Three Taverns Church

Biblical Sexuality – Part 5: The Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 5

6 Comments

There is no verse in Scripture that mentions Jesus teaching about sexuality per se. Instead we have a collection of teachings wherein Jesus reframes the topics of lust, adultery and divorce away from the legalism that characterized 1st century Judaism and toward the intentions of our hearts.

Matthew 5:27-29 “You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. So if your eye—even your good eyet—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.”

It’s not that Jesus is unconcerned with the law prohibiting adultery, it’s that He knows the battle for your sexuality is won or lost in your heart. If you are lusting after others in your heart you are already an adulterer; the sexual act which follows is just a technicality. Jesus does not want us to look good on the outside but be filled with lust inside; He wants us to be clean inside and out. And while I can’t quote Scripture on this next point, I don’t think God distinguishes between heterosexual lust and homosexual lust; it’s all sin. With regard to sexuality, then, we have to ask ourselves: What is the intention of my heart with regard to my own sexuality? Do I lust after other men and/or women? Do I lust after my spouse? Do I use others to fulfill my own sexual needs?

Matthew 5:31-32 “You have heard the law that says, ‘A man can divorce his wife by merely giving her a written notice of divorce.’ But I say that a man who divorces his wife, unless she has been unfaithful, causes her to commit adultery. And anyone who marries a divorced woman also commits adultery.”

These are two tough verses for many people and there’s no way to interpret ‘around’ them. If you divorce a faithful woman, you are forcing her into adultery; if you marry a divorced woman, you also commit adultery. From a biblical perspective, divorcing someone is the same as having an emotional or physical affair. God’s intention for human sexuality is violated in cases of lust and divorce; both acts are adultery.

I want to go back one more time to God’s four intentions for sexuality I first identified in Part 3 of this series:

  • Obedience to God in our sexual lives
  • Sexuality that does not imitate the sexual immorality of a local culture
  • Sexual practices that are safe and are unlikely to result in damage to our health
  • Sexual relationships that support a cohesive family and social structure

Consider lust and divorce through the lens of these four intentions. In all cases of lust, and in most cases of divorce, we go through with our acts of rebellion knowing they are wrong because we’d rather have it our way than submit to God. When the culture around us says it’s OK to fool around with another woman as long as it’s not ‘technically sex’ we alreadyknow that’s wrong; we don’t need Jesus to tell us that. Think about the dangers of adultery in the age of STD’s. We understand the damage wrought to a family and a community when adultery and divorce occur. We don’t have to be Christian or even believe in God to know that lust and divorce are broken and shattered shadows of what ought to exist instead: Love and Commitment. 

I want to bring this home with a personal example: I used pornography for years. Each time I went to those websites I was committing adultery. Am I thankful that Jesus Christ paid the price for my many sins? You bet. Does His forgiveness make my behavior OK? Nope. If I slip in my program and start using pornography again, will He still forgive me? Probably. Does that mean I can keep using pornography and lusting? Definitely not.

Do you have any reactions to these selected verses?

6 thoughts on “Biblical Sexuality – Part 5: The Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 5

  1. always thought provoking….I nominated you for a blog honor…check it out on my blog.

  2. I really like this one. Very understandable and it makes me want to be good, not that I’m not already.

  3. You did a really good job with this series. Again, it would be awesome to sit in on a study where you were teaching this. I love how you were sensitive to the cultural reality in which we live, yet resolute in pointing out that the teachings of Christ trump cultural norms.

    The divorce teachings are tough. Just as tough as the whole homosexual debate. And yet, we seem to be able to handle divorce with much more love and grace. I’m not trying to get political here…just pointing something out that is interesting to me. And, if I’m honest, something that is very personal to me as a Christian who has gone through a divorce.

    Praise God for His Grace. I need His promise of forgiveness every single day!

    I don’t want to give you an inflated ego here, but you’ve got one of the most important blogs out there—especially for men.

  4. I think it’s our “American heritage” that makes divorce easier to swallow than homosexuality. Both are sins, but some sins are worse than others in the church… 🙂 Thank you for the tremendous compliment! Please share this blog with folks you know, I’d love to be able to reach new people.

  5. This post hit home a lot harder then you might think. I agree that what we are really craving in our relationships (and what God wants for us) is love and commitment. What we often end up with, thanks to social influences and (more significantly) our own selfishness, is lust and divorce.

    • Yeah…I was confronted with my own selfishness again today. All I can say is, life it tough, and when we’re dealing with humans (including ourselves) sometimes there are no-win situations.

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