But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. (Matthew 5:28)
Looking the same as touching
There's an old saying in secular society that you can look but you can't touch. According to Jesus, that doesn't fly. To look on another individual and lust isn't just comparable to adultery. it is adultery. Let's break down what looking and lusting means here to understand what Christ is saying.
Look means to gaze at something or someone bodily. It is saying that we don't just notice someone looks good. It's not a moment in passing. To gaze means to turn focus towards and consider as to discern. Basically, we're focused in on what we are looking at, in this case a person who is married (or, if you are married, any individual regardless if they are married or not). That's look. But what about lust? Lust means to covet with sexual desire, basically what you would think. So, let's write out our definition clearly, so we know what we are facing here:
To turn our focus towards another individual who is married or any individual if we are married and desire them for a sexual purpose, we have committed adultery in our heart.
A Matter of the Heart
So, much like physical adultery, it's not just something we can back into. We make a focused and knowing effort to turn our focus towards that individual and we desire them. Note, though, Christ doesn't say that we have committed adultery in our mind. Though this form of adultery Christ is talking about is clearly dealing with our mind and how we process information, Christ doesn't put the onus on the mind. Instead, it's our heart.
The heart here is defined as our innermost being. When we put our focus on another person to lust, it's our spiritual man that has committed adultery. While it is true our spiritual lives are affected when the physical act of adultery is committed, it is usually thought of as a sin of flesh. This form of adultery is considered a sin of our spiritual man.
The pursuits of the flesh can lead to the physical destruction of our marriage and lives through adultery. However, every time we turn our gaze towards another individual to lust, we corrupt and compromise our spiritual man. Moreover, we corrupt and compromise the spiritual side of our marriage. There are many marriages that have experienced the sin of adultery in them without the other person knowing. However, when a marriage is spiritually compromised, the other person will feel it. The marriage will lose its passion and its closeness. Trust will evaporate and happiness will fade. The sad part of this is that the victim in the marriage may never realize why their marriage is slowly dying. They'll find themselves in a loveless marriage without any knowledge of how or why it happened.
The severity of this issue will be covered throughout the week, but for today we want everyone, both married and single, to consider where they put their focus. If we are looking at an individual to lust, we are compromising our own lives as well as those around us. The selfishness inherent in this type of sin will drain a person's partner and will also put undue targets on the spiritual lives of those a person lusts after. Also, if God compares our marriage to our relationship with Him (Ephesians 5). When we compromise ourselves spiritually with a wayward consideration, we offend our relationship with God as much as we do with our partner. God can't use us if we are in offense. We must repent of our ways and do what we can to make things right. And that is a topic we will cover on Wednesday.
Chris Farris is the author of The Way, a manual detailing how to implement the Beatitudes into your life. He review events and other media and offers other insights into writing and working for the Kingdom of God.