“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.” Matthew 5:27-30
This is the second example Jesus gives about how he has not come to abolish the Law, but fulfil it. And this time he is talking about sex. The problem of talking about sex is that people either do too much of it or not enough of it.
Again Jesus says what the Law says and then says, “But I say,” And again what Jesus says is far harsher. Who has not been guilty of looking at another man or woman and thinking … PHWOAR!
Like the previous one, the standard that Jesus sets, the standard that is greater than the scribes and Pharisees, the standard is impossible.
I am not talking about appreciation of beauty, being able to look at someone and think, “he’s handsome and she’s beautiful,” or even, “she’s handsome and he’s beautiful,” is not the same as looking at someone and wishing to have sex with them. We are supposed to find each other attractive.
The solution is simple. For those who take everything in the Bible literally, it means dismemberment. Would a loving God want us gouging out eyes and hacking off limbs without a general anaesthetic? After all, you can’t hack off your hand whilst asleep. (Though you can stab yourself in the eye with your thumbnail – Ouch. – As has happened to a Facebook friend I read this morning.)
What causes lustful thoughts is the way we think. We are too selfish. I look at someone and think about how I would like them to gratify me. That is not how it should be. Appreciating their beauty is about them. The nature of lust is selfish. it is all me, me, me.
That is what needs to change, our selfishness. It will be difficult, we need to ask God for help in this. And like dismemberment, it will hurt.