Part of sin’s curse is the allure of all that is taboo–the subtle lie that surely God is holding back from you happiness and joy, if only you could take and eat. Literally, this is the oldest trick in the Book. But as Amnon found out, and as all who find once they bite, lust is hollow, poisonous, and fatal–a chocolate covered razor blade. Like the fruit in the garden, Tamar was good to the eyes but off-limits, a dynamic that provoked Amnon’s mind to sickness and warped desire. Lust for the forbidden incites a further and further depravity, which is why so many pornographic narratives have to do with step mothers or sisters. Unbridled lechery not only ignores God’s boundaries but grows to open mockery of them. It is a crazed mind in high rebellion to its Maker.

Let it also be known that the same one who whispers temptations in our ear is the same one who shouts condemnation to us once we fall for the lie. It is like the kid who taunts “jump, jump, jump, you coward” and then calls you an idiot after he pressured you off a bridge. But worse than being left with a broken leg and a sore ego, Satan holds up accusations that damn your soul, and his accusations are often right and true, we have done the things he reminds us of. The shame and guilt we feel at least are good things, better than being numb to our sinful actions. But they can lead us down two very different paths. Good shame should lead us to repentance, seeing the dog vomit that we just ate for what it is. But bad shame can lead us to feel helpless and hopeless, counselling us to give up or to turn cold with hatred, fear, and disbelief.