27 You have heard that it was said that: You shall not commit adultery”.
28 However, I tell that everyone looking at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
29 but if you right eye causes you to sin, take it out, and throw it away from you. It is better for you that one of your body parts should be destroyed rather than your whole body should be cast into hell.
30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away from you. It is better for you that one of your body parts should be destroyed rather than your whole body should go into hell.
We have already spent some time considering the command of God prohibiting adultery. It is the seventh commandment and is found in Exodus 20.14. We are going to spend some more time on this subject, because it has vast implications for our way of life.
How common was adultery in the days of Jesus?
The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law appear to have had a very narrow interpretation of what constituted adultery. As far as men were concerned it only related to a married man having sexual relations with a woman married to another man. He could have sexual relations with any other woman. He could have more than one wife. In the Old Testament men also were allowed concubines (women who were specifically used for breeding children).
Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines, and he was a man of great wisdom!
His father, King David had a number of wives and concubines.
Women were regarded as property. Before they were married they were the property of their fathers. This is still reflected in our society in the wedding service, where it is customary for the father of the bride to give her away.
Once a woman was married she became the property of her husband.
Women had a very lowly status.
Before a woman was married it appears that it was permissible for her to have sexual relations with any man.
This may surprise us, but it helps us to understand what Jesus was saying. He was giving woman a status that they had not known before. He was lifting women out of the realms of being the object of mans’ selfish sexual gratification.
Jesus states that it is not only adultery that is wrong but that lusting after another woman is wrong. This goes beyond married women. Lusting after a married woman had always been wrong, as we see in the command not to covet another man’s wife or property etc.
Jesus states that it is not only the act of adultery that is wrong, but that coveting another’s wife etc is also wrong, because it is in the coveting and lusting that the evil desires of the heart are given the room to grow and to bloom into the physical act of adultery.