Good morning! Today we will be looking at what Jesus taught concerning adultery. Yesterday we looked at what he said about murder. He basically said that not committing the act of murder is not enough. One should not have the intent in one's heart, and one should guard against anger that drives one to commit the act. These teaching moments are a part of what we call the Sermon on the Mount.
"You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matthew 5:27-28)
Just as Jesus did with the issue of murder he now makes adultery about being more than the committing of the act. Jesus is warning that the act begins in the heart. Now, here Jesus warns the male against lusting after the female, but can it also be a warning to both sexes? I would answer "yes."
Many years ago President Jimmy Carter caused a stir over a statement he made in an interview. President Carter was elected because, for one reason, he appeared to be an honest, moral man. However, in the interview he confessed to lusting after many women and committing adultery in his heart. Ironically, he gave this interview to Playboy magazine. President Carter was actually referring to this passage of scripture. He had not committed the act of, but had sure done so in his heart. He was simply being honest.
In the world we live in today it seems that everywhere we turn we are invited to lust. Yes that may be a strong statement, but I believe that it is true. Just yesterday I heard that a certain person (I will not mention the name) was named People magazine's sexiest man alive. I have one question: Really? And what is this saying about our society? Here's the scenario. A woman looks at the cover of this magazine and then begins to compare this fellow to her husband at home. Her husband will never be named the sexiest man alive, and probably has no desire to be. He is concerned with making a living and supporting his family. Or, to be fair, another scenario is, the husband is looking at a magazine with women and is comparing them to his wife. Can his wife compete with these glamor girls? In reality, Yes, she is just as beautiful, but...in his mind he is thinking, "Wow! Why couldn't my wife look....?" The point is, the mind is working and forming scenarios. One of the saddest statements I have ever heard is: "Oh I love my husband, but if (insert name was available and I could have him...) Is that adultery? I'll let you decide, but base your decision on the words of Jesus.
O.K., let's look deeper into what Jesus is saying. Adultery is the breaking of faith with one's spouse. There is a difference between fornication and adultery. In fact, the Greek word in which the word "fornication" is derived is pornia. I bet you can guess what other English word comes from this word. (pornography) Adultery is the breaking of a covenant. Lust leads to the breaking of a marital covenant.
Yesterday, we saw that Jesus warned against seeing a person as something other than a person. One de-humanizing another makes it easier to justify the taking of life. Here, with the issue of adultery, Jesus is making a similar observation. By looking at and lusting over one technically reduces another to an object for personal satisfaction. Think about the terms and words we have heard or used through the years...such as "sex kitten," "Playboy Bunny," "Playboy Playmates" "Hunk," "boy toy" just to name a few. When I watch television I usually watch cooking shows, including Masterchef and Hell's Kitchen. I sometimes watch an episode of The Big Bang Theory. I have a few other programs that I watch every now and then, mostly on the History Channel or channels of that nature. And yes, PBS is my all-time favorite channel. However, it amazes me as to what I see during commercials. They will show a commercial about a show that is coming on and I swear, every one of them has a sex scene. Plus, I am left to wonder if any of the guys in the latest "cop dramas" actually keep their shirts on. I remember police dramas such as "Barnaby Jones," "Cannon," "Colombo." Wow! These guys all kept their shirts on. Everyone wanted them to keep their shirts on. The last thing anyone wanted was for Peter Falk to get undressed.
Jesus also warned: "If your right eye causes you to sin, 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." (Matthew 5:29) Jesus is, again, warning of the dangers of looking. But, he is also saying much more. Later, he advises to cut off the hand if the hand is getting you into trouble. Wow! From what I'm hearing in the news there would be a lot of handless, and eyeless people today if we did as Jesus instructed. Jesus is saying whatever it is that causes you to sin it is best to do away with it. Let's put this in perspective. How many husbands/wives have stayed up past bedtime (well, everyone else is in bed but them) to "surf the net"? Hmm...their surfing leads to them "playing on the net". This happens. We all know it happens. Jesus is warning us about this. Perhaps by gouging out ones eye, Jesus is instructing to: 1) Go to bed on time when everyone else goes to bed, 2) Put restrictions on the computer for everyone, or 3) Get rid of the computer. Jesus is saying: "take every measure you can take to avoid sinning."
Tomorrow, we will look at what Jesus said about divorce. Please join me. -Pastor Rick