You’ve Heard It Said

Take Radical Action

~ Jesus employs the same logic concerning adultery. The people were all familiar with the laws about marital faithfulness. People could be stoned to death were they caught in adultery. Soap operas could have been named As The Stones Fly. Jesus employed a big but again to move our understanding beyond: But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Do you know what that means? That God doesn’t approve of pornography? Not just that. It means that man should be as concerned about where his mind goes as he is with his body goes. Don’t miss those last few critical words: in his heart. Where God’s law is concerned, it is the heart of the matter, not the act itself that is God’s aim.

Like taking a life, human beings have jumped through hoops to justify adulterous behavior. Americans need no clearer reminder than one of our Presidents having to face a Grand Jury, looking into whether he had lied about his relationship with one of his interns. The nation stood still watching it unfold. What is inappropriate behavior? The debate actually digressed into an all-out debate over the meaning of a word—“It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.” Really? We can no longer discern right from wrong without Grand Jury investigations into the meaning of a two-letter word? Jesus moved far beyond parsing words. Here’s the question to ask: What is going on in your heart?

This section of teaching takes a startling turn. Jesus counseled: “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out.”  Similarly: “If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off.” Jesus is not commending self-mutilation. He is, however, directing that where sin is concerned radical steps should be taken to guard our hearts.