Summary: Matters of the heart can only be resolved with the help of the Maker of hearts: 1. Keep Away from Sin, 2. Value Every Human, 3. Get Help
Matters of the Heart
Matthew 5:27-32 27 "You have heard that it was said, ’Do not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, 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. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. 31 "It has been said, ’Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.
Intro: It seems that there are at least two possible paradigms or ways of approaching this passage. First, Jesus is upholding the value and dignity of each human life, as we talked about last week in the previous verses. People should not be looked at as objects to be used, but as precious people created in God’s image. In light of that, not only should people not commit adultery (which destroys families & relationships), but also they should guard the way they look at other human beings. They should guard their own desires which could lead to damaged relationships and broken lives.
-And if some tried to evade the adultery scenario, divorcing his wife so he can chase after someone else based on his lustful desires, Jesus had an answer for that. He told them that if a man divorced his wife basically to chase after someone else, then he would not be off the hook. As the parallel passage in Luke 16:18 shows, the man is guilty of adultery because the adultery was in his heart before he ever divorced his wife. See, God cares about people. He cares about families and marriages. But when someone gives in to selfish desires, people get hurt!
-The second paradigm or lens through which we might view this passage is one I’ve heard most preachers use – that Jesus is giving absolute commands about marriage for all people for all time. One of the reasons I have trouble with this viewpoint is that it does not seem to flow with the rest of Scripture. Jesus didn’t come to give a tougher law. Rather, He came as the truth and revealed the true heart issue in this case. Jesus’ words may have been directed at those who had adultery in their hearts and were trying to get what they wanted in a way that appeared legal and acceptable, but violated the spirit of the commands that were given regarding marriage. In response to that Jesus basically said that a wife’s marital unfaithfulness was the only grounds for her husband to divorce her. See, under Jewish law adultery referred only to the wife’s behavior, not the husband’s. (Matthew was writing to Jews and that is why he mentions only the wife’s adultery.) Jesus showed that adultery was really an issue of the heart and that men could be just as guilty as women. He used emphatic language to bring this across. As I’m sure you would agree, there are some situations that would call for separation at least. For example, if an abusive husband was repeatedly putting his wife or children in danger, a physical separation should take place. Get out of harm’s way and then see what steps can be taken to resolve the issue.