“For all that is in the world–the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches–comes not from the Father but from the world.”
Here, the apostle delineates–though does not describe–three basic forms of human sickness. Because he provides merely a taxonomy, and not a phenomenology proper, it will be my task here to sketch three brief examples of each distinctive form of sickness; a brief compendium of those illnesses that plague the soul.
The desire of the flesh. This is the perverse desire to have one’s own way in the world, to dominate, to manipulate, and to order the world–and all of its inhabitants–to one’s own perverse way of reckoning. To be Master, Teacher, and Lord: the Center of Attention. The Father of Lies is the archetype, Japheth is the ancestor, and today’s example is The Teacher.
The desire of the eyes. This is a perverse way of looking at God’s creation. And looking, and looking, and looking. The one who is possessed by the desire of the eyes will prioritize the seeing of bodily images over and above all other tasks. He will stare, with little regard for propriety. He will imagine, and those images will come to colonize and to dominate his imagination, and even his dreams. King David is the archetype, Ham is the ancestor, and the Two Gallants (and in particular, the Gallant of The Plains) exemplify this type today.
The pride in riches. This is a perverse misordering of material goods. It requires the least commentary, for it is the most crass, and the least interesting of the three basic human sin-sicknesses. However, it is also the most easily cured. The archetypal figures are the characters from our savior’s parables (the “rich man”), the ancestor is Shem, while our own example today is Lambkins.