire people to think and to create open conversations. Regarding the subject, loving and noticing the peoples’ habits is great. But what about going even a step further and noticing what those other people have to teach you … but can a person do that if their belief system is that the other person isn’t saved and needs to be?

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