Everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent

"“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell."

Years ago President Jimmy Carter admitted this to Playboy magazine:
"I've looked on a lot of women with lust.
I've committed adultery in my heart many times."
I wonder what he meant by that? I am not sure that what he said aligns with the passage above. His confession seems to ignore the deeper issues of lust and how much intent, or motive, factors into the sin. So often lust is trivialized because of sentiments such as the one that President Carter expressed.

To be delicate, let me first say that there is a progression to lust.. a progression that results in acting out sexually.. which is why Jesus speaks of the progression from the eyes to the hands. The pornography industry has built an empire on lust. It is serious because of the way that it destroys marital relationships.. adultery usually does.

Lastly, I want to speak to the issue of prophetic hyperbole. Jesus often speaks in this fashion and overstates an issue to make a point. In this passage he is not saying to literally tear out an eye or cut off a hand. He uses hyperbole to emphasize how important it is to keep yourself from lust. When we read such statements we are not to blow them off as fundamentalist rhetoric but to take note of the seriousness of what is being taught.

Lord, help me to keep my intentions pure.

6 comments:

  1. All of us, male or female can travel down the road of lust. A good word today Bob. My prayer is to have pure intentions too.

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  3. Hi Bob,

    I wonder how differently we'd look at the sin of lust had the word "lust" been used instead of "covet" in the KJV's 10th Commandment. Envy, lust, covet, whether or not we admit it, they all boil down to the same thing.......wanting something that does not belong to us and we have no business having.

    BTW, the damage the porn empire has done and continues to do to this nation is beyond moral calculation. Porn is a primary means of Satan to objectify and dehumanize us all, from infants to the elderly. A family that hasn't been touched by its poison is fortunate and blessed indeed. :(

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  4. The word "Chastity" is not in our Societies vocabulary. But even Webster tells us what it is.. Pure, modest, decent, clean, stainless in conversation and behavior.

    Bob and Sue, I agree and add my prayer to always have pure intentions, and act it our in my behavior.

    When I did my Workshop on the Spiritual Disciplines, Chastity was an interesting one to discuss.

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  5. Helpful post. I think it is indeed important to find out what Jesus was really saying. He was not saying it's wrong to be attracted to someone, desire someone, find someone sexually attractive. Oh my, how cruel that would be, to give us sex drive and then tell us not to think about it or act on it! Truth is, we can't imagine Jesus finding a woman sexually appealing, because the church still has a huge problem with sex.

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  6. What great comments! I liked what crownring said about lusting after something/someone that is not morally ours. Seems like we never hear about people lusting after their spouse. :)

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