Adultery is betraying your spouse, giving your body to someone it’s not promised to. But, Jesus says, giving your attention, giving your mind, looking at someone with a desire to possess, lust, is the same thing.
In Matthew 5:27-30, Jesus says that he isn’t really interested in technical obedience, in being able to say “I looked but I didn’t touch.” What he understands pretty clearly is that when we are thinking about one thing, we aren’t thinking about something else. When we are thinking about green, for example, we aren’t thinking about blue. When we are thinking about “Code Black” we aren’t thinking about “Orange.” When we are thinking about ice cream sundaes, we are not thinking about successfully completing marathons.
When we are thinking about that girl’s body we are not thinking about loving our wife. When we are thinking about that romance, we’re not thinking about the one we have.
In fact, when we take a second look or a third look toward her, when we read another romance and another, we are taking a second step and a third step away from understanding more about our wife or husband.about how to love her in the same way, with the same intensity and purity that Christ loves the church and gave himself up for her.
We are not thinking about how to love our spouse in the same way, with the same intensity and purity that Christ loves the church and gave himself up for her.
Adultery is violating the marriage covenant. And the violations start when you turn away, not when you touch someone else.
And, Jesus says, go to great lengths to stop.
Pull out your eye, cut off your hand.
And we mock that, a little. “The Bible is crazy, demanding impossible things.” But Jesus is doing what we all do. He’s making an extreme point to get our attention. Jesus is seriously concerned about what we are looking at, what we are looking for, what we are pursuing other than the ones we love.
Because he’s concerned about the love.
An earlier version of this post is included in Learning A New Routine: Reading the Sermon on the Mount a Little at a Time