Poor Hillary had to sit through a long sermon on adultery this morning. The text was from Matthew 5 verses 27-30.
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. Matthew 5:27-30
I'm sure the sermon was embarrassing for her, for obvious reasons, but that isn't what I want to discuss here. I am more interested in the biblical text itself.
Notice that Jesus says that anyone who looks at a woman with lust has committed adultery, and that it would be better for such a person to pluck out his eye (or cut off his hand if that is somehow involved) to avoid sinning. Because if you pluck out your eye (well you'd probably have to pluck them both out), then you can't commit adultery by looking at a woman. And since Jesus believes that all adulterers go to hell (including those who are "just looking"), wise men will pluck out their eyes. Can't argue with that.
Jesus' reasoning seems pretty clear here. 1) Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has committed adultery. 2) All adulterers go to hell (which is a really nasty place -- much more unpleasant than plucking out eyes or cutting off hands). 3) Those who pluck their eyes out will never commit adultery by looking at women. Therefore, all men (at least those who might someday look lustfully at a woman) should pluck out their eyes (and maybe cut off their hands just for good measure).
But that's not what really bothers me. It's what Jesus said a few verses before.
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Matthew 5:17-18
Not one jot or tittle, eh Jesus? Then this law must still apply:
And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. Leviticus 20:10
So guys, Jesus gives you a choice. Either pluck out your eyes (and maybe cut off you hands) and thereby avoid committing adultery by looking or keep your eyes and hands, commit the inevitable adultery by looking at a woman, be executed for it, and then burn forever in hell. It's up to you.
Fair enough. But what about the woman with whom the man commits "just looking" adultery? Is she guilty of adultery too? Must we execute her also in accordance with Leviticus 10:20? And after we kill her, will she go to hell with the guy who was caught looking at her?
I'm just asking.