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Dear Gramps,
I need to know what is “normal” for a Latter-Day Saint man with regards to noticing other women out in public. Or maybe I need to know what the Lord expects. Men have always been girl watchers since time immemorial. But I have noticed with myself that if I should see a physically attractive young lady out in public, I will usually take two or three extended “looks”, not consciously intending to look at any specific part of the body, but perhaps I’m lying to myself and subconsciously that may be a big reason why I do a double take. I wonder if this is lust? When this happens I have no fantasies of committing immoral acts with them, but I DO notice them and I’m drawn to do extended looking. How do you look at just faces? At what point does looking become lust? Is the standard of “looking” different for single men than it is for married men? I once years ago tried to walk the halls of my university without looking even once on any girls at all, and the mental discipline required seemed extremely unrealistic. You can’t help but see them. But if you do look, then something inside begins to stir. How does one go through life seeing all these sisters immodestly attired in various degrees and not have something stir inside? To me it seems like an act of complete futility. Where would the Lord have us draw the line?
Concerned

Dear Concerned,
Sin is not in the sight, it is in the mind–or, if you will, in biblical terms it is in heart. That was part of the reason for the Lord’s counsel to Samuel—
man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart (1 Sam 16:7).
We perceive the world around us with our five senses, but each sense has two counterparts– there is touching and feeling, tasting and savoring, smelling and savoring, hearing and listening, seeing and looking. One of those counterparts is externally generated, the other is generated internally. The one, being an interpretation of the senses, is under our control and also the one for which we are responsible. In the words of Alma—
For our words will condemn us, yea, all our works will condemn us; we shall not be found spotless; and our thoughts will also condemn us (Alma 12:14).
The Savior expressed the concept in these words—
But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart (Matt 5:28).
It would make no difference how long you looked at a girl if no unclean thoughts entered your mind. You mention how difficult it is not to look at girls who pass you by. That, as you know, is only due to the natural stimulus of a healthy body. But those stimuli must be kept under control, be recognized for what they are, and never be allowed to lead down the path of unclean thoughts or fantasies. Of course that is not an easy task; but there are some techniques that others have used with some success until they finally have mastered themselves.
Here are a couple of suggestions— When approaching a girl in the hallway or on the street, ask yourself this question and earnestly try to determine the answer– What is the color of her eyes? There’s more to that practice, if you will, than meets the eye. The eye is the window of the soul. Looking into someone’s eyes is very different from looking at any other part of the body. There is something electric, magnetic about it. When such a look is acknowledged by a corresponding look in return, a greeting is almost inevitable–an acquaintance has been made.
Another interesting and effective approach to maintaining a clean mind is to invite yourself into the company of the Savior. If He were walking with you, unsavory thoughts would be the farthest thing from your mind, and in this regard He has commanded us–Look unto me in every thought, doubt not, fear not D&C 6:36. If indeed we can keep Him in our minds, we need never doubt–in other words, we may move with confidence; and we may never fear–in other words, with Him at our side we may move with courage in whatever circumstance in which we may find ourselves. Peace of mind, a pleasant outlook, confidence and courage will be our lot.
Gramps

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