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Lust vs. Love, Pt. 1: The Definitions and Differences

Lust is not true love for three reasons. First, it is selfish: what we love is not the person but the experience. Second, it is only animal love; it does not rise to the level of reason and free will. Third, it is not subject to God and His will and does not intend to be. The fact that most people today do not clearly know this explains part of our fascination with Augustine. This “old stuff” is radically new to us. (Peter Kreeft’s commentary on Confessions, Book 2/Chapter 2/Paragraph 2)

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I was not yet in love, but I was in love with love….I sought some object to love, since I was thus in love with loving….For within I was hungry all for the want of…Thyself, my God. (Confessions, Book 3/Chapter 1/Paragraph 1)

Not in love (with a person) but in love with love—exactly the typically modern subjectivism that defines the differences between true love and lust. True love starts with vision: a vision of the beloved as a good person who deserves and/or needs my love. Lust starts with desire, with my own need for an object to elicit the pleasurable experience of love, which is the thing I crave. It is like the difference between appreciating a good wine—that particular unique one—and alcoholism, which is addiction not to a wine but to an experience. (Peter Kreeft’s commentary on Confessions, Book 3/Chapter 1/Paragraph 1)

—from the book I Burned for Your Peace: Augustine’s Confessions Unpacked by Peter Kreeft (from the section titled Adolescence: Lust and Pears and also the section titled Young Adulthood: Carthage)

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