Matthew 5:27-30

“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 lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.” Matthew 5:27-30

I was surprised yesterday by an article in the New York Times that the federal education authorities are looking at the stringent efforts by the Obama administration to crack down on sexual assaults on college campuses. I’m not an expert on this subject but Kelley and I do have two college students, a son at the University of Houston and a daughter at Baylor University. I’m personally in favor of taking as hard a line as necessary to insure the physical safety of students and to hold accountable those responsible for sexual assault.

If you have followed any of the news out of Baylor the past couple of years, you know that hasn’t always been the case. The rug has been mighty bumpy given all that has been swept under it along the way and that isn’t right.

Jimmy Carter because infamous for admitting in a Playboy interview that he was guilty of having looked at women with “lust in his heart” on more than one occasion. Given that he and Rosaylnn will be celebrating their 71st year of marriage this year, it seems safe to say that their marriage survived. My, how times have changed.

There is no question that pornography has been a driving force behind the ubiquity of the Internet. Online credit card transactions, streaming video, tracking devices, increases in available bandwidth all were conceived, developed, and improved because of the role of pornography. Why? There is a huge and insatiable demand. The consequences for human beings are devastating. It will only get worse.

People, and their quality of life, obviously matter to Jesus. Again and again in the Sermon on the Mount that is the key to understanding what Jesus is teaching. Where there is a law there is a loophole and Jesus sees right back through that hole to the intention of the law (safeguarding life and human personhood) and the danger of the loophole.

Healthy expressions of our sexuality belong within the safety of relationships that respect mutual personhood, that don’t treat bodies like property, that are free from violence, manipulation, and coercion, and where the partners are prepared to accept the consequences of their behaviors. The Christian church has not been an “old fashioned, judgmental, fuddy duddy” community by elevating the importance of sexuality within committed, monogamous, non-coercive relationships, it has simply been speaking the truth in love about the way that life really works. And the church has also come a long way from the old days – at least I hope so – where marriage meant “anything goes” and women were shamed if they spoke up against spousal abuse, violence, or forced sexual activity. Adultery is never just fooling around. Marriage is never a license to rape.

The graphic language Jesus uses ought to help us see that he takes this issue seriously. And well he should. We should too.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, we are so quick to abuse the gifts of your creation, including our own bodies and the bodies of others, polluting our thought world and damaging our relationships. Give us the capacity to resist temptation, resources where people can get help if they need it, and a renewed appreciation for healthy boundaries around our sexuality. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

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One Response to “Matthew 5:27-30”

  1. Carolee Groux Says:

    Hebrews 13:4 says this about the sanctity of marriage:

    “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.”

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