Don’t Look, Don’t touch! – Friday, 10th week in ordinary time – Mt 5:27-32
The gospel passage of today will take up the second and third hyper-theses in the Sermon on the Mount. (Refer to http://www.pottypadre.com/heart-of-the-matter/) These are linked to the ninth commandment which deals with the aspect of adultery and divorce.
The mission of Jesus was to bring about a kingdom of righteousness and justice and that is why He wants His disciple’s righteousness to exceed that of the self-righteousness of the Pharisees and scribes. That Jesus has exposed the self-serving interpretation of the Jewish leaders, has been reason enough for them to want to poison the minds of the people and even more to kill Him.
These hyper-theses of Jesus are really the fleshing out of His mandate for the disciples, in the context of living out the law in the kingdom. Jesus wants more from the disciples, more from us. He is not asking; He is demanding it from those who chose freely to be His disciples. Remember He says, “If you wish to be my disciple.”
Jesus wants His disciples to think beyond the ninth commandment. He wants them to understand that lust kills love. But hang on, lust gets to all of us at some stage in our life and the question you might ask yourself is ‘will I therefore go to hell?’
Jesus’ words here are to be taken strictly in the context of adultery; they do not condemn any and all thinking about ‘sexual matters’ (JBC). A ‘glance’ at a beautiful man or woman does not warrant the severe punishment of hell. However, Jesus does not use the word ‘glance’, but He uses the word ‘look’. Look is a present active participle and is really a lingering look, and here in lies the problem.
Many millennial couples have what is often called a ‘look but do not touch’ policy when it comes to a person outside their relationship. Most couples subscribing to this, consider this a lesser demon or a harmless permission. Nothing could be more dangerous than this. Inadvertently, this so called harmless permission has sown the seed of adultery, something Jesus warns us about.
Take a look at Genesis 3:6. Satan has planted ‘permission and doubt’ in Eve’s mind. Eve ‘sees’ the tree as good for food (rationale). She ‘sees’ it as a ‘delight to the eyes’; desire and lust are added to a ‘rationale’. She perceives it to be “desired and make one wise” and finally she took and ate the fruit and gave Adam some too. “Then their eyes of both were opened and they knew that they were naked.” Jesus’ advice is clear. Don’t look, don’t touch. And just for our thought, it is really in ‘looking’ that our problems begin. The pornographic industry is after all a ninety seven billion dollar industry (TIME) which is all about looking.
It might seem that the remedy for lustful thoughts and actions seem very harsh; after all Jesus demands for the eye to be plucked out and the arm to be cut off. St. Matthew uses an oriental hyperbole in writing this. He is overstating the problem to drive a point, namely the radical ordering of our priorities. The call of Jesus is to rather “sacrifice a part of one’s moral freedom than to lose the whole” (JBC).
Our struggles with our sexual sins will never disappear. St Paul speaks of a ‘thorn in his side’. What that thorn is we will never know but we know of our own thorns in our spiritual life. Even though the wages of sin is death, we must understand that Christ won victory over death and sin, when He died on the cross.
Is this permission for us to go on sinning? Absolutely not! The spiritual life is a journey and not a moment. In this journey we will stumble. When we pick ourselves up, it is to God that we must look to for forgiveness, and it is then that the ‘great exchange’ that Luther speaks of, takes place, “You give God your sin and He gives you His Son on the Cross”
Fr Warner D’Souza
References from the Jerome’s Biblical Commentary.