For many Christian men, the sin of lust has been defined as merely finding a woman attractive, and certainly if he becomes sexually aroused by her beauty. To avoid this sin, men have told me, for example, about their attempts to keep their eyes on the floor when they walk through a store. This was their heroic effort to prevent the possibility of even seeing an attractive woman, and thus lusting after her.
While part of me applauds their efforts to avoid sin at all cost, another deeper part of me wonders if this represents the abundant and free life Christ came to offer us (and modeled for us).
As mentioned in Affected by Beauty, I believe we can celebrate the beauty of the human form and allow it to affect us without sinning.
The article linked above seeks to understand lust Biblically and not simply how the modern Christian community has interpreted it. It is a thoughtful reflection that is worth considering.
In short, the case is made that Lust = Covetousness
Covetousness is defined as “the strong desire to possess something that belongs to another.”
The article concludes that,
The sin [of lust] only comes when your sexual attraction…turns into a covetous desire to possess her sexually outside of marriage.
As such, it is not sin to simply be attracted to the beauty in another or even to be aroused by that beauty.
While we are called to fight against sin, it is not beneficial to fight against how God has designed us. God has designed us to be attracted to and affected by beauty. This is not an excuse to be rude, gawk, or otherwise make women feel uncomfortable. However, there is also no need for shame when you get feelings of pleasure from being in the presence of beauty.