Sermon on the Mount: Lustful Eyes
“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 ESV)
Journal: This is one of those passages that I hope is intended metaphorically and not literally when looking at its implications. Jesus, having just discussed anger, is now focusing on the next behavioral issue in the culture, lust. It seems to be implied that one who did not commit adultery was in accordance with the law when it came to their sexual nature. Jesus draws a much harder line in the sand however, saying that even a lustful look or thought is sinful. Since all sin is equal, adultery and lustful thinking are parallel ideas. We may argue that thoughts cannot be controlled, nor can they harm people like actions can such as adultery. The point being made is that the lustful thoughts still plant themselves in the heart, and out of the heart springs the fruits of our actions. The latter part of the verse suggests that anything that causes you to sin in your body should be cut-off. Following that reasoning, it would be apparent that one should remove other forms of temptations from your life. If certain people cause you to be tempted, remove them from your life. If certain images cause you to be tempted, remove them from your life. If certain TV shows cause you to be tempted, remove them from your life. Maybe it is not necessarily our eyes that must be cut away from our bodies but rather the temptations that threaten the purity of our hearts.