“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you, 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 to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna. 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 to have your whole body go into Gehenna.
I am an adulterer. There I said it. You see when I was a kid, I use to pretend to be an adult. Get it? That’s lame I know. But I got your attention didn’t I.
This is the kind of thing I really don’t want to write about which means that I probably should write about it. My eyes wander on occasion. I think it’s safe to say that everyone’s eyes wander on occasion. And yes, my eyes have wandered and my imagination has taken me places that I should not go to at times. I have lusted; which means I have sinned. Don’t worry, my wife knows this. It’s safe to say that no one is innocent of this no matter how much we try and justify it or explain it away. We all lust. Ladies, I know your secret, you lust as well, you just Don’t want us guys to not know that.
There’s a story about the famous Biblical Scholar St. Jerome, who lived in the 4th century. He was a brilliant man but could be pretty cantankerous at times. The story goes, someone asked Jerome how he became such a brilliant Scripture scholar. Jerome responded, that every time he lusted, he started studying Scriptures. I don’t know how much truth there is to that story, but even if there isn’t a lot of credibility to that story, Jerome had the right idea none the less.
Jesus tells us in these verses using some of his famous hyperbole (look it up), that “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away.” (Will someone get me a spoon please?) Noooooo, we aren’t to take this literal as in ‘oh my gosh there’s a beautiful woman and I’d like to…’ and cut your eye out. No we are to take this as, if you look on someone and lust, turn away and distract yourself with something else. I can guarantee you that if you begin to have those lustful thoughts pull out your Bible and begin praying and reading it you won’t be lusting for long.
So I had this conversation once with a man who made an overt sexual remark about a woman that was passing by. I took a look and said to myself, Yup, she’s pretty good looking. But before it got to the point of a sinful lustful thought I spoke up and said, “You know, she’s someone’s sister, someone’s daughter, maybe someone’s mother, maybe even someone’s wife. Would you like someone to make those remarks about your mom? How about your daughter? I know I really wouldn’t appreciate someone thinking of one of my girls like how you described.” He didn’t say anything in response but I could tell that what I said irritated him, presumably in a good way.
We all want to be desired by others in this world. The real question is, for what reasons do you wish to be desired? For your body and looks, both of which are not going to be much to look at in 30 years. Or what’s on the inside, that of which can’t be taken away by others. When we lust over someone, we take away a piece of the dignity of that person we lust over; even if they don’t know it. We equate them to an object rather than a human life of intrinsic value. Lusting is all about ourselves and has nothing to do with the one we lust over.
So the next time we begin to lust try and refocus, redirect, distract yourself and turn to something that will prevent you from lusting. From reading your Bible to a picture of your grandma to a picture of your daughter. And remember the next time you hear someone make a lustful remark, remind them, that who ever it is they are lusting over is someone else’s spouse, significant other, son or daughter, mother or father and that it’s not right to lust over them anymore than you’d want someone to lust over your own spouse or child etc.