If you have been a parent, or are a young person not far from your childhood years, I have no doubt that you can well remember those times when your mom told you to clean your room, take out the trash, or a hundred other things to do. The response one almost always replied with was one of the following two:
“Just a sec.”
“In a minute.”
Which in neither case actually reflected your intentions.
While our world may have its misogynistic problems , it doesn’t hold a candle to the world that Jesus was born into. Women were property. They may have been held in lesser esteem than the family pet. If you grew tired of your wife, you just set her aside and got a new one. This was a way of thinking that had gone on for thousands of years. The men of the world would never have questioned it. Men’s eyes were always on the lookout for new possibilities. It was the norm. Solomon had 300 wives and 600 concubines.
Back to the home front. You may have routinely ignored your mom when she told you to do something, but when your mom shouted “STOP!!!!!!”, in THAT tone of voice, and with the glare of death you hoped never to hear or see again, you stopped!!!! Shaking in your boots! You knew that if there ever was a time to be obedient, this was it.
Jesus talks about gouging an eye out, or chopping off a hand. Does he really mean that? And of course He does not. The thing is, it wouldn’t fix the problem. Even if I had no eyes, hands, or legs, it wouldn’t prevent me from entertaining impure thoughts. They find their birth in my mind and my heart.
But Jesus’ use of that language was his way of emulating your mom’s STOP command. The men Jesus was addressing in the passage above were used to the same old same old. No one ever questioned it. They just did it. While Revelation’s “New Heaven and a New Earth” was about a future time for all of us believers, that Kingdom was starting here in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus was espousing an entirely new way of thinking. If you had been among those gathered on the Mount, you were likely looking around at others with a “What the Heck” look. “Gouging eyes?” I’m sure the same reaction was engendered when Jesus said this:
“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.” John 6:56-57
Take this message far beyond the topic of adultery. Be introspective. Examine scripture. Examine yourself. Stop and consider.
And then smile when God emphatically tells you to stop.
He loves you!!!
Br Bruce Hanson