The Talmud speaks of 7 different types of Pharisee. One of which was called the ‘bruised Pharisee’ who walked into walls to avoid looking at women. Ridiculous but true.
Staying with the same theme of relationships having brought the deeper meaning that was intended with the Law of Moses regarding murder, Jesus continues to another commandment.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” (Matthew 5 v 27-30)
Jesus moves into the marriage relationship. Before he speaks of divorce he challenges the law of adultery.
We can easily imagine people being able to say ‘I have never committed adultery. I have been faithful.’ But what of the heart? Have you been singularly devoted? Has the spouse turned away from their married partner, to look, hope, dream for someone else, whether they are known or not?
Why is this important? It is once again because of the mirror of our relationship with God. This Old Testament verse is certainly in parallel, “Then in the nations where they have been carried captive, those who escape will remember me—how I have been grieved by their adulterous hearts, which have turned away from me, and by their eyes, which have lusted after their idols. They will loathe themselves for the evil they have done and for all their detestable practices. (Ezekiel 6:9)
You may not have committed physical adultery. Bravo!
But have you thought it?
One of the saddest verses in the Old Testament is this:
From his vantage point on the roof King David saw a woman bathing (2 Samuel 11:2)
No one else saw him, but he from his vantage point, alone, was able to see what was for him beautiful.
The world’s most successful industry is the porn industry and yet it is the most destructive in a person’s life and on those involved.
When I was a teenager – only vantage point was on the highest shelf of the newsagents. You would have to stand on the Readers Digest and puzzle shelf to have any chance of reaching it and then risk causing a collapse of the whole shelving unit. It wasn’t worth it. It was left to the diagrams in the human biology books!
Today it is so different. The vantage points are all around and so easily accessible.
But there is one finer measure. If you are looking at another person lustfully then you have turned away from your spouse. God says through Ezekiel that His people ‘have turned away from me’. So here is another question for us.
Have you turned away from your spouse with a commitment to other things or yourself?
This is also the adultery.
But what if we are guilty of parts or all of this?
What is Jesus suggesting? The leading Theologian in the 3rd century, Origen of Alexandria, known for his huge work on the Trinity, was also known for making himself a eunuch for the kingdom, though this self-mutilation was never proved.
So we haven’t done this yet have we? We haven’t cut our hands and feet off, we haven’t plucked our eyes out and thus saved ourselves from an eternal fiery hell.
If we were to start where would we stop? We would have no body parts left for sure!
With the use of exaggerated language to stress the difficulty, Jesus advocates for us to take it really seriously. The point is to go to great lengths. Maybe become narrow-minded and reduce our freedoms. Do whatever is needed to make sure you don’t reject your spouse by looking away. There will be other people and things out there to look at but don’t do it. It will lead to sadness.