Ewald Schmidt
'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.
This is one of the most challenging verses to talk about these days. It goes against the grain of public opinion about our sexuality. Jesus begins by quoting the seventh commandment. Adultery was seen as any sexual activity outside the bounds of marriage. The punishment for adultery in biblical times was quite severe. In Leviticus 20:10 and Deuteronomy 22:22 the prescribed punishment for married people committing adultery was the death penalty. The message this severe punishment sent was to show the high regard God places on marriage; he cares about the integrity of marriage. Relationships are of utmost importance in God’s kingdom. Following our relationship with God, the most important relationship is with our spouse, the person we choose to commit our lives to. Marriage was God’s original plan to populate this world with healthy families and communities, where children could grow up in a stable, loving environment. However, since the fall of man, marriage has been one of the biggest targets of evil.
Jesus takes the seventh commandment and makes the interpretation thereof even more difficult to obey. For him, it is not only the deed of adultery that is sin, he takes the definition of adultery back to our thoughts and desires. When a Christian has a wandering eye, we can already be in trouble. Temptation and desires lead to plans, and plans lead to actions. Yielding to the temptation of adultery is destructive to the relationship of marriage. Trust is broken.
Jesus came to this world to heal broken relationships. He is teaching us to take care of our marriages. We can easily come to a fall with the amount of temptation going around in these modern times. It is good to be very cautious about what we allow ourselves to see. Pornography has become so easily available. With pornography, comes the temptation to compare your spouse to what you see. It breeds unrealistic expectations from your spouse. I know I am sounding old-fashioned, but the warning remains: take good care of your marriage, and protect it from the attacks of evil. Respect your spouse, and appreciate him or her as a gift from God. Do everything in your power to build your marriage, being one in body, mind, and spirit, to the glory of God. Avoid anything that might hurt your marriage in any way.
On this subject, most of us have fallen along the way. Who has not looked at another person with a little bit of lust? Jesus did not sentence us to the death penalty. He came to this world to take our sins upon him, he paid for it all on the cross of Calvary. He came to give us grace, he brought forgiveness and restoration. He gives us a new chance to live a pure life, to his honor.
Prayer: Lord, you have created me as a human being, with a body, mind and soul. You planned a life of abundance for me; you brought me freedom. Help me to stay inside the bounds of your will, to serve you and my neighbour with my body, mind and soul. Amen.