20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
27 "You have heard that it was said, "You shall not commit adultery.' 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 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. 30 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 5:20, 27-30This week I am spending time praying and researching Matthew 5:21-37. As I have been sitting and praying over these words I sometimes wonder at the wisdom of this decision. How do we honor the truth and difficulty of what these words asks of us, require of us. How do we live as people of the way without seeming self-righteous? How do we live in culture and yet apart from culture?
Today’s section deals with adultery. Moses told you not commit adultery, but Jesus wants you to go one step further if you are looking on another with lust you are committing adultery so gauge your eye out. How do we deal with this text in a culture that is saturated with images of sex and sexuality? You cannot watch the news without seeing at least one Erectile Dysfunction Commercial or get rid of your wrinkles. Everywhere we look the cultural is screaming look at me as a sexual being. How do we live in this world and yet honor this very hard teaching from Jesus? I don’t have an easy answer. I do know that I tried to protect my son for as long as I could but there was a point at which he said to me as we were driving in the car: enough Mom I don’t want to listen to Christian music anymore, so the radio is on and it isn’t are eyes that are lusting it is our ears and minds who ply the pictures in our heads of the songs, that are graphically about sex.
Do I believe that Jesus wanted us to tear our eyes out or damage our ears? No. Every teenage Christian would be in decided trouble. So Jesus must have taken his metaphor to the extreme. He wanted to make a point that it isn’t just the act of committing adultery that is the problem. Part of the problem is where are heart is. By the time you act on you impulse to cheat, you have already cheated in your heart. So we need to set a boundary. Is it the first look that gets you in trouble? Is it the second? The Third? You need to determine the line and then do your best not to cross it so that your heart is in tune to God’s heart. And when we fail, we start over again knowing that we aren’t perfect but Jesus wants us to walk with God and be part of God’s in-breaking Kingdom.