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?